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The 2015 Ford Expedition

The most astonishing players in football are 300-pound linemen as quick and agile as cheetahs and as big and powerful as elephants.

The 2015 Ford Expedition is the automotive equivalent of the Houston Texans' J.J. Watt, all 6-foot-5, 295 pounds of him. Watt is a freak of nature. His moves are silky, yet he's an athletic beast who might have been a hockey player.

The Expedition is a freak of engineering that would make it as an everyday, eight-seat passenger car, if you could park it at the mall in one space. But you can't. Ford's marketing types say their updated Expedition is for rich customers who demand space, performance, comfort and capability – and who clearly are okay soaking up two spots.

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The longest version, the Expedition Max, is big enough to hold a Ford Fiesta runabout in the cargo hold. The regular-size Expedition is tow-rated for 4,037 kilograms. Go ahead: Tow an apartment building.

Yet the Expedition handles the city like a Fiesta, though you're sitting several stories higher. The independent rear suspension is key to this truck's agility. And the rear layout makes for a fold-flat third-row bench seat and relatively low load height in back.

Ford, the EcoBoost company, touts direct fuel injection and turbocharging as a massive breakthrough in no-compromises fuel economy. So my Expedition tester had a 3.5-litre EcoBoost V-6 (365 horsepower/420 lb-ft torque), with a combined rating of 14.2 litres/100 km. Punch it around or pull a trailer, however, and this beast will more guzzle fuel than that. Ford needs a fuel-thrifty diesel.

The ride is so serene you will forget you're using twice the fuel of a Fiesta. And given that target buyers are moneybags types who want size and technology, the available bits include SYNC with MyFord Touch, passive entry with push-button start and blind spot protection with cross-traffic alert. The Sony audio is clear and crisp, the rear-view camera a must and the cabin lit with rich LED ambient lighting is pretty. This luxury rig has some of the cushiest seats sold anywhere.

Cushy? Something called a "continuously controlled damping suspension" uses sensors to help control body motions according to any of the three drive modes – comfort, normal and sport. No bouncing or swaying here.

Gigantic, technologically advanced and comfortable. J.J. Watt, meet a true automotive freak.

You'll like this car if ... You want a massive, modern and capable upscale SUV.

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TECH SPECS

  • Base price: $66,399; as tested: $70,949
  • Engine: 3.5-litre V-6, twin turbo.
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 16.2 city/11.8 highway, using regular fuel.
  • Alternatives: Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban, GMC Yukon/Yukon XL, Nissan Armada.

RATINGS

  • Looks: This is a big box and no amount of gussying it up with creases and curves is going to change that.
  • Interior: The cabin is comfortable and pretty, with outstanding seats.
  • Performance: The EcoBoost V-6 is rated for towing and the numbers make it look capable. But the fuel economy will suffer if you’re pulling something heavy.
  • Technology: The electronically controlled damping makes for a comfy ride. No bouncing or swaying, which, in a truck-based utility, is a godsend for those who suffer easily from car sickness.
  • Cargo: Go ahead, stuff a little Ford Fiesta back there for running about up at the cottage. The load floor is flat and open and huge.

The Verdict

7.5

The creature and ride comforts are obvious, but the best engine choice for this rig is a light-duty diesel, which Ford doesn't offer.

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