I got blown away on Tuesday by the innovation team at Ford Motors with the new Pro Trailer Backup Assist for the 2016 F-150. I have been trying to adopt a little less technology these days in favor of simplicity. The great news is that Ford has gotten it right with this technology because it will make life simpler. It is an absolute game changer and even I believe the term game changer is overused.
I got a call from the team at Ford inviting me to complete a test drive at the annual Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island, Nebraska. Husker Harvest Days is an annual show designed to showcase the newest and best in agricultural technology. Farmers regularly tow trailers and heavy equipment. With this in mind, Ford brought the new 2016 Ford F-150 with the Pro Trailer Backup Assist specifically to this show to highlight a new technology that no other automaker is currently offering.
The backup assist technology adds a knob on the dash of the truck, a backup camera, and a computer to assist in automatically steering the truck to turn the trailer at your desired amount. If you want the trailer to turn to the right, you turn the knob to the right and the trailer moves right. If you want the trailer to turn to the left, you turn the knob to the left and the trailer moves left. If you let go of the knob the truck and trailer backs up in a straight line. It’s absolutely one of the coolest tools I have seen in a truck in years.
The technology takes a little bit of measurement and input into the computer. Using a tape measure, you take a total of five measurements and enter those measurements into the computer on your truck. You can store the measurements of up to fifteen trailers in your system allowing you to tow everything from pop-up trailers to UTV/ATV trailers to horse trailers. When it comes time to back your trailer up, you now have the ability to back up quickly and efficiently.
I stepped into a truck I had never driven before and tried to manually back up a pop-up camper in a field of mowed corn. It was tough and it was ugly – the trailer moved all over the place. I backed it up but it took some effort to get that trailer to move the way I wanted it to in the field. I then pulled the truck back up and straightened everything out, pushed the Pro Trailer Backup Assist Knob, set the trailer with the OK button on the steering wheel, put the truck into reverse and backed the trailer up. The truck went straight back and into a 90-degree angle. I tried this four times and it got easier and easier each time.
I am very sure I could put anyone into that truck and within a few minutes I would have him backing that trailer up perfectly. So is it a game changer? You bet! Looking at the market of trucks today, this technology will be a deciding factor for many individuals looking at purchasing a truck in the next few months especially if they will be towing a trailer.
The Pro Trailer Backup Assist for the 2016 Ford F-150 is an option and will come with the trailer tow package option for the 2016 line up. It’s a pretty sweet set up!