Ford has proven that mirrors, spotters and looking over your shoulder are continuing to become a thing of the past when it comes to backing up a trailer.
At a media drive in Denver, reporters had a chance to use Ford’s new trailer reverse guidance system available on 2017 Super Duty trucks.
Admittedly, I’m accustomed to using mirrors and looking over my shoulder when backing up a trailer. So at first I thought I might be compelled to do the same inside the 2017 F-250 Lariat 4×4. But that wasn’t the case. Credit goes to an easy-to-use touch screen monitor.
It was just a matter of keeping an eye on the screen and watching for the system’s steering cues while backing up the trailer.
The straight-line backup guidance feature places the image of a steering wheel on the center of the screen and directs the driver, if necessary, to either turn to the left or to the right when attempting to back the trailer straight back.
When it comes to turning the trailer while in reverse, the guidance system posts an overhead, computer generated image of the truck and trailer on the screen. The image responds to the movements of the truck and trailer itself, thus revealing the angle of the trailer while it moves in reverse.
The jackknife warning feature posts two color coded, semi-circular lines on the screen to represent the full turning radius of the trailer. As the truck turns in reverse, a white line—much like a needle in an analog water temperature gauge—moves along the path of the semi-circular line to reveal the angle of the trailer. If the white line enters into the red, then the driver must stop to avoid jackknifing.
When making a sharp turn in reverse, side-view mirror cameras will adjust and provide a larger view of the trailer on the side where the turn is taking place.
The guidance system works by tracking target stickers placed on the frame of the trailer near the hitch.
For those looking for a view at the back of the trailer, Ford offers a factory-installed, customer placed trailer camera that connects to a 12-pin electrical connector. The waterproof and submersible camera is wired for better image quality. Wire lengths of 38, 48 and 58 are available.
Another new back-up feature for 2017 Super Duty comes courtesy of the center high-mounted stop light (CHMSL) camera. Mounted on the back of the cab, just above the rear window, the camera provides a clear view of the cargo bed and is used, along with the tailgate camera, to provide accurate results when backing up for a fifth-wheel or gooseneck connection. Before backing up, the tailgate can be lowered at the touch of a button located on the lower left of the dash.
A white line appears on the center of the screen and serves as a guide as the driver backs in reverse. As the fifth-wheel or gooseneck gets closer, a zoom feature allows for a more precise look. I was able to back up the truck right under a simulated gooseneck connection.
A total of seven cameras are now available for 2017 Super Duty, including a front camera that offers a 180-degree view that provides a clear view of blind spots when pulling out of confined areas, like alleys, where peripheral views are blocked. The front camera comes with a pop-up spray washer to help keep it clean.
Ford engineers and technology experts gave representatives from the media a crash course on the new truck series and its 17 class-exclusive features, including chassis and powertrain upgrades and hauling and towing capabilities.
Other new features for the aluminum 2017 Super Duty include adaptive steering, Blind Spot Information System, increased fuel and DEF tank capacities, increased towing and payload capacities, larger and stronger axles, larger brakes, up to 24 times stiffer frame, new 2.5- and 3-inch hitch receivers, new front and rear springs, larger turbo charger for the 6.7-liter Power Stroke Turbo Diesel V8 and new TorqShift-G 6-speed automatic transmission.