MALIBU, CA – Yes, the Expedition still is a behemoth among SUVs, but Ford’s all-new fullsizer drives considerably smaller after shedding a few hundred pounds, adding driver assistance technology and retaining its well-tuned fully independent suspension.

Upgrades to the ’18 Expedition include a lightweight aluminum body that shaves 300 lbs. (136 kg) off the curb weight, a more fuel-efficient powertrain, a revamped interior and a wide range of trim and option levels to accommodate everyone from adventurous off-roaders to long-distance travelers towing trailers.

All Expeditions are powered by the same turbocharged 3.5L EcoBoost V-6, now producing 375 hp and 470 lb.-ft. (637 Nm) in XLT and Limited trim and 400 hp and 480 lb.-ft. (651 Nm) of torque in Platinum models. The carryover engine is upgraded since its introduction in the’15 Expedition when it made 365 hp and 420 lb.-ft. (569 Nm) of torque.

The standard gearbox is a 10-speed automatic compared with the previous model’s 6-speed, contributing to a 5% gain in fuel efficiency.

The upgraded engine feels up to the task, with the extra torque providing good pull from a standstill and the added power sufficient to comfortably maintain cruising speed. The new automatic is smooth and quick-shifting, readily jumping as many as a half dozen gears to match the engine’s sweet spot when extra power is demanded.

The body-on-frame Expedition retains 4-wheel independent suspension, an innovation introduced more than 15 years ago that improves ride and handling, aids off-road wheel articulation and provides class-leading passenger legroom.

On-road balance and control is a high point as we pilot the big rig through winding roads in the foothills, the electrically assisted power steering helping lighten the load without making the truck feel disconnected. Brakes are particularly responsive. The ride is steady and quiet.

Off-road, the Expedition is relatively easy to thread through a hilly and twisty gravel route, and is particularly impressive tackling steep downhill grades with Hill Descent Control activated and handling all the braking to limit speed between 2 mph (3 km/h) and 20 mph (32 km/h). In addition to HDC, the FX4 Off-Road package includes an electronically locking rear differential and a front skid plate.