Touring Banff and Kananaskis in the 2019 Ford Expedition

by - Tuesday, May 07, 2019

The 2019 Ford Expedition is a roomy, full size SUV equipped with an amazing array of safety features, and great towing capacity. See how we made the most of it on a Banff and Kananaskis road trip.

2019 Ford Expedition Platinum
Disclosure: Ford Canada generously loaned us a 2019 Ford Expedition for testing and review purposes. All words and opinions are my own.

First Impressions of the 2019 Ford Expedition

The Bow Valley Parkway is covered in snow, but it's no sweat for our 2019 Ford Expedition Platinum. We deploy the terrain management system's snow mode and continue down the winding mountain road to the Johnston Canyon trailhead. The Expedition handles well even where snowdrifts are a few inches deep.

2019 Ford Expedition Platinum cabin
2019 Ford Expedition Platinum cabin
In the back seat, the girls are comfy watching movies. With TONS of space in the second and third rows, even adult passengers would have ample legroom. Up front in the roomy cabin, we enjoy a comedy program on SiriusXM Radio; good thing the kids have headphones on! Before we know it we're at the trailhead.

2019 Ford Expedition running board
Mirrors fold in and running board lifts up when you park
Power-deployed running boards fold down when we open our doors making it easy to step out. We grab our backpacks from the trunk then realize the food bag is stuffed way in the back, behind the suitcases. No worries, I can access it from the second row. I tip and slide my daughter's captain's seat forward (no need to remove the booster seat) and voila, trail snacks. We're ready to hike!

Day 1: Johnston Canyon, Banff National Park

Lower Falls at Johnston Canyon, Banff
Lower Falls at Johnston Canyon, Banff
It's a short, but scenic 1.2 km walk to Lower Falls, through forest and over a lofty catwalk that hugs the canyon wall. We take our time looking at ice flows and waterfalls, before making our way down to Lower Falls where jagged shards of ice extend into a turquoise plunge pool. Next, we go in the little tunnel that leads to a viewing platform and listen to the water rushing behind the ice. 

From Lower Falls, it's another 1.3 km to Upper Falls. Upper Falls has 30-metre high curtains of ice perfect for ice climbing if you have the gear and know-how. We watch the ice climbers for a while then return the way we came. 

Extension: Continue 2.2 km (5.7 km from parking lot) to the Ink Pots, five blue-green, spring-fed pools in a meadow.

Castle Mountain, Banff National Park

Castle Mountain, Banff
Castle Mountain, Banff
We pull over by the bridge just south of Castle Junction and walk down to the river for a beautiful view of Castle Mountain. Known as Miistukskoowa to the Siksika, and formerly known as Mount Eisenhower (from 1946 to 1979), Castle Mountain is super photogenic and best visited at sunset. Ambitious hikers can hike to the summit via Rockbound Lake. For a shorter, but also rewarding hike, try Castle Lookout

On the Highway: 2019 Ford Expedition Engine & Safety Features

2019 Ford Expedition Platinum
2019 Ford Expedition Platinum
We return to Canmore via the TransCanada Highway (Highway 1). Although the Expedition is built on the F-150 platform, it handles better than I expected and accelerates quickly when you hit the gas. With a 3.5 L twin-turbocharged V6 engine and 10-speed automatic transmission that makes 400 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque (@2,250 rpm), climbing hills and towing are no problem for the Expedition! In fact, the Expedition can tow more than other SUVs in its class: a whopping 9,200 pounds (4173 kg)! 

The Expedition has lots of passing power too, plus technology to help do it safer. The Blind Spot Information System lets me know when someone's in my blind spot - with an indicator (orange light) on my mirror. After I've passed someone, the Expedition resumes cruising speed thanks to the adaptive cruise control; no need to hit "resume". I set the adaptive cruise control to keep the furthest distance between me and the next car, and found it helped a lot whether I caught up to a slow moving RV or it was stop and go through a construction zone.

