Ford’s Expedition Platinum Max:
The Blue Oval Lincoln
Growing up in the late ‘90s and early 2000s meant having a third-row seat to the SUV craze. Carpool lanes were jam-packed with gas-guzzling Ford Excursions, Hummer H2s, and Lincoln Navigators, towering over minivans and making pickup drivers insecure. These were the vehicles parked in the background of my youth. Now, roughly 20 years later the full-size SUV is still around, thanks to a popular desire to seat up to eight people while towing a boat to the lake for the weekend.
Looming large in this vehicle segment is the Ford Expedition, a veteran of the SUV wars with several trim badges under its umbrella. This 3-row contender offers a surplus of horsepower and a wide open interior space enclosed within a sleek exterior design. Driving the top-of-line Ford Expedition Platinum Max meant spending a week with an Interstate express train.
For 2021 the Expedition will remain the same – the only significant differences are new wheel designs for every trim level, and Ford’s Co-Pilot360 Assist package is now offered on the XLT model. For the sake of this review, I will be alternating between the 2020 and 2021 model years.
EXTERIOR: This current 4th-generation of the Ford Expedition has been in production since 2018. One of the most significant changes on the Expedition is its new aluminum body, the same as the F-150. The overall design is an SUV that looks like the ‘after’ photo in a weight loss supplement commercial.
I prefer the straight, sharp profile design of the 2020-2021 Ford Expedition over the Chevrolet Suburban. The Suburban and Tahoe are not bad looking SUVs, but the subtle downward curved profile line makes me think of the rubber pencil trick. The 2021 Ford Expedition is like a smartphone – big but thin at the same time.
The Ford Expedition front fascia is stretched and pulled back like it was done by the same top-notch plastic surgeon the Kardashians visit. The 2021 Ford Expedition size makes for a commanding presence on a wheelbase over 10 feet long. In its Max spec, the Expedition wheelbase is extended to nearly 11 feet in length. Slim hips and a smooth face make the full-size SUV look streamlined and long. The passenger hauling, truck-frame based SUV can look tall even parked next to a freight train.
The model tested wore a dashing shade of Burgundy Velvet Metallic(!) maroon (a $395 option) matched with 22-inch machined aluminum wheels. This combination of color and wheels works well to let other motorists know that this is the top-of-the-line Ford Expedition Platinum.
INTERIOR: Medium Soft Ceramic is the name Ford gave to the Expedition’s crème color leather interior featured in the 2021 Ford Expedition Platinum. The only other interior color option is Ebony. When entering, you’ll notice the word Platinum on display in the front seats, serving as a heads-up that you are stepping into a luxury blue oval. The Ford Expedition Platinum delivers a quality ride with comfortable seats, including massaging features for driver and front passengers. For $595, the second row can be optioned with a set of captain’s chairs with armrests that give passengers a more personal riding experience. Third-row passengers get their own USB ports, and low floors mean you won’t have to rest your elbows on your knees during long road trips.
Where the interior misses the mark are the details. The Ford Expedition Platinum interior dials and accents feel like a base model, and it can take a bit of the wind out of your sail in having the means to buy the top model. For a starting price of $75K, the Platinum interior needs more than comfy leather seats to deliver a full-sized luxury experience.
PERFORMANCE: The standard powerplant for the 2021 Ford Expedition is the twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 producing 375 horsepower. Expeditions wearing a Platinum badge get the same 3.5-liter, but with a power boost; it makes 400 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. All variants of the 2021 Expedition’s twin-turbocharged V6 use Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission.
With 400hp on tap in the Ford Expedition Platinum Max, any carpool lane can quickly feel like the fast lane, thanks to the full-size SUV’s effortlessly acceleration. Without the familiar V8 rumble, the Expedition feels like it swooshes away from slow-moving traffic with only the sound of two whirling turbochargers letting you know that the digital speedometer is climbing. The open highway, cruising at 85 mph, is where the 2021 Ford Expedition feels most at home.
There is no getting around the vehicle’s size and weight in the turns. Independent rear suspension is an appreciated feature added to the Ford Expedition. Driving the Expedition Max, the rear can feel a trailer length away while entering a turn. The weight means the body will lean, but the wheels stay planted on the pavement allowing for a steady application of power to exit out of the corner, feeling a sling-shot sensation as the weight settles and twin-turbo V6 kicks the 10-speed transmission down several gears to charge down the road.
Most Expedition owners will not be testing to see how many lateral G’s they can pull on a back canyon road, but given how quickly this large SUV can move, it’s useful to know that it can also handle its weight when the road starts to impersonate a snake.
Whether 375hp or 400hp, the 2021 Ford Expedition has more than enough power to deliver a max towing capacity of 9,300 lbs. Given its longer wheelbase, the Expedition Max towing capacity is reduced slightly to 9,000 lbs. All Ford Expedition trim levels can be optioned with 4×4.
Gas mileage on the 2020-2021 Ford Expedition Max is rated at 16 mpg city and 21 mpg highway for an average of 18 mpg. In real-world testing, after a week of 467 miles of driving, I averaged a total mpg of 16.9. On extended highway travel, the Expedition did manage to average 18.2 mpg. According to Ford, the 2021 Ford Expedition’s starting price is $49,995 for the entry-level, $54,810 for the Expedition Max, and $75,775 for the Platinum Max. The model tested in this review had an MSRP of $84,065(!!) thanks to added options like exterior color, second-row bucket seats, and a Heavy-Duty towing package.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The Ford Expedition continues to deliver a full-sized experience. The ride quality is top-notch, with a quiet interior offering plenty of USB ports and cup holders to keep every seat happy. Yes, you do feel its size when sitting behind the wheel, but one could argue that is a good thing; an 11-foot long vehicle should always remind drivers that they need to pay attention to the physics at hand. Parking sensors and electronic-assisted power steering allow drivers to feel an SUV within the first spin around the block.
Once you get used to the vehicle’s dimensions the Ford Expedition Max turns into an easy-going cruiser with power on demand and disc brakes with a vice grip. The tailgate window opens to allow for easier access to the rear storage, but only for people over five foot ten as the Expedition is a tall SUV.
The only issue I have with the Ford Expedition Platinum is the price. With options, the Platinum trim level can quickly jump the $80K mark and cross into Lincoln Navigator territory. It brings up the question; if you’re paying premium prices, why not go with the premium brand? My recommendation for anyone looking for a 2021 Ford Expedition Max with a premium interior is the King Ranch trim, starting at under $75K.