The Perfect Pickup

Are You In The Market For A New Tow Vehicle? If So, Familiarize Yourself With The Latest Features Before Kicking The Tires

FSF Staff February 19, 2013

This article isn’t about buying a boat, nor is it about how to rig deadly strip baits. This feature delves into the latest innovations in tow vehicles and what you should know before signing on the dotted line. After all, a 2013 pickup truck equipped with the latest advanced driving and safety features may set you back more than 50K!

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Toyota Tundra

Today’s ambitious anglers are more demanding than ever in their never-ending pursuit for the hottest action. Both weekend warriors and tournament competitors alike are crisscrossing the state and beyond, towing everything from lightweight technical poling skiffs to fully equipped 40-foot center consoles. And with fishing pressure on the rise and the availability of wet slips becoming increasingly scarce, the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing.

If you haven’t stepped foot on a new car lot in a number of years, then you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Modern pickup trucks have come a long way since grandpa’s F-100.

To reach the state’s most fertile waters both safely and effectively, you need the right tow vehicle—a pickup truck that is equipped with the features and accessories you really need while remaining in your budget. Of course, a pickup must be aesthetically appealing, fully functional and capable of getting the job done in any environment. However, after all things considered your final purchasing decision may come down to personal preference. Many owners swear by Ford, others GMC or Toyota, and some wouldn’t be caught dead in anything that didn’t roll off an American assembly line. But before you jump in the shark infested waters and go tire kicking you need to be honest with yourself because what you want and what you really need are often two different things altogether.

Will this be your family’s primary or secondary vehicle? This question alone can have a huge impact on your final decision regarding the ideal trim package and interior options. Next and perhaps the most important factor is the type of boat you are towing and the trailer’s gross weight. The answer will narrow down the field considerably, as you certainly can’t pull a 14,000-pound SeaVee with a 4 cylinder 2WD. And unless you have an ego the size of Mt. Everest, you don’t need a turbo-charged diesel V8 dually to pull a 1,400-pound Ranger. With that being said, it’s also a good idea to look ahead, as your towing needs may change in the event you decide to upgrade vessels.

You also need to consider how often you will be towing and the average distance to your favorite destinations. You must also evaluate the terrain, because there are certain scenarios where traction will be an issue and 4WD will be a necessity.

The next things you need to evaluate are seating and storage capacity. Can you get away with a standard 2-door cab and regular size bed, or do you need a 4-door crew cab model with extra seating capacity and the ability to carry substantial payloads? Once you’ve answered these questions it’s time to start looking closer at the range of vehicles that fit your needs and budget.

If you haven’t stepped foot on a new car dealership in a number of years, then you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Modern pickup trucks have come a long way since grandpa’s F-100. The latest and greatest tow vehicles have been engineered with a long list of technological advances only dreamed of a few short years ago.

Ford is just one of a number of leading truck manufacturers currently offering Trailer Sway Control, which utilizes the vehicle’s existing stability control system to reduce trailer sway when towing a boat of any size. It is designed to detect when trailer sway occurs and helps counteract it in order to bring the trailer under control. Trailer Sway Control uses Ford’s AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control to provide an additional layer of confidence while towing. Features include wheel speed sensors, throttle position and steering wheel angle sensors, yaw rate and lateral acceleration sensors and a gyroscopic roll rate sensor. When the system detects the trailer yawing in either direction, it applies selective brake pressure on the tow vehicle’s opposite side. This creates counter-moments to the forces applied on the vehicle from the trailer, dampens the yaw motion and helps to reduce sway. Trailer Sway Control can also reduce engine power as part of its trailer-sway mitigation strategy.

You might be loyal to American made products, but Toyota trucks are some of the finest on the market. While the Tundra is stylish, it’s also impressively equipped for towing large loads. Equipped with Tow/Haul Mode, Tundra holds gears when accelerating or decelerating, while also using shift logic technology. Here, the onboard computer system provides rapid accelerator release when it senses sudden braking. Additional towing features include auxiliary coolers for engine oil, transmission fluid and power steering fluid, a larger radiator and upgraded fan and a heavy-duty alternator. Special tow mirrors that telescope outward for increased visibility are also offered on select packages.

RAM trucks feature Electronic Stability Control (ESC), a computerized technology that improves the safety of a vehicle’s stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction. When ESC detects loss of steering control, it automatically applies the brakes to help steer the vehicle where the driver intends to go. Similar to Ford’s Trailer Sway Control, braking is automatically applied to wheels individually to counter oversteer or understeer. ESC systems also reduce engine power until control is regained. Hemi powered RAMs also features a Hill Start Assist (HSA) system designed to help the driver in launching a vehicle with boat in tow on an incline. HSA will maintain the level of brake pressure the driver inputs for a short duration even after the driver takes his foot off the brake pedal. The system then releases brake pressure in proportion to the amount of throttle applied.

