Best & Worst Ford Expedition Years

We've ranked all Ford Expedition models for each generation so you can avoid picking the worst Ford Expedition years and pick the best one.

In this guide, I’ll analyze all Ford Expedition generations, pinpointing the Ford Expedition’s best years and the worst Ford Expedition years to avoid.

Using credible sources like NHTSA, VehicleHistory, and expert reviews, I’ve meticulously compiled data about the Expedition’s performance, issues, and highlights throughout its generations and model years.

We go deeper into specific years under each generation, categorizing them as the best, neutral, or worst Ford Expedition years, with details from the transmission and shifting problems to engine reliability issues.

Let’s dive right in.

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Table of ContentsShow

Ford Expedition Generations

The Ford Expedition debuted in 1997, establishing itself as a sizable, reliable, and powerful SUV, thus paving the way for Ford into the large SUV market.

Initially presented as a replacement for the Bronco, the Expedition was introduced with a slew of commendable features for its time, including a 4.6L or 5.4L V8 engine, ample interior space, and the capability to tow heavy loads, catering aptly to large families and heavy-duty users alike.

Here are all the Ford Expedition generations from 1997.

GenerationYears
1st generation (UN93)1997-2002
2nd generation (U222)2003-2006
3rd generation (U324)2007-2017
4th generation (U553)2018-Present

Identifying and understanding the generations of the Ford Expedition is pivotal as it arms you with insightful data regarding the evolution of the model throughout the years.

Ford Expedition Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

When categorizing and ranking the Ford Expedition’s best and worst model years, we diligently consider a myriad of factors, including but not limited to:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • JD Power owner ratings
  • Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • Cars.com owner ratings

Navigate the upcoming graph to comprehend the accumulated ratings from the platforms above.

Ford Expedition Car Smite Score Combined Overall Score

Get ready to explore our categorized table, highlighting the best, neutral, and worst years of the Ford Expedition through generations.

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
1st generation (UN93)2002N/A1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2nd generation (U222)2006N/A2003
2004
2005
3rd generation (U324)2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2009
2010
2007
2008
2011
2012
4th generation (U553)2022
2023
20192018
2020
2021

Neutral years define a peculiar category wherein the models do not significantly stand out in a predominantly positive or negative light.

Do note that certain factors, such as NHTSA recalls, negatively impact the rankings – the higher the count of complaints and recalls, the lower the projected reliability of a particular model year.

Let’s dive into the Ford Expedition’s best, neutral, and worst years.

Best & Worst Years for Ford Expedition 1st Generation (1997-2002)

Ford Expedition 1st generation 1997 model
The 1997 Ford Expedition

In the landscape of full-size SUVs, the Ford Expedition debuted with the first generation (1997-2002), aiming to carve out its spot with a combination of size, power, and utility.

The latest model year of the generation – 2002, is the Ford Expedition’s best year in the first generation, while the earlier years – 1999-2001 are the Ford Expedition years you should avoid.

The Best Years: 2002

Despite having some persistent issues from the earlier models, with relatively fewer recalls and complaints, 2002 is categorized as the best Ford Expedition year of this generation.

Under the hood, it featured a 4.6L Triton V8 engine producing 232 horsepower and a 5.4L Triton V8 offering a substantial 260 horsepower, paired with a 4-speed automatic transmission.

Fuel economy for the 2002 Expedition was modest, boasting approximately 14 city / 19 highway mpg, aligning with expectations for full-sized SUVs of the era.

The XLT trim offered consumers additional comfort features like power-adjustable pedals and rear air conditioning.

Meanwhile, the Eddie Bauer trim took luxury further with two-tone paint and an upgraded interior.

However, some owners highlighted concerns about the braking system and occasional transmission glitches.

The Worst Years: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001

Model years from 1997 to 2001 are the Ford Expedition years that are wise to avoid.

Beginning with the 1997 Ford Expedition, owners frequently grappled with numerous problems, including spark plug blowouts.

This issue was prevalent in the 5.4L Triton V8 engine, a powertrain choice that continued throughout this generation, plaguing the following model years.

Electrical issues such as total power loss and widespread dashboard malfunctions persisted in the 1997 Ford Expedition, while transmission and brake failures were common.

