Ford Motor Company just unveiled its new 2018 Expedition, a full-size family SUV that saw a 44% rise in U.S. sales in 2016. This is the first update and retooling of the Expedition since it was introduced 20 years ago and, for its revamp, the model follows the lightweighting lead of the F-150 with the incorporation of an aluminum-intensive architecture, with aluminum body panels joined to a steel frame.
The 2018 Expedition is wider (by 1 inch) and longer (by 3 inches) than the previous version, making it one of the biggest aluminum-bodied cars in production. Yet, the aluminum body saves up to 300 lbs on average, depending on options. This allowed Ford to reinvest that weight savings in other areas of the vehicle in order to improve performance and passenger comfort. The weight reduction along with an updated powertrain (with a new 10-speed transmission) is expected to cut fuel consumption, as well as boost towing and payload capacity.
The aluminum body on the 2018 Expedition follows in the footsteps of Ford’s 2015 F-150 pickup platform, which saved up to 700 lbs over the previous steel body. The F-150 platform was retooled in 2016 for the Super Duty truck (saving up to 350 pounds from previous Super Duty models). This retooled design provided much of the basis for the 2018 Expedition.
It was reported that collision repairers certified by Ford for aluminum repair on the F-150 will see their credentials carry over to the Expedition, with no new repair equipment specified for work on the new model.
The all-new Expedition goes on sale this fall, with two availible models— the XLT and the Platinum. It will be built at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, KY, on a line near one of the existing F-150 lines. The plant underwent a major investment of $1.3 billion in 2016 that included the construction of an all-new body shop, facility upgrades, and retooling to build the new aluminum-bodied 2017 F-Series Super Duty trucks.