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Review: 2020 Ford Expedition Max Platinum

Flying first class with four wheels on the ground.

In a time when air travel is perhaps a riskier proposition than many of us are willing to accept, the next best thing may well be the 2020 Ford Expedition Max Platinum. Especially if you've got seven or so quarantined, virus-free adults (or as many as eight people if a couple children are in the group) that need to get somewhere quickly in first-class comfort.

2020 Ford Expedition Max Platinum: Jumbo Size, Jumbo Power

In 2018, Ford considerably raised the game of its new-third generation Expedition Max, the brand's full-size, three-row SUV entry that typically fields competition from the likes of the Chevy Suburban (which is all-new for 2021) and Dodge Durango. Like the new F-150, the 2020 Ford Expedition Max Platinum's body is aluminum-intensive for lighter weight than the previous model's steel panels, while V-8 engines were dropped in favor of the torquey and more fuel-efficient twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. A new 10-speed automatic is also part of the package and our tester is a Max long-wheelbase variant which adds about 10 inches to the wheelbase and an extra foot in overall length. Make no mistake, this is a big boy—it's the largest SUV Ford builds.

2020 Ford Expedition Max Platinum: Top-Tier Trim Makes for a Comfortable Cabin

Our tester is equipped with the Platinum trim level, which also makes it the most expensive SUV in the Ford model range. With a base price of more than $81,000, this is transportation for the wealthy, and it feels like it inside the expansive cabin, which seems larger than my last Manhattan hotel room. In fact, fold down the second and third rows and Ford says there's 121.5 cubic feet of space, which is probably more than enough to camp out for an evening. This Burgundy Velvet Metallic Expedition Max Platinum is equipped with supple Medium Ceramic leather upholstery and though the dashboard is a lightly dressed-up version of the same unit in Ford's Super Duty trucks (with a nifty twin-door glovebox), the brand didn't skimp on creature comforts.

Standard equipment includes a Bang and Olufsen premium 12-speaker stereo, heated first- and second-row seats, power-folding second and third rows, 4G Wi-Fi, Ford's Sync 3 infotainment software with a somewhat small 8.0-inch screen, a wireless charging pad for devices and swanky ambient lighting. Personal space in the first- and second-row bucket seats is excellent and even the third row is comfy for full-grown adults. While the third-row bench seating isn't heated, it does have a reclining backrest and its own climate control zone. Ford's Co-Pilot360 is also included, which is essentially a package of various safety-tech items such as blind-spot alert, lane-keeping assist, and pre-collision assist with active braking. The only options on our tester are the optional paint and 22-inch wheels at $395, a $1,570 heavy-duty towing package, and $595 second row buckets.

2020 Ford Expedition Max Platinum: Behind the Wheel

Despite an aluminum body and four-wheel independent suspension, there's no getting around the fact that this 2020 Ford Expedition Max Platinum is a behemoth of a vehicle. At nearly 19 feet long and weighing in at almost three tons (with a combined fuel economy rating of 18 mpg to prove it), you're probably only interested in driving an Expedition Max in an urban environment if A) it's your job as a chauffeur, B) you've got a big family that often needs to get to the same place, or, C) you're just a little bit masochistic.

That said, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 is more than up to the task at hand. Power delivery is smooth and burly with 470 lb-ft of torque that never makes you wish that there was a big old V-8 underhood. And while Ford's F-150 pickup trucks still have a stick axle rear and a ride tuned to handle big payload, the Expedition's independent multi-link rear end rides smoothly and is well controlled, even without going to more expensive air damping. While we kept our Expedition on the road as the vast majority of buyers will, 4x4 capability will be useful for those who live in areas of heavy inclement weather or rural environments with non-graded roads. Just don't expect to tear up any serious recreational off-road trails in the Expedition, it's just too massive a vehicle for that job.

Really, the only thing we'd like to see Ford improve about the drive experience is a little more fine-tuning for the occasionally rough-shifting 10-speed automatic. As gear count goes up, we've found refinement often suffers and such is the case here. Occasionally, we were given a sluggish, clunky shift both up and down as the transmission seemed to second-guess itself or simply not engage promptly.

2020 Ford Expedition Max Platinum: A Solid Package

After a week of wheeling the Expedition Max around, we came away impressed with the experience. Ford's top-trim people-hauler feels special and classy on the road, with a well-tuned ride and plenty of power. The Max Platinum trim isn't cheap, but then first-class travel rarely is.

2020 Ford Expedition Max Platinum Hits

  • Luxurious cabin in Platinum trim means even third-row passengers won't have much to complain about.
  • Who needs a V-8 with a turbo-six this potent?
  • Well equipped for its admittedly high price.
  • No premium required here: minimum 87 octane requirement helps with a near-28-gallon tank.

2020 Ford Expedition Max Platinum Misses

  • 18 mpg in combined driving is not great, but to be expected.
  • 10-speed automatic could still use some tweaking two years after launch.
  • A little more dress-up for the dashboard would be welcome.
2020 Ford Expedition Max Platinum Specifications
ON SALE Now
PRICE $81,505/$84,065 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 3.5L turbocharged DOHC 24-valve V-6/375 hp @ 5,000 rpm, 470 lb-ft @ 2,250 rpm
TRANSMISSION 10-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, front-engine, 4WD SUV
EPA MILEAGE 16/21 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 221.9 x 79.9 x 76.2 in
WHEELBASE 131.6 in
WEIGHT 5,794 lb
0-60 MPH 7.0 sec (est)
TOP SPEED 125 mph (est)