It is totally fitting that Ford has brought out a version of the 2020 Expedition named after the King Ranch in Texas. At 825,000 acres, it is one of the largest ranches in the world. The Expedition is one of the largest SUVs in the world, and the extra plush interior of the King Ranch version would allow the owners of the Texas ranch to drive across their property all day in full comfort.
Although I had never tested an Expedition before, the Expedition King Ranch felt very familiar when I first lunged up the automatic running boards and got inside. Then I remembered it is the platform for the current Lincoln Navigator, whose Black Label version I tested in 2018. The mix of styling, luxury, performance and technology impressed me then, and so did all of those features in the new Ford version. Lincoln avoids the "rebadging" accusation by providing significantly more luxury and power from its version of the V6, however.
Make no mistake, both vehicles are mostly suitable for NBA teams and large families who tow travel trailers or boats frequently. They are ridiculously big at a time when the automotive media is celebrating electric vehicles that hardly anyone are buying. But this is America. If that's what you want, you can buy it. Just make sure you've got some place to park it.
The Expedition was redesigned in 2019, the year the Navigator debuted. Little has changed for 2020, aside from Ford introducing the King Ranch trim and making the Co-Pilot360 suite of driver assistance technology standard for 2020. This package includes blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, pedestrian detection, and forward automatic emergency braking.
The King Ranch version boasts swanky interior design elements, inlcuding a distinctive Mesa/Ebony interior with Del Rio leather seats, console and steering wheel, unique 22-inch six-spoke aluminum wheels, and the King Ranch "Running W" brand prominently displayed on the console and other locations.
Mechanically, it is the same as most other models, which is a good thing. Though not as powerful as the version in the Navigator, the twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 is still plenty strong, pumping out 375 horsepower and 470 foot-pounds of torque, which is more than enough to provide good acceleration, despite a curb weight of up to 5,623 pounds. That's also enough to tow 9,000 pounds with the optional Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package.
If you want more power, the V6 in the Platinum version pumps out 400 horsepower and 480 foot-poiunds of torque.
The biggest selling point is interior room, however, and here the Expedition excels with enough headroom for the driver and all passengers to wear cowboy hats, enough shoulder room for up to eight adults to ride in comfort (seven with the Captains Chair configuration in our test model), and enough leg room for all of them to stretch out.
The ride is remarkably smooth, thanks to a sophisticated suspension that absorbs all imperfections. But surprisingly enough, there is also an available Sport mode that increases throttle response and make the suspension noticeably firmer.
As expected, driving a vehicle this large through crowded downtown streets takes care, but the high ride height improves visibility and the steering is responsive enough to allow drivers to make lane changes and even parallel park with confidence.
In a week of test driving, I was continuously impressed by the quality of the Expedition's construction. It always felt solid, with only the roar of the twin-turbo V6 intruding into the cabin under heavy acceleration. And the King Ranch interior made it as comfortable as driving a La-z-Boy down the road.
Ford offers a wide range of Expedition models, starting with the XLT that begins at $52,810 all the way up to the Platinum that begins at $73,935. Surprisingly, given how large the Expedition is, each model is available in a long wheelbase Max version that is even larger and more expensive. Those are as big as all of Texas.
2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch 4X4
Base price: $76,025
Price as tested: $78,190
Type: Full-size luxury SUV
Engine: Twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 (375 hp, 470 ft-lbs)
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Modes: Eco, Normal, Sport, Tow/Haul, Mud/Ruts, Sand, Grass/Gravel/Snow
EPA estimated mileage: 17/22
Overall length: 210 inches
Curb weight: 5368-5623 pounds
Final assembly: Louisville, Kentucky
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