Enough with this heat and the sauna-like humidity. Time to escape to the mountains for some cooler air. Just as most sensible Floridians do at this time of the year.
The kind offer from friends to spend a few days at their fancy Airbnb cabin – more like a mansion with logs – in Blue Ridge, North Georgia had me scrambling to dust off the hiking boots and stock-up on trail-mix.
And what better opportunity to test-out the built-for-road-trips, 2020 Ford Expedition Platinum 4×4 leviathan sitting in my garage?
With a 400-horsepower twin-turbo V6 under the hood, three rows of La-Z-Boy-comfy seats, and a Bang & Olufsen sound system way better than the one in my living room, this is one Expedition made for expeditions.
The voice-activated Ford Sync nav system reckoned it was 570 miles door to door, or eight and a half hours of driving. Pretty much a straight shot up I-75, through Atlanta, I-575 to Canton and a meander along Highway 76 through Ellijay to Blue Ridge.
It’s good that this is a big-road route we’re on as this is one big-road truck. Stretching over 17 feet nose to tail, and tipping the scales at a whopping 6,000 pounds, this full-sized Ford is the Peterbilt of people carriers.
As a long-distance road warrior it’s better-equipped to devour the miles than a Greyhound bus. That huge 25-gallon tank means over 500 miles between fill-ups, and the 10-speed automatic features a high top gear for relaxed, economical, low rpm cruising.
While the 2020 Expedition line-up kicks off at around $53,000 for the bare-bones XLT, we’re sampling the fancy-pants Platinum that starts at a hefty $73,935. With four-wheel drive, honking 22-inch rims, and second-row captain’s chairs, our tester topped-out at $79,075 including destination.
That said, the Platinum pretty much defines the term “loaded”. Features include more shiny exterior chrome than that Jaws guy in the Bond movies, power-deployable running boards for easier entry, lovely perforated leather seats and exotic timber on the center console.
And, after that eight-and-a-half-hour to Blue Ridge, the best feature by far? The standard, back-and-butt, deep-massaging front seats, which was like having my own personal Helga in the car.
Not so long ago it would have been unthinkable for a full-size SUV like this not to have had some honking V8 under the hood. Progress is the Expedition’s 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 mated to that smooth-shifting 10-speed automatic.
Punch the gas to merge with freeway traffic, or pass that lumbering 18-wheeler, and there’s no lack of response, no shortage of muscle. Away from a stop light, this thing can rush to 60mph in just 5.9 seconds. For a three-ton truck, that’s rapid.
Even when loaded-up with six adults and ascending the challenging, super-steep gravel roads up Cherry Log Mountain where we were staying, the Expedition just powered its way up.
Oh, and the friends who got relegated to the third row asked me to pass on their surprise and delight at the amount of space back there.
As for load-carrying, the Expedition is nothing less than a rolling PODS storage unit. Power-fold the split third-row and there’s over 63 cubic feet of load space. With the middle seats flat as well, space soars to over 104 cubic feet. There are New York condos with less.
After six days, 1,333 miles of driving at a 20.8 mpg average, the mighty Expedition proved itself to be a supreme road warrior.
For me, the only concern was over that lofty $79-grand sticker. It kind of makes no sense that the Expedition’s even more upscale sibling, the classy Lincoln Navigator, starts at around $76,000, or $86,000 similarly-equipped.
But as for those massaging seats after almost nine hours of driving? Priceless.