Testing A Ford Expedition Limited Max By Working As A Roadie For A Mariachi Band - IMBOLDN
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Global supply chain storage was the flavor of the year for 2021, and its bitter aftertaste is still lingering in 2022. Hence, when Ford provided me with a “new” Rapid Red Expedition Limited Max, it was a 2021 model two clicks away from turning 18,000 miles. Because this isn’t the current model year, I could not test it based on its new features. Instead, I had to put in mind a test that would showcase the large SUV’s strengths, which in this case are a quiet and powerful twin-turbo V6 engine and interior space that rivals a studio apartment. Therefore, I decided to give the Expedition Limited Max a real-world shakedown by using it as a shuttle for a local five-piece mariachi band in San Antonio, Texas. Dubbed “the roadie test,” for one weekend, the Ford Expedition became the mariachi express as it raced through the city from gig to gig with band and gear in tow. 

Double Barrel Turbo Spool Performance 

A twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 powers the 2021 Ford Expedition Limited Max. This engine propels the three-row, eight-passenger SUV with the aid of 375-hp and 470 lb.-ft of torque. Impressive numbers for a vehicle commonly seen crawling through school zones. Nevertheless, the Ford Expedition uses its power efficiently thanks to a ten-speed automatic transmission. 

This engine propels the three-row, eight-passenger SUV with the aid of 375-hp and 470 lb.-ft of torque.

Because this is a vehicle designed to carry people, the acceleration is smooth and direct. Putting your foot down is rewarded with a faint but noticeable sound of turbochargers spooling up. This sound is immediately followed by the sensation of a 5,800 pounds of SUV rapidly pushing through the air like a Viking’s ax. The 2021 Ford Expedition Limited Max is stated to have a zero to 60 time of six seconds. Not bad for a full-size SUV that does not rely on its speed as a selling point. With a full tank of gas, the Expedition’s digital instrument gauge reports a range of 500 miles, but after a week of test driving, I calculate that the real-world range is closer to 400 miles, which is not bad.  

Three Row Tour Bus 

The band I drove for is called Mariachi Azul. One of the better-known groups for hire in San Antonio, Texas. The managers of the group are also band members and a married couple. Typically, the band travels in several cars, but this weekend they had the luxury of piling into one giant, fully-loaded SUV with reclining seats, ice cold AC, and an audio system worthy of their expectation. 

Photo by Jesus R. Garcia

Armed with only a cowboy hat and notepad, I arrived early in the afternoon to pick up the band. The first gig was a private backyard party in a gated community across town. The band carefully threw all their instruments in the back. Pressed uniforms slid into the Ford Expedition’s leather upholstery while I typed the address into the GPS. 

Getting across town in San Antonio is a journey. It’s the seventh-largest city in the United States, beating out Dallas, TX. While the Ford Expedition is perfectly suited for idling in bumper-to-bumper traffic, the band was on a time crunch. The more gigs they book in a day, the better the payday – time is money. As a result, we had to use every shortcut, even if it meant avoiding the highways and cutting across territories of suburbia littered with speed humps and four-way stops. This repetitive stop and go is usually a recipe for motion sickness in large vehicles. However, the Ford Expedition allows the driver to manage throttle and braking input so as to not “rock the boat” while driving. In fact, the ride was smooth enough for the lead female singer to finish applying her makeup.

The first gig set the pace for the rest of the roadie test. One gig was nearly an hour away in the neighboring small town of Seguin, Texas.

The first gig set the pace for the rest of the roadie test. One gig was nearly an hour away in the neighboring small town of Seguin, Texas. This was a wedding reception, and every episode of Bridezilla informed me that I should not be late. During the trip, I made a mental note to research pricing for radar detectors while the Expedition’s ride quality and reclining rear seats rocked some of the band members to sleep. 

After the gig, the band and I were treated to an open bar and a delicious cooked meal at the wedding reception. Our table became a mesh of brass and wooden instruments, glassware, and empty tables. The food was so good that we took leftovers and discovered that the Ford Expedition’s center console storage cubby is wide enough to fit a plate of food perfectly and deep enough to stack a table worth of dishes if needed. 

