As we wait for Chevrolet and Ford to release the 2022 models, we’re taking a comparative look at the Suburban vs Expedition.
The Ford vs. Chevy rivalry has taken many forms over the years, but one of the biggest slugfests they’ve had has been the Expedition against the Suburban. Each getting momentum after going through their own redesigns over the years, the advantage has shifted like the ball in a tennis match. At least keeping track of this rivalry doesn’t result in a sore neck and a trip to the chiropractor.
Over 85 years old, the Chevrolet Suburban has seen many changes, going from a commercial vehicle to a military vehicle to a family SUV. Meanwhile, the Ford Expedition hit the ground running when it debuted more than 25 years ago. Through the years, the Ford Expedition has also seen several stylistic and mechanical updates.
The 2021 Chevrolet Suburban was fully redesigned, while the 2021 Ford is awaiting a 2022 redesign.
Bigger, and perhaps better, than ever, the 2021 Suburban upgrades make it a viable alternative to the 2021 Ford Expedition. Granted, the Suburban needed a redesign if it was going to catch up to the Expedition. Which one is better though? With 11 trims between these two large SUVs, there are plenty of options to consider. Let’s take a look at the latest chapter in this battle!
The 2021 Suburban has a 5.3L V8, a 6.2L V8, or a diesel six-cylinder. All of them are hooked up to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The 5.3L produces 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. That 6.2L engine makes 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. The diesel is busy making 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gives the Suburban 16 miles per gallon in the city and 20 on the highway with that 5.3L V8, while the 6.2L gets a 15/20 mpg city/highway rating. It comes with rear-wheel drive but does have four-wheel drive available.
This behemoth measures nearly 19 feet (225.7 inches, to be exact).
In the Expedition, a twin-turbocharged 3.5L V6 is paired with a responsive 10-speed automatic transmission. The lower trims get 375 horsepower with that V6, but the Platinum has a version that makes 400 horsepower. It ends up with 470 lb-ft of torque.
At 17 miles per gallon in the city and 23 miles per gallon on the highway, the Expedition is a little bit better than the Suburban. With four-wheel drive, it drops to 17/22 mpg city/highway. That’s with the standard-wheelbase Expedition, which measures 17.5 feet long. The Expedition Max stretches out to 18.5 feet. Just as with the Chevrolet Suburban, rear-wheel drive is standard in the Expedition, but all-wheel drive is an option.
This Suburban has good dynamics for a large SUV. There’s plenty of power to tow between 7,500 and 8,300 pounds or accelerate onto an interstate. It’s a big vehicle, so turns are a weakness, but it’s not worse in that category than any other vehicle of its size. The steering is about as sharp as you would expect it to be. Whether towing a load or out on the highway, the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban should minimize most of the bumps and jolts along the way.
The Ford Expedition is bulky, just like the Suburban, so maneuvering in any tight spot can be tricky. Still, it’s composed on the road and in curves. It will start and stop with relative ease. The steering is fine for the size of the vehicle. The Expedition is also quiet and responsive with easy handling, overall.
With seating for up to eight people in the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban, passengers have options to make their trip more comfortable. There’s a lot of passenger space with a couple more inches of legroom in the second and third rows. The second row also has seat adjustments so passengers can get situated just right. It rides comfortably on most surfaces thanks to the newly adopted independent rear suspension, making it more comparable to the Ford Expedition. The ride can be upgraded with a magnetically dampened suspension and an adaptive air suspension as well.
Part of what makes the all-new 2021 Chevrolet Suburban new is the increased cargo capacity, measuring in at 41.2 cubic feet behind the third row. The cargo area was expanded by 23 cubic feet. Thanks to that independent rear suspension mentioned earlier, the cargo floor is flatter, too. The seats fold down easily, with the push of a button, so you can quickly increase space when needed.
The seats themselves range from cloth in lower trims to perforated leather in the higher trim levels.
There are knobs in the front and back of the Chevrolet Suburban to easily control temperature and audio. The touchscreen sits a little higher on the dash in the Suburban than in the Expedition, making it easier to quickly glance at it and return your focus to the road. However, the vent placement and cosmetics come off as a little old fashioned when comparing it to the 2021 Ford Expedition.
All 2021 Expeditions have an independent rear suspension, just like the Suburban, which equals a good, mostly cushioned ride.
