The best full size SUV (2018)

Ford Expedition driving shot

Putting down the spec sheet, I came to realize something. I never thought I’d see the day that a Ford beat a Toyota.

I’ve always been a fan of Toyotas and their reliability. After all, I went out and bought one.

And this is not to say there aren’t any nice Fords out there, but most of those have a V8 and sit rather low to the ground. But this particular Ford has outshone the current crop of full-size Toyotas – it is something quite special indeed.

With its 375hp, turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 and four-wheel drive, the 2018 Ford Expedition is the best full size SUV you can buy today.

When you hop behind the wheel, you really do understand that it’s a better machine than the Chevrolet Tahoe, the Nissan Armada and the Toyota Sequoia. And that’s quite a trio.

Here’s why it beats them hands down.

Ford’s V6 is a gem

Firstly, the engine. The Ecoboost V6 is an excellent piece of engineering, with a heap of torque making it feel like a V8 from behind the wheel. But its turbochargers don’t always need to be spooled up, so when you’re not gunning it, it uses less fuel because it’s a smaller engine.

Throttle response is instant, and even when you add a trailer it doesn’t feel like it’s being loaded down.

The 10-speed automatic transmission is able to discern when you need power, and even though it was designed as a joint venture between General Motors and Ford, its calibration is brilliant. It shifts smoothly, is able to kick down quickly and there are seven different drive modes.

Most of the time you’ll keep it in Eco mode as it offers a nice, relaxed feel. And that really sums up the whole drive experience – calm and reserved, but ready to hand you its power when need be.

Unfortunately, its competitors are still sticking with V8s, and when gas prices are on everyone’s minds, people just can’t afford big engines anymore. That’s why they’re flocking to midsize SUVs. But the Expedition gives you the best of both worlds – power and fuel economy.

That’s not all, though. It’s the way the Expedition goes about daily life that makes it the best full size SUV you can buy.

2018 Ford Expedition Interior

The Expedition’s interior is huge

Look at the interior and how ready it is for the rigors of a family.

Clearly there’s a heap of room up front (though the front seats could be a little longer in the squab) but it’s the second and third rows which really shows how much thought has been put into it.

The second row has excellent head and legroom, but the third row outshines any other full size SUV. You feel like there’s acres of room here.¬† Real, actual adults can climb in and not feel like they’ve been crushed like the Star Wars compactor scene. And the cushion comfort is excellent, too.

More importantly, getting in and out of the third row isn’t an exercise in showing off your parkour skills. You simply step in and sit down thanks to a simple tilt and slide mechanism in the third row.

The only thing that lets the third row down a little is the headrest which gets in the way of fitting booster seats if you want to put kids back there. Still, it can be done, and once the seat is fitted, then usually there’s no need to shift it around.

2018 Ford Expedition Three Rows

It’s thoroughly modern

Ford’s¬†infotainment system feels properly up to date, and is very simple to use.

It’s called SYNC 3 – the number shows that it’s the third generation – and it pairs with your smartphone in seconds. It also understands natural English phrases, which makes it easier to call contacts from your phonebook without having to touch your phone.

The menus are intuitive; you don’t feel like you’re searching through sub-menus trying to find what you’re after.

You can use Android Auto or Apple Car Play as well – it’s as simple as plugging it in.

There are USB ports dotted throughout the cabin so charging your devices is easy. And the overall presentation looks so much cleaner and newer than the Sequoia and Tahoe’s very dated looking cabins.

The only thing we’re not a huge fan of is the rotary dials to select gears and drive modes. A simple shifter may have worked a little better, and a button for drive modes is all you need.

Ford Expedition Side View

The suspension is very good

The relationship between springs and wheels can often be tense. It can create a bouncy feeling, especially if the front and rear spring rates are different, with the front trying to cope with a large engine.

The Expedition’s lighter engine up front means the balance is good, so there’s no pitching from front to back, and the body control is very good also.

Hey, it’s no sports car, but it will handle high speed quite well and out on the open road, it feels just as happy as when cruising around the ‘burbs.

