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Happy Hauler: 2018 Ford Expedition MAX XLT 4X4 Test Drive

It’s the holiday season. Hanukkah has already started. Kwanzaa is coming. Christmas is almost here. If you celebrate it, you’ve probably started the countdown to December 25 already because the lead-up to Christmas can be just as wonderful as the day itself. There are certain things that make those weeks so special. The smell of burning firewood wafting out of chimneys. Ice skating with your family. Having your friends over for a pre-holiday potluck dinner. Hearing classic Christmas songs in every store as you do some last-minute shopping.

Decorating is also a big part of the Christmas season. Maybe you install lifesize motorized reindeer on your front lawn. Perhaps you cover your house and trees in so many lights that they can be seen from space. Or you might just hang up a simple wreath on your front door. However you happen to decorate on the outside, more than likely, you put up a Christmas tree inside. It wouldn’t feel like Christmas without one. For me, this Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the 2018 Ford Expedition MAX XLT 4X4, which my girlfriend Eli and I used to pick up our very first live Christmas tree.

2018 Ford Expedition

2018 Ford Expedition MAX XLT Exterior

A few days before we picked it up, Eli and I ran to various stores to get other decorations. Some vehicles seem to shrink the faster you go in them. The Expedition MAX always feels the same size: massive. Measuring more than 6.5 feet wide (excluding its mirrors) and 18.5 feet long, the Expedition MAX is a lot to keep track of out on the road. Surprisingly, even without a 360-degree camera system, it was easy to park within the lines of a parking spot on the first attempt.

2018 Ford Expedition

Ford was kind enough to add Equipment Group 202A to my press loaner. Much of its content upgraded the interior, but a few of its features came in handy when I happened to be outside of the Expedition. For instance, when I had my hands full of Christmas decorations, such as a wreath and boxes of lights, all I had to do to open the power liftgate was wave my foot under the rear bumper.

202A’s platform running boards were useful when Eli and I stopped off to get our Christmas tree. We were both drawn to the same fir tree and had the employees of the local tree farm wrap it in netting, then place it on top of the Expedition MAX. One worker and I stepped onto the running boards on opposite sides of the vehicle, then proceeded to use nylon string and the roof rack bars to hold the tree tightly in place. It was somewhere between five and six feet tall, but up on the Expedition MAX’s long roof, it looked more like a shrub.

2018 Ford Expedition

2018 Ford Expedition MAX XLT Interior

Most of my week with the Expedition MAX was filled with cold weather, so it was even easier to get into the Christmas spirit. The low temperatures also made me thankful for all of the amenities Ford packed into Equipment Group 202A. Eli and I could dial in just as much heat as we wanted thanks to the dual-zone climate control system. The first two rows of seats were covered with leather; the front featured 10-way power seats with three-stage heating and cooling. With the push of a button in the HVAC cluster, I could turn on the steering wheel heater. To really get into the swing of things, I spun the tuning knob to the Holly station on SiriusXM satellite radio.

2018 Ford Expedition

If I didn’t have to worry about sap messing up the rear carpeting, I would’ve loaded the tree into the back of the Expedition MAX. It would’ve had no problem fitting it and lowering the seats would’ve been a cinch. All I had to do to flatten the second and third rows of seats was press a few buttons inside the cargo bay near the liftgate. Doing that freed up 121.5 cubic feet of space.

2018 Ford Expedition

Fitting people inside was just as easy. The tilt-and-slide second row offered plenty of headroom and legroom for our friends Rachel and Austin, who are 5’1” and 6’2”, respectively. I’m 5’10 and found legroom in the power-reclining third row was a little tight. The good news is that there’s so much space for the second row to move forward that rationing out enough legroom to both rear rows should be easy if you need to carry eight people at once.

2018 Ford Expedition

2018 Ford Expedition MAX XLT Performance

Santa uses the power of eight reindeer to get from house to house. I used horsepower to get from store to store. The Expedition MAX XLT has a second-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 that runs on regular gas and generates 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, which is converted into forward motion by a 10-speed automatic. With that hardware and its 3.73 rear end ratio, my four-wheel-drive Expedition MAX XLT review rig was capable of pulling 6,000 pounds.

The EPA estimated that my media tester could get 16 mpg in the city, 21 mpg on the highway, and 18 mpg combined.** Over the course of my week with the Expedition MAX, I averaged approximately 18.

2018 Ford Expedition

2018 Ford Expedition MAX XLT Safety

Standard safety equipment on the Expedition MAX XLT 4X4 includes front, side-impact, and Safety Canopy side curtain airbags; tire pressure monitoring; a rear view camera with its own washer; and a post-crash alert system. Traction control, stability control, Trailer Sway Control, Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control, and ABS with Brake Assist and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution are also on the list. With the turn of a dial, the Terrain Management System can prepare the Expedition MAX to take on a variety of surfaces, including gravel and snow.

The 202A package upped the level of protection with features such as blind spot monitoring and cross-traffic detection.

2018 Ford Expedition

2018 Ford Expedition MAX XLT Overall

With Christmas music playing in the background and marzipan hot chocolate in our mugs, Eli and I decorated our first live Christmas tree together. The 2018 Ford Expedition MAX XLT 4X4 made it all possible. If you have an Expedition MAX on your Christmas list, all you have to do to check it off is go to an AutoNation Ford dealership. Prices for the 2018 Expedition MAX start at $51,790.* My well-equipped XLT 4×4 review vehicle had an as-tested price of $65,490.

*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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