Buyers have already been taking the Expedition off road; Ford adds features to make that easier.

If you’ve thought about the big Ford Expedition as nothing more than a minivan alternative, you might need to think again with the debut of the new FX4 edition.

All versions of the 2018 Ford Expedition migrate to an aluminum-intensive body, sharing the same engineering approach as the full-size F-150 pickup. The people-mover also gets a new powertrain package and updated safety and infotainment technologies.

But Ford is taking another tip from the F-150 line-up, where the FX4 package is a perennial buyer favorite. The off-road trim level will now be offered for Expedition buyers, as well.

Ford’s answer to the ever-popular Chevrolet Suburban was in need of an update, and Ford is betting it has plenty of pluses that could eat into Chevy’s lead in the big SUV category. Measuring over a foot longer than the Explorer, the new Expedition sheds hundreds of pounds by abandoning its old steel body for lightweight aluminum.

Drivers will be able to track off-road conditions with the Expedition FX4's new gauge cluster.

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On the road, the 2018 Ford Expedition FX4 package will be able to handle a 9,300-pound trailer, a 100-pound increase from the outgoing model.

But the big news is what that version will get to handle off-road conditions:

  • A new electronic limited-slip differential to ensure traction even on loose sand;
  • Skid plates for rocky conditions, and shields to keep sand out of the radiator and other mechanical components;
  • Stiff-tuned off-road shocks;
  • All-terrain tires with thicker sidewalls meant to maintain ride comfort;
  • Unique 18-inch case aluminum wheels;
  • Chrome running boards; and
  • Removable rubber floor mats.

The sand shields were added because the Expedition has already become a popular product in the Middle East, customers heavily modifying the old SUV to handle the desert’s sugar-fine sand.

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The FX4 will get a 375-horsepower version of the Expedition's 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6.

The instrument cluster for the Expedition FX4 will also feature gauges that help a driver monitor off-road driving conditions.

All versions of the 2018 Expedition will be equipped with a 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 engine paired with a 10-speed automatic gearbox shared with the F-150. The FX4 version will turn out 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. Fuel-saving auto stop/start is standard.

Look for pricing and fuel economy numbers for the entire 2018 Expedition line-up to be announced closer to the autumn on-sale date.

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