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Growing up taking long, sometimes arduous road trips from Detroit, Michigan to locations like Maine, Florida and Montana, we got pretty good at making the best of whatever vehicle we were in, and comfort was of the utmost importance. The most comfortable vehicles were the ones that could not only fit all of the gear a family of four packs with them for a two-week journey, but one that also has enough room for its passengers to sprawl out as well. That means something that is big, but hopefully doesn’t drive like a bus.
The Ford Expedition fits that description nicely. There are two sizes, the standard Expedition and the Max, and while personally I think if you’re gonna go with a full-size SUV you might as well go all the way, the one tested was the standard variety. The base price as tested was $66,470, and with that comes the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, which is incredibly smooth, thanks in part to the 10-speed transmission, and, at 375 horsepower in the non-platinum trim, offers more than enough power. And at 19 mpg combined, it’s not going to completely break your budget at the gas station either.
This specific vehicle is also equipped with the FX4 off-road package, which includes 360 degree cameras, helpful when taking something this colossal onto the trails. The Ford Expedition isn’t the first vehicle that comes to mind when thinking of off-roading, but if you find a wide-open space in the desert, I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to take this off-pavement.
The interior is filled with comfortable leather seats, eight of them, and all eight can fit an adult-sized human comfortably. The first and second rows offer heated and power seats, though if you’re in the third row you’re out of luck there, but there is tri-zone climate control, so not all is lost. There are six USB chargers, plus a wireless charger, so in the 7-seat configuration, it is possible for everyone’s device in the car to be charging at once, which should prevent more than a few arguments on a long trip.
The biggest downside to this vehicle lies in the infotainment department. In a world where Ram 1500s have screens the size of TVs, the 8” screen isn’t enough. Maybe in a Fiesta, but not in the largest SUV that Ford sells. It looks like an afterthought.
Is it ready for a family road trip from the factory? Absolutely. But that won’t keep me from adding aftermarket parts, if I were to buy it. To make it into the ultimate family road trip vehicle, check out the accessories below. And if you don’t have or aren’t in the market for an Expedition don’t worry, a lot of this gear isn’t specific to any one vehicle. Just make sure that it’ll fit your vehicle before purchasing to save yourself a headache down the road.
Thule Force XT Rooftop Cargo Box, XX-Large – $679.95 at Amazon
The Expedition is big, but it could be bigger. As mentioned earlier, I would get the Max if buying this SUV, but for those who didn’t, and you find that the 19.3 cubic feet of cargo space inside with all three rows up isn’t enough, a roof box is the answer, and this one from Thule is huge, adding 22 cubic feet of cargo space to your vehicle.
Yakima DoubleHaul Rooftop Fly Rod Carrier – $699 at Amazon
A road trip, to me, isn’t complete without a little fly fishing action. Whether you’re heading to Yellowstone where the trout are plentiful or driving to L.A. where the ponds are filled with carp, there’s always a good reason to bring a fly rod (or four). That’s where the Yakima DoubleHaul comes in. It holds up to four fully-rigged fly rods and keeps them secure while you’re driving, meaning that when you pull up to the river and the fish are rising, it’ll take no time at all to get out there and start slinging flies. It can hold rods up to 10 feet long, which for me is plenty, and can even accommodate two spey rods.
ARB Brown 4′ Awning – $220.21 at Amazon
An often overlooked item, the awning is both incredibly versatile and easy to use. A four-seasons lifesaver, I’ve used awnings to get out of the rain, snow, and hot summer sun. Whether you’re taking a break for lunch outside of the Grand Canyon while on a cross country jaunt, or there’s a slight drizzle at a college football tailgate (do y’all remember sporting events?) the awning will be a favorite, and they don’t have to be expensive either.
ARB Portable Fridge Freezer 50 Quarts Electric Powered 12V/110V – $962.37 at Amazon
Coolers are great, but with prices of Yetis, RTICs, and Pelicans skyrocketing, for some it might be time to think of a portable refrigerator instead. For the price of a set of tires you get something that doesn’t need to be drained and refilled with ice every few days, and can keep food and beverages cold, down to zero degrees, for the entirety of your road trip. This example from ARB has enough room to store 72 12oz cans. That’s enough LaCroix to last for days.
ALPS Mountaineering Camp Table – $49.02 at Amazon
A picnic table at a campsite is something you take for granted, until one day you show up to the forest you’ll call home for a week and discover that you’ll be cooking bacon and eggs on the ground in the morning. Don’t be the person who cooks breakfast on the ground. Instead invest in a camp table like this one. It’s lightweight, folds flat, and at 28” x 28”, there’s enough space for prep, cooking, and eating without taking up the entire trunk. Plus, once you have a table, anywhere can become a kitchen. That rest stop in the middle or Iowa? Kitchen. The dirt road in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan? Kitchen. The parking lot outside the football game? You see where I’m going with this.
Coleman Portable Butane Stove with Carrying Case – $33.60 at Amazon
Do you truly know how healthy the person handing you your fast food through the drive-thru window is? When was the last time they washed their hands? Instead of pondering these questions, which, before 2020 seemed like something only a germaphobe would think about, bring along a stove and cook a meal at a rest stop. This one sits nicely on the aforementioned camping table and you’ll be able to properly social-distance yourself while eating your meals.
Thule Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3 Roof Top Tent – $1699.95 at Amazon
A large vehicle like the Expedition, especially when equipped with the FX4 off-road package like this one, makes me think of one thing: Long, self-sufficient trips off-road through the desert of the western United States. While there is plenty of room to sleep in the back of the Expedition, as someone who has spent weeks on the road sleeping in the back of their vehicle, a roof top tent is almost always a better option. Memory foam mattress, super easy to set up, not to mention a bird’s eye view when you wake up in the morning a RTT would be a must for anyone who doesn’t need to use the roof for more storage.
BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Radial Tire – $241.97 per tire at Amazon
The Expedition tester came equipped with A/T Owl Tires, which for most people are more than enough, but when they wear out and it’s time for a replacement, why not wrap the 18-inch wheels with the same rubber Ford uses on the Raptor?
Anker USB Charger/Plug – $9.99 at Amazon
There are a lot of USB ports in the Ford Expedition, more than enough for most situations, but if every single one of the eight seats is filled with passengers, someone will be left without a charger for their phone. That’s where a super cheap, old school Anker Car Charger comes in handy. Adding two USB ports, there are now enough places in the car for everyone to charge their phones. Pro tip, buy extra long phone cables to ensure that everyone can reach their phone while charging.