By on October 20, 2020

2020 Ford Expediton. Image: Rob Eckaus/TTAC

2020 Ford Expedition Max King Ranch

3.5-liter turbocharged V6 (375 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm; 470 lb-ft @ 2,250 rpm)

Ten-speed automatic, four-wheel drive

16 city / 21 highway / 18 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

14.7 city, 11.2 highway, 13.1 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $75,590 (U.S) / $82,300 (Canada)

As Tested: $81,680 (U.S.) / $84,200 (Canada)

Prices include $1,395 destination charge in the United States and $2,000 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

In August of 2009, I wrote in the Ode To The Suburban that I couldn’t imagine hauling seven people around without at least a cylinder per person. Thanks to Ford’s Ecoboost 3.5-liter turbocharged V6, the Expedition Max King Ranch does just fine with only six cylinders. This engine pairs well with the joint venture Ford/GM 10-speed automatic transmission.

Ford built the massive Excursion in its lineup to counter the market-leader Suburban until 2006. The Expedition Max was introduced for 2007, adding approximately one foot in length to the cargo space, which translates to about 15 more cubic feet of space thanks to a 9.1-inch wheelbase increase. This fourth and latest-generation Expedition was introduced in 2018.

Exterior styling plays it classically safe and timeless for such a long-box design, with crisp lines that suit its 18.5-foot length. The trim pieces, such as the mirror covers and roof racks, are a metallic brown and the wheels are a proportionately sized 22 inches. The Agate Black Metallic makes it look like it could be either civilian or government-owned. Nice to keep the rest of traffic guessing, eh?

Research shows the only other difference from the non-Max is that the rear differential ratio is 3.73, up from 3.15 in the standard-length model and 3.31 in the 4×2 Max and 4×4 non-Max. Thanks to the 375 hp at 5,000 rpm and 470 lb.-ft. torque at 2,250 rpm in all models, acceleration is very good, especially for such a large and heavy vehicle. What was really appreciated, and undoubtedly surprised other motorists, is how hard it leaps off the line without any hesitation or perceptible turbo lag. You can also place this thing in traffic rather easily after taking account of its length.

2020 Ford Expediton. Image: Rob Eckaus/TTAC

Best guess, based on the weight and horsepower in comparison to the F-150 SuperCrew 4×4, the 5,794 lb. Expedition King Ranch 4×4 may very well run a low 14-second quarter-mile. It doesn’t seem long ago that would be considered absurd for any SUV.

Invariably the talk of size, weight, and power leads to the question of fuel economy. The Max 4×4 is rated at 16 mpg city and 21 mpg highway. What this meant with the 27.8-gallon tank was a 583-mile range that was fully realized on several road trips. Its size was especially appreciated while helping my wife with her pop-up art show 141 miles away. It was during that time that the adaptive cruise control was used extensively. It was, indeed, quite adaptive, resuming the set cruising speed when the vehicle in front exited the same lane. The stop-and-go feature also worked very nicely making for an easier highway commute.

2020 Ford Expediton. Image: Rob Eckaus/TTAC

That is when the big Ford was especially appreciated – on a road trip. The interior is extremely comfortable, quiet, and well-appointed. When the two-SUV, two-boys in-laws came over, at night, everyone wanted to pile in and go for a ride. And that was at night! Little kids can walk upright between rows when parked and see out the windows easily. They begged me to get it again at Christmas time to take it to view the lights in the neighborhoods and church. Ford, are you listening?

Trivia for your crew of six while driving: It has 15 cup holders and four coat hooks.

The concern for this driver (and presumably, for most other Expedition pilots) was parking. Surprisingly, it was easier than expected, especially if pulling up where the wheels touch the parking curb. The front camera made maneuvering easier by making sure no signs or bushes were touched while pulling into various parking spaces.

2020 Ford Expediton. Image: Rob Eckaus/TTAC

It was during this time the brilliance of the dial gear selector made itself evident. Two detents to the left via fingertip pressure, no visual confirmation needed, and you know it is in reverse. Two to the right, it is back in drive. Very fast, very simple. The turning radius was excellent. There were no Austin Power incidences whatsoever.

2020 Ford Expediton. Image: Rob Eckaus/TTAC

The ride quality was very good, thanks to a design that has an independent front and rear suspension. Just a little bit of truck-like jiggle was felt in the steering wheel and the seat from bumps in the road. Having established the long-distance travel comfort and cargo utility, I found it is also well equipped for towing. This example had the $1,570 Heavy-Duty Trailer Towing Package, which has a trailer weight maximum of 9,000 lbs., up from 6,600 lbs. Also included in the package is an integrated trailer brake controller. This package was part of a total sticker price of $81,680, including $1,395 for destination and delivery.

The technology included in that price is extensive. Some of the convenience and luxury items included: Power-deployed running boards, power-folding second and third-row seats, 360-degree camera, a 12-speaker Bang & Olufson stereo system, park assist, Wi-Fi telematics modem, and much more. The King Ranch Edition includes Del Rio leather seating, the six-spoke 22-inch wheels with dark tarnish painted pockets, and a King Ranch center cap. The same symbol on the center cap of the wheels is on the leather of the top lid of the wide and deep center console.

