Maximizing comfort, tech, safety, and of course, room
So far, the redesigned 2018 Ford Expedition has impressed us in many ways. In a five-way full-size SUV comparison, the Expedition walked away with the victory. “Spacious, smart, comfortable, quick, and efficient, the Expedition does it all well,” we concluded. “On-road, off-road, towing, you name it—this is the best in class.” We were just as pleased with the Expedition during its First Test review. “The 2018 Ford Expedition’s blend of performance (both on- and off-road), comfort, utility, and tech easily make it the new benchmark for the full-size SUV class,” we said. Let’s now do a detailed dive into the SUV’s interior on the larger Max variant. How much tech, utility, and versatility does the Max offer?
The Max Difference
The Expedition Max is called that for a reason. The wheelbase is stretched by 9.1 inches, and it’s 11.9 inches longer than the regular Expedition. All this extra length only affects the cargo area and not rear-seat legroom. Behind the third row, the Max can carry 36.0 cubic feet of cargo, 15.1 more than the regular Expedition. If you fold the third row down, the Max can hold 73.3 cubic feet, and it jumps to a cavernous 121.5 cubic feet with both rows down, 16.9 more than the regular Expedition. So if you plan to use all three rows and still need plenty of cargo space (or need all that 121.5 cubic feet), you better opt for the Max.
When compared to its biggest rival, the Chevrolet Suburban, the Max falls just short. The Suburban offers slightly more with 39.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, 76.7 cubic feet behind the second row, and a total of 121.7 (only 0.2 larger) with both rows folded down.
Ford has made the front seats in the Limited model a nice place to be. Finding a comfortable seating position is easy thanks to the 10-way power-adjustable front seats, power-adjustable steering wheel, and power-adjustable pedals. The comfortable heated and ventilated leather-trimmed seats, heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a seven-color ambient lighting system should offer plenty of comfort for the driver and front passenger. Large A-pillar grab handles make assessing the front row easier, and the dual glove box, large center console, and many storage areas make finding places to put your stuff easy.
In a three-row SUV, the second row is important, not only is it the preferred row for your rear passengers, but those relegated to the way back have to squeeze through it to access the third row. There are two ways to access the third row in our seven-seat tester: by walking between the second-row bucket seats or by pressing a button—located on the C-pillar—that triggers the tip-and-slide seat feature, allowing passengers to squeeze between the seat and door frame. There is also a lever that can be used instead of the button if you are sitting in the third row. The second-row seats can manually fold flat via a lever located on the side of the seat or electrically with a push of a button located in the cargo area. The second-row headrests fold down via a button located on the side of the headrest.
Our Limited trim tester’s second row came with heated leather-trimmed seats that slide and recline, radio and A/C controls, two USB ports, a 110-volt power outlet, four cupholders, and a large optional panoramic sunroof. However, one thing appears to be missing (actually two): Neither chair has a seat-mounted armrest, leaving just the door-panel armrest for one of your passenger’s arms.
Ford didn’t forget about the last row. Getting my 6-foot self into the third row after stepping on the power-deployable side steps was easy by either walking in between the bucket seats or hitting the tip-and-slide button. For smaller passengers, a conveniently placed C-pillar-mounted grab handle should help enter the third row. Once there, I had enough leg- and headroom to keep me comfortable for a long ride, and the power recline seat feature is a nice touch. A USB port is located in the small side storage cubby on each side of the third row, next to the cupholders and power-recline buttons. If you need more cargo room, the power-folding buttons are located in the cargo area. If you need more rear visibility while driving, the power-folding headrest button is located by the driver.
Tech, Tech, Tech
Ford’s Sync 3 multimedia system came standard on our Max Limited tester and includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Sirius XM satellite radio, and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot for up 10 devices. It’s displayed on an 8.0-inch touchscreen. Apple iPhone users can take advantage of Siri voice commands, and Ford+Alexa brings Amazon Alexa services and skills into your Expedition. The available voice-activated navigation system’s 3-D map is one of the best looking that I have seen. The system is easy to use, has pinch-to-zoom functionality, and uses SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link, which is complimentary for five years. The standard audio system on the Limited trim is a 12-speaker B&O unit that delivers good sound quality. Keeping devices charged was no sweat thanks to the six USB ports, a wireless charging pad in the center console, and a 110-volt power outlet in the second row.
Assisting in Safety
The Expedition Max is a lengthy 18.5 feet long and 7.7 feet wide, you will need all the help you can get driving, parking, and maneuvering this big rig. When parking or in tight spaces, the Limited trim’s standard front and rear parking sensors and optional surround-view camera system will definitely help. Even better is the optional self-parking system, which our tester did not have. When you hit the road, the blind-spot monitoring system will make sure you don’t plow into any hard-to-see compact cars, and when pulling out of parking spaces or congested areas, the cross-traffic alert system should let you know if anything is approaching the Expedition.
The available Driver Assistance package consists of additional driver-assist technologies, including an adaptive cruise control system with stop-and-go capability, a lane keeping system, a forward collision warning system, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic high-beams, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. The Limited trim’s standard 8.0-inch instrument panel display does a good job of keeping the driver informed of what the features are doing and displays alerts. The Driver Alert system will buzz you if the system detects irregular driving such as crossing lanes, and the SOS post-crash alert will notify proper authorities if the Expedition is involved in an accident.
Making life a little easier
In small ways the Max makes life just a little easier by having the rear glass on the liftgate open separately from the liftgate, allowing you to load small items quicker. If carrying a large item with both hands, the hands-free power liftgate will open by waving your foot under the bumper with the key fob on you. Also, instead of turning around to look at your passengers, there is a little interior rearview mirror on the overhead console that folds down when needed.
Relocate These Please
I liked most of what the Max’s interior had to offer but have some quibbles with button and switch placement. Vehicles that come equipped with electric parking brakes usually—and should—have the button on the center console so that the driver can hit it after they put the vehicle in park. Ford puts it where you would normally find the parking brake release on older manual parking brakes, near the driver’s left knee. The button to turn off the auto start/stop—a button that I hit frequently—is above the center display but closer to the passenger than to the driver for some reason. The heated steering wheel button is small and easy to miss, but it’s logically placed near the heated and ventilated seat buttons.
The rotary dial gear selector located on the center console is a neat feature that saves space and operates smoothly, but if you’re in a rush to select gears—like when doing a three-point turn quickly—it is easy to accidentally put the Expedition in park instead of reverse. Hitting the + and – gear buttons right below the gear dial when in manual mode almost feels like a video game; it can be slow to respond (having 10 gears doesn’t help) and feels odd when paddle shifters and gear levers work just fine. I can’t complain about infotainment home menu button because one doesn’t exist. When I had Apple CarPlay or Android Auto running, I had to hit the audio adjustment button in order to exit Apple CarPlay and return to the Sync 3 system.
At first, I was a little nervous having to drive around this huge SUV on the narrow streets of L.A., but the behemoth handles well around town, much easier to maneuver in small spaces than I anticipated. I was even able to carry more speed than I thought I could through twisty roads. The ride is mostly comfortable but can get bouncy over rough roads, and acceleration is strong, probably quicker than most smaller crossovers; a regular four-wheel-drive Expedition hit 60 mph in 6.2 seconds during Motor Trend testing. The 10-speed automatic is smooth and shifts quickly when under full load from the 375-hp, 470-lb-ft 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6.
Read our full 2018 Ford Expedition First Test here.