Having announced the new Expedition at the Chicago Auto Show, Ford has treated off-road enthusiasts to a tougher FX4 package. With better underbody protection and a proper rear differential, the Expedition FX4 should couple the efficiency of the standard SUV with the ability to handle difficult off-road trails.

Changes to the Expedition start with the suspension. Ford has fitted stiffer shocks aimed at keeping the wheels in contact with rough, undulating roads. The standard tires have been subbed out for all-terrain Michelin rubber with thicker sidewalls, and the regular alloy wheels make way for unique cast-aluminum units.

Seven skid plates have been added to the underbody, protecting all the areas susceptible to rock strikes when you're off-roading: a shield stops the intercoolers from getting clogged with sand, steel plates protect vital components like the steering gear, engine, gearbox and transfer case, and a full-length cover now protects the fuel tank. Ford has also revised the front chin spoiler for better approach angles.

At the rear, an electronic limited-slip differential with 3.73:1 gearing can shuffle power from side to side when slip is detected. Ford also says the new diff will help when towing heavy loads. In the cabin, the driver can flick through seven different drive modes and tailor the four-wheel drive system to the conditions ahead.

There's more to the FX4 than just underbody hardware – the package also includes a few styling touches. The running boards are now finished in chrome, and there are a few extra badges on the nose and tail. Inside, there are rubber floor mats for easy cleaning. Aside from the mats, the interior is the same seven-seat setup you get in the standard car.

Power comes from a 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine with 375 hp (280 kW) of power and 637 Nm of torque, hooked up to a 10-speed automatic gearbox. Peak towing capacity is 9,300 lb (4,218 kg).

The FX4 will go on sale with the rest of the Expedition range in Q3 this year.

Source: Ford

View gallery - 6 images