Behind the Wheel

2020 Ford Expedition Review: New King Ranch trim steps up sophistication, is priced right

Ford has cowboy up with the new Expedition King Ranch and Platinum for 2020.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

As is true with the 2020 Ford F-150, the 2020 Ford Expedition's King Ranch trim level sits in a sweet spot in the lineup. It's neither too inelegant to appeal to refined palettes nor too fancy to appeal to more rugged types. On top of that, Ford has given the model the type of accommodations that are good for children and adults.

As tested, the 2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch came in at $74,885, That includes the $72,895 base price, $595 paint color surcharge, and a $1,395 destination and delivery fee. Granted, that's a lot of money, but it's not nearly as expensive as the Expedition's more premium rivals like the Cadillac Escalade. Out of the Expedition's four trim levels, the King Ranch sits three out of four with only the Expedition Platinum being better appointed and pricier.

2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch The Expedition mirrors the last-generation Explorer in the looks department.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Expedition, for all intents and purposes, is the SUV version of Ford F-Series. While its exterior looks more like the last-generation Explorer than the F-150, it's setting foot in the interior that tells the true story. The entire dashboard, center console, and seat design is straight from the F-150 and Super Duty playbook. This isn't a bad thing. The F-Series lineup is filled with very good trucks.

The exterior of the Expedition King Ranch has a more panache than the trucks. From its standard 22-inch six-spoke painted machined-face aluminum wheels with dark tarnish-painted pockets and King Ranch center caps to the Stone Gray-colored grille mesh, lower bumpers, power running boards, rear bumper skid plate, trailer hitch cover, roof. rack side rails, and side mirror caps, the model wears a bit of its upscale sheen right up front where all those near the Expedition can see it.

The King Ranch theme continues to the interior of the Expedition where Ebony Del Rio leather covers the door trim and Mesa Del Rio leather covers the armrests and steering wheel. Kingsville stitching, named after the town where the historic King Ranch is located in Texas, features on the steering wheel. The center console is a combination of Del Rio leather and Ziricote wood veneer.

2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch The interior of the model is richly appointed.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The result is a look that rivals the materials in the redesigned 2021 GMC Yukon and 2021 Chevrolet Suburban, the Expedition's chief rivals. The seats in the Expedition's front and second row are just as comfy and small item storage is just as available.

Where the competition has the edge is the Expedition's infotainment system. The standard 8.0-inch screen is small compared to what others in the vehicle's class now offer. That being said, the roster of tech that accompanies the screen is good and includes satellite radio, voice recognition, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. Upgrading gets a buyer keyless entry, remote start, a panoramic sunroof, navigation, two additional USB ports, wireless device charging, a Bang & Olufson sound system, HD Radio, and a rear-seat entertainment system.

Ford Co-Pilot360 is standard on all Expeditions. The suite of driver assist and safety technology includes automatic high beams, blind spot warning with cross traffic alert, lane keep alert and assist, pre-collision assist with emergency braking and pedestrian detection, and a rearview camera. Upper tier models gets adaptive cruise control. The system works as advertised and doesn't prove too annoying during daily use.

2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch The leather-wrapped steering wheel features Kingsville stitching.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Driving the Expedition King Ranch is easy but there's no getting around the fact that it's a large SUV based on a truck platform. Driving the Suburban and Yukon is an easier, more connected experience. Still, driving these SUVs is nowhere near as taxing as it was 15 years ago.

The Expedition is powered by a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque for use. Acceleration off the line creates confidence, but you won't see the SUV making any speed records any time soon. The larger engines in the General Motors rivals deliver a more inspiring effort but are slightly less fuel efficient (19 mpg vs. 17/18 mpg for the Suburban when similarly equipped).

The 2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch is the most premium model you can get without going full Platinum. For daily driving, it's all the Expedition you'll need, coupled with higher-end appointments and sophisticated looks.

2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch The second-row seats in the Expedition are nearly as comfortable as those up front.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

However, if you're looking to spend $70,000 or more on an SUV, it is worth cross-shopping the new Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon. Both offer compelling reasons to choose them over the Expedition. That being said, if you're a Blue Oval family and opt for the Expedition, when you go out to your driveway and hop inside, you likely won't be disappointed.

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New off-roader

Ford Bronco Production Officially Begins

The Ford Bronco is finally ready for primetime.

Ford

The time is finally here. After years of speculation and several months of pandemic-related delays, the Ford Bronco is starting to roll off the assembly line. The SUV marks the first new Bronco model in Ford's lineup in 15 years, not counting the Bronco Sport, and is one of the most hyped and sought-after vehicles to hit the market in quite some time. Ford's announcement that production has begun will be accompanied by a special YouTube presentation that Ford says will include interviews with the Bronco team and with reservation holders at the automaker's new Modification Center.


2021 Ford Bronco Ford added 2,700 jobs to support Bronco production.Ford


Bronco production has driven Ford to invest $750 million into its Michigan Assembly Plant, and the automaker says it has added 2,700 jobs to support the rollout. Ford's push to begin production can't come soon enough. Over 125,000 Bronco orders have been placed, and multiple delays have pushed the vehicle's arrival back, meaning there is considerable demand for the off-road legend.

