How Ford Expedition FX4 Compares To The 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71

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While we openly wish that Ford would build and sell an Expedition Raptor, the reality is that off-road aficionados seeking a full-size Blue Oval SUV have only one model to turn to at the moment: the Expedition FX4 or Expedition MAX FX4.

The FX4 arrived as a package alongside the current-, fourth-generation Expedition for the 2018 model year. In fact, the introduction of the FX4 package marks the first dedicated off-road package available for the Ford Expedition in more than a decade. The Expedition FX4 adds several noteworthy upgrades to help the full-sizer better navigate trails and other unpaved surfaces.

But now, Ford’s cross-town rival – General Motors – introduced the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 and Suburban Z71. In the past, both models have competed with the Expedition FX4, but the 2021 model year brings a complete overhaul of the Chevy offerings that places an increased focus on the Z71 models. That spurred us to take a closer look at how these rugged full-size SUVs compare on paper.

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Setting The Baseline

Before we get started, we should set the baseline of this comparison.

The Expedition FX4 goes up directly agains the Chevrolet Tahoe Z71, while the Expedition Max with the FX4 package goes up against the Chevrolet Suburban Z71. In other words, the Tahoe is to the Expedition as the Suburban is to the Expedition Max.

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Neither of these are hardcore offroad machines. Instead, they’re meant to be used on the pavement, while also being able to drive on unpaved surfaces and some moderately-challenging trails.


Powertrain

From a powertrain standpoint, the Ford Expedition FX4 is powered by Ford’s 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine making a very healthy 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. It is backed by Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission that, ironically, was co-developed with General Motors. The Expedition FX4 also features a two-speed electronic four-wheel-drive system and a terrain management system. An electronic limited-slip rear differential with 3.73:1 gears rounds out the powertrain lineup of the Expedition FX4.

By comparison, the 2021 Tahoe Z71 and Suburban Z71 are powered by Chevy’s naturally-aspirated 5.3L V8 L84 engine rated at 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. The atmospheric Small Block V8 mates to GM’s version of the 10-speed automatic transmission. Standard four-wheel-drive with a two-speed transfer case, Hill Descent Control, and a mechanical limited-slip differential with 3.71:1 gears rounds out the powertrain details.

Winner: the Expedition FX4. It’s more powerful, and that power truly matters when moving vehicles of this size.


Exterior

Moving on to the exterior, the Ford Expedition FX4 rolls on a set of 18-inch Magnetic Metallic cast aluminum wheels wearing 32 inch all-terrain tires with stiffer sidewalls. The model also features a few other unique items, including FX4 badging on the liftgate and front fenders, and chrome running boards.

The 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 and Suburban Z71 come with standard 20-inch wheels wrapped in 33-inch all-terrain tires. Z71 badging, black and black-chrome exterior accents, and black running boards round out the package.

Winner: we’ll have to call this one a draw, since both models provide several unique accents on the exterior that allow them to stand out from their less rugged counterparts.

Off-Road Hardware

This is where things start to get interesting, since many of the features for both offroad machines lie beneath the surface.

For the Expedition FX4, Ford has installed a set of stiff, off-road-tuned dampers plus a total of seven skid plates to protect the engine, steering gear, transmission, fuel tank, and transfer case. The FX4 also utilizes a sand shield to protect the turbocharger intercoolers from being clogged by sand. A set of black tow hooks round out the off-road-oriented hardware. An fully-independent suspension system is present and accounted for.

Meanwhile, the 2021 Tahoe Z71 and Suburban Z71 feature a unique front fascia that allows for a higher angle of approach. In addition, both models have a front skid plate and red tow hooks. The standard suspension features fixed dampers that are shared with other models within the lineup. The piece de resistance comes with the optional Air Ride Adaptive Suspension and Magnetic Ride Control, which enables an impressive four inches of ride height adjustment.

Additionally, this new generation of the Tahoe and Suburban swaps the live rear axle for an independent rear suspension, resulting in a independent suspension system.

Winner: this is a tough one, but we must concede that the Tahoe Z71 and Suburban Z71 edge out the Expedition FX4 thanks to a unique front fascia that not only signals ruggedness, but allows for a better approach angle, to boot. Plus, the optional air suspension seems to be impressive.

Pricing

In terms of pricing, the Expedition FX4 is offered as a standalone package on XLT or Limited models. Pricing for the package ranges from $1,650 on XLT to $2,035 on Limited. Including the vehicle, the starting price is $59,810 for the Expedition FX4 (XLT trim) and $62,835 for Expedition Max FX4 (XLT trim).

