2020 Ford Expedition Max review: Big-time family hauler
The first thing you notice about the Ford Expedition Max is right there in the name: It's huge. It's as close to a Canyonero as you can get these days. But thankfully, that big-and-tall stature is easy to live with thanks to a good roster of driver assistance tech and a powerful twin-turbo punch.
With its 222-inch length and 131-inch wheelbase, the full-size, three-row Expedition Max is actually shorter than a four-door F-150 SuperCrew pickup truck. But it feels downright massive from behind the wheel thanks to its cavernous interior. Spec the second-row bench seat and there's room for eight inside the Expedition, and because of the Max's added length, there's a full 36 cubic feet of space behind the third row, compared with just 21 cubic feet in the standard Expedition. Fold both back rows flat and this thing will haul an impressive 121.5 cubic feet of cargo.
My King Ranch tester is a seriously luxurious thing, too, with leather everywhere and second-row captain's chairs that have an easy tip-and-slide feature for easy access to the third row. I love the liberal use of open-pore wood inside the Expedition King Ranch and there are plenty of little storage cubbies, including one on top of the dashboard. All told, there are 15 cup holders, so feel free to bring along a whole case of Diet Dr. Pepper.
On the tech front, Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system is standard, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto included. This is one of the best infotainment systems on the market, with easy-to-navigate menus and quick response times. The 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot can keep 10 devices connected at the same time. That's more devices than seats! You'll be able to keep them all charged, too, thanks to a wireless charging pad, three 12-volt outlets, five USB Type-A ports, one USB-C port and a three-prong, 110-volt plug. You could probably power Las Vegas with this thing. (OK, not really.)
The standard blind-spot monitoring makes it easy to gauge when it's safe to change lanes on the highway, though thanks to the open, airy greenhouse, there aren't really many blind spots to speak of. That's in addition to the other niceties included in Ford's standard Co-Pilot 360 driver assistance suite, including lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking and automatic high beams. My King Ranch tester also comes with full-speed adaptive cruise control, and the aforementioned blind-spot monitoring can cover the length of a trailer, if you're the towing type.
Speaking of towing, the Max can pull 9,000 pounds, which is 300 pounds less than the standard Expedition. Even so, that's way more than you can pull with a Chevrolet Tahoe , Suburban , Nissan Armada or Toyota Sequoia .
The King Ranch trim is new for 2020, and it adds gray-painted lower bumpers, unique 22-inch wheels and the requisite badges all over the exterior and interior. Power comes from Ford's 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 engine, pushing out 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox is great, producing smooth shifts and mostly fading into the background. Acceleration is strong and the Expedition Max is surprisingly quick, despite its nearly 5,800-pound curb weight.
Of course, anything this big and this powerful is going to gulp down fuel. The EPA gives the 2020 Expedition Max a combined fuel economy rating of 18 miles per gallon but I'm seeing about 16.8 mpg in my four-wheel-drive tester. Still, that's better than a lot of the Expedition's competitors.
The Expedition drives about as you'd expect for an SUV this size, though it's easy to maneuver thanks to its impressive turning circle. There are Sport, Tow/Haul, Mud and Ruts, Sand, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Eco and Normal drive modes to choose from, all of which alter the transmission and throttle programming, and there's even a manual shifting mode where you can move up and down through the gears via buttons on the gear selector.
If off-roading is your thing, Ford offers an FX4 off-road package on four-wheel drive XLT and Limited trims, which adds skid plates, a larger radiator for better cooling, off-road shocks, all-terrain tires and a limited-slip differential. Even without the optional package the Expedition has a rear locking differential and a four-wheel-drive auto gear in addition to four-wheel-drive high and low gears. Two-wheel-drive models are available for folks who don't need the four-wheel grip.
The 2020 Ford Expedition range starts at $54,505, including $1,695 for destination. Step up to the Max and you're looking at $57,530. My fancy-pants King Ranch tester comes in at a whopping $81,680, but you can save a lot of money if you opt for something a little less decadent. Besides, if you're going to spend top-dollar on an Expedition, you'd be smart to look at its Lincoln-badged alternative, the Navigator. With the Lincoln you get much better styling and a bit more power, and a damn fine interior to boot.
The Expedition's other main competitors are the new General Motors SUVs, including the Chevy Tahoe, Suburban and GMC Yukon , which offer diesel powertrain options and even an air suspension on select models. But with its solid tech offerings and great functionality, the Expedition can more than hold its own in this large-and-in-charge class of SUVs.