Despite 4 years of advancements can the 2021 Ford Expedition XLT beat out a fully loaded used 2017 Ford Expedition Limited? We find out!
When the Expedition arrived in 1996 it was meant to replace the Bronco but now in 2021, they are alive simultaneously. Nevertheless, the latest generation of the Expedition arrived in 2018 and has been a hit since. We wonder if its base price of more than $50,000 after fees is worth all it’s cracked up to be though. To find out, we’ve gathered a used 2017 Ford Expedition Limited and a brand new 2021 Ford Expedition XLT to put through numerous tests and determine a winner. Will the new SUV be a big enough step forward to beat its older predecessor?
In 2021, the XLT trim level of the Expedition is considered one step up from the base model. We’ve selected it because of how similarly priced it is. Many dealers around the country are working hard to sell the new SUV and we’ve found one going for just $46,509 that comes with rear-wheel-drive, 3-zone climate control, an 8-inch touchscreen, and gets 17mpg on city streets and up to 23mpg on the highway.
Our 2017 Expedition Limited looks dated compared to the new vehicle both inside and out but has lots of benefits. Not least of all it pushes power to all four wheels. Miles per gallon drop to 15 in city and 20 on the highway but it still gets an 8-inch touchscreen, 3-zone climate control, and the same 3.5-liter V6 under the hood that the newer model uses. The edge goes to the new one in terms of power though since it’s making 10 more horses and 50 lb-ft more torque.
Driving dynamics are quite different on the road between these two large brutes. The used Ford Expedition is capable, fairly quiet, and very athletic when it comes to towing. It actually pulls some 300 lbs more when at maximum capacity, 6,600 lbs total. While it edges its younger version just a bit, it can’t keep up when it’s not hauling a load. As mentioned previously the newer SUV has more power and torque.
Combine that with a slightly lower weight and a more sophisticated suspension and the old SUV literally can’t keep up regardless of how straight or curvy the road ahead might get. We found the steering on the 2017 to also have some odd float to it at times where it would go from good solid communication to the driver to suddenly mute pauses where it seemed disconnected for a millisecond or two. Braking was better than average for both vehicles.
In a word, yes. Where the 2021 really made it clear that it was the better driver, the used Expedition is dramatically nicer inside. No, it doesn’t have some of the more modern-looking touches that the new Expedition does, but it does have better features (which we’ll get into shortly). The heated and ventilated seats in the front row are much nicer to actually live with than the 2021 version that does neither.
Our 2017 Ford also had heated rear seats, a real benefit if you’re carrying passengers that might get cold easily, like children. Both benefit from the four-wheel independent suspension underpinning them. The ride comfort on the road is nearly identical with neither showing itself to be dramatically better or worse despite its different suspension geometry. Over long highway trips, these SUVs both shine with low wind noise, a supple ride, and more than enough room to stretch out and relax. The new Expedition is a bit less prone to body roll in hard turns and shudder over really broken pavement but the used Ford is the one we’d take on a road trip thanks to all the added features inside.
Our Limited model of the 2017 Expedition is full of excellent equipment. While both vehicles feature Sync 3, the older SUV actually has better voice recognition. It also has parking sensors both front and rear while the new one only has rear sensors. The 12-speaker sound system is literally twice the audio system found in the brand new Ford, and the sunroof and retractable running boards all add a luxurious touch not found in the XLT.
Of course, new buyers can opt for all of these features and more on the 2021 Expedition. Most all of them are standard on the 2021 Limited trim level that starts around $68,000. Of course, on top of that you’ll find the King Ranch and then the Platinum editions of the Expedition. Go with the more western of the two trims and you’ll get 22-inch wheels, a panoramic roof, LED headlights and tail lights, park assist, and a 360-degree camera system. The Platinum version gets all that but adds a 400 horsepower version of the same 3.5-liter V6, power-folding 2nd and 3rd row seats, active noise cancellation, and front seats that are heated, ventilated, and massage capable.
Dollar for dollar there’s no competing with the used 2017 Ford Expedition Limited. Let’s face it, these vehicles are meant to do a few things well. First, get you and your family and friends to places in comfort, second, tow your toys around capably, and third provide all of that capability for a reasonable price. The used Expedition does all of that for the same or less money than the new model. Now, of course, you could spend more and get more from the latest Ford SUV but then you have to decide if the $20,000-$30,000 price bump is worth it. We just don’t think they are.