Blue Oval executive spills beans at assembly pant celebration

News on the next-generation Expedition is heating up. The latest information comes directly from Ford, as company executives recently told investors the 2018 Expedition will make the jump to an aluminum body. This follows the Ford’s move to the lighter material, starting with the 2015 F-150 and 2017 Super Duty.

The announcement came during a celebration of production for the 2017 Super Duty at the Louisville, Kentucky Truck Plant. The plant, which also builds the Expedition, has received $1.3 billion over the last year to fund its conversion and retooling for aluminum. The Expedition’s transition to an aluminum body isn’t a big surprise, considering the Louisville plant is the only production facility for the three-row SUV and aluminum’s considerable weight advantage. Ford has already seen improvements in fuel efficiency with the F-150 and Super Duty, and will expect the same benefits with the next-generation Expedition.

This isn’t the first news we’ve seen of the 2018 Expedition. An early test mule was recently spotted wearing thick camouflage and black wheels. The swirly camo and false roofline helped conceal the SUV’s true shape and styling, but plenty can be gathered despite the cladding. We expect it to get similar styling to the F-150, helping tie in the SUV to the popular F-Series lineup.

The Expedition is also expected to receive large updates to the ladder frame, suspension system, and powertrains. We expect to see a new frame design made from lighter high-strength steel like the F-150’s, updated front and rear suspension tuning, and the addition of the second-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 and new 10-speed automatic transmission. Ford could also include the F-150’s 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 as the standard engine option, making the 375-horsepower 3.5-liter EcoBoost an optional extra.

Expect fuel economy to see improvements by a few mpg thanks to the lighter curb weight, added transmission gears, and more efficient yet powerful EcoBoost engines. Pricing is likely to remain within spitting distance of the current Expedition’s price point.

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Why It Matters

Ford is investing heavily into its aluminum theory. Things seem to be paying off with the F-150. Interest levels and initials sales of the 2017 Super Duty are also rather promising. And while Ford can claim the top slot on the sales leader board for the pickup category, General Motors’ lineup of Tahoe, Suburban, Yukon, and Yukon XL sales are vastly more than the Expedition. Ford is hoping to close that gab with a more powerful and efficient Expedition with a more competitive exterior styling and luxurious interior refinements.

It will definitely be interesting to see how Ford pulls the Expedition together. We’re expecting the SUV’s interior to mirror the F-150 and Super Duty’s stylings, while offering competitive features for its segment. These things include power-folding second and third-row seats, available second-row captain’s chairs, a panoramic moonroof, tons of USB ports and cup holders, the latest infotainment system, and all of Ford’s safety equipment.

Ford is expected to debut the 2018 Expedition in the coming months, perhaps at the LA Auto Show or Detroit Auto Show. And as always, stay tuned to TopSpeed for all the latest information.

Read our full review on the upcoming Ford Expedition here.

Source: Detroit Free Press

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