I’m going to be honest for a second, no matter how odd it may sound. As much as I love reviewing cars and squeaking by as an automotive journalist, if I were to win the lottery, I would go in a much different path. I’d start an animal sanctuary on an expansive ranch. Dogs, cats, goats, sheep, cows, bison, horses, whatever I can find would have a home on my farm. I told you it was going to be odd. In that dream, which is somewhere in Texas, I’m behind the wheel of something like the 2020 Ford Expedition Limited.
Obviously, I would need a ginormous SUV that can seat up to eight people or hold 10 medium-sized dogs if I had an animal sanctuary. Shuffling back and forth in a pickup truck that can only seat up to five would draw the day out. Something as large as the Expedition means I can get all of my farm duties done quickly, while ensuring that I have a stylish vehicle, can tow up to 9,300 pounds, and do some light off-roading. In other words, it’s the perfect SUV for cowboys. Or people like me who want to imitate cowboys in an urban setting.
Yes, there are more family-friendly people carriers than the Expedition. But those are minivans and no one wants those anymore. So, if you want to seat up to eight people, but want folks in the neighborhood to know that you have more style and enjoy being able to do some light off-roading, large SUVs like the Expedition are the only way to go. Let’s face it, you’re going to buy the Expedition because of its interior. If that’s the case, you’ll be happy to hear this thing is downright massive.
Every seat offers enough space for an adult to get comfortable. When you don’t need to seat the entire family, you’re getting 121.5 cubic feet of maximum cargo space. That’s so much space it’s hard to fathom what you’d fill it with. The only thing that comes to my mind are dogs at the pound that are waiting to arrive at my farm. In the real world, you’ll have no trouble fitting enormous dining room tables, outdoor furniture, or all of your child’s belongings to take them to college.
On the size front, few can offer the same amount of interior space as the Expedition. Where you’re likely to be disappointed with the large SUV is with its interior quality. The Limited trim we tested was fitted with the FX4 package and a few optional extras. This brought pricing north of $75,000. For that price tag, you would expect to get a lavish cabin with niceties to make you forget that you’re ferrying a bunch of annoying kids around. That’s not the case.
Putting it kindly, interior quality is a mixed bag in the Expedition. Hard plastics, durable materials that are already fading after roughly 13,000 miles, and a straightforward design that looks like it’s been plucked from a pickup kill the vibe. This certainly isn’t a big issue if you’re using the Expedition for its intended purposes – taking young children around. If one of them has an accident, spills food, or makes a mess, it’ll be easy to clean off. Nothing will stain either. It’s just for $75,000, you go into it expecting something more. The faux wood is nice, the panoramic roof is enormous, and the various cubbies are useful, but the materials don’t match the price tag.
Large SUVs come with V8s. Those two things go together like beer and baseball. Except the Expedition doesn’t have an eight-cylinder engine. A baseball game without a beer certainly wouldn’t be enjoyable, but you won’t miss the two missing cylinders in the SUV. The twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 in the Expedition is a stout engine. With 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, it’s certainly nothing to sneer at. The way it gets the SUV down the road, especially on the highway, is surprising.
For those of us that are used to six-speed gearboxes, the Expedition’s 10-speed automatic may sound like a bunch of wasteful gears, but in actuality, it works just fine. It can take a second for the transmission to find the right gear, but for the most part, it manages to keep the engine in its sweet spot. The “+” and “-” buttons to pick a higher or lower gear are odd and the fact that there’s a “Sport” mode makes absolutely no sense. Fuel economy, surprisingly, isn’t as awful as you would expect. We managed to get 17 mpg with our week with the SUV.
Obviously, there’s no getting around the fact that the Expedition is an SUV that’s roughly the same size as some tiny homes. So, don’t expect to the sharpest handling or the easiest vehicle to drive around the city. Ride quality isn’t all that bad, most likely due to the independent suspension, which is something competitors have just moved toward.
If there were fancy bricks, the Expedition would be one. This Limited trim was fitted with the FX4 package, which is the most rugged option. Tick the box for that $2,035 package and you’re getting seven skid plates, 18-inch wheels, chrome-plated running boards, and 32-inch all-terrain tires. You’re also getting other parts, but these don’t really change the way the SUV looks.
Unassuming and somewhat bland, the Expedition goes about its business without drawing attention. Some will like that; others will hate it. With General Motors designing some pretty radical faces for their large SUVs, I think the Expedition’s under-the-radar look is appealing. Ford certainly could do more to make the SUV look like the Lincoln Navigator, but one can see why that’s not going to happen.
If you want seating for eight in something that’s not a minivan, but is actually spacious for all passengers, you’re stuck with something like the 2020 Ford Expedition. They’re called large SUVs for a reason – because they’re the King-sized vehicles of the industry. Unless you live in a state like Texas where everything’s bigger than life, the abnormally large Expedition doesn’t make much sense. Driving it in Baltimore quickly became daunting. Nearly as long as a small school bus, the Expedition and crowded cities don’t gel together.
But that’s part of the Expedition’s allure – knowing that you have one of the largest and most spacious SUVs around. That sentiment carries into the driving experience, where you expect other drivers to move out of your way because you’re the big, bad boss. That’s a feeling I can get behind.