By comparison, the 2021 Tahoe Z71 starts at $60,495 while the 2021 Suburban Z71 starts at $63,195.

Winner: the starting prices are comparable, so we’ll leave this one as a draw.

2020 Expedition FX4 / Expedition MAX FX4 2021 Tahoe Z71 / Suburban Z71
Availability Free-flow package for XLT and Limited models Standalone trim level based on mid-tier LT model
MSRP $1,650 – $2,035 package cost, $59,810 Expedition, $62,835 Expedition Max $60,495 Tahoe, $63,195 Suburban
Suspension
Standard Suspension Fully independent suspension, off-road front and rear shocks Fully independent suspension
Optional Suspension - Magnetic Ride Control with Air Ride Adaptive Suspension (allows 4 inches of ride height adjustment)
Powertrain
Engine Twin-Turbo 3.5L EcoBoost V6 Atmospheric 5.3L V8
Horsepower 375 355
Torque 470 383
Transmission 10-speed automatic 10-speed automatic
Rear Axle 3.73:1 3.71:1
Rear Differential Electronic limited slip Mechanical Limited Slip
Four-Wheel-Drive System Two-speed electronic four-wheel-drive system and terrain management system Standard four-wheel-drive with a two-speed transfer case and Hill Descent Control
Exterior
Skid Plates Seven skid plates protecting engine, steering gear, transmission, fuel tank, and transfer case, plus sand shield (to protect the turbocharger intercoolers) Front only
Wheels 18 inch Magnetic Metallic cast aluminum 20 inch machined aluminum with Technical Gray pockets
Tires 32-inch all-terrain 33-inch all-terrain
Tow Hooks Black Red
Unique exterior elements None Unique front fascia with high approach angle
Running Boards Chrome Black
Badging FX4 badging front fenders and liftgate Z71 badging on front fenders and grille

The Verdict

The Expedition FX4 package certainly provides some desirable upgrades that make the full-size bruiser worthy of driving on trails and unpaved surfaces. However, we think that there is room for Ford to improve the product and to make it more desirable by heading in a similar direction as Chevy did with the 2021 Tahoe Z71 / Suburban Z71.

For instance, we would love to see a more aggressive and functional front fascia, as well as an adjustable suspension system. The rest of the Expedition FX4, as far as we’re concerned, is downright perfect, particularly when it comes to the powertrain and skid plate implementation. That said, we’d love to see the FX4 package gain more capability in the future that would enable Ford’s biggest SUV to be a more formidable off-roader.

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Written by Brett Foote

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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5 Comments

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  1. FORD has done a great job with the new Expedition this SUV simply looks and ride great. I had the pleasure of renting one everything is placed nicely inside very comfortable and it was good on gas. It’s a all around great machine. The Chevy Tahoe / Suburban Biggest Problem they just slap the Silverado front end on it which is very undesirable and called it a day. Am sure the move to independent rear suspension helps it ride better than last year model, but it’s time to update the engine and that front end

    • Using the Silverado’s front end on the Tahoe/Suburban is not a problem but actually a good thing. I’m a Blue Oval guy and have 3 Ford trucks in my garage, but I must admit the new Silverado is very attractive. Chevy took a chance on the styling by going futuristic and it is paying off. The truck looks fantastic – aggressive and modern but also stylish.

      Ford needed to go further with the design of the new F-150… it didn’t go far enough. The 2021 F-150 is like a facelift and not an all new design. The Expedition is even worse. It’s so bland from a design standpoint that it puts everyone to sleep. The interior and engine is great but the exterior design needs to be updated yesterday.

  2. The new Chevy’s aren’t very good looking for one thing, the power advantage also goes to the ford as well as the undercarriage protection. Why make something uglier for basic off-roading by changing the fascia anyway. Other than the optional suspension, the Expedition is a better truck. And while the independent rear makes the Chevy’s suspension better than it was, Ford’s been using it for over a Well over decade now I believe. This is a weird site for a Ford site.

    • I don’t think of Ford authority as a fan site. They are more of an auto site focused on Ford. What I like about them is that they tell it like it is. There is no bias towards or against Ford and no annoying fan boy mumbo jumbo like in other places. That’s the way it should be if you want actual info and not the koolaid.

      As for these SUVs, the new Chevys look good. You have to be a real GM hater to hate on the new design. The Expeditions already look old.

      Ford shoulve done more with the expedition FX4. It’s just a tire and skid plate package as it sits. Needs more differentiation like adaptive suspension.

  3. The Silverado front end is deffently not attractive but the rest of it looks good. The room inside the expedition is awesome and you can tow a horse or a horse’s brother.

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