Road Master: The 2018 Ford Expedition Max

2018 Ford Expedition Max front/side view in Monument Valley, Utah
The 2018 Ford Expedition Max in Monument Valley, Utah.
I've said it before, I'll say it again.  Time and miles reveal a lot about any given vehicle.  At the end of a trip, you're either happy it's over or in love with the machine that took you there and back---with a deepened appreciation of exactly what that car, truck, minivan or SUV is all about.

I've said it before because TireKicker has an annual tradition of a summer roadtrip, lots of miles to and from interesting places.  Among the most memorable, our week-long Utah trip in 2014 in the 2015 Kia Sorento SXL and last summer's two weeks in Grand Teton and Yosemite National Parks in the 2017 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring.

This summer (actually straddling the end of summer and the beginning of autumn)'s trip was the most ambitious yet, and as wonderful as both the Kia and Mazda were, the latest and largest version of a venerable American SUV seemed the perfect match.  Ford Motor Company and its prep and delivery partner here in Northern California, Page One Automotive, graciously made possible a three-week loan of the all-new for 2018 Ford Expedition Max.  Two weeks on the road, plus a few days either side for packing, unpacking and cleaning.

Map of TireKicker's 2018 expedition (courtesy Google Maps)
Map of TireKicker's 2018 expedition (courtesy Google Maps).
Don't let the mileage estimate on the map fool you.  With backroads and side trips, the actual total miles driven on this trip was 3,800 and change.  And with a run to the Bay Area for Western Automotive Journalists' annual Silicon Valley Re-Invents the Wheel event the day after we got back, I actually logged about 4,400 miles worth of seat time in the 2018 Ford Expedition Max.

2018 Ford Expedition Max at Zion National Park, Utah
2018 Ford Expedition Max at Zion National Park, Utah.
As always, this was primarily a camping trip, with the objective being to spend as few nights in hotels as possible.  That meant a fair amount of supplies had to be managed, and the Expedition Max was exactly the right choice.  Nearly a foot longer than the standard Expedition, the Expedition Max handles an additional 16.9 cubic feet of cargo.  That additional space is larger than the trunk in most contemporary sedans.

2018 Ford Expedition Max at Kings Bottom Campground outside Moab,Utah
2018 Ford Expedition Max at Kings Bottom Campground outside Moab, Utah..
In addition to space, the Expedition Max packs tons of useful features---power-folding third-row seats, for one---and a very handy 12V power outlet in the cargo area, which we used to power our inverter, which allowed our air compressor to inflate the air mattress only steps from our tent most everywhere we went.  And, though it wasn't a factor for us, the 2018 Ford Expedition Max can tow up to 9,000 pounds, so if you prefer a trailer to a tent, it's a strong choice.

Interior view of 2018 Ford Expedition Max
2018 Ford Expedition Max interior.
One of the realities of travel in late September over a large geographic area ranging from desert to mountains is that you'll see highs as high as the mid-90s and lows as low as the mid-30s.  The Expedition Max was a wonderful refuge in both cases.  With dual zone automatic climate control as well as heated and ventilated seats, perfect comfort was never more than a moment away.

And those seats---there were a few 11-hour days at the wheel on this trip, but I never felt fatigued.  And the B&O Play premium audio system was tremendous.

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Ford Expedition Max
2018 Ford Expedition Max.
Our test vehicle was the Limited two-wheel drive model.  Base price $65,365.  Standard for that money? The 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine, mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, automatic headlamps that are so automatic they come on when you turn on your wipers (making you instantly legal in states like California that require it), power heated/folding exterior mirrors with approach lamps and turn signals built in, privacy glass on the rear doors, a rear window wiper-washer, roof rack side rails, power deploying running boards, LED taillamps, trailer sway control, windshield wiper de-icers, second-row heated seats (in addition to the aforementioned heated and ventilated front seats), second-row power folding tip and slide seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, 10-way driver and passenger power front seats with memory for the driver's side, power adjustable pedals with memory, a power-folding third-row seat, power tilting and telescoping steering column, auto stop and start, Bang & Olufsen's marvelous B&O Play premium audio system, blind spot monitoring, a Class IV trailer towing package, front and rear independent suspension, hill start assist, intelligent access with pushbutton start, a rear view camera, remote start system, reverse sensing system, and SYNC with an eight-inch touchscreen including AM/FM/SiriusXM radio and Apple Car Play.

That's a pretty complete vehicle right there, but ours had extra-cost options, as well:

  • Equipment Group 301A (Panoramic vista roof, voice-activated touchscreen navigation system, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go driving, pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping system) $3,030.
  • White Platinum metallic paint. $555.
  • Heavy-duty trailer towing package. $1,570.
  • Reversible cargo mat. $40.
  • Leather-trimmed second row bucket seats. $740.
  • Roof rail crossbars. $125.
  • Cargo package. $285.
With $1,195 destination charges and subtracting $500 worth of incentives, the bottom line came to $72,185.  Not cheap, but in line with what well-equipped full-size SUVs are going for these days. 

Front 3/4 view of 2014 Ford Expedition Max
2018 Ford Expedition Max.
All of the above makes the Expedition an SUV I'd absolutely buy with my own money.  But wait---there's more.  The EPA fuel economy estimate for the 2018 Ford Expedition Max is 17 city/23 highway.  Loaded with two people and two weeks' worth of gear, I averaged 24.8.  Almost 25 miles per gallon from a large American SUV.  Tremendous.  The 2018 Ford Expedition Max earns its spot at the top of the TireKicker's Best Cars list on the right side of this page.  And it'll be a tough act to follow when we go back out on the road next summer.