Day 2: Sulphur Mountain, Banff National Park

Sulphur Mountain, Banff
Sulphur Mountain, Banff
After a good night's sleep and big breakfast, we're ready to climb a mountain! There are over two dozen switchbacks to the top of Sulphur Mountain, but they're not too steep, so it only takes a couple hours to reach the Upper Terminal. We explore the interpretive centre, have a snack, then walk the boardwalk to Sanson's Peak, the site of an old weather station (still standing) and cosmic ray station (dismantled). Spring is a quiet time to explore the summit, so we hang out longer than usual - and even go to the theatre to see the short video about Banff - before enjoying the free gondola ride down (from after Thanksgiving to before May long weekend, or after 7 pm in summer). Read more about the hike and Upper Terminal in our story: Hiking Sulphur Mountain and Sanson's Peak, Banff.

Day 3: Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park

Cross country skiing at Canmore Nordic Centre
Cross country skiing at Canmore Nordic Centre
Morning is chilly, so we visit Canmore Museum and do some climbing at Elevation Place before heading over to the Canmore Nordic Centre.

We love Canmore Nordic Centre because we can cross country ski, toboggan, skate, and snowshoe here. Fortunately the Ford Expedition and our roofbox can accommodate all our gear for a multi-sport, multi-day trip: cross country skis, downhills skis, snowshoes, ice skates, helmets, sleds, microspikes, goggles, boots, ski poles, cooler, groceries, backpacks, and luggage for four. We ski to the Meadow Hut, play games in the training grid (What time is it Mr. Wolf and tag), and skate on the rink next to the Day Lodge.

Mine Meadow, Canmore Nordic Centre in summer
Mine Meadow, Canmore Nordic Centre in summer
In summer, you can mountain bike (75+ km of trails plus mountain bike skills park), try orienteering, or play disc golf at Canmore Nordic Centre. You can also stand-up paddleboard (SUP) at nearby Canmore Reservoir or hike to Grassi Lakes; the trailhead is just a couple kilometres down the road. 

Quarry Lake

Quarry Lake Day Use Area, Canmore
Quarry Lake Park is a great sunset spot if you don't want to drive far from Canmore. The lake loop is 1.8 km and dog friendly (offleash area except for the lake itself).

Day 4: Troll Falls

Troll Falls is a fun, short hike you can do year-round! Ice cleats or microspikes are required from late fall through spring as the trail gets quite icy. 1.7 km one way.


Troll Falls, Kananaskis
Troll Falls, Kananaskis

Kananaskis River

View from Mount Allan Drive Bridge
For a great view of the Wedge, pull over just before the bridge (on your way back to Calgary). We love stopping here when we ski or bike the Bill Milne Trail.

2019 Ford Expedition Platinum Review

2019 Ford Expedition at Nakiska
2019 Ford Expedition at Nakiska
Our favorite features of the 2019 Ford Expedition Platinum are how roomy and comfortable it is, the safety features, connectivity, and conveniences like hands-free tailgate and voice-activated navigation. It looks really sharp too!

Seating and Cargo Space

2019 Ford Expedition Platinum Interior
The 2019 Ford Expedition Platinum has lots of legroom!
Image Credit: Ford Canada
From the cabin to the third row, seating is spacious and comfortable. The Expedition is one of the few large SUVs that actually has a usable third row (not just for kids)! With the standard second row bench seat, the Expedition seats 8, but the model we tested seats 7 with split captain's chairs in the second row. My kids preferred the captain's seats and my husband and I liked being able to easily move the seats (without removing the booster seats!) when we needed to access items in the trunk. Since we're short and the trunk is long and high, we often had to go in the back seat to get stuff, but it wasn't too bad.

Large doors make getting in and out easier for folks in the back, and for passenger convenience, every row has its own USB ports and climate control. All told, the Expedition has 6 USB ports and 15 cupholders. Available heated second row seats are a nice add-on for cold climates.

When you fold the third row of seats folded down, you get an impressive 63.6 cubic feet of cargo space. This is plenty of space for a big Costco run (with room to spare), or weekend getaway. We easily fit ski gear for the four of us in the Expedition. For multi-day, multi-sport trips, however, a roofbox is required. Both rows of seats fold down flat if you need to transport big boxes from Ikea.