Depending on how the seats are positioned, the 2021 Ford Expedition has between 19.3 and 20.9 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind the third row. However, the extended-length Expedition Max measures 34.3 cubic feet behind the third row. Folding down that third row will increase cargo up to 57.5 cubic feet on a standard Ford Expedition.
Genuine Del Rio leather upholstery is reserved for some of the higher Expedition trims, while cloth upholstery is standard for the base. Splurging for the King Ranch will get a King Ranch logos stitched into the leather in pretty much every location you can think of: the center console, the head rests, and the steering wheel.
Similar to the Chevrolet Suburban, there are knobs in the front and back of the Ford Expedition, controlling cabin temperature and audio. The center command looks a little busy, but isn’t difficult to use. There’s a knob for a shifter as well. I prefer more of a traditional shifter, but the nob certainly doesn’t get in the way of your arm movements!
There are going to be some of those hard plastics in either of these two vehicles, but going up in price gets a more luxurious feeling interior.
LS ($56,995) – Even the base trim starts with some decent features, like a 10.2-inch touchscreen, HD radio, satellite radio, eight USB ports, Bluetooth, Apple and Android configuration, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. Tri-zone automatic climate control is also a welcome feature. Rear parking sensors, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic high beam LED headlights, and rear-seat reminder systems are all standard.
LT ($61,695) – One step up earns a hands-free power liftgate, a Bose nine-speaker stereo, and wireless device charging. This trim also has leather upholstery and heated front seats.
Z71 ($63,895) – Front tow hooks, a hill descent control, a front skid plate, and all-terrain tires come with the off-roading Z71.
RST ($64,795) – This sporty trim adds black upholstery with red stitching to the interior, while the exterior gets black accents and 22-inch wheels.
Premier ($70,195) – Getting into the top of the lineup now, the Premier adds a navigation system and has available adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, and a rearview mirror with an integrated camera display. It’s also got ventilated front seats and second row captain’s chairs.
High Country ($75,470) – Additional horsepower tops off this trim. A head-up display and rearview mirror with a camera are now standard. Power-retractable side steps are one feature that is exclusively available with the High Country.
XL ($50,595) – The base trim is the only two-row model in the lineup. There are new alloy wheel designs on all trims. There’s an impressive list of standard infotainment, including: an eight-inch touchscreen, a Wi-Fi hot spot, four USB ports, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The standard Ford Co-Pilot360 driver-assistance features are also lengthy. Automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, a pre-collision warning and braking system, blind spot monitoring, automatic high-beam headlights, a rearview camera, lane keep assist, and rear cross traffic alert are all part of that safety suite.
XLT ($53,410) – Satellite radio, rear parking sensors, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror are all part of the price bump here. There’s also a power-folding third row for all trims above the XL.
Limited ($62,175) – More add-ons are available with the Limited. A hands-free, foot-activated liftgate, front parking sensors, park assist, and rain-sensing windshield wipers are all part of the Limited experience. Leather upholstery in the first two rows and heated second-row seats are also part of the appeal of the Limited. There are also additional technology upgrades like a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo, wireless device charging, a surround-view parking camera. Passengers will likely enjoy the dual-headrest rear-seat entertainment system that is available on anything above the Limited.
King Ranch ($73,335) – The next step up involves upgraded black and brown leather upholstery, styling enhancements that involve gray accents, and active noise cancellation. The panoramic sunroof will be a favorite feature for anyone who likes a sunroof.
Platinum ($74,150) – Lastly, there is the top of the mountain with 25 additional horsepower from the V6 engine, an adaptive suspension, and contoured, massaging front seats. Retractable running boards are a nice convenience. Second row captain’s chairs are also an option.
The new independent rear suspension catches Chevrolet’s Suburban up to Ford’s Expedition when it comes to ride and comfort. The interior is spacious, and it has higher end materials now, but it still sits a little rigid. It wins when it comes to storage space, however. You have to go higher up (all the way to the Limited) with Ford to get most of the features the Chevrolet Suburban LT has.
Pricing is pretty comparable on the top trims, but the 2021 Ford Expedition has more models on the lower end of the price range, so if saving money is a factor, they may have an advantage. Chevrolet’s head-up display, mirrors with cameras integrated, and other upgrades make the Suburban a hard option to pass up, but I’d lean a little more toward the Ford Expedition due to the overall cost.
When you get right down to it, either one of these models would fit the need for a large, versatile family vehicle. It comes down to your budget and how much bang you want to get for your buck.