[Images © 2020 Rob Eckaus/TTAC]

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31 Comments on “2020 Ford Expedition Max King Ranch Review – Comfort to the Max...”

  • avatar

    I’ve always enjoyed these as rentals more so than the GM counterparts as the refinement and ride seems better. Surprising that many more of the GM’s are sold.

  • avatar

    That rear view is just so awful. That trapezoid around the license plate is such an ugly shape. It’s everywhere on almost every SUV these days. Hideous. Look around. I would like to hear from an auto designer why they are all using that detail. Saw it on the Escalade earlier today.

    • 0 avatar

      Trapezoidal or otherwise angular shapes are a lot easier to stamp (ESPECIALLY in aluminum), let you guide eyes more, let you tie together otherwise more disparate elements, and they look / feel a lot sleeker / “faster” than other shapes.

      The license plate area has to be relatively large, because global license plate sizes and shapes are so varied. Some places don’t have mandatory standard plate sizes, and allow you to make your own. Some places it varies by province. Plus, many areas have certain requirements for how a plate is mounted (height, angle, visibility cone, illumination, etc.). License plates are hideously non-standard

      Finally, in this case, at the top of the license plate flat you’ll see a black applique that has the camera mounted on the centerline and the flip glass release switch some ways to the right. This widens the top of the flat area. Once you take that area, and then draw character lines to tie it into the lower corners of the gate that you can stamp, you get a big ol trapezoid.

      EDIT: I should specify: we’re talking about other countries because the Expedition is not uncommon in government or security fleets globally, even if it’s not available in-market. There’s a healthy gray market in these things. Plus Ford sells a ton in the mideast.

      • 0 avatar

        Ford could (and should) offer painted composite insert to fill the huge amount of empty space left by the relatively small US license plate. Failing that, just mount it on the bumper and offer different rear door trim for USDM.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    $81k must make sense to the Right Buyer, which I am not.

    Per crtfour’s point above, a lightly-used Armada is under $50k, and it is just slightly smaller than the Ford. For me, another $30k for a pimped Expedition doesn’t work.

    • 0 avatar

      Wow I didn’t notice the price. Agreed, the Armada is nice and plush and has a wonderful naturally aspirated V8 (which I prefer). Much better value in my opinion. Heck even the QX80 would make a better value proposition.

    • 0 avatar

      I had an Armada as a rental a couple years ago for a family vacation in the Rockies, and it was terrific. Unfortunately, like most older Nissan products, it’s about two generations behind when it comes to tech, and the interior looks and feels outdated. If memory serves, they’ve done a refresh. But I think you’re on the right track recommending the Armada, assuming you can live without all the latest tech doo-dads.

    • 0 avatar

      I may be wrong, but I don’t think you can get the Armada in full Suburban length. And that’s where, at least in my book, these battleships from the full-size truck leaders shine the brightest.

      In the shorter wheelbases, you lose tank size/range, as well as run into more proven and mature (or more dated depending on your perspective), competition. Both from the Armada and Sequoia, but also, at least in my book, from the surprisingly awesome halfbreed that is the Durango.

      But the LWB ones, are simply unchallenged for adults in all three rows, without being full on vans.

  • avatar

    For me yeah, except it doesn’t seem unreasonably priced for its intended audience. With the dramatic way all SUVs lose value, if they’re not so concerned about that (terrifying figure), why would they be stingy about anything else?

    • 0 avatar

      At least traditionally, the Suburban used to be the vehicle with the longest service lives before being traded. Kind of just continued to do it’s thing, as the family fleet moved from Mustang to family sedan to Buick to Cadillac to Corvette.

      That may be a bit quaint now that tech-tech-tech and cramped-cramped-cramped are the fads and destinies of our era. But I’d still assume someone buying one of these, plans on keeping it around longer than a 3 year lease on the latest 3 series with “laserlights.”

  • avatar

    There may be no better vehicle to show how disinterested Ford is in building quality automobiles than the Expedition (although the Bronco and Machy have yet to be released).

    Generic, bland styling, cheap, drab interior, awful engine, troublesome transmission and pricing that is about $20K too high.

    • 0 avatar

      The Expedition is very much F150ish. As in, reuses a lot from the most popular truck, and indeed vehicle, in the US.

      If “quality” in the traditional, and in Japan and emerging Asia still somewhat relevant, meaning of the word mattered more than new-new and feature-rich, the much more proven Tundra would outsell the F150 handily. But buyers nowadays care about other things. And the sheer numbers of F150s Ford keeps on the road, indicates the EB, 10-speed, and other stuff, aren’t of poor enough quality to trouble most buyers.

      • 0 avatar

        Great reasoning – if you ignore the amazing popularity of the Tacoma.

      • 0 avatar

        “ And the sheer numbers of F150s Ford keeps on the road, indicates the EB, 10-speed, and other stuff, aren’t of poor enough quality to trouble most buyers.”

