2022 Ford Expedition Max
PURE PRAIRIE LEAGUE
The covered wagon was an integral part in the settling of the American West. Relatively short and highly maneuverable, it was capable of transporting one family over the Oregon Trail to – for those that survived – all that awaited them. More substantial (and substantially less maneuverable) was the Conestoga wagon, with room for several families or up to six tons of cargo. The modern-day equivalent of the covered wagon might be Ford’s Explorer, while if you want to ‘Conestoga’ cross country, you’ll grab an Expedition – ideally with the ‘Max’ suffix.
Of course, the Expedition is a known entity in any Texas suburb and – at least in the last century – most carpool lanes. Available in both a long and extra-long configuration, either version provides its owners with three rows, although the Max spec gives you both three rows and some 34 cubic feet of cargo space behind that third row. In short(!), the Expedition Max can carry up to eight passengers and most of their luggage. (Or, if supplied to the Secret Service, it could carry a former president and two or three legal teams…)
First impressions count, and our press Expedition Max, in XLT trim and finished in a Stone Blue exterior, made a rather quiet impression despite its 20-inch wheels and 222-inch overall length. Unlike its closest competition, GM’s Suburban and Yukon, the Expedition’s sheetmetal hasn’t been pumped up as a Schwarzenegger tribute; instead, Ford went for a Mitt Romney. Like the families or executive suites for which it is built, the Expedition looks to be spec’d for business and the occasional vacation; that’s if, of course, it’s a working vacation.
Inside, seats are covered with Ford’s ActiveX material, which represents a valid substitute for leather; apparently, only water bottles are sacrificed in its manufacture. Given that this might very well be a work vehicle, what I know as an infotainment screen becomes a productivity screen, something which my semi-retired status finds irritating, if not actually threatening. But the interior works ergonomically, is relatively easy to access since this 4X4 has no offroad ambitions, and will seat six in generous comfort, with plenty of room for passengers and – importantly – each zone with its own climate control.
The Max’s 222 inches sit atop a fully-boxed ladder frame, which sounds old school – but there’s nothing last-century about the way this 3-row Ford goes about its over-the-road business. The emphasis here is on refinement and isolation, while continuing to maintain a connection to the road and road-holding. Despite the Max’s length and three tons(!) of curb weight, the Max – thankfully – drives smaller than its reality; it’s almost an ‘Escape’ from full-size reality…until, of course, you have something to carry.
Under the hood is the now tried-and-true 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6, which provides not only 380 horsepower but also 470 lb-ft of torque. Connecting that power to the pavement is a 10-speed automatic, all-wheel drive with Ford’s Terrain Management, and an all-independent suspension. There’s no hesitation in its acceleration, little noise at highway speeds, and an EPA estimate of 16 City/21 Hwy/18 Combined. I continue to wish OEMs had stayed with their diesel powertrains, and wonder why the Expedition platform has yet to receive a hybrid option. With all of that, the Expedition’s EPA estimate is more efficient than our ’06 Grand Cherokee estimate, despite weighing almost a ton more!
Of course, beyond the carpool is the caravan, and if wanting to hook up to an Airstream, the Expedition – when equipped with the available towing package – can pull up to 9,000 pounds. I like the math, and with the third row folded you’d have plenty of room for all of the miscellany that typically accompanies ‘heading out’ with a family of four.
With our Max XLT’s base price of $60K and as-equipped window of just under $70,000, the Expedition constitutes real value in an era of $50K crossovers and almost $ix-figure Wranglers. My suburban drive really doesn’t have the space for the Expedition’s length, nor does our cul-de-sac have the curb, but on a family getaway of a week or more I’d sure like to rent one. And – you know – ‘Max’ out…