Ford is ready to capitalize on the craze and will offer several ways to customize the new vehicle. At its 1.7 million square-foot Modification Center, The Blue Oval will factory-install several optional modifications that include equipment such as a front bumper safari bar, graphics packages, roof racks, and more. That's on top of more than 200 factory-backed accessories that can be installed at the dealer, either at or after the time of purchase.


2021 Ford Bronco Delays and production difficulties have pushed the Bronco back.Ford


If you are hoping to get behind the wheel of a new Bronco, it could be a while. Even buyers that have been in line for a while now might not see their new vehicle until late 2021 or 2022, and the vehicle's official rollout will almost certainly re-spike demand. Even so, many feel it's worth the wait, and Ford's vehicle configuration tool is live, so go check it out for yourself.

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The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder arrives on dealer lots this summer.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder doesn't have to be capable of rock crawling or deep water fording. What it has to do is service the needs of families in their daily life and give them the opportunity to competently go off-roading on rocky trails should they desire. The new, fifth-generation models does just that and adds in enough nifty features to make it among the most compelling choices for three-row SUV buyers.

The 2022 Pathfinder is thoroughly modern though not the boxy off-roader it once was. The SUV's styling harkens back to that time with a tilted, darkened C-pillar and a return to a more muscular body style. That styling makes straightforward visibility good but for shorter drivers seeing what is immediately in front of the grille is a challenge that necessitates using surround view camera technology (available only in upper trim levels) when navigating challenging terrain.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can easily handle the roads less traveled.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 that offers up 291 horsepower and torque - plenty to do the job without complaint. The SUV's nine-speed automatic transmission replaces the continuously variable transmission (CVT) from the previous generation and delivers smooth shifts. Though low-end torque isn't as robust as I like it to be, once up over 35 mph, the Pathfinder's powertrain delivers smooth, powerful sailing.

The redesigned architecture and components underpinning the Pathfinder make it stable on the road and don't allow it to wallow on winding roads. Even off-road, the suspension provides the right blend of stability while the drive dynamics allowing the driver to feel engaged with their surroundings whether on freshly paved roads, city streets, or muddy trails.

Nissan has given the Pathfinder a 6,000-pound towing capacity and even when maxed out the engine's functionality is strong as ever. The transmission can get held up in a gear mid-range when performing this function, however, with 5,000-6,000 rpms registering on the tachometer but a quick release of the gas pedal recalibrates the offering bringing it down to a more traditional 2,000 rpm range.

The eight-seater Pathfinder clearly has the Toyota Highlander in its sights, with good reason. It's the top-selling three-row SUV in the country. Nissan boasts that three adults can fit across the rear bench seat of the Pathfinder and, as long as they're average size or smaller, the marketing talking point holds up. There is gobs more room back there than there is in the Highlander.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Nissan has given the Pathfinder ample cargo space.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Getting in and out of the third row is easy thanks to one-touch buttons on the outboard side of the second-row chairs that move the SUV's captain's seats forward creating enough room to get through to the back. Smartly, Nissan's engineers have put duplicates of these buttons on the back side of the same seats allowing third-row passengers to simply press the button to move the seat up.

The third row can also be accessed via a split between the captain's chairs as well, a space traditionally occupied by a center stowage bin/cup holders/arm rest. Owners can quickly remove the center console by opening a panel on the front and pulling the release mechanism. The one-handed operation takes seconds and the console can be easily stored in the under-floor trunk space behind the third row seat for ease.

Speaking of cargo space... The Pathfinder is one of the most spacious midsize SUVs on the market today for both passengers and cargo. There is a substantial amount of room behind the third-row seat and the under-floor storage area is nearly twice the size of the one in the Highlander. Plus, it has a feature that allows the area cover to be automatically propped up when pushed up by a user. This is especially help when carrying groceries or plants home and keeps them from being crushed.

The first- and second-row seats are suitably comfortable, even for extended periods of time and standard trig-zone climate control makes finding the right in-cabin mix easy. Bottle holders in the pockets of the front doors are exceptionally large, fitting even bulky water bottles.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder's front row seats are comfortable.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In front of the driver is a standard tachometer, speedometer, and 7.0-inch driver information display. Buyers can upgrade to a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster and head-up display but they're not reason enough to upgrade to the top-tier Pathfinder Platinum on their own.

Nissan packs the new Pathfinder with a host of desirable features that make living with the Pathfinder easier including one-touch auto up/down windows, a wireless phone charger, grocery hooks in the rear cargo area, USB ports in all three rows, second-row sunshades, rear door keyless entry, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a motion-activated lift gate.

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is priced to start at $33,410 for the two-wheel drive S base model and $35,310 for the four-wheel drive S base model. The model tops out around $50,000 with destination and delivery included, which seems fair when comparing the Pathfinder to other vehicles in the market.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

If you're thinking of purchasing a Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, or Highlander, do yourself a favor and schedule a test drive of the new Pathfinder when it arrives at a dealer lot near you. You may just be surprised how seamlessly it fits into your daily life compared to the competition.

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