Taking a supper break at the reception party ate up any grace time I had while racing back into town for another private party. This time it was at a Mediterranean restaurant that the client had rented out to celebrate grandma’s 85th birthday. The weekend traffic had died down, as did the sun traveling on the super slab Interstate heading southbound to San Antonio. The open lanes provided ample opportunity and temptation to push the Ford Expedition into Gumball 3000 speeds – or at least until its electronic speed governor kicked in. Nevertheless, one missed exit ramp, another blocked by construction, and we still made it to the restaurant with three minutes to spare. I wiped beads of sweat off my forehead while the band collected their gear and went inside. 

In the end, the Ford Expedition Limited Max passed the roadie test with flying colors. The entire band expressed their gratitude and delight in riding in the Expedition. Passengers in the third row had no trouble getting in or out since the second-row seats slide forward, creating an opening that’s generous in size. All their valuable instruments fit in the back allowing the five band members to stretch out with peace of mind. Furthermore, even with a heavy right foot in a race against the clock, the Ford Expedition averaged between 16-17 mpg. 

The open lanes provided ample opportunity and temptation to push the Ford Expedition into Gumball 3000 speeds – or at least until its electronic speed governor kicked in.

The next day, I decided to clear my head from being on the road with a bike ride. I dropped the third and second-row seats at the press of a button. With both rows laying flat, I was able to toss my bike in like it was an open truck bed. This model has a bench in the second row, and the middle seat is the only one that requires users to pull down manually. With the middle, second-row seat up, the cargo space is ideal for carrying a child seat and a pair of surfboards. Of course, buyers can option the Ford Expedition with second-row captain’s chairs instead of a traditional bench seat. 

New for 2022 in the Ford Expedition 

Starting in 2022, the Ford Expedition received styling updates to its interior and exterior. The SUV’s front grille and headlights, for example, look more aggressive. The grille features two razor-like blades across it. However, the rest of the SUV keeps its fuselage-inspired profile design. The interior of the 2022 Ford Expedition received a new steering wheel, and a hard-to-miss-sized vertically mounted infotainment screen. Its standard 3.5-liter V6 also received a slight power bump from 375 to 380-hp. Expedition Limited models gain 400-hp, and 480 lb.-ft of torque, and the available Stealth Performance Package further increases the engine’s output to a healthy 440-hp and 510 lb.-ft of torque. Its towing rating stays at 9,000-9,300 pounds varying between the Expedition and Expedition Max.  

Pricing for the 2022 Ford Expedition starts at $54k and jumps to $67k for the Limited trim package. Without stepping into a Lincoln Motors dealership, buyers looking for more bells and whistles can opt for the Expedition King Ranch, the new Timberline trim, and the top-tier Platinum, starting at $80k. 

 Ford’s Family Truckster

Testing a 2021 model Ford Expedition Limited Max with 18,000 miles provided a unique opportunity beyond being a roadie for a day. It gave me a glimpse of how it’s aging. This SUV racked up 18 grand worth of mileage, being tested by dozens of automotive journalists with different driving habits in other cities and undergoing various road tests. Media loan vehicles go through the same type of punishment as a rental. With that, I was surprised by how well the Ford Expedition has aged. 

Photo By Jesus R. Garcia

All the electronics worked without issue—no worn spots on the seats. The only signs of aging could be seen in the interior plastics. Door panels, especially the interior panel on the tailgate, had faint signs of clipping and staining from use. However, the current 2022 and 2023 Ford Expedition claims to have updated interior materials, which will hopefully address this minor issue. Apart from that, I thoroughly enjoyed driving this full-size SUV around town as a single man. Its exterior design, dressed in Rapid Red Metallic, made it stand out among parking lots filled with shades of gunmetal gray and silver. Its array of cameras providing a 360-view made it easy to park. Plus, the option to select a four-wheel drive and scuff its 22-inch aluminum wheels is there if needed or wanted. 

Whether you are shopping for a pre-owned 2021 model or waiting for the 2023 models to arrive, the Ford Expedition continues to be a family truckster ready to be a beast of burden while wearing a chrome smile.