5 Trick Towing Features Available on Today's Pickups
These innovative technologies help make towing and backing up a trailer a breeze.
Not that long ago, the only towing aids available on pickup trucks were ungainly mirrors that appeared to be cribbed from an 18-wheeler. Today, pickup trucks leverage all sorts of advanced technologies to make towing a trailer easier than ever. Here are five trailer-friendly, stress-reducing features you’ll find in showrooms now.
Ford Pro Trailer Backup Assist/Ram Trailer Reverse Steering Control
Even with practice, backing up a trailer is a skill that can feel like it falls somewhere between art and sorcery. These helpful systems, available on F-150, Super Duty, and Ram 1500 models, eliminate the headache (and the inverted steering inputs) traditionally involved. Instead, you simply turn a dash-mounted dial in the direction you want the trailer to go, and the truck adjusts the steering accordingly.
Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra Trailer Length Indicator
The available HD Surround Vision package on these trucks offers up to 15 different camera views to keep tabs on what you’re towing, and the trailer length indicator is especially helpful when you’re changing lanes. When you activate the turn signal, the infotainment screen displays a blind-spot camera view with an area shaded in red to highlight obstacles that could be in the direct path of the trailer.
In-Truck Trailering Apps
If you regularly tow different kinds of trailers — say, a boat trailer on the weekend, a camper for a longer getaway, and a landscape dump bed during the work week — you’ll know how different these trailers can feel when attached to your truck. The trailer brake settings for one may not be correct for another, especially if you’re switching from a conventional hitch to a gooseneck or fifth-wheel trailer.
Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, and Ram recognize that and offer in-vehicle apps in their full-size pickups that allow drivers to save various settings, such as brake controller levels and trailer tire pressure sensors, to unique trailer profiles. These apps offer other useful features, including trailer light tests and a connection checklist, to help ensure your rig is ready to roll.
Ford F-150 Smart Hitch
This available feature on some 2021 and later F-150s can help drivers dial in their trailer tongue weight, which is essential for safer trailering. After the trailer’s profile is added to the F-150’s trailering app, sensors determine how much weight is being applied to the back of the truck. That data is conveyed through a separate smartphone app and LED indicators within the taillamps, letting you adjust the weight on your trailer appropriately.
GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Super Cruise
While GM’s hands-free driver assistance technology isn’t explicitly a towing-focused feature, the iteration available on the 2022 and 2023 Sierra Denali Ultimate allows hands-free driving and lane changes on select highways, even while towing a trailer. That’s something the Ford F-150’s similar BlueCruise functionality doesn’t currently allow, and it could take the edge off lugging an Airstream from coast to coast.