The best car Ford makes right now?

Easily. And when it happily bests SUVs which are twice its price, the Expedition looks like very good value indeed.

I’ve always sworn by Toyotas, and having owned one for many years, I’m still confident that they are good cars and will serve you for many years to come.

But the 2018 Ford Expedition is better in many ways, and is now my go-to recommendation for anyone wanting a full size SUV.

But what about safety? That’s something that definitely weighs on people’s minds.

The safest full size SUV on sale

Who wants a people mover? Not us. That’s why when we need to ferry around some bodies, it’s a full-size SUV that we opt for. And of course, there’s the added bonus of being able to head off the beaten track. But we need it to be the safest full size SUV seeing as we’re in control of the vehicle and looking after so many people.

You may remember we discovered that the Volvo XC90 is the safest large SUV on sale currently, but there’s a difference between large and full-size. And yes, one is more truck-like than the other, with the XC90 being technically a crossover. A large crossover, but a crossover nonetheless.

With that in mind, we set out to investigate what the safest full size SUV on sale is currently.

We came down to the current list of full-size SUVs:

  • Toyota Sequoia
  • Toyota LandCruiser
  • Infiniti QX80
  • Nissan Armada
  • Nissan Patrol
  • Ford Expedition
  • Ford Expedition Max
  • Cadillac Escalade
  • Cadillac Escalade ESV
  • GMC Yukon
  • GMC Yukon XL
  • Lincoln Navigator
  • Lincoln Navigator L
  • Chevrolet Tahoe

There are many others, of course, but we’re looking at both the best selling and safest models. Safety shouldn’t be a secondary concern, especially when you have a family and friends. You want them to be safe, no matter how big your vehicle is.

Then the other issue is whether it’s safe for those around you. While we want to keep occupants alive, if that pedestrian steps out in front of you, you’ll need to either have cat-like reflexes, or have autonomous emergency braking (AEB) on high alert to avoid killing someone.

Stability control also comes into its own when swerving around a pedestrian, an object on the road, or avoiding a crash. As you can appreciate, most full-size SUVs weigh well over two tonnes (4400 lbs), so there’s a lot of inertia when it starts to slide. And because there isn’t a brake pedal for each wheel, stability and traction control (ESC) does that job for you.

So, what is the safest full size SUV on sale?

SUV Authority has trawled through the archives of crash test results to bring you the safest full size SUV. Unfortunately, none of the above listed full size SUVs was awarded a five star safety rating. Thus it came down to the two following vehicles.

Ford Expedition – Five stars
Lincoln Navigator – Five Stars

The rest were either four star rated, or not even tested at all. This is of concern, considering the car companies are happy to tout the vehicle’s safety equipment, but without proper testing, how can you really know whether you’re keeping your friends and family safe or not?

2018 Lincoln Navigator

Out of the two vehicles, we’ve analysed the crash test data to determine the safest full size SUV. And the winner is…drumroll, please….

Well, neither. Here’s the deal: Both of these vehicles ended up with the same crash test result because they’re effectively the same vehicle. But the crash testing only applies to the 2017 model, as the 2018 model has not yet been crash tested.

The safest full size SUV

Either the Ford Expedition or Lincoln Navigator.

We’re quite confident in recommending the latest version of these vehicles because rarely do SUVs take a backward step in safety specifications and crash-worthiness. Each update brings a stronger vehicle, and more included active safety tech.

As a footnote, we’d also highly recommend taking a look at the Toyota LandCruiser 200 series (and by extension the Lexus LX 450d and LX 570). Anecdotal data suggests that it is a very tough truck and would protect its occupants well in a crash, as well as also including plenty of life-saving active safety tech.

About Karl Peskett 418 Articles
A passionate writer, editor and driver, Karl is the go-to man when it comes to four wheels. With stints in television, radio, print and online, Karl has been writing about cars for more than a decade. He drives around 100 vehicles every year and has tested everything from Bugattis to Suzukis. Sometimes on track, sometimes off-road, his focus is on producing objective journalism without fear or favour.

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