2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500: Hitching Trailers with a Back-up Camera
January 30, 2014
Back-up cameras like the one found in our 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 aren't just for safety, though that's seen as the main benefit by many people. Turns out they're useful for many other more routine driving tasks that involve alignment and tight quarters.
The list includes routine parking, particularly if you like to reverse into spaces, as I do. Also on the list is parallel parking, which is a bit like playing "Operation" with cars and curbs.
And then there's towing, specifically the part where you're backing up to connect to the trailer before you head out. But all such cameras are not created equal when it comes to this.
The Silverado's guidance line overlay does not pivot as you crank the wheel, but that's actually helpful when one is attempting to align the truck with the trailer, especially when you're still 20 or 30 feet away.
Near the end of the hitching process it's common to overshoot the ball by an inch, at which point it's necessary to shift back into Drive and edge forward a bit. GM understands this and keeps the camera running throughout.
This behavior seems so patently obvious I shouldn't need to point it out. But a Toyota Tundra backup camera will wink out at the precise moment you shift out of reverse due to an overly conservative (and thoughtless) corporate interpretation of laws designed to prevent TV-watching on screens visible to the driver while traveling down the road in a forward gear.
No one is going to drive at 2 mph just so they can watch a DVD. GM's common-sense approach allows their back-up camera to be a useful towing aid. Our Silverado's camera winks out when a very low forward speed threshold is met. I think it matches the one that triggers the auto door-lock function.
Point is, folks that tow need to know that back-up cameras aren't universally suited to this activity.
Try this on your next test drive: Shift into reverse to activate the camera, then go back into drive and take note of when it winks back out. You may want to move on to another brand if it happens as soon as you move the lever out of reverse. If you're like me you'll want to see the image linger for the first foot or two of forward travel.
GM's products are among those that have this part right.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 14,322 miles