The impact of these substantial issues carried through to the 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001 models, with the fire risk being a stark point of criticism and concern among owners. Detailed reports highlight instances of fire accidents, with the speed control deactivation switch cited as a notable culprit.

Many recalls during these years addressed significant issues, from auto transmission cables preventing disengagement from the park position to potential steering disconnection.

See NHTSA 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Ford Expedition recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Ford Expedition 2nd Generation (2003-2006)

Ford Expedition 2nd generation 2003 model
The 2003 Ford Expedition

Embarking on a new chapter, the Ford Expedition entered its second generation (2003-2006) with notable design alterations, tech upgrades, and attempts to resolve past mechanical issues.

Like the first generation, the latest model year – 2006 is the Ford Expedition’s best year in the second generation, while 2003-2005 are the Ford Expedition years you should altogether avoid.

The Best Years: 2006

As it was the latest model of the second generation, 2006 was selected as the Ford Expedition’s best year.

The model came with two distinct engine options: a 4.6L Triton SOHC V8, producing 232 hp and a torque of 291 lb-ft, and a more potent 5.4L SOHC V8, delivering 300 hp and a torque of 365 lb-ft.

Both engines were mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission, ensuring a smooth and responsive drive.

The EPA estimated fuel economy was around 12 city / 17 highway mpg, which was standard for full-sized SUVs during this period.

Various trim levels, such as XLT, Eddie Bauer, and Limited, provided consumers diverse, practical, and luxurious options.

Its safety features were also boosted by introducing the AdvanceTrac stability control system.

However, it’s imperative to note that the 2006 Expedition was not without its faults. Some owners reported issues with brake wear and occasional electronic gremlins.

The Worst Years: 2003, 2004, 2005

With persistent spark plug blowouts and transmission issues, 2003, 2004, and 2005 are the Ford Expedition years better to avoid.

The 2003 Ford Expedition faced criticism for numerous issues, particularly regarding its electrical system and transmission.

Noteworthy problems included spark plug blowouts, a continued issue from the first generation that affected even the revised 5.4L Triton V8 engine.

The electrical system also presented challenges, with various reports of faulty window regulators and occasional total power loss.

Owners grappled with rusty brake lines that compromised the braking system by leaking brake fluid and exacerbated wear on the front brake rotors, reducing the overall efficacy of the brakes.

Transmission failures, often resulting in unanticipated engine stalling, were also reported.

The electronic throttle control malfunctions, engine issues, and instances of transmission hesitation or failure were concerning and prevalent in consumer reports.

See NHTSA 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 Ford Expedition recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Ford Expedition 3rd Generation (2007-2017)

Ford Expedition 3rd generation 2007 model
The 2007 Ford Expedition

Stepping into its third generation, the Ford Expedition (2007-2017) sought to elevate its stature amidst a burgeoning SUV market by implementing striking design changes and technological advancements.

2007, 2008, 2011, and 2012 are the Ford Expedition years you should avoid in this generation. Golden era – 2013-2017 are Ford Expedition’s best and most reliable years.

The Best Years: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

What year is the best for the used Ford Expedition? With significantly fewer NHTSA recalls and complaints and outstanding Kelley Blue Book, VehicleHistory, Cars.com, and J.D. Power ratings, 2013-2017 are undeniably the best and most reliable years for the third-generation Ford Expedition.

Powering these models were predominantly two engine options: a 5.4L V8 (2007-2014) that generated 310 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque and, introduced a bit later, a 3.5L EcoBoost V6 (2015-2017) capable of a substantial 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque.

Both options were initially linked to a 6-speed 6R80 automatic transmission, which delivered fuel efficiency with approximately 15 city / 21 highway mpg.

Trim levels such as XLT, Limited, King Ranch, and later, Platinum offered various choices.

Advanced technological introductions like the SYNC 3 infotainment system, blind-spot monitoring, and enhanced towing capabilities (thanks to the Trailer Backup Assist feature) began to surface.

The Neutral Years: 2009, 2010

2009 and 2010 form the middle ground for the Expedition in this generation, performing adequately yet without the marked excellence or glaring issues of other years.

