Ford Expedition: Luxury SUV Brings Smiles to Sad Empty Nesters

Ford Expedition King Ranch

Ford Expedition King Ranch Bronze Fire

Ford Expedition King Ranch 4 X 4 has us driving driving like royalty.

What is sadder for parents than an empty nest? An empty SUV. We drove our youngest daughter to admitted students day at Dickinson College and then had weekend plans with my sister in Pennsylvania. But our daughter had other fish to fry. We dropped her off at a friend’s house in Philadelphia and then drove a seven seater van with just the two of us rattling around.

Ford Expedition

The gang’s all here – until they go off to college, grad school and jobs overseas. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

We’d better get used to it. Our kids are moving on, and this huge luxury SUV will not be needed.

But oh, what a joy while we had it.

My sister has a kid at college, but ‘replaced’ him with a German exchange student, plus we had my brothers, spouses and assorted other kids. So we had plenty of people to fill those seats for a weekend of driving around Kennett Square and Wilmington, Delaware.

Ford Expedition

The stitching and trim matched my jeans. The leather wrapped steering wheel was super comfy. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

And it’s a testament to the Expedition that everyone was clamoring to ride in it. My brothers and brother-in-law collect cars and chose to ride in this over a Porsche, BMW, Lexus and Audi (though leaving that one home was a mistake in hindsight)

The model we drove, the Ford Expedition King Ranch 4 X 4 exuded macho luxury, with rich leather trim and wood instrument panel and switch plates. The seats can be heated or cooled; although a cowboy on the Texas Ranch can jerry rig a ventilation system, we city folk appreciate the heat and cool so we keep our clothes fresh while we drive.

But the Expedition was still feminine enough to appeal to female drivers, with touches like illuminated cup holders that come in seven colors you choose. That ambient lighting also illuminates the front and rear footwells and front center console bin, and comes in several shades of blue, along with orange, red, Green and the purple we had, which is fit for a king.

There are nine cup holders throughout the vehicle, so you can stay hydrated no matter where you sit.

Power to the people – and everything else

The SUV had power in unexpected places, like power running boards so those of us without cowboy boots could climb delicately into the cabin. And this vehicle is high off the ground, with 22-inch aluminum wheels.

Power-adjustable/folding outside mirrors help keep the mirrors from dings when you are parked on the street or at a garage or parking lot. And after seeing the damage my nephew did to a brand-new Audi 8 and my sister’s garage wall, I was thankful he wouldn’t be endangering us in the driveway, either.

Cowboys are my weakness – but so are backing up and parallel parking

Ford Expedition

Our 4th ‘child’ was happy to spread out. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

With an SUV this massive, you need help backing up and maneuvering the vehicle. Of course, real cowboys won’t ask for directions – or have their wives stand outside and indicate when it is safe to go. So the sensors in the Expedition are particularly useful. The forward and reverse sensing system provides audible alerts for parking or backing up.

There is also a Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert so I never felt troubled switching lanes.

Ford Expedition

Despite near white-out conditions, changing lanes was a breeze with the Blind Spot Information System Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

Infotainment – we got to choose the tunes

The King Ranch model has standard SYNC with MyFord Touch, 8-inch touchscreen and SiriusXM satellite radio, heard through a Sony sound system. As the drivers and parents, my husband and I always get to choose the tunes, but by ourselves we didn’t have to listen to any whining about our last century musical tastes.

Ford Expedition

The second row has the same fancy trim as the first, and the seats recline. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

First class all the way

Passengers in the second row get heated, reclining seats, and the same trim as the first row. The seats also fold flat and slide easily for third row access. Even the third row was comfortable, with ample head and leg room; the PowerFold seats make toting oversize luggage easy.

The Ford Expedition King Ranch 4 X 4 I drove was a pre-production model, but it will be $59,910 when it goes on sale. The Expedition is essentially the Lincoln Navigator, at a lower price point, but it still envelops you in luxury. That cosseting and size does come at a price though; fuel economy is just 17 mpg overall.

What we loved

  • Luxury touches like leather heated and cooled seats and real wood trim
  • Colored LED lights for front cup holders
  • Tons of room. Wait, that made us cry a little
  • Easy maneuverability, especially forward and reverse sensing system
  • Power running boards

What you need to know

  • Takes regular gas
  • 15 mpg in the city, 20 mpg on the highway
  • Base price: $59,910; $62,380 with power running boards and delivery charges
  • Not yet rated for safety

Judy Antell, who is's Free in 50 States editor, lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and... More about Judy Antell