2020 Ford Expedition

By April 3, 2020

Clean, pure styling marks the 2020 Ford Expedition. The jumbo three-row SUV provides bountiful space for up to seven people. If a regular Expedition won’t quite suffice, Ford sells the longer-yet Max editions, built on an extended wheelbase.

Redesigned as a 2018 model, the Expedition carries on into the 2020 model year without much change, with one exception. Ford has revived the King Ranch trim level, with saddle-color leather, wood trim, and 22-inch wheels. Meanwhile, the Platinum gets interior upgrades.

Buyers can choose from four trim levels: XLT, Limited, Platinum and the relaunched King Ranch rendition. Each is offered in regular-length or extended Max form.

Each Expedition relies on a husky twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 and 10-speed automatic transmission. In lesser-level trims, the V-6 develops 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. The Platinum trim adopts an even more potent version, generating 400 hp and 480 pound-feet. Because it’s such a massive vehicle, some of the engine’s strength is inevitably sapped by curb weight— near 5,400 pounds.

The IIHS has not yet crash-tested the Expedition, but the 2019 model went through federal government testing. The NHTSA gave both regular and extended-length versions of the big SUV a five-star rating overall, and for frontal and side impacts. Rollover prevention (a calculated figure) got a four-star rating with four-wheel drive, but only three stars with rear-drive.

Every Expedition benefits from a set of safety features. Automatic emergency braking is standard, along with blind-spot monitors and active lane control. Top models come with adaptive cruise control and a surround-view camera system. Drivers can anticipate very good outward vision.

Model Lineup

Prices include $1,695 destination charge.

The XLT ($54,505 with rear-drive, $57,515 with four-wheel drive) comes with a power driver’s seat, power-folding third-row seat, 18-inch wheels, USB ports, and 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The XLT Max model ($57,530 with RWD, $60,540 with 4WD) has an extended wheelbase.

The Limited ($65,040) with RWD, $68,165 with 4WD) gets 20-inch wheels, Bang & Olufsen audio, power running boards, and a rear-seat entertainment system with SlingTV. The Limited Max ($68,070 with RWD, $71,190 with 4WD) has an extended wheelbase.

The King Ranch ($74,590 with RWD, $77,720 with 4WD) comes with 22-inch wheels, a gray mesh grille, painted bumpers, and “Del Rio” leather with wood trim. Adaptive dampers, a surround-view camera system, and power-folding mirrors also are standard. The King Ranch Max ($77,685 with RWD, $80,410 with 4WD) has an extended wheelbase.

The Platinum ($75,630 with RWD, $78,780 with 4WD) includes a panoramic sunroof, navigation, 22-inch wheels, LED headlights, wireless internet, high-end audio, adaptive cruise control, and cooled leather front seats. The Platinum Max ($78,660 with RWD, $81,805 with 4WD) has an extended wheelbase.

Ford also offers an XL edition with basic features, intended for fleet buyers.

Exterior

With its defiantly square-rigged, stretched-out body, the 2020 Expedition sets a high bar for luxury as well as passenger comfort. Aluminum body panels wrap around what amounts to a big box.

Related to Ford’s F-150 full-size pickup truck, the Expedition conveys a sense of permanence, reminiscent of a Range Rover. Headlights bracket a massive grille and C-shaped headlights suggest expensive tools. Nothing looks too sharp-edged. Slab body sides and dead-straight shoulders create a profile that looks both contemporary and retro.

Tall, thick doors hold wide strips of metallic trim, complementing the window glass. Except for plain taillights, there’s not much to fault visually.

Interior

Even though Ford’s Expedition embraces its truck heritage, it doesn’t skimp on comfort or luxury touches in the tailored cabin. Vast space allows all seven potential occupants to spread out. Front seats are nicely padded and all-day comfortable, with cloth upholstery. The power-adjustable driver’s seat provides a commanding view of the road ahead.

Enormous doors permit easy access to the second and third rows. Whether there’s a split bench or captain’s chairs in the second row, they can slide forward—even with a child seat in place. The twin captain’s buckets deliver greatest comfort. A pass-through lets adults access the rear bench.

Unlike many big three-row SUVs, adults won’t balk at road trips on the third-row bench. Leg room is expansive, but head clearance can be an obstacle for tall passengers.

Fit and finish excel. Tasteful details are all around, as the 2020 Expedition shuns excess. Real wood trim, fine metallic details, and neatly stitched leather in top-trim models imparts a rich feel.

Cargo volume behind the third-row seat measures 19.3 cubic feet of cargo volume. Extended Max models hold 34.3 cubic feet at the rear. With rear seatbacks folded, space expands to 63.6 or 79.6 cubic feet, respectively. With all seat backs down, volume grows immensely at 104.6 cubic feet (121.5 in the Max).

Driving Impressions

The 2020 Ford Expedition breaks traditional perceptions about big SUVs. It has great ride quality and snappy acceleration, along with satisfying handling for a vehicle of its size.

Ford’s muscular V-6 makes the huge SUV an accomplished performer, delivering swift acceleration. The drivetrain never feels sluggish or lacking in power.

The 10-speed automatic can drop by a couple of ratios as needed, to find the ideal gear choice for the moment. Shifts are rapid, barely noticeable.

Naturally, a massive SUV cannot approach the agile reflexes of an Escape, but the Expedition has its own brand of charming hustle.

Electric power steering limits driving feel, but it’s natural and adequately quick. Swift corners don’t faze it much. Available adaptive shocks help keep the ride smoothly fuss-free, squelching errant ride motions and reacting promptly to road conditions.

Copious body lean can occur through deep, swift corners, but the Expedition is well-controlled, suffering few surprises.

Adding the FX4 package allows 4WD models to undertake off-road tasks without worry. Drive modes for mud and sand are included, in addition to standard Comfort and Sport settings. Configured properly, an Expedition can tow up to 9,300 pounds.

It’s no surprise to learn that gas mileage isn’t great. The rear-wheel-drive Expedition is EPA-rated at 17 mpg, 23 highway, 19 combined. Four-wheel drive drops the highway estimate to 22 mpg. Long-wheelbase, rear-drive Max Expeditions are EPA-rated at 17/23/19 mpg, versus 16/21/18 mpg with 4WD.

Final Word

With its rugged capability and sophisticated nature, the 2020 Ford Expedition establishes a benchmark for full-size SUVs. It scores high on safety, utility, and style—but not fuel economy. The best value is the least costly XLT version. If price is no object, the lush leather in the King Ranch edition is clearly worth a look.

—by James M. Flammang, with driving impressions from The Car Connection

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