2020 Ford Expedition

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
October 30, 2019

Buying tip

A 2020 Expedition XLT would suit us any day, with any chore—but we’d be lying if we didn’t confess admiration for the King

The 2020 Ford Expedition sets a benchmark for full-size SUVs, with rugged ability and sophisticated sensibilities.

The 2020 Ford Expedition wears clean and pure styling, doles out space for people and cargo like Bed Bath & Beyond 20% off coupons, and drops a twin-turbo hammer through a transmission with as many speeds as a Schwinn. 

It’s a category-killer, as the marketing folks would say. Ford sells it in XLT, Limited, Platinum and King Ranch trim, and we’d give even the base Expedition XLT a 7.0 out of 10 for its safety, utility, and style, though its gas mileage will win nothing but frequent stops at the RaceWay. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

With the latest Expedition, Ford wraps aluminum panels around a big box with the grace of an Old World tailor. The Expedition looks sophisticated and subtle—it’s a truck, we need to remind you—and every bit like a product from a company that once owned the Range Rover. Tasteful details abound, and the Expedition skips excess, even inside where it caters to well-heeled SUV buyers with King Ranch natural leather or Platinum-grade perforated hides.

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The Expedition teams a potent twin-turbo V-6 with at least 375 horsepower to a 10-speed automatic for hot velocity that’s damped only by its big-boy 5,400-pound curb weight. Its rifle-shot powertrain isn’t quite matched by its handling, but the Expedition doesn’t faint when pressed in corners, and adaptive dampers keep its ride smooth and fuss-free.

As many as seven people and their carry-ons can fit in the 2020 Expedition; the long-body Max edition can swallow even more luggage while it can tow up to 9,300 pounds. Ford surrounds the Expedition’s all-day comfortable seats with charging ports and cupholders; who needs a minivan, again?

Even before its crash tests are complete, the 2020 Expedition’s in the bonus column with five-star NHTSA results. Automatic emergency braking now comes standard, and even the base 2020 Expedition XLT doesn’t lack for features. It gets touchscreen infotainment, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, blind-spot monitors, and power features. Ritzy Platinum SUVs have wireless internet, high-end audio, adaptive cruise control, and cooled leather front seats—and a sticker price that swells into Lincoln Navigator range.

7

2020 Ford Expedition

Styling

The Expedition’s square-rigged body and tailored cabin set a high, swank bar.

When Ford redesigned the Expedition for 2018, it maxed out its swank card. The latest full-size SUV looks like the product of a design studio somewhere outside America, with its neatly composed cabin and a body shorn of any excess detail. 

We think it’s a 7, at least, for style.

The lessons of former Ford company Range Rover have been clearly imprinted on the Expedition. The SUV kin to the Ford F-150 marries its SUV/wagon body with a set of features that could be chiseled from stone. The headlights bracket a massive grille that manages a tony look, while the lights themselves take on C-shapes like expensive tools. 

There’s plenty of sharpness to go around, but nothing razor-edged. In profile, the 2020 Expedition has slab sides and an arrow-straight shoulder line that looks contemporary and retro at the same time. Its tall and thick doors wear wide welts of metallic trim in perfect balance with its glass. It’s only let down by plain taillights and a simple name stamped across its back, like a return-to-sender notice. It’s fine on 18-inch wheels on the right side of ostentatious on 22s.

Inside, the Expedition embraces its truck heritage in a more straightforward way. It lifts the F-150’s arrangement of controls and clusters, and wraps it in better finishers. Platinum Expeditions cater to the tastes of some very wealthy workers. It dives into the luxury trim bin and comes up with real wood trim, fine metallic details, and neatly stitched leather that imparts a rich feel in what could be an ordinary big-SUV cabin.

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7

2020 Ford Expedition

Performance

The Expedition breaks what we know about big SUVs with great ride quality and snappy acceleration.

Need a vehicle for seven, stuff, and towing, but don’t want to feel like the captain of a cruiser-class vessel? The 2020 Expedition’s twin-turbo V-6 and capable ride and handling make it an accomplished performer. We give it extra points for the muscular motor and end up at a 7 out of 10 for performance.

Every Expedition taps a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 and a 10-speed automatic for power. While lower-grade trims have 375 hp and 470 pound-feet of torque, the Expedition Platinum twists the turbo screws for another 25 hp and 10 lb-ft, for a net 400 hp and 480 lb-ft. Substantial curb weight soaks up some of that strength—the Expedition weighs at least 5,400 pounds in spite of lighter-weight aluminum body panels, but the drivetrain never feels short on power or sluggish. It’s a point-and-shoot affair, behind the jet-fighter whistle of both turbos. The automatic can drop a ratio or three to find the perfect gear and the perfect point in the wide 

peak-torque band, which begins at about 2,250 rpm. They’re rapid-fire, and mostly undetectable.

Configured the right way, the 2020 Expedition can tow up to 9,300 pounds, once a heavy-duty tow package amps up the cooling and beefs up the transmission. An FX4 off-road package extracts the most from 4WD models and from the SUV’s traction-control systems; it gains specific drive modes for mud and sand, atop the standard comfort and sport modes.

