Ford recently asked us to take a weeklong Texas Adventure driving a 2018 Ford Expedition Limited Max, towing a new Airstream Tommy Bahama 19-foot Special Edition Trailer and camping out at KOA Campgrounds – of our choosing – in Texas.
Our journey route covered just over 1,500 miles from Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW) to Lake Livingston/Onalaska, Port Lavaca/Matagorda Bay, Fredericksburg and return to DFW. We will tell you about our adventure in three installments.
Our first will look at the 2018 Ford Expedition Limited Max – our very premium-featured workhorse for this adventure. Following will be the new Airstream Tommy Bahama 19-foot Special Edition and then KOA Campgrounds in Texas.
A Texas Adventure with Ford – the 2018 Ford Expedition Limited Max
Rather than give you the usual overview of the 2018 Ford Expedition Limited Max (extended length version) – suffice it to say that it was well more than enough vehicle to make our adventure easy, convenient and comfortable – on the road and at the campsites.
Our adventure vehicle was the Limited Max in a 4x2 configuration, powered by the 3.5L EcoBoost Turbocharged V6 – with Auto Stop/Start – producing 350 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque. It was mated to the Ford SelectShift 10-speed automatic transmission driving power through a 3.73 ratio rear axle to the 20-inch machined aluminum wheels mounted with 275/55R20 all-season tires.
With a tow capacity of 9,000 pounds, our workhorse Expedition hauled the (under) 5,000-pound Tommy Bahama Airstream so easily that we had to keep checking the mirrors to see that it was still there. We ran right at 75 mph on the interstate with some stretches over 80 mph in order to pass (on occasion) 53-foot commercial truck and trailer combinations.
Acceleration from either stop or at speed was very good with excellent steering and braking in all situations.
A few of the features of the Expedition Limited Max that made this trip a real pleasure included the likes of:
Power Deployable Running Boards, Leather Trim Bucket Seats first and second row, heated and ventilated seats front with heated second row, 10-way power front seats, full power fold flat seats second and third row, Panoramic Vista Roof, Voice Activated Touch-Screen Navigation, SiriusXM radio with enhanced services, Push Button Start, Remote Start, Wi-Fi connectivity, Wireless Smartphone Charging, multiple power points including 110V, hands free power tailgate, Sync3 with 8-inch Touch Screen and Sync Connect, Dual Zone Climate Control, Power Adjustable Foot Pedals, the awesome B&O 12-speaker Audio System, Heavy Duty Tow Package and lots more.
Let’s look at some of the more specific features that made the 2018 Expedition Limited Max 4x2 a near-perfect vehicle for this adventure.
With the added length of the Expedition Max, there is an extra 15.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row of seats. We found that we only ‘needed’ to fold the third row flat (almost 74 cubic feet of storage) to allow us to store all of our extra gear PLUS the special Tommy Bahama patio chairs and cooler box when traveling.
BLIS with Trailer Coverage and Cross Traffic Alert
Our Expedition was equipped with the BLIS (Blind Side Information System) with Trailer Coverage. Designed to provide the same blind side warning capability found on a non-towing vehicle, the BLIS with Trailer Coverage provides ‘blind spot’ sensing and alert by using additional sensors in the taillights that monitor the blind spot on each side of a trailer – up to 33-feet long – in tow.
With the class exclusive BLIS Trailer Coverage system, towing the Airstream Tommy Bahama in heavy traffic was made easier and safer by being able to judge when we could move lane to lane safely.
A simple set up is required for the specific trailer in tow and is then saved in the system. Up to 10 trailers can be saved at a time.
Trailer Pro Backup Assist
The Ford class exclusive Pro Trailer Backup Assist System has been a game changer for everyone and anyone who tows a trailer regularly or only now and then. Simply, a driver arrives at the camp spot or other, positions the vehicle in relation to the space to be backed into and then initiates the system. Keeping the hands off the steering wheel, carefully using the throttle and brake, the driver turns the control knob – viewing the backup camera screen – to place the trailer exactly where they want it. The system does require about an hour’s worth of set up the first time. The owner needs to collect certain measurements and apply barcode stickers on the trailer for the vehicle sensors to read. The data is then input through the driver information system and a trailer ‘name’ assigned. Once loaded, the vehicle remembers the trailer data and runs the program when the driver selects the trailer they are backing and initiates the process. Ford has a video available along with a very easy to understand instruction booklet for getting the task done.
Dynamic Hitch Assist
Dynamic Hitch Assist is a simple to use but essential tool for getting the vehicle trailer ball positioned in exact position underneath the trailer’s hitch head.
It is a part of the Backup Camera System and uses dynamic guidelines to place the ball right under the hitch head – sounding a steady beep when there.
A helpful hint: When it beeps, set the parking brake and put the vehicle in Park before letting off the brake pedal. Releasing the brake pedal first will cause the vehicle to move slightly, and possibly, put the ball out of line with the hitch head.
Hitch Selection and Set Up is Critical
Getting the right type of hitch, properly installed and set up, can be the difference between a very easy towing experience (like we had) or wrestling with a bouncing and wandering trailer on the road or – in a worst case – losing control resulting in an accident.
Besides injury to yourselves or others, consider the value of the vehicles. In our case, about $71,000 for the Expedition and around $76,000 for the Airstream Tommy Bahama trailer.
For our Texas Adventure, Ford and Airstream arranged for our Expedition to be equipped with a Weight Distribution Sway Control Hitch System. Though our Expedition was equipped with Sway Control, adding a weight distribution system keeps the trailer always level with the vehicle, reduces trailer ‘bounce’ and keeps it running straight behind the vehicle.
There are a few more steps (than a straight ball hitch set-up) to hitching and unhitching the trailer when so equipped. But the steps are straight forward and easy once you have done it a couple of times. From start to finish, we were able to roll within 10-15 minutes of starting the hookup (including positioning the hitch ball under the trailer hitch head).
Because the hitch assembly unit (attached to the Expedition) was larger than a simple hitch ball system (think ‘barking” your shins) we removed it each time we parked our Airstream Tommy Bahama – putting it in the extra cargo space of the Limited Max.
Our Texas Adventure was great fun, made easy with the 2018 Ford Expedition Limited Max.
Learn more about the 2018 Ford Expedition lineup here: https://www.ford.com/suvs/expedition/
Next: The Airstream 19-foot Tommy Bahama Special Edition