Trailer Backup Steering
Once you've hooked up a trailer, backing up becomes an entirely different challenge. Left is right, right is left, and nothing happens in a straight line when you're going in reverse. It can be a conundrum for beginners. The Ford F-150 has a solution: trailer backup steering. By twisting a knob on the dashboard, you can guide the attached trailer to a specific location shown in the rear camera view while the truck makes the necessary steering adjustments for you. Navigating locations like boat ramps and tight side driveways are a lot easier with this feature.
Trailer Blind-Spot Monitors
Blind-spot monitoring is especially helpful on large vehicles such as pickup trucks. But when you're towing 20 feet of trailer behind you, it can become even more valuable. This is where trailer blind-spot monitors come into play, and a few different systems are available. The Ford Super Duty requires that you plug in the trailer dimensions yourself, but once you've done that, the taillight-mounted sensors can monitor for vehicles in your blind spot as far as 33 feet behind the truck. You can also save multiple trailer settings in the truck's infotainment system so you don't have to plug in the dimensions every time. The 2019 Ram 1500 can learn the dimensions of your trailer after just a few turns, eliminating the need for manual inputs.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) for the Trailer
Being able to monitor your tire pressures is nice, but being able to monitor your trailer's tire pressure is even better. Some trucks have the ability to monitor tire pressure in the trailer. Just like vehicle TPMS, this system alerts the driver in the case of low tire pressure, potentially providing an early alert before a tire goes completely flat or ruptures on the highway. Other trailer-monitoring features are becoming more frequently available, too. The Ford Super Duty and the GMC Sierra 1500 also come with trailer light monitoring that checks the functionality of your brake lights and turn signals while you're inside the truck — very useful for those times when you're towing by yourself. (It's pretty hard to see if the brake lights are working from inside the cab.)
Trailer Brake Controllers
Trucks are now equipped with technology that can manage a trailer's movement, too. Trailer brake controllers were previously common only in the aftermarket, but they are now available as integrated systems, which can be adjusted from inside the cabin. Essentially, they control a trailer's brakes in relation to the truck's braking activity by adjusting the gain setting. The driver turns the gain up or down to increase or decrease the stopping power provided by the trailer's brakes. Adjusting the gain relative to the trailer's weight can get you the maximum stopping power from your trailer's brakes. And while these controllers aren't a brand-new technology, they are more commonly available now than they were on the previous generations of trucks. With the wider availability of integrated trailer brake controllers, features such as trailer memory have started to crop up too, allowing you to set specific gain settings for individual trailers and store them for future use.
Anti-Sway Software Control
Trailer sway control works as a part of the truck's stability control system. It regulates the truck's brakes and power when it senses the trailer swaying behind you. Trailer sway can happen if the trailer is weighted incorrectly, if there's a strong crosswind, or even if you're just going a bit too fast. Some trucks will even suggest that you pull over and adjust your trailer in the case of too much sway.
Tailgates used to be a pretty simple enterprise: Up or down was your only choice, and manual operation was your only option. Now, however, many trucks have power-operated release mechanisms that lower the tailgate for you. The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is even available with a power-up feature, the first of its kind. Also, many tailgates are now part of the truck's remote locking system, allowing for key-fob operation of the tailgate's lock, increasing security of items in the truck's bed.
Notably unique is the optional six-position tailgate on the 2019 GMC Sierra 1500. Among other things, the Sierra's tailgate can fold down to provide a step, it can flip up a panel to effectively lengthen the bed, and it can fold just a portion of the tailgate to allow for an impromptu work table at a manageable height. Ford offers a bed-step option as well, which extends downward from the tailgate to allow for easier entry or loading into the bed. Not to be left out, the midsize Honda Ridgeline also uses a unique dual-opening tailgate that opens downward like a conventional tailgate or sideways like a hinged door. This functionality means items can be fully loaded into the bed without anyone having to lean over the tailgate.
Height-Adjustable Electronically Controlled Air Suspension
Thanks to its all-coil suspension, the current Ram 1500 is available with an adjustable ride-height system that employs air springs instead of coil springs. It can raise or lower the truck depending on your needs (loading cargo, getting in or out, going off-road), and it can automatically level the truck's height when you're towing a heavy trailer. It also translates to an extremely comfortable ride, with a lowered highway cruise height that saves fuel.
All sorts of tech features have improved truck life, whether you need to tow 10,000 pounds or are just looking for a better driving experience. From endless cameras to smart electronics, trucks are improving constantly and the advancements just seem to keep on coming.