FIRST IMPRESSIONS: This is one big honking sport-utility vehicle. I mean, the step up into the cab is so tall, you need the automatic running boards that fold out once you open the doors. 

Long as a boat and luxurious as a high-tech media room, the 2009 Ford Expedition King Ranch 4x4 is the sort of huge, don’t-give-a-damn cruiser that makes environmentalists see red.

Here’s something else it makes: the trip from Dallas to Odessa seem bearable. (Or, as bearable as that drive can be.)

How could it miss? A member of the third generation of Ford Expeditions, the ’09 we drove sports three rows of super-comfortable, plush leather-clad seats. (The second and third rows fold down, to boot, making for a sizeable cargo space.) To keep the rugrats happy, there’s a rear-seat DVD player with headsets. For the adults, there’s a Sirius radio setup—you gotta blast out Willie’s Place or Outlaw Country in this thing—and an iPod interface. You also get a power moonroof, a rear-view camera, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and lots of gorgeous wood trim.

BOTTOM LINE: If the Expedition didn’t perform as well as it looks, we wouldn’t be so sold on it. But it does. It’s as solid as a block of granite, first of all, built on Ford’s ladder-frame, full-size pickup platform. It’s powered by a 5.4-liter V8 hooked to a six-speed automatic transmission, and generates 300 horses and 365 pound-feet of torque, or pulling power. The steering’s quick, the ride surprisingly smooth.

TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY: Adding up all the extras, the sticker price on this Expedition hit $53,580. The EPA doesn’t require the gas mileage to be disclosed, as it’s a “light truck,” but estimates are you should expect about 18 miles on the highway, less in the city. If you can handle those figures—and you appreciate power and comfort—this handsome, rugged SUV is well worth checking out. Especially if you’re driving to Odessa.