Electronic limited-slip diff, seven skid plates, and unique tires.
Off-roading in a full-size SUV? According to Ford Expedition marketing manager Ryan Gillenwater, 20 percent of Expedition buyers leave the beaten path, so the Blue Oval is catering to that demographic with the new FX4 off-road package.
Ford has previously applied the FX4 label to older Expedition models and the F-150 pickup truck. In the case of the 2018 Expedition, FX4 builds on the XLT trim level with uniquely tuned shock absorbers, seven functional skid plates, 18-inch wheels with Michelin Primacy XC 275/65R18 all-terrain tires, new running boards, rubber floor mats, and various FX4 badges. The SUV also gets an electronic limited-slip rear differential with a 3.73:1 gear ratio; that diff is also available in the Heavy Duty Tow pack for other Expedition models. Finally, there are special “sand guards” to prevent dirt accumulating on the transmission cooler and radiator.
As on all Expeditions, the FX4 model comes standard with a 10-speed automatic transmission mated to a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 good for 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. The top-tier Platinum model gets 400 hp and 480 lb-ft on premium fuel.
Those wheels aren’t just for show; Ford SUV marketing manager Craig Patterson says they have thicker spokes and a different rim construction than other Expedition wheels so that they’re tougher and more durable when off-roading. He says that the FX4 package is expected to sell especially well in the Middle East, where the Expedition is already a popular choice.
Patterson says that Ford initially planned to only offer the FX4 treatment for the standard-length Expedition, because its (relatively) smaller size makes it more suited to off-road use. But in the end, both the standard and the long-wheelbase Expedition Max will be available with the package.
It’s built off the XLT trim level for now, which accounts for about 25 percent of Expedition sales. The top-tier Platinum trim accounts for 15-20 percent of sales, with the remainder going to the mid-grade Expedition Limited.
The 2018 Ford Expedition goes on sale in “late fall,” and pricing will be announced in the coming weeks. The SUV, which bowed at the Chicago Auto Show, is about 300 pounds lighter than its predecessor, and can tow up to 9,300 pounds.