Ford Motor Company's three-row Expedition epitomizes Sport Utility Versatility; it's built from the ground up utilizing a workman-like body-on-frame design found in pickup trucks. A large percentage of popular five-door crossovers may look similar (but smaller), but depend upon uni-body underpinnings, the building blocks of sedans and coupes.
The first-generation Ford Expedition debuted back in the 1997 model year, providing a big boost to dealership sales.
Expedition underwent a noteworthy fourth-generation redesign in the 2018 model year by going on an extensive diet. Compared with the bulkier third generation, this latest svelte version shed an average of 300 pounds, improving fuel economy without compromising towing ability. Wheelbase (distance between front and rear axles) grew by three-and-a-half inches, providing extra leg room, notable in back regions.
The successful diet regiment was tried first by another Ford product looking to lose undesired flab, the venerable, full-size F-150 pickup, America's best-selling vehicle the past 38 years.
In 2014, Ford Motor Company took a calculated gamble with F-150, introducing weight-saving, aluminum-type body panels gracing the hood, side fenders, side doors and cargo bed. The move proved poignant as consumers, voting with their dollars, continued purchasing F-150s in droves.
Ford continued utilizing healthy percentages of aluminum when reintroducing the mid-size Ranger pickup in 2018.
Expedition measures in as one of the largest five-door offering from the Blue Oval Company. Yet, for those harking for more, a "Max" edition stretches overall length by approximately 11 inches (and available in all trims). Be forewarned, some garages get dwarfed by Expedition Max, which spent a week of testing unroofed and parked outdoors in this scribe's Glen Ellyn driveway.
Total Expedition sales in 2019 (Ford combines both conventional length and Max sales together) reached 86,422, a huge 58 percent increase from 2018's 54,661, helped along by strong 2019 fourth-quarter (Oct. Nov. Dec.) numbers where sales soared 71 percent.
Expedition introduces a new trim level for 2020, King Ranch, joining returning trims XLT, Limited and Platinum. Also new for 2020, Expedition's suite of radar-based safety nuances (marketed as 'Co-pilot 360') comes standard in all trims. Also, Ford adds a few up-level nuances to Platinum trims including a leather-wrapped instrument panel topper and aluminum inserts into second-row scuff plates. Rear wheel drive comes standard with four-wheel drive optional in all trims.
Expedition and Expedition Max offer growing families an opportunity not always prominent; a third row capable of cradling a trio of tall teens. Back rows handling a couple of pre-teens remain readily available, but when preteens graduate to the next level up (their own personal Max editions), holding more than two participants in a friendly fashion turns to a pipe dream. Expedition's massive third row welcomes not just two, but three teens and/or post teens.
Eight-rider configurations come standard with two captain's chairs optional in row two (replacing a three-row split bench), decreasing body count to seven.
Large side doors and elevated side running boards aid the journey into row tres, made pleasant with second-row seats that manually tilt and slide forward with minimal oomph effort. The sizeable walk way and way back dance floor in Max helps when maneuvering the two-step foot shuffle into row three.
Standard electronic power assist maneuvers this huge beast with steering wheel ease, but ginormous length requires extra caution in smaller parking lots.
The sole engine returning unchanged from 2019 is a well-engineered and highly regarded 3.5-liter twin-turbo, direct-injected V-6 producing 375 horsepower and teamed with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Platinum trims tweak engines upward to generate 400 horses and 480 lb.-ft. of torque.
Many rivals offer bulkier V-8 engines in their full-size SUVs, but with less enthusiasm. The 2020 Suburban, Chevy's largest five-door SUV and its standard, naturally aspirated (non turbo charged) 5.3-liter V-8 spits out 355 horses (20 fewer than Expedition).
Expedition's V-6 delivers 16 miles per gallon city and 21 mpg highway with all-wheel drive, 17 and 23 respectively with front drive utilizing regular, 87-octane fuel; one of the best in the segment. Max editions hold 27.8 gallons of petro, four more than standard length choices. A cap-less fuel lead eliminates the sometimes pesky twist cap, replacing it with a convenient self-sealing barrier.
Conventional turbochargers run off of recycled exhaust gases spinning a pinwheel-inspired turbine pumping concentrated air into the engine, increasing horsepower output. Ford's twin turbocharging splits turbocharging duties equally between two turbines. Each turbocharger is driven by half of the engines spent exhaust resulting in reduced turbo lag (a hesitation during heavy acceleration).
Our all-wheel drive Platinum trim started at $80,110 with an $84,065 bottom line after factoring a $1,395 destination charge. The $2,560 gaggle of options broke down to $395 worth of burgundy exterior premium paint, $1,570 heavy duty trailer towing package and $595 for second row captain's chairs. A standard length Expedition starts at $52,810, a higher price point than some in its class. Max editions start about $3,000 higher than conventional editions.
With the optional towing package, Expedition Max handles a hearty 9,000 pounds of trailer weight, excellent results especially when sporting a V-6.
Electronic push button start summons from a circular dashboard button resting on a 45-degree angle largely free from steering wheel interference. Also circular and electronic in nature, the 10-speed, dial-style automatic transmission shifter between comfortably firm front buckets rather than a traditional mechanical, vertically shifting design. Ford's 'Control Trac' four-wheel drive, shifts 'on the fly' from two-wheel high to four-high via a quad-portion electronic push panel near the transmission dial.
Storage opportunities abound, large and small throughout the vehicle. Between the Platinum's multi-contoured, leather-trimmed heated and vented buckets resides a large, deep, square-shaped rear-hinged storage bin and multiple beverage holders. The dash top includes a recessed region for transponders or loose change.
Built into the floor behind third-row seatbacks one finds a shallow horizontally arranged organizer, ideal for standing four liters of soda or bags of groceries (paper and/or plastic), helping to prevent extensive rolling during drives. When not in use, a flat floor covering folds into place.
The workman-like, detailed instrument panel includes two traditional analog gauges flanking each end of the rectangular design. The left-side tachometer includes a vertical numbered column indicating the current stage of the 10-speed automatic transmission. The center portion includes both stationary and multiple-paneled digital displays. Constantly visible is a handy miles-per-empty readout and constant compass directional (N, S, E or W).
Drivers have a choice of controlling HVAC commands through the medium-sized in-dash touchscreen, or push-buttons and large, tactile dials below the screen. The eight-inch, easily interpreted screen centers the dash, welcoming Apple Car Play and Android Auto Smartphone connections.
All trims include left-side cargo region power buttons for raising and lowering third row 60/40 split power seat backs. With both back rows folded, a cavernous 121.5 cubic feet of space awaits, nearly identical to the 2020 Chevrolet Suburban.
Outside Expedition Platinum include retracting side running boards standard. When side doors open flush-mounted horizontal boards along the bottom framing electronically retract out, greatly assisting the substantial 9.8 inches of ground clearance.
Expedition Max includes a relatively flat roof front to back with a 90-degree turn at the corner where the hatch door meets the roof, maximizing head room inside while creating a work like image outside. 2020 Ford Expedition
Price as tested: $84,065
Engine: 3.5-liter V-6
Wheelbase: 131.6 inches
Overall Length: 221.9 inches
Overall Height: 76.4 inches
Overall Width: 93.4 inches
Curb weight: 5,794 pounds
Fuel Economy: 16 mpg city 21 mpg highway
Powertrain warranty: Five years/60,000 miles
Assembly: Louisville, Kentucky