A notable feature in these models was the incorporation of Ford’s MyKey system in 2010, which allowed owners to configure maximum speed and audio volume limits.

Additionally, these years continued to offer a sturdy 5.4L V8 engine.

Some owners reported problems like paint peeling in the 2009 Ford Expedition.

The Worst Years: 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012

What years are the Ford Expedition to avoid? 2007, 2008, 2011, and 2012 are undeniably the worst Ford Expedition years you should avoid. Here is why:

Owners lamented problems ranging from spark plug blowouts to fuel leaks, brake failures, excessive paint peeling, subframe corrosion, and unsettling dashboard malfunctions.

A recall concerning fuel leaks from the fuel rail cross-over hose further marred the reputation of the 2007 Ford Expedition.

Is 2011 a good year for the Ford Expedition? Not. In the 2011 and 2012 Ford Expedition models, unexpected downshifting in the 6R80 transmission surfaced as a significant concern among owners, which later Ford responded with a recall.

Numerous grievances were also persistent regarding paint peeling on the tailgate and dashboard malfunctions, particularly in the speedometer.

See NHTSA 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012 Ford Expedition recalls and grievances.

Best & Worst Years for Ford Expedition 4th Generation (2018-2023)

Ford Expedition 4th generation 2018 model
The 2018 Ford Expedition

Navigating into its fourth generation, the Ford Expedition made substantial strides in upscaling its offering with robust mechanics, enriched interiors, and modernized technology.

2022 and 2023 are the most reliable years of the Ford Expedition. 2018, 2020, and 2021 are the Ford Expedition years to avoid in this generation.

The Best Years: 2022, 2023

The 2022 and 2023 models arguably are Ford Expedition’s best years for the fourth generation, showcasing significant enhancements and minimizing issues.

The lineup comes with various powertrain options, like the robust 3.5L EcoBoost V6, offering a vigorous 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque in standard form and an elevated 400 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque in certain higher trims.

Paired with a 10-speed 10R80 SelectShift automatic transmission, these models offer a hearty performance while maintaining reasonable fuel efficiency at around 17 city / 23 highway mpg.

Trim options, including XLT, Limited, King Ranch, and Platinum, offer a layered experience, moving from a richly equipped base to sheer luxury.

Noteworthy advancements such as including Ford’s Co-Pilot360 suite, which combines various safety technologies like blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist, brought a modern edge.

The Neutral Years: 2019

Positioned centrally regarding reliability and performance, the 2019 Ford Expedition navigates a balanced pathway, neither exceptionally problematic nor strikingly impeccable.

While it inherits the 3.5L V6 and notable features like Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system and enhanced driver-assistance features, it was not entirely immune to critiques.

Some owners highlighted issues such as hard shifting and cam phaser failures, indicated by rattling and knocking sounds from the hood.

However, its reasonable balance of advanced features and few critical issues places it in a neutral position within the generation.

The Worst Years: 2018, 2020, 2021

Due to many recalls and owner complaints on NHTSA, 2018, 2020, and 2021 are categorized as the Ford Expedition years that are recommended to avoid.

The 2018 Ford Expedition was subjected to recalls due to issues like fuel pump assembly welds that might fracture and gear shift cable clip dislodgements in the 10-speed transmission, potentially indicating a false “Park” position.

Additionally, malfunctioning auto start/stop systems and infotainment glitches were common.

The predominant concern in the 2020 Ford Expedition pivoted around the 10-speed transmission, with notable instances of hard shifting, jerking, and slipping.

Meanwhile, the 2021 Ford Expedition further strained its reputation with an imperative recall concerning engine compartment fire risks when parked.

See NHTSA 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Ford Expedition recalls and complaints.

Ford Expedition Average Resale Values

See the following graph illustrating Ford Expedition models’ varying average resale values.

Ford Expedition Average List Price

Conclusion

Navigating through the extensive history of the Ford Expedition, it’s evident that its best years are 2013-2017 and 2022-2023. These years ensure a blend of reliability and modern features.

Have you or someone you know owned a model from our best or worst Ford Expedition years?

Share your personal experiences in the comments below!

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.