Super View with the Ford SuperDuty

By Jeff Voth

I like trucks- a lot. My list includes big trucks, medium-sized trucks, small trucks, new trucks, classic trucks and fast trucks. I am also a big fan of car-hauling, freight-carrying, shiny, chromed and bright coloured big rigs having grown up around a dad who drove transport trucks for 42 years before retiring at age 65. Trucks are in my blood. That said, I do prefer cars, sports cars to be completely transparent, as I prefer to drive fast rather than the moderate speeds trucks typically require.

I am also an enthusiast of trailers, all kinds, but especially those that allow me to sleep inside, wake up in the morning and go fishing. RV’s are fun too, but I prefer hauling it behind me rather than sitting inside and driving the unit where we eat, sleep and do other things. I am not into buses, nope!

All this enthusiasm for trucks and trailers has yet to turn me into someone with more than an adequate level of ability when it comes to cornering or backing up with a trailer. I am told by my father, the expert transport truck driver, that the bigger the trailer, the easier it is to backup. I believe him; it just doesn’t work for me. So imagine my level of excitement when Ford Canada invited me to a 2017 Ford SuperDuty truck event where we would experience first-hand the latest technology designed to make haulin-n-towin easier. There was joy and panic all at the same time.

Thankfully the day went off without a hitch, actually there were more than a few hitches attached, and while my prowess at trailer control did improve, I will still leave it to the expert to explain Ford’s newest and most impressive technology. It’s time for me to back out, carefully, take it away Jim Kerr.

By Jim Kerr

Ford’s 2017 SuperDuty pickup is loaded with new features, many of them designed to help tow a trailer, but some of the most impressive technology is built into the truck’s camera system. With up to 7 cameras, the truck not only lets you see better than ever before what is going on around you but also has guidance features that will help both the experienced and novice operate a trailer easier.

Each of the cameras on the SuperDuty can provide a proprietary view but combined views are also available. The front camera is on the grille, complete with a pop out washer nozzle. Two other cameras are mounted on the outside rear view mirror housing and another camera on the tailgate. These four high definition cameras send their signals to the video computer where it can be seamlessly combined to provide a top-down 360 degree view around the truck. This is useful when parking and it also operates in forward gears at low truck speeds so the driver can see obstacles close to the truck while driving. I used it to drive through a series of large rocks where there was limited space for the truck.

Each camera also provides a unique view. The front camera can be zoomed in so you can see how close you are to something. With the close-up camera view I could easily drive within an inch of an object that I couldn’t see over the hood. The front camera also gives a 3-split view, with front and out to each side. This is perfect for pulling out of a driveway where side views may be blocked.

The tailgate camera can also be zoomed in and has trailer hitch center guide lines shown on the display. The moveable display line shows exactly where the truck hitch will go as you steer the truck, so backing up to hitch a trailer is a one person operation and done perfectly every time.

The side cameras also provide trailer guidance. A few simple setup procedures first will enhance their usefulness. The truck can be set up to 10 specific trailers or used on more trailers without setting them up. To set up the truck, a black and white checkered target is placed in a measured location on the trailer hitch. The length of the trailer is programmed into the instrument cluster display and the setup is started. The tailgate camera will “see” the target and then the truck’s computer can calculate the position of the trailer and provide guide lines on the dash display to help back the trailer.

With the aid of the side camera and the guide lines, the path of the trailer is predicted from the steering angle and hitch angle so you can back the trailer accurately where you want it. As you turn the steering wheel the guide lines move to constantly provide an image of where the trailer wheels will go.

Ford research found many drivers have difficulty backing a trailer up in a straight line. With the trailer programmed into the vehicle, you can push one of the select buttons on the SYNC3 display screen and now there is a rear view with the image of a steering wheel on the display. As you back up, the image of the steering wheel turns and if you match how you position the truck’s steering wheel to the image, it will back the trailer straight back. It works so well you have to try it!

Trailer Reverse Guidance scorecard
Trailer Reverse Guidance measurements

A fifth camera is located above the cab’s rear window. This camera lets you see in the box and has guidelines to help backing up to a fifth wheel hitch. Like the other cameras, it can be zoomed in for a close-up view.

The sixth camera is above the inside rear view mirror. This camera doesn’t provide a dash display but is used for the lane departure control to warn the driver if the vehicle wanders out of its lane.

The last camera is optional and comes as a kit that can be wired into the additional 12 pin trailer connector at the rear of the truck. This camera is then mounted on the rear of a trailer and can be ordered with three different cable lengths to match your trailer length. When connected, you can select another camera view on the SYNC3 display so you can see directly behind the trailer from the driver’s seat.

Seven cameras provide a super view on a SuperDuty truck.

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