2015 Ford F-150: Towing Compared to Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, Part 3
May 27, 2015
In this final installment, we'll consider some of the towing-specific features provided by each.
Though both trucks offer substantial towing ability, only the Ford is fitted with a towing-specific package. The $495 Trailer Tow package adds four- and seven-pin trailer-wiring plugs, an auxiliary transmission oil cooler, an upgraded front stabilizer bar, and a Class IV hitch receiver.
The Ram, though not fitted with a towing-specific package, has similar equipment that comes standard, including four- and seven-pin trailer connectors, a $230 integrated trailer brake controller, and a Class IV hitch receiver.
Both trucks offer towing-specific modes which optimize shift points, throttle calibration and other elements of the powertrain for towing. In the F-150, that mode is accessed on the shifter. In the Ram, it's via a button on the center stack.
Brake gain (the amount of force applied to the trailer brakes for a given amount of input at the pedal) is adjustable on each truck's brake controller. In addition to the brake toggle switch, there are "+" and "-" buttons for adjusting gain. I like the location of the controller in both trucks, too.
The F-150 can store settings in memory for multiple trailers so that resetting the gain each time isn't necessary. It's a nice feature, but gain needs adjustment based on load, which often varies significantly with my personal trailer.
The F-150 also offers some features that the Ram doesn't. Some experienced towers might find these gimmicky, but there's no denying that their use ensures safety and prevents some of the easy-to-forget -but-vitally-important details that should happen every time one hooks a trailer to a truck.
The biggest of these details is a connection checklist for ball-type hitches that includes the following:
- Ball coupler connected and locked?
- Electrical wiring connected?
- Lights function correctly? (a turn-signal orientation check)
- Safety chains connected?
- Tongue jack raised?
- Mirrors adjusted?
- Brake controller gain set?
There's also a trailer-light status check which alerts a driver if running or brake/turn lights aren't working or if the trailer wiring comes unplugged. The Ram is less sophisticated but alerts if the trailer wiring comes unplugged, which has happened to us. Both trucks provide towing odometers independent of trip odometers and dedicated screens for brake pressure percentage and gain adjustment.
Huge telescoping, towing-specific mirrors are a $165 option on the F-150, too. These two-part mirrors are extendable, foldable and power-operated. They include two mirrors per side: a standard-perspective mirror and a smaller convex mirror which offers a wide-angle view. I find them confusing and actually prefer the Ram's standard-issue mirrors, which are big enough to get the job done.
Even so, dual-lens towing mirrors are an option for the Ram. In previous encounters, we've found them much more useful and attractive than Ford's offering. We don't have them because the EcoDiesel was in short supply when we bought our truck and we couldn't find one with towing mirrors.
But the big feature, the one that I find matters most, is the F-150's grade-logic engine braking. Aggressive engine braking is built into the Ford's tow-mode powertrain calibration. Hit a descent in tow mode and it helps manage vehicle speed by selecting a lower gear. It does this when coming to a stop as well.
The Ram exhibits this feature only at medium to low speeds, but the calibration is far less aggressive and it's decidedly absent at freeway speeds when it's needed most. That the EcoDiesel Ram lacks such an obvious feature is a genuine oversight given that many buyers will choose the Ram specifically for towing.
Josh Jacquot, Senior Editor