Ford has made the latest move in a race to take the guesswork out of towing and hauling cargo with an announcement it will soon offer the 2021 F-150 pickup with built-in scales to measure payload and trailer weights.
Starting this summer, you’ll be able to option the F-Series with a payload estimation feature that will tell you the approximate weight of whatever you load into the bed. That measurement will show up in the truck’s infotainment screen, in the FordPass smartphone app or, most usefully, in a series of LEDs built into newly available smart taillights.
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A series of four LEDs will light up in sequence as you load the truck. A fully loaded truck is indicated when all four lights are on, and the top lights will blink if you go over the payload rating. The smart taillights will be calibrated based on each truck’s specific configuration.
Also new is a smart trailer hitch that can measure the tongue weight of a trailer and indicate whether it’s too high or low – both indications that you need to redistribute the load for better weight balance. Like the payload feature, the smart hitch displays its weight estimate in the touchscreen, the FordPass app, or via the truck’s taillights.
Ford’s third new hauling helper is a continuously controlled damping suspension designed to enhance ride quality. In an unloaded truck, it aims to improve comfort by controlling body motions caused by uneven road surfaces; it also works with the truck’s tow/haul drive mode to maintain a more consistent driving feel no matter the load you’re carrying in or towing behind the truck.
These new features join a few high-tech towing tricks already available in the truck segment, like Ford’s back-up assist function that automatically steers the truck when reversing with a trailer; blind-spot monitors that cover the length of a truck-and-trailer rig; and camera systems that give the driver multiple views of what’s next to and behind the trailer.
Ford says the F-150’s newest additions will be available for ordering in June, with deliveries beginning late summer.