- Helping you drive happy

Winter towing and hauling: F-150 makes the grade

When it comes to winter performance, pickup trucks usually don’t sit at the top of the list. Anyone who drives during winter months has seen at least one truck leading the line at a lit intersection, spinning its tires when given the green. It sits there, and sits there, and sits there, as the green light switches to amber and back to red once again.

In Quebec, this has changed recently thanks to a legal winter tire requirement. However, considering the nature of pickups -- heavy in the front, light in the back -- there are still misconceptions.

How do modern pickups perform in the winter months, whether it be commuting, towing, hauling or going off-road?

For starters, tire technology has come a long way. It’s hard to see, as most view the automotive necessity as an unchanging doughnut of blackened rubber. But, during our stint in the Charlevoix region of Quebec with the brand new F-150 fitted with the latest BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 T/A tires, advancements become more apparent.

For starters, we intentionally slogged the F-150 through a couple of feet of snow, unloaded, to see if the Ford pickup would make it out. It sure did, and without drama. All it took was a flick of the finger to put our tester’s drive mode into 4H.

When it comes to loading up the bed, the F-150 has its oft maligned, but quite ingenious tailgate step, and in winter it’s a no-brainer. With its pop-out-and-up handle, stepping into the bed is made easier, but it’s the spring-loaded texture-tape step that’ll keep you sure-footed.

Unloading is made easier as well thanks to the F-150’s new 360-degree camera system. You’ll never accidentally back up into a snow bank ever again. The same system also gives you piece of mind when hooking up a trailer with available Dynamic Hitch Assist. The assistant gives you an additional bending centerline on your reversing camera that makes lining up a hitch a breeze. It’s also zoom-able (the camera, not the hitch).

Once on the road with your load in tow, the prevalence of trailer-brake controllers gives drivers an additional level of comfort in low-traction conditions. The variable controller on our tester came in handy on downhill sections with steep grades, even in the snow. In the summer it will also help eliminate brake fade due to overuse.

Modern pickups are so far removed from their predecessors. They’ve become the Swiss Army knives of the automotive market. Towing and hauling, especially in winter, is just part of their feature set. These days, pickups offer utility, safety, and comfort in a very attractive package.