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2019 Ford Expedition MAX Limited Stealth Edition Test Drive

Thirty years ago, if you went on a summer road trip, there was a good chance you did it in some brand of station wagon. Out on the road to the Grand Canyon or Disney World, you probably passed a dozen other wagons packed with caffeinated parents, eager children, salty snacks, and mismatched luggage. Those long-roofed land yachts had to be everything to everyone: a command center for the adults up front, a food- and fun-filled mobile daycare for the kids in the back, and comfortable, reliable transportation for everybody on board.

Since then, the vehicles have changed, but their purpose hasn’t. Crossovers and SUVs are the go-to choice for many buyers, especially those who need to move a lot of people at once. If you’re going to take a summer road trip with your friends or family soon, pay attention to the vehicles that pass you. There’s a good chance you’ll see a lot of Ford Expeditions. The Blue Oval’s largest SUV was made for long-distance traveling, especially the extended-wheelbase MAX model. It’s got the commanding driving position of a Ford F-150 full-size pickup truck, seating for up to eight people, enough tech to keep everyone connected and entertained, and plenty of roof and interior space for luggage.

2019 Ford Expedition

2019 Ford Expedition MAX Stealth Edition Exterior

Several weeks ago, Ford dropped off a 2019 Expedition MAX Limited 4X4 at my place to test. I had plans to take it on two out-of-town trips, but, unfortunately, I wasn’t going to be able to take my girlfriend and six of our closest friends with us. It was just going to be me and the Expedition MAX on the highways that connect Austin, Cresson, and Denton, Texas. I spent the next week – and 1,000 miles – learning about Ford’s biggest three-row road warrior.

Ford rolled out four special edition Expeditions and Explorers at last year’s State Fair of Texas. Each one had a different appearance package that set it apart from its more everyday siblings. The most attractive one at the show, the Expedition Stealth Edition, ended up being my test vehicle several months later. Just as the package’s name implies, it gave my press loaner a low-key, custom look by blacking out a variety of exterior components, including the grille, power-deployable running boards, lettering on the hood, and liftgate trim. No special edition vehicle would be complete without a set of unique wheels so Ford made black 22-inch wheels a part of the Stealth package, too.

2019 Ford Expedition

2019 Ford Expedition MAX Stealth Edition Interior

My first trip in the Expedition MAX was from Austin to Cresson, Texas, where Skip Barber taught me and my colleagues the finer points of performance driving in the FIAT 500 and 124 Spyder Abarth models. A few days after getting back home, I had to drive out to Denton, Texas to attend the Texas Auto Writers Association’s 2019 Texas Auto Roundup. That kind of mileage during a humid Texas spring meant I needed a vehicle with cooled seats, infotainment options, and room for all of my luggage and gear. The Expedition MAX ticked all of those boxes and had plenty of space to spare. Three-stage heated and ventilated front seats are standard on the MAX Limited; the Stealth Edition highlights those as well as the door panels, dashboard, and center console with red contrast stitching. I had no interest in covering those long distances in silence, so it was good to know I could connect my phone to the built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and play my favorite songs from YouTube, jam out to the music on my iPhone through Apple CarPlay, or just crank up the SiriusXM satellite radio and hear it come out of the standard 12-speaker B&O sound system. On top of all of that, I had adaptive cruise control at my fingertips so I could just set a cruising speed and following distance and let the Expedition MAX take care of the accelerating and braking for me.

2019 Ford Expedition

The Expedition MAX’s 36-square-foot luggage area behind the third row of seats had no problem swallowing my suitcase, briefcase, camera bag, iPad, jacket, and bag full of automaker swag from the Texas Auto Roundup. The handy cargo net was the perfect place to keep my tripod from rattling around. There were even hidden storage compartments under the load floor.

2019 Ford Expedition

It’s too bad I didn’t have company during my two journeys because the Expedition MAX made getting and, most importantly, fitting into its two back rows nice and easy. I’m 5’10” and I had plenty of legroom in the second row of power-folding captains chairs, as well as climate controls and different mobile device charging options. Even the reclining third row, a place that often comes up short on room in other vehicles, offered enough space for me to sit comfortably. Lowering the headrests back there and raising my level of rearward vision only required pressing a button.

2019 Ford Expedition

2019 Ford Expedition MAX Stealth Edition Performance

Whenever I needed to pass a semi on the highway, the Expedition MAX’s second-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 had the grunt (400 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque on 93 octane) to make doing that a quick process. That’s mated to a 10-speed automatic, which helps the Expedition MAX (with four-wheel drive) cover 16 city, 22 highway, or 18 combined miles on one gallon of gas.* That last figure was a little off – in a good way; my average fuel economy over the course of more than 1,000 miles was closer to 19 mpg.

If I had required the additional traction of 4H or 4L or needed to lock the rear axle, all I would’ve needed to do was press one of the buttons that surrounded the rotary dial for the Terrain Management System. That changes a variety of vehicle settings to best suit the ground beneath the Expedition’s tires, whether it’s grass, gravel, or snow. I could also use it to put the Expedition MAX into a snappy Sport or useful Tow/Haul mode. That last setting, combined with my review rig’s Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package (part of the optional Convenience Package) and 3.73 rear axle ratio, made it capable of towing up to 9,000 pounds.

2019 Ford Expedition

2019 Ford Expedition MAX Stealth Edition Safety

Given all of the solo driving I had to do in the span of just a few days, my girlfriend was concerned for my safety. I told her I would be back as soon as possible, knowing the Expedition MAX had a variety of features that would watch out for and protect me. Those ranged from the standard array of airbags, Roll Stability Control, and post-crash alert system to Equipment Group 303A’s 360-degree camera system and Driver Assistance Package, which gave me the peace of mind of rain-sensing wipers, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection and Forward Collision Warning, and more.

2019 Ford Expedition

2019 Ford Expedition MAX Stealth Edition Overall

If you’re waiting to get a new vehicle before you go on a summer road trip, visit your local AutoNation Ford dealership and take a good long look at the 2019 Expedition MAX Limited Stealth Edition. Prices for the MAX Limited start at $65,705**; the four-wheel-drive Stealth Edition I road tested had a final price of $80,470. Then take a test drive. The Stealth Edition might just have the style, space, features, and power that’ll convince you to fly it home.

*Based on 2019 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

**MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

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