2020 Ford Expedition Review

2020 Ford Expedition - Big and brawny, the Expedition is the one to beat amongst full-size SUVs.


Ford's largest SUV, the Expedition comes in two sizes: large and extra large. The large model is just called Expedition and has a 122.5-inch wheelbase and is 210 inches long. The XL is dubbed Expedition Max and rides a 131.6-inch wheelbase and is 221.9-inches overall. Both models seat eight passengers. Expedition is offered with rear- or four-wheel drive and comes only as a 4-door wagon. Competitors include the Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban, GMC Yukon, Nissan Armada and Toyota Sequoia.

Expedition was most recently redesigned for 2018, when it took significant leap forward in capability, sophistication and flexibility. Changes for 2020 include the addition of Ford's Co-Pilot360 suite of driver aids to the standard equipment list and availability of the popular King Ranch trim package. The model lineup includes XLT, Limited, King Ranch and Platinum. All offered in either regular or Max form.

Powering the Expedition is a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine that, in most models, makes 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. Expedition Platinum gets the same engine but tuned to produce 400 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque. Regardless of trim, rear-wheel-drive is standard with four-wheel drive being optional. Maximum towing capacity when properly equipped is 9,300 pounds.

XLT comes standard with 18-inch wheels and 8-inch infotainment touchscreen. Limited adds 20-inch wheels, ambient lighting, upgraded 12-speaker audio system, leather-trimmed seats and power-adjustable pedals. The new for 2020, King Ranch brings leather seats, unique stitching and badging, 22-inch wheels and adaptive suspension. Platinum brings satin-aluminum exterior trim, power running boards, unique leather seating, special wood trim, power-folding second- and third-row seats, active noise control and additional driver aids and safety features.

While most competitors offer V8 engines, the Expedition comes only with a turbocharged V6. Makes no matter, Expedition is likely the quickest vehicle in the class. The smooth and powerful EcoBoost engine makes plenty of power down low and effortlessly pushes the 5500-pound Expedition from 0 to 60 MPH in a scant 7 seconds. Passing response is also quite good.

The 10-speed automatic transmission is the result of a collaboration with General Motors. It's found in everything from the Mustang to the Silverado. In the Expedition the 10-speed is a great fit, offering quick-and-crisp downshifts and smooth-and-buttery upshifts. In addition, it allows the engine to loaf along at less than 2,000 RPM at highway speeds in an effort to improve fuel economy.

Expedition's four-wheel-drive system offers several modes: Rear-drive, 4WD Auto, 4WD High and 4WD low. The 4WD Auto is the important setting. Once selected, this mode transfers power to the wheels with the most traction automatically. It allows drivers to set and forget and always get the best traction on slippery roads. However, in deep snow or muddy conditions, it's best to use 4WD High or 4WD Low.

EPA Fuel economy numbers for the Expedition Max are 16 MPG city and 21 MPG highway. Ford claims those numbers are best in class and the EPA agrees, though some Chevy models have slightly better highway numbers. The EcoBoost V6 runs fine on regular-grade gasoline. Regular models get a 23.3-ballon fuel tank, while the Max gets a 27.8-gallon tank. Because this is such a large and heavy vehicle, in routine suburban driving, you'll likely average less than 18 MPG overall.

Combine a stiff frame, long wheelbase and absorbent suspension and you have the perfect recipe for a smooth and comfortable riding vehicle. That said, Ford has done a great job of quelling the bobbing-and-bounding sensation that handicapped the previous models. In fact, the Expedition rides with a refined smoothness that eschews its trucky upbringing. The suspension offers good impact absorption and plenty of travel over expansion joints. There is also great rebound control that helps limit head toss on bumpy roads.

At the same time, the Expedition is extremely easy to drive -- no small feat given its massive dimensions. The steering, though firm, is natural and direct with just enough feel on the highway to track straight and true. Unfortunately, the steering is very slow and requires a lot of cranking in parking maneuvers. Brakes have ample stopping power regardless of load. There's some body lean in quick maneuvers, but there's no queasy feeling when transitioning sharp corners.

Interior noise levels are appreciably low as well. Of course, there's a bit of wind noise from the side mirrors at highway speed, but the tires and engine are nearly silent and it's easy to have a conversation front-to-back on the highway. Overall, Ford's hit a home run in the driving dynamics department with this Expedition.

Expedition's interior will be very familiar to Ford fans. Drivers face a traditional twin dial setup with a large and programmable center information screen. The center stack is dominated by a large touch-screen display and simple rotary controls for the climate and audio systems. Materials seem to be a cut above the norm, but there's a definite family familiarity with the F-150 in the layout and a few of the surfaces.

Front seats are extremely comfortable and well padded. They offer great leg and head room for extra-large adults and adjustable pedals for those that are not so tall. The available massaging seats are great and can reduce driver fatigue. Step in is rather high on 4WD models, though the available running board can help ease access. Outward visibility is good, but you'll need all of the electronic aids in parking maneuvers.

The second row can be had in two configurations, a 3-place bench or twin captain's chairs. The bench is a bit flat, but the captain's chairs are impressively comfortable. Either way, there's plenty of room in the second row for larger adults. Third-row seats can be a chore to access if you opt for the second-row bench. However, once you get back there, you'll find that they are quite adult comfortable and offer good room.

Expedition offers the latest version of Ford's SYNC infotainment system. It nicely blends Android Auto and Apple Car Play support into an easy to see and utilize touch screen. Other manufacturers could take notice of how well Ford, GM and FCA integrate the infotainment system in to the vehicle to minimize driver distraction and provide the easiest access to every-day functions. Expedition also comes with a comprehensive suite of safety and security features, though some are optional.

Maximum cargo capacity on Max models is 121.5 cubic feet, while short-wheel base models top out at 104.6 cubic feet. Impressive numbers both. More importantly though is the cargo space with the third-row in use. On the standard model that number is just 20.9, while the Max has 36. Both the second and third-row seats fold to create a continuous and flat load floor. Interior storage is great with lots of open and covered bins throughout.

Bottom Line -- Ford's Expedition is now the benchmark that the others are chasing. The deft combination of ride quality, quietness, performance and utility makes Expedition a must see for full-size SUV shoppers. Prices can be steep, though that's the price of admission in this class, so choose your trim and options wisely. Remember, all models get roughly the same mechanicals. 

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.