The biggest Ford money can buy.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
For a few years, it was the Excursion. But since its reign ended, the Expedition has ruled supreme in Ford’s stable – at least when it comes to sheer size. I got one for a week, and we not only got to live with it, but also took it on a road trip with six passengers. Let’s see what Ford offers up when it comes to seating for 7 (up to 8 if you want) and loads of cargo room.
At nearly a foot longer than the regular Expedition, the stretched MAX is an absolute monster on paper. Yet the styling contains all that real estate and wraps it in a compelling package. The Expedition looks upscale and refined. Ours was Blue Metallic which looks great when it’s sparkly clean. The sculpted profile looks confident and bold and luxurious. It definitely turned heads wherever we went, although I suspect the sheer size of the MAX has something to do with that as well.
LED lighting can be found everywhere – the headlights (which are outstanding!), fog lights and tail lights. The new Expedition grille is expressive and memorable, as is the tail light signature.
Our Platinum trim’s 22-inch polished wheels – with massive 285/45 tires – were a sweet premium touch.
Inside you and your passengers are greeted with remarkable space and comfort. Ford blessed the Expedition, particularly in this Platinum trim, with nice upscale materials. soft touch plastics and stitched panels (some of which are quilted!) throughout. If I had one complaint, it would be how dark this interior colour combination was – while there’s nothing wrong with it, I’d prefer a lighter interior colour.
The leather seats – which are heated, ventilated and have massaging functions – are very comfortable and remained so for a 5 hour road trip.
The SYNC 3 touchscreen handles all the expected functions, as well as excellent Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. We enjoyed the 12-speaker B&O Premium audio system.
Plenty of driver assistance technology can be found here – blind-spot monitoring, cross traffic alert, 360-degree camera with parking sensors all around, park assist (which is very helpful with something this size), lane keep alert and assist, adaptive cruise control and pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection.
Second and Third Row Seats
Our Expedition had the optional captain’s chairs, which have power-fold buttons, as well as the E/Z slide function, allowing you (with either a lever or a powered button) to quickly tip and slide them forward and out of the way for entry to the third row – all while keeping a child’s safety seat secured (please don’t keep your child in it while E/Z sliding it!). Of course, being captain’s chairs, you can just as easily walk between them to the back. They are heated and wonderfully comfortable and there is a wealth of head and leg room available.
Second row passengers got to fool around with the headrest-based screens that offer a number of options for getting video and content to them, including HDMI, USB, etc. They’re pretty good all things considered, but I’d still recommend forgetting that option and buying each passenger an iPad. It’s cheaper, more flexible and more convenient.
The massive panoramic roof overhead stretches back over the second row which made our trip to the mountains with my cousin from Germany all the more enjoyable. She’d never seen mountains and was thrilled to be able to look up through the roof and gaze at the Rockies. There’s a climate control and audio control panel for second row passengers as well. Not to mention two USBs and a 110V household plug for charging devices.
Speaking of ample head and leg room, you will find the same in the third row which has three seats. Ford absolutely got this right – it is as comfortable as the back seat of any car and for adult passengers too and even the quilted leather seating continues to the very back. The third row seats are power reclining, which is totally awesome and was a huge hit with my kids. Each side gets a cupholder and a USB charging port. The third row is not a second-class zone anymore.
If you’re transporting kids, each second row seat has LATCH anchors, and there are two more sets in the third row for a total of 4.
The console has a space for your smaller stuff, including a wireless charging cradle for your phone and two USB plugs. There’s no shortage of cupholders and cubbyholes around the cabin.
The cargo space is really where the MAX shines the most, since this is where the extra space goes. Even with the third row in use, you get the equivalent of a spacious crossover’s trunk at 973L. In the trunk you’ll find buttons for the PowerFold third row, allowing you to fold either or both seats flat from back there – or to bring them back up for seating. With the third row down, you’re looking at 2077L which is massive. Our review sample had the optional cargo management system, which is really just an adjustable floor panel that you can raise up to make a shelf. There’s also quite a bit of underfloor storage and a 12V plug.
If you fold the second and third rows flat, the Expedition MAX offers up to 3,440L of cargo space. Which is basically the equivalent of a tiny home.
Under the Hood
The latest iteration of the now-familiar twin-turbo 3.5L EcoBoost V6 lurks here, putting out a mighty 400HP and 480 lb.ft of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive system distribute all that power accordingly
Obviously this is no hybrid when it comes to fuel economy – Ford rates the MAX at 14.9/11.2 L/100 km city/highway. We averaged 12.1 L/100 km over 1250 km (which included about 80% highway driving) – that’s a bit scary, but in some ways, a bit impressive too.
I have to say, I was surprised at how incredibly responsive this leviathan was. There’s a surge of on-demand power at virtually any speed but it’s a smooth operator just tooling around town. Expedition gets a standard Terrain Management System that lets you pick between seven driving modes – Eco, Normal, Sport, snow/wet, grass/gravel/snow, sand and mud/rut.
There’s a fully independent suspension with continuously variable damping (with settings for Comfort, Normal and Sport). The Expedition is a beautiful road trip partner with a truly sublime ride and an incredibly quiet cabin. That must be a combination of exceptional insulation as well as the active noise control. Surprisingly, for its size, this beast handles pretty well too. Sure it wallows around town but throw it into a freeway cloverleaf merge and it holds its own, displaying an almost shocking amount of grip and control.
Properly equipped, the Expedition MAX can tow up to 9,200 pounds (4,173 kg). That’s truck territory. We are talking about some serious towing capability here, and that is very important to a large number of people shopping in this category. The Expedition can easily handle many boats and RV trailers’ dry and even wet weights. Add to that the convenience and ease of backing up while towing thanks to Ford’s genius Pro Trailer Backup Assist. It’s completely intuitive and as simple as turning a dial on the dash in the direction you want the trailer to go.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was super-high. She doesn’t normally like big monstrosities like this, but for this week, she loved it. She loved at how smoothly it drove, how comfortable and spacious it was and how luxurious it felt.
Ford remade their biggest SUV from the ground up, and they knocked it out of the park. Especially in the top trim, it combines class-leading levels of luxury, comfort, technology and space with equally impressive performance and towing capabilities. If I was in the market for a large SUV, I’d look no further than the Expedition. It’s a modern take on an age-old North American classic, and it looks like it’s ready to do battle for a long time to come.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Ford Canada.
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Pricing: 2018 Ford Expedition
Base price (Platinum MAX 4×4 trim): $84,149
Options: $800 2nd row captains chairs; $150 all-weather floor mats; $1,400 heavy-duty trailer tow package; $55 reversible cargo mat; $2,100 headrest DVD entertainment; $400 cargo management system
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $90,944