Chevy Silverado’s Tow/Haul is similar to that of Toyota by modifying the transmission shift schedule and helping reduce throttle pedal activity. Silverado is also equipped with Cruise Grade Braking, which uses transmission downshifts to allow engine compression braking to slow the vehicle and its load.

Nearly all pickup truck manufacturers now offer rear-vision camera systems and sensors that help make it easier and safer to back up and align the vehicle’s hitch to the trailer. The system utilizes the rearview mirror or the available in-dash display to provide the driver with a clear view of exactly what’s behind the vehicle.

Trailer brakes are nothing new but certainly critical when towing a heavy load. There are two common types of trailer brakes and each is used for a different purpose. Surge brakes are a self-contained hydraulic brake system activated during deceleration as the trailer coupler pushes on the hitch ball. Surge brakes are primarily used on most boat trailers. Electric trailer brakes utilize a brake-control unit. This system activates the trailer brakes whenever the vehicle brakes are applied. Electric trailer brakes are often found on heavier boat trailers, travel trailers, horse trailers and car haulers.

Select GMC Sierra pickup trucks offer an optional trailer-brake controller. It’s completely integrated within the vehicle’s electrical and antilock braking system, allowing the trailer’s brakes to operate simultaneously with the vehicle brakes. GMC strategically placed the system right at the driver’s fingertips: The available integrated trailer brake controller is located close to the steering wheel for easy adjustments and displays the level of brake force or “gain” in the Driver Information Center.

Of course, features to help you tow safely would be useless if you didn’t have enough traction and torque to pull your load up a slippery boat ramp at low tide. This is where power options enter the equation. Nearly every model pickup truck is available with multiple drivetrain configurations in either 2WD or 4WD, ranging from economical inline 4 cylinders to turbo charged V8 diesel powerhouses with enough torque to tow a freighter.

In the end, purchasing a new tow vehicle can be daunting, but an educated buyer is a smart buyer. If you know exactly what your requirements are you The only thing that could make a new pickup truck even better is a functional rod rack. Finally, someone has answered the call with a perfect solution for anglers on-the-go who care as much about their tackle as we do. Manufactured of corrosion resistant aluminum, similar to the pipework on your boat, this portable rod rack mounts to existing tie down brackets and is extremely easy to install. The rack is secured to the bed with stainless locks while a cable locking system keeps your rods safe and sound. Better yet, once the rod rack is removed it is compatible with a convenient storage kit so you can simply roll your favorite outfits in and out of the garage. Available for numerous makes and models, this locking rod rack is available only at Boat Outfitters (boatoutfitters.com) and not only does an excellent job of protecting your equipment from damage and theft, but looks great!can ease the process dramatically.

Rad Rod Rack

The only thing that could make a new pickup truck even better is a functional rod rack. Finally, someone has answered the call with a perfect solution for anglers on-the-go who care as much about their tackle as we do. Manufactured of corrosion resistant aluminum, similar to the pipework on your boat, this portable rod rack mounts to existing tie down brackets and is extremely easy to install. The rack is secured to the bed with stainless locks while a cable locking system keeps your rods safe and sound. Better yet, once the rod rack is removed it is compatible with a convenient storage kit so you can simply roll your favorite outfits in and out of the garage. Available for numerous makes and models, this locking rod rack is available only at Boat Outfitters (boatoutfitters.com) and not only does an excellent job of protecting your equipment from damage and theft, but looks great!

Terminology

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): The maximum a tow vehicle may weigh including the weight of the vehicle, driver and passengers, fuel, payload, tongue load of the trailer, weight of hitch and optional equipment.

Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR): Maximum allowable weight, expressed in pounds, of the vehicle and trailer, including the driver, passengers, fuel, optional equipment and gear.

Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR): The weight in pounds each axle is capable of supporting.

Gross Trailer Weight (GTW): The total weight of the trailer plus all the cargo on it.

Trailer Tongue Weight: The downward force exerted on the hitch ball by the trailer coupler.

Trailer Weight Rating: Determined by subtracting the gross vehicle weight from the gross combination weight rating. At the trailer weight rating for a properly equipped vehicle, a driver should be able to accelerate and merge with traffic, climb typical interstate grades at highway speeds, maintain control on varying road surfaces, and stop adequately within a reasonable distance.

Weight Carrying Hitch: A standard hitch assembly that puts all of the trailer weight on the hitch, without distributing it.

Weight Distribution Hitch: An attachment that distributes the trailer tongue weight between the trailer and the tow vehicle, providing greater towing capacity and greater trailer control.

Locking Differential: The restriction of the rotational speed of both wheels on an axle, which increases traction on uneven surfaces.

Axle Ratio: The ratio between the revolutions per minute of the driveshaft and the rear axle. In general, a higher number offers more towing power; a lower number offers increased engine efficiency.

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