As for ride and handling, a massive SUV such as the Expedition can’t approach the finer reflexes of an Escape, but the Expedition has a charming hustle all its own, with few awkward steps. Its electric power steering shrinks the driving feel of the behemoth SUV as it takes a quick set in corners. It doesn’t have great feedback—all-season tires, long wheelbase, got it—but it’s natural and quick enough to the touch.

The Expedition’s stock steel independent suspension can be swapped up to adaptive shocks that can quell errant ride motions and react quickly to changing road conditions. Copious body lean still lives here, and the Expedition dives into deep corners, but it’s well-controlled way and with few surprises. It’s as progressive and easy to drive quickly as a vehicle its size can be.

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9

2020 Ford Expedition

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Expedition has room for everyone, all seven of them.

With its seven-passenger seating, immense cargo space, and excellent fit and finish, the 2020 Expedition bumps up against the Lincoln Navigator for drivers who seek out extreme utility minus the glam.

In front, the Expedition gets a nicely padded power driver seat, cloth upholstery, and a commanding view of the road ahead. La-Z-Boy comfort is met with lots of spread-out space, and Ford will wrap the seats in leather and power-adjust the passenger side—it’ll even add massage functions—on more expensive models.

Enormous doors grant easy access to the second and third rows. In the middle, either a split-bench seat or captain’s chairs seat three or two; we’d select the bucket seats on Limited, Platinum, and King Ranch trucks, since the pass-through lets adults walk through to the rearmost seat. In any case, the middle-row seats can slide forward, even in the presence of a child car seat.

Adults won’t mind road trips in the Expedition’s third-row bench, what with the quad cupholders and charging ports and expansive leg room. Head room is another issue though; tall passengers will find it tight, but the rearmost seat can recline for better comfort.

The standard Expedition can swallow 19.3 cubic feet behind its third-row seat, while the Max can take up to 34.3 cubic feet. Behind the second row, the numbers swell to 63.6 or 79.6 cubic feet. Fold down the rear two rows and the massive Max can carry 121.5 cubic feet of stuff, versus the standard SUV’s 104.6 cubic feet.

Base Expeditions wear monochromatic trim and cloth upholstery, but at the Platinum level the Expedition nearly matches Lincoln’s swank, with leather and wood trim that sings a countrypolitan song in King Ranch trim.

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8

2020 Ford Expedition

Safety

With incomplete crash-test scores, the Ford Expedition already is in bonus.

With federal crash-test data and extensive technology on its side, the 2020 Ford Expedition gets an 8 for safety.

The NHTSA reports five-star overall ratings for both the rear- and four-wheel-drive Expedition, but the IIHS hasn’t put one through its tough regimen yet.

The 2020 Expedition now comes standard with a bevy of safety technology—everything from blind-spot monitors to automatic emergency braking and active lane control. The Expedition also has very good outward vision.

On the options list, some models come with standard adaptive cruise control and a surround-view camera system.

We’ll update this section when the IIHS posts its scores.

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8

2020 Ford Expedition

Features

The 2020 Ford Expedition offers its best value in XLT trim.

Now that Ford’s made more features standard on the Expedition SUV, the price of entry has fallen. The base price hasn’t been cut—but formerly optional features now come on every retail Expedition.

We now give it an 8 out of 10 for features.

You won’t find the fleet-only Expedition XL in lots. Instead, the least expensive version is the base $54,205 Ford Expedition XLT. It gets a power driver seat, a power-folding third-row seat, 18-inch wheels, and an AM/FM/XM audio system with six speakers and a handful of USB ports. Also standard is an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Forward-collision warnings and automatic emergency braking now come standard, along with blind-spot monitors and active lane control. T

The least expensive Expedition is our pick for value, but we’d select a few options from a list that includes 10-way power front seats, leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, a power tailgate, and keyless ignition. An off-road bundle adds a low-range transfer case, tougher shocks, all-terrain tires, running boards, underbody protection, and an electronic limited-slip differential. Four-wheel drive and the long Max body can be configured at every step on the order sheet.

From here, it’s a race up the Lincoln-like features charts. The $64,740 Expedition Limited gets 20-inch wheels, premium B&O audio, power running boards, and a rear-seat entertainment system with SlingTV. The $75,330 Expedition Platinum pitches in a panoramic sunroof, navigation, 22-inch wheels, and LED headlights, while the new $74,290 Expedition King Ranch offers 22-inch wheels, a gray mesh grille, painted bumpers, King Ranch badges, and an interior slathered in “Del Rio” leather and wood trim, along with adaptive dampers, a surround-view camera system, and power-fold side mirrors.

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2020 Ford Expedition

Fuel Economy

Gas mileage isn’t the prime directive of the Ford Expedition.

The EPA doesn’t have much in the way of good news for the Ford Expedition. Based on its published fuel economy, it’s a 3 on our scale.

Rear-wheel-drive Expeditions earn the best gas mileage ratings. The EPA puts them at 17 mpg, 24 highway, 20 combined. With the same twin-turbo V-6 and 10-speed automatic, and four-wheel drive, the Expedition’s rated at 17/22/19 mpg.

Long-wheelbase, rear-drive Expeditions (the “Max” model) get pegged at 17/23/19 mpg. Four-wheel drive lowers that to 16/21/18 mpg.

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7.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety 8
Features 8
Fuel Economy 3
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