New, cheaper base trim. The Ford Expedition went through a major overhaul in 2018, bringing in a new look, powertrain, and so much more. This was a revolutionary redesign amid a sea of stagnation for a full-size SUV. Since its 2018 redo, the Expedition has been through some feature and trim updates but has mostly remained the same.
The 2021 Ford Expedition’s big update is the new base XL SXT trim, giving it a lower entry price point but sacrificing many features to the low-price gods. Find out if this is enough to keep the Expedition as one of the top-ranked full-size SUVs on the market.
Big power, small displacement. The 2021 Ford Expedition continues with the same engine lineup as before: a small-displacement 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 that pumps out 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque in most trims. Bump up to the Platinum trim, and you get an extra 25 hp and 10 lb-ft to tinker with.
This power flows through a well-sorted 10-speed automatic transmission and out to the rear wheels as standard. For those who battle poor weather, four-wheel drive is available.
With all the right option boxes ticked, the Expedition can tow up to 9,300 pounds, and that low-end torque helps get even the heaviest trailer motivated with ease. This towing capacity easily beats the Chevy Tahoe (8,400 pounds), Toyota Sequoia (7,400 pounds), and Nissan Armada (8,500 pounds).
While this engine outmuscles all the base Tahoe (355 hp), having just a single engine option leaves some buyers in the cold.
Buyers seeking engine options will find it in the Tahoe, which has an optional 6.2-liter V8 with 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, and a 3.0-liter turbodiesel six-cylinder that delivers 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. The diesel adds an extra fuel-economy consideration with up to 21 miles per gallon city, 28 highway, and 24 combined. The Expedition’s fuel economy tops out at 17 mpg city, 23 highway, and 19 combined.
So much space. There is no shortage of room in the 2021 Ford Expedition. It’s got space for up to eight passengers in XLT and higher trims, and they all can ride in relative comfort. The second row offers 41.5 inches of legroom, and the third row offers an adult-friendly 40.9 inches.
The Tahoe beats the Expedition in second-row legroom at 42 inches but loses big with just 36.7 inches of third-row legroom. The Sequoia loses in both areas with just 40.9 inches of second-row legroom and 35.3 inches of third-row legroom. The Armada’s 41 inches of second-row legroom is OK, but its 28.4 inches of third-row legroom makes the rearmost seat more of a torture chamber than a seat.
Cargo room is also no problem in the 2021 Expedition. It features up to 20.9 cubic feet behind the third-row seat, 64.6 cubes behind the second-row seat, and 104.6 cubes behind the first-row seats.
The Toyota Sequoia falls short with just 18.9 cubes of space behind the third row but makes up for it with 66.6 cubes behind the second row and 120.1 cubes with all the rear seats folded. The Armada isn’t even close with just 16.5 cubes behind the third row, 49.9 cubes behind the second row, and 95.4 cubes with all the seats folded.
The Tahoe gets one up on the Expedition here with 25.5 cubic feet behind the third row, 72.6 cubes behind the second row, and 122.9 cubes with all the rear seats lowered. However, buyers who need this much space can move to the 12-inch-longer Expedition Max and get 36 cubic feet behind the third-row seat, 79.6 cubes behind the second-row seat, and 121.4 cubes behind the first-row seats.
Scant standard features. The 2021 Ford Expedition XL SXT is relatively greedy with its standard features. The base standard features list includes a 4.2-inch infotainment screen and no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. It does have standard automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, automatic high-beam headlights, and blind-spot monitors.
While it may lack features, the 2021 Expedition XL’s $50,720 (destination fees included) base MSRP is attractive. The Sequoia beats the Expedition with its standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and 7-inch touchscreen. However, it’s slightly pricier at $51,656 (destination fees included). The Tahoe also does well with its standard Wi-Fi, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and 10.2-inch touchscreen against a $50,295 (destination fees included) base MSRP.
The value leader in this class is the Nissan Armada. It comes standard with a 12.3-inch touchscreen, Bose audio system, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, and standard wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay at a $49,995 (destination fees included) starting MSRP.
Making matters worse for the Expedition, if you want to get close to the competition’s base features, you must move up to the XLT trim, which pushes the MSRP to $54,505 (destination fees included) – nearly $3,000 more than the most expensive competitor, the Sequoia.
Final thoughts. It’s clear the money you’ll send on the 2021 Expedition is mostly under the hood and in the seating and cargo areas. In these areas, the Expedition is hard to beat. However, this big Ford comes up dramatically short on value, as its base XL SXT trim runs over $50,000 and has only five-passenger seating, no standard smartphone integration, a tiny infotainment screen, and other serious features gaps.
Buyers looking for the peak in value will find this in the 2021 Armada, but you’ll sacrifice big time in roominess. The Tahoe, however, is a nice balance of spaciousness and value.
Check prices for the 2021 Ford Expedition »