Ford Tremendous Obligation Vans get high-tech options
2023 Ford Super Duty F-350 Limited
DETROIT — Let’s enact a scene: A pickup driver and his spouse, in reverse, try to align the hitch ball on the pickup with a hitch on the trailer. “A little to the left. No, your left. No, YOUR left. OK, now a bit right. never mind Let’s try again.”
The reason for this is, among other things, the well-known headaches Ford engine improves the technologies of its most expensive pickups to make the vehicles more manageable for newer owners and alleviate the biggest problems of experienced truck drivers.
The Detroit automaker is adding features to its 2023 Ford Super Duty lineup to increase transaction prices of the trucks and alleviate difficulties with some of the vehicles’ most important functions: towing and carrying/hauling.
“This is really about making the truck safer for our customers, for the equipment and for everything you’re towing. It’s about productivity. It’s about usability. It’s about saving marriages,” said Tim Baughman, general manager of Ford’s commercial business. “I’m sure we’ll save a few marriages with our new attaching trailer features, depending on what they’re doing now can.”
Many pickup truck owners, especially newer ones, have trouble figuring out how much weight they can safely load into their vehicles or hitch trailers to their trucks, according to Ford.
The latter challenge in particular can create relationship problems, as it may take two people and multiple attempts to correctly position the trucks and trailers for towing – as in our all-too-common but fictionalized scenario above.
“Our team is obsessed with our customers,” Baughman said. “This is about customer understanding and customer obsession. And everything about this truck is purpose-built for that purpose.”
According to Ford, 96% of its customers tow its F-250 to F-450 Super Duty pickups, the larger siblings of the well-known F-150 trucks. A majority also use the vehicles to haul heavy loads in the backs of vehicles, which start at around $44,000 and can cost upwards of $103,000 depending on the model.
Ford uses technologies such as new camera functions, automated assistance systems and intelligent taillights to assist with hitching and transporting.
Easy tow bar setup
Ford’s new Pro Trailer Hitch Assist makes this process easier. The truck automatically backs up and aligns the hitch ball with the trailer hitch. The feature is standard or available on multiple models starting at $1,035.
“It’s supposed to help relieve the pain,” said Aaron Bresky, Ford Super Duty’s chief technology officer. “People need to tow for leisure and work, and the more we can alleviate the pain, the more natural it becomes.”
The 2023 F-Series Super Duty trucks can tow between 14,000 and 40,000 pounds, depending on the truck.
Ford’s Pro Trailer Hitch Assist automatically reverses the truck and aligns the conventional hitch ball with the trailer hitch.
Integrated light scales
Beyond towing or hitching, Ford’s Super Duty pickups can haul a lot themselves, up to 8,000 pounds depending on the model. This includes all people, cargo and any objects that may be in the pickup truck bed.
However, it can be difficult to estimate or calculate how much you are transporting, especially if there are passengers in the vehicle or you don’t know how much your load weighs.
Ford’s answer to this problem is called “Onboard Scales with Smart Hitch” and was first introduced on the F-150 2021. The system uses scales in the vehicle to determine the total payload or the total weight of the vehicle.
Drivers can determine the payload using the vehicle’s infotainment screen or app, but Ford also offers a more unique way to do this. The vehicle’s taillights illuminate at varying levels of intensity to let the owner know how close they are to reaching the vehicle’s total load limit.
If the vehicle exceeds the permitted payload, the top bar will flash, alerting the owner that they may need to reconsider what they are transporting or give up a passenger or two.
The taillights can also be used to balance a trailer with the vehicle, also known as trailer nose weight.
The on-board scale with Smart Hitch is available for $650 on Lariat models and is standard on high-end trucks.
Newly available “Onboard Scales” measure and display the approximate weight of the payload in the Ford trucks. Charging information is displayed on the central touchscreen, in the FordPass app or in the truck’s smart taillights.
The simplest new feature is a reversing camera mounted on top of the vehicle’s tailgate. While it faces the sky when the gate is open, when the tailgate is lowered it provides a clear view of what’s behind the vehicle, giving the owner extra eyes when transporting something longer in the vehicle’s bed.
While all new vehicles are required to have backup cameras, Ford is the first manufacturer to implement such a camera, useful when the tailgate is open. Standard rear view cameras on American pickup trucks face the ground when the tailgate is down.
The option also has built-in sensors that work with the camera to alert the driver when their lowered tailgate approaches an object.
The new reversing camera and sensors are standard on higher-end trim levels, but not available on entry-level and lower-priced vehicles.
Ford has installed a camera and sensors in the tailgate of its F-Series Super Duty pickups for use when the tailgate is open.