I wrote, a couple of decades back, that what was then a trend of suburban housewives (including my own first wife) driving full-size SUVs was about to end with the advent of the crossover---and that eventually, the Chevy Suburbans and Tahoes, Toyota Sequoias, GMC Yukons and Ford Expeditions would eventually be left "to the pros"---the people who actually had a need for all that space, all that power and all that capability.
That's a prediction that has largely come true---the best-selling of the full-size SUVs do between a third and a quarter the business of the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V and maybe about half of what the Ford Explorer and Escape, Nissan Rogue and Jeep Grand Cherokee sell.
While soccer moms on Starbucks runs in eight-passenger, 16 mpg behemoths came in for a fair amount of ridicule when it was a thing, my position has always been that these are very good vehicles for a purpose---transporting a lot of people or or two people and a lot of stuff over long distances in any weather in extreme comfort.
Case in point, our fall 2018 camping trip in which a Ford Expedition Max (the stretched version, a direct competitor to the Chevy Suburban and the GMC Yukon XL) took us to Lake Powell, the Grand Canyon, Canyon de Chelly on the Navajo Nation, Zion, Moab and Bryce Canyon, among other places---a total of 3,800 miles and change. It was exactly the right vehicle for the job.
Now, a bit less than five years later, we're in the 2023 Ford Expedition Platinum---the regular-wheelbase model), with, unfortunately, nothing more exciting on the agenda than a week of city street and urban freeway driving. The good news is that the Expedition, despite its size, is at home in that environment as well, with quick power steering and sufficient proximity warnings to reduce anxiety about urban parking.
No big changes under the hood in those five years---power still comes from the 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6 engine making 380 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. The only difference is that the 2018 was only good for 375 horsepower. Not that anyone buys a full-size SUV for this stat, but 0-60 happens in 5.7 seconds. And the EPA fuel economy average is a respectable 16 mpg city/22 highway/18 combined. That's one less than the 2018 figures, but I actually beat those numbers and got 24.8 for our big trip. Your mileage may vary. I've been in one other Expedition more recently than 2018---and that was the 2020 Expedition Platinum---essentially the same vehicle as the '23, except for a mid-cycle refresh that happened in 2022. That was pretty much limited to front and rear styling and an updated interior to match the Ford F-150.
We took a friend from out of town to dinner in the Expedition. He hopped in the back seat and burst out laughing.
"Oh my God! That center screen is----COMICALLY huge!", he said. He's not wrong. In practice, it's a solid interface, it's clear and readable using mostly peripheral vision, but ultimately, it does look like someone glued a giant iPad to the dashboard---or screwed it into the dashboard using the giant volume knob at the center bottom.
And it's perhaps the biggest change in the three years since our last Expedition. Here's what was in the center stack of the 2020 model---again a loaded Platinum trim, like the new one:
Something else has grown in three years besides the infotainment screen---the price tag. The base price of the 2020 Ford Expedition Platinum, a rear-wheel drive model, was $75,330 including destination.
The base price of this 2023 Ford Expedition Platinum 4X4? $85,510. Three years ago, I remarked that the destination charge of $1,395 might have been the highest such charge I'd seen in 23 years of writing about cars. This year, destination is $1,895, which removes "might" from the equation.
All-wheel drive makes a $2,370 difference in the base price, and this has Ford's remarkable Blue Cruise handsfree driving system as standard equipment---let's figure $2,500 for that--- but that's still a $5,310 jump in the starting price in just three years. That's significant in anyone's book.
It is the top trim line, though, and a lot comes standard for that money, including 22-inch machined aluminum wheels, stainless steel running boards, a panoramic vista roof, trip-zone automatic climate control, a B&O premium sound system, remote start, second-row heated seats, power-folding third row seats, privacy tint rear glass, wiper-activated headlamps, LED headlights, taillights and fog lamps, a comprehensive active safety suite including the aforementioned Blue Cruise, wireless charging, 2nd row captain's chairs, and the aforementioned 15.5-inch touchscreen.
Despite all that, there were some extra-cost options---$495 for the Blue Tinted Clearcoat paint, $795 for the heavy-duty trailer towing package, and $1,250 for chrome polished 22-inch wheels.
There are also echoes of the supply chain woes of the past couple of years, with credits for features and equipment that would normally be standard, but couldn't be sourced for the build of this particular vehicle---a $50 refund for the lack of one-touch second row power windows, $300 off for the lack of luxury leather trim, and $355 deducted because the Expedition was shipped without Active Park Assist 2.0.
All told, the bottom line of the window sticker reads $87,345. And that means, with tax and license that you're not getting in for less than 90 grand.
It's nice, but is it 90 grand nice? Price is the only thing that keeps me from saying "go get one"---it's really that good. And the price puts it in an odd place---the same money, maybe even a few hundred bucks less, can get you into the base trim of the Lincoln Navigator, which is built on the same platform.
I love it. I just wonder who can afford it who couldn't also afford something even nicer.