        Yep Ford does an amazing job at hiding quality issues or simply denying that they exist. Heck sometimes they will tell customers their engine is fine and there’s nothing wrong with it while simulator suing the manufacturer because of major problems.

        But the Explorer has the same 10-speed transmission and it’s seen major problems in the unmitigated quality disaster that is the 2020 Explorer.

  • avatar

    Bought a 2020 limited Max for the wife. This thing in no way competes with the Armada on space/volume. The Expedition Max is huge. Even the non Max is bigger. We’ve owned the now last gen Yukon XL (POS) and god help us the VW Atlas. We test drove the Infiniti QX 80 and all trim levels of Expedition Max and even a couple of Navigators. The King Ranch is a bit over the top in the saddle leather but otherwise enjoyable. I didn’t think it was worth it. But man this car is so much better than our Yukon XL. Not even close.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I wish I had gotten one of these. My current full sized SUV “or equal” is a Nissan Armada. It feels like it is from 2003 or so by comparison. Not even on the same planet as the domestic offerings in this class.

    You get to the Emerald Aisle late and sometimes it bites you.

  • avatar

    I haven’t experienced the latest domestic full size SUVs but when I drove an Armada in 2017 it seemed fine compared to the SWB competition. YMMV.

    The best thing Nissan does is give you the big 87-octane V8 engine standard. With GM you’re stuck with the 5.3L unless you spend very big money and while Ford gives you the EB standard they also want many thousands more for it.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “With GM you’re stuck with the 5.3L ”

      Nothing wrong w/5.3. I drove my 2007 ‘Hoe off the lot brand spanking new 13 years ago. Still got it. That 5.3 w/180K still runs like a brand new motor. Pulls strong on the low end & buttery smooth rolling down the highway/interstate when turning close to 3K RPM while in tow. Which currently is about 99% of what it gets used for as the Volt is the DD. As the 4th “truck” I’ve owned for towing, by the far the best rig I’ve owned.

      I may be headed to Montana this spring to bing back a boat. 2400 miles round trip, 1200 miles towing close to 5K pounds of wakeboard/surf boat. No problem for the 5.3 powered ‘Hoe, but then it is a Chevy!…….LOL

      • 0 avatar

        I have a friend with a 6.2L Silverado and 5.3L Tahoe. The experience of that output difference is nontrivial IMO. The 5.3L isn’t a Crosstrek or anything but it is slower than its current competition. GM has made it easier to get the 6.2L in the pick up trucks but it is still an extremely expensive option on the SUVs.

        • 0 avatar

          Depends what you are talking about. We drove a 2019 Silverado 4 door 4X4 5.3/8 speed and optional 3.42 towing group and raced a current model Ram 4 door 4X4 Hemi 8 speed and unkown rear gears and slightly edged it out once we got past 40 MPH! As for current domestic trucks the only thing we drove that was quicker was a late model F-150 with the 3.5 EB, 10 speed and 3.73 rear gears.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I don’t get the Armada love here. I have one as a rental now. It feels old in every way, even if you don’t hold the rattles against it (I don’t…it is a 10000 mile rental)

    The infotainment feels lifted from 2005…and not in the “it’s simple so good way”. More in the “we haven’t figured out how to integrate a touch screen nor get it to interface with your phone way. At pushing 60 grand that isn’t acceptable.

    I don’t get the expedition L or Suburban comparisons either, it is more in line with the Tahoe and SWB Expedition. They still cost more, but frankly they are much nicer and modern.

    Additionally, all interstate, from Alabama to Texas, mostly flat on I-20 I got between 15-16 MPG. Cruise set at 75 most of the way. My rental Tahoe’s and Expeditions have both fared much better.

    Its cheaper, but in my opinion that isn’t because it is some sort of screaming value, it’s cheaper because it is worth less money. I am sure the Ford and GM cost more, even when comparing the applicable body style (not the Suburban or LWB Expedition which have usable third rows and room behind them. It isn’t so dramatic in an apples to apples comparison as the commenters make here though.

    Know what though, I’d pay it. They are both just much nicer vehicles.

    • 0 avatar

      I guess 400hp goes a long way.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        They all have 400 hp available. The Chevy is down on standard power but the has more optional. The Ford is 375, but in compatible spec weighs less. 400 is optional, but spendy. I shopped them both when we replaced my wife’s car, but just didn’t need that much with a truck already available.

        I think there is an honest to God no third row expedition option coming. That would be my choice. I hate wasting space for seats I’ll never need and if I did, I’d want the long wheelbase versions.

        I didn’t even look at the Armada though. I don’t even think of them unless I’m at the rental counter. I don’t really see them elsewhere.

        If there is anything to like, the power delivery is smooth and feels like this sort of rig should though. It makes you pay at the pump though. If they’d modernize it it would be OK.

  • avatar

    Did you know that in 2018 58 children were killed in the USA by SUVs and a staggering 3,000 injured in “frontovers” where the driver rolled over them at low speed in a driveway or parking lot, unable to see them because of there huge forward blind spot?

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