 2019 Ford Expedition trunk
2019 Ford Expedition trunk

Safety Features

The 2019 Ford Expedition Platinum comes with a ton of safety features: Blind Spot Information System, rear cross-traffic alert (handy when backing up), adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, curve control, lane-keeping assist, and lane departure warning. Curve control reduces rollover risk (an issue with large SUVs) by slowing down the vehicle up to 16 km/hr (10 miles per hour) in 1 second if you go into a turn too fast. Enhanced parking assist makes parking a big vehicle easier.

Infotainment System

2019 Ford Expedition Cabin with 8-inch Sync 3 touch screen infotainment system
2019 Ford Expedition Cabin with 8-inch Sync 3 touch screen infotainment system
Image credit: Ford Canada
The Ford Expedition Platinum comes with an 8-inch Sync 3 touchscreen with a voice-activated navigation system, Apple CarPlay / Android Auto, and 4G LTE mobile hotspot. Taking the time to sync my phone and set up voice commands (took all of two minutes) was totally worth it to be hands-free and keep my eyes on the road. We enjoyed SiriusXM radio and having wifi onboard too!

Other fun gadgets include a wireless charger in the cabin, dual headrest rear seat entertainment system, and surround-view camera system to help you when backing up or parallel parking. While the kids loved watching movies in the back, they didn't like the top loading DVD players. Disc changing would be easier if the DVD slot were on the side instead of the top. 

Under the Hood

As mentioned above, the 2019 Ford Expedition Platinum has a 3.5 L twin-turbocharged V6 engine with 10-speed automatic transmission that makes 400 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque (@2,250 rpm). It offers best-in-class towing, and is capable of towing a boat or trailer weighing up to 9,200 lbs. (4173 kg)! The 2019 Ford Expedition's mileage wasn't bad on the highway (10.6 L /100 km), in the city, it averages 14.1 L / 100 km. If you want to save on gas and can wait until later this year, you'll have the option of getting a 2020 Ford Expedition with a diesel engine - or a hybrid engine (to be confirmed)!

Exterior

 2019 Ford Expedition Platinum
2019 Ford Expedition Platinum exterior
The Expedition boasts attractive lines, huge power moonroof, LED lights, rain sensing windshield wipers, and a collection of sensors that offer excellent visibility when backing up or parking. A hands-free liftgate makes it easy to load stuff in the back without putting it down first to open the trunk, mirrors fold in when you park (handy since the vehicle is so big), and running boards fold in when you close the doors offering better clearance. The Platinum trim also comes with 22" polished aluminum wheels for better handling.

2019 Ford Expedition interior and moonroof
Check out that moonroof!! 

Is the Ford Expedition our next Play Outside Ride? 

Although the Ford Expedition is roomy, powerful, and kitted out with lots of safety features that we love, we would opt for the Ford Explorer as it is more affordable and uses less gas. The Ford Expedition Platinum starts at $80,899. A smaller vehicle is also easier to park (I'm only 5'3"), though the parking assist helps a lot. Since we bring so much gear, we needed a roofbox whether we drove the Explorer or Expedition (hence our preference for the smaller SUV), but if we had a trailer, we would consider the Expedition. To read more about the Play Outside Ride project, please read: Help us choose our next adventure car. Check out our review of the 2018 Ford Explorer.

2019 Ford Expedition Platinum

In Closing

We really enjoyed the 2019 Ford Expedition Platinum and highly recommend it if you have a big family and/or tow a trailer or boat. With higher clearance than smaller SUVs, you can also access more rugged terrain. This full-size SUV has three rows with enough room for adults to sit in the back! Bring your parents on your next trip! The safety features are easy to use and make for a better, safer driving experience. We also loved the infotainment system; being able to operate it hands-free and keep my eyes on the road keeps me and my family safe.

2019 Ford Expedition Platinum
The 2019 Ford Expedition Platinum is perfect for large families and towing a trailer or boat!

For More Information

Visit Ford Canada - 2019 Expedition for complete specs and pricing.

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