2020 Ford Expedition review: Big, bad***, expensive

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By James Raia
Car manufacturers are big on adjectives and embellishment. There may be no better example than the promotion of the 2020 Ford Expedition. It’s big, no doubt, and the SUV’s facts and figures tell the story.

The Expedition (Max Edition) has a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 375 horsepower and a 10-speed automatic transmission. It can weigh as much as 5,800 pounds depending upon its configuration. When equipped with its optional towing package, the Expedition can haul 9,300 pounds, an impressive capacity. The Expedition is standard with rear-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is an option.

The 2020 Ford Expedition can cost more than $80,000.
The 2020 Ford Expedition can cost more than $80,000.

Consumers who wish to haul RVs or power down the open road in swagger mode and with as many as seven occupants buy the pricey hauler. It’s nearly 6 1/2 feet tall and in some trims extends to 18 1/2 feet in length. It has a 28-gallon gas tank, and on an all-highway trek, that’s about 600 miles. For those who like long driving goals with few stops, the Expedition is big again.

It’s also a cavernous beast with 104.6 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded. The Expedition Max has 121.5 cubic feet in the same configuration, with the respective totals among the best in the segment. There’s plenty of room for a large family and all of its stuff.

The numbers detail plenty, but not enough for Ford. The Expedition is promoted with the ability “to move mountains” as well as “empower and please people.” It’s “built to live life to the max” and “built to keep you moving.”

Is that all?

Like the Ford’s F-series pickup trucks, the Expedition is offered in several trims, including the King Ranch. New for 2020, it’s named after a monstrous cattle ranch in Texas. It features upscale Del Rio leather seats, steering wheel and door panel coverings. There’s top-notch stitching, adaptive suspension, 22-inch painted wheels, a roof rail and running boards. And there’s a lot of masculine badging. The beginning MSRP is $76,750.

With its jumbo-sized chrome grille and big wheels, the King Ranch has a bold road presence. But the standard features list, interior design, spaciousness and two-tone color scheme complete the SUV. It’s available only with flexible, second-row captain’s chairs.

Tri-zone climate control, heated and cooled front seats, heated second-row seats, heated steering wheel, six USB ports, wireless charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto comprise a generous standard list. But there’s also a Bang & Olufsen sound system, available inflatable seat belts, a digital gauge cluster, pro trailer back-up assist and a 110V outlet.

Introduced in recent years, the Ford Co-Pilot360™ driver-assistant technology is now standard, beginning with the 2020 model. It includes blind-spot monitoring, lane keep assist, pedestrian detection and forward automatic emergency braking.

Plenty of families purchase large SUVs. The Expedition has a full set of easy access LATCH car-seat connectors for either the easy-slide bench seat or captain’s chairs second row and the third row. Seating capacity is eight, but seven is more practical.

No one buys (or should buy) a large SUV expecting superior gas mileage or nimble driving. The Expedition averages 16 miles per gallon in-city driving, 21 mpg on the highway. That’s better than top competitors, although premium-grade fuel is required. The Expedition doesn’t maneuver well in tight surroundings, and don’t consider using regular-sized parking spots.

Acceleration is surprisingly strong for a V6 SUV with such a hefty presence. Braking is softer than expected, and the Expedition isn’t quiet, particularly on the open road.

The standard configurations should be satisfactory for most buyers. If not, the Expedition Max with any drivetrain is available with any trim. Further, the Expedition Platinum with four-wheel drive is also available, pushing the starting MSRP to more than $80,000.

There’s not much the fully optioned Expedition or any of its clan can’t do, shy of moving mountains.

James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: james@jamesraia.com.

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Tommy Molnar
1 month ago

We bought a 2014 Expedition EL through Carmax several years ago. Not to tow anything, but for comfortable traveling. One of the best cars we’ve owned.

Captn John
1 month ago

Please don’t spout the “it can haul a million pounds” garbage. How about payload and hitch weight? People actually buy vehicles based on that fictitious number and find themselves in trouble.

Brian
1 month ago

The King Ranch trim is not new to 2020.