Truck vs SUV Tow-Off: 2023 Ford Expedition & F-150 Tremor Take on the World’s Toughest Towing Test!

Just how close can this three-row family hauler get to the pickup truck? Let's find out!

Ford Expedition vs. F-150 Tremor vs. Ike Gauntlet review
(Image: TFL Studios)

How well does Ford’s three-row family hauler compare to the popular F-150?

We’re several weeks into TFL’s latest Ike Gauntlet season, and we have an interesting challenge we don’t usually have the opportunity to put together: Testing a half-ton truck against a full-size SUV counterpart. That’s exactly what we have here, though, as we have a chance to put the 2023 Ford F-150 Tremor and it’s 5.0-liter Coyote V8 against the 3.5-liter EcoBoost 2023 Ford Expedition Timberline. Which is better to take on the World’s Toughest Towing Test?

See more: 2023 Ford F-150 Tremor vs Expedition Timberline Review: Which is the Better Off-Roader?

To set up, both rigs are towing the same trailer: the 27-foot ROA Roamer 1 that weighs in at 6,880 pounds (at least as it comes from the factory). That sits well within the capabilities of both SUV and truck, as the Ford Expedition can actually tow a respectable 9,200 pounds in its shorter (non-Max) wheelbase configuration with the Heavy-Duty Trailer Towing package. The V8-equipped Tremor, for its part, can tow up to 13,000 pounds with the Max Trailer Tow package.

Here’s how the Expedition Timberline performed

The 2023 Ford Expedition does pack a few critical differences from the F-150, of course. Its wheelbase, for a start, is about 20 inches shorter than the half-ton truck. It also sits on rear coil springs and has an independent suspension setup, rather than a leaf sprung solid axle. You would expect a well-sorted leaf spring setup to squat less, and in fact the Expedition squats about two inches (35 inches from the ground to the bottom of the rear wheel arches) lower with this load than its normal, unladen ride height.

One thing the Expedition doesn’t want for is power and torque. This latest-generation SUV uses what is effectively a Raptor engine, putting out 440 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque. With that sort of grunt, it’s not much of a surprise that it aced the uphill portion of the Ike, coming in at 7:57 (3 seconds under our 8-minute perfect score). On the way up, it managed 3.8 mpg.

During our testing, the Expedition also proved a stable towing platform on the way down from I-70’s Eisenhower tunnel to Silverthorne, Colorado, with just two brake applications.

What about the F-150?

Setting up the 2023 Ford F-150 Tremor, the rear end sits at 43 inches off the ground — fairly high, thanks to a wedge Ford’s engineers place underneath the leafs to as part of the Max Trailer Tow package. With the trailer hooked up, the F-150 actually squats a surprising 3-1/2 inches. However, that amount actually brings the truck level from front to rear when it’s loaded, rather than sitting way too low.

On the way down, the V8 F-150 Tremor actually performed better than the Expedition, only needing one brake application to keep things at a steady 55 mph. Heading back up, not only does the 5.0-liter engine make a much better sound, but it also produces a respectable 400 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. Not quite as much as the Expedition (and the torque is far lower), but still enough to get the job done…or is it?

At the end of the uphill test, the 2023 Ford F-150 Tremor managed the 8-mile, 7% grade in 8:02.93 minutes, with an average fuel economy of 4.6 mpg.

Which is the winner?

Both SUV and truck performed excellently with the downhill brake applications, as well as the uphill test. The two split apart as far as how easy it is to actually hook up a trailer, however (with both bringing different frustrating points for a quarter-star off in our 5-star rating).

In all, using TFL’s revamped 5-star rating, the 2023 Ford Expedition Timberline earns 4.0 out of 5 stars. The Ford F-150 Tremor manages slightly better, with 4.25 out of 5 stars. So, the pickup truck still wins, but it’s a lot closer than you might think.

Check out the full Ike Gauntlet run in more detail below. If you’re looking to see more of Mr. Truck, you can check out his website over here.