Innovative Pickup Truck Features

Selling pickup trucks is a competitive business in North America: The Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, and Ram 1500 full-size trucks are some of the most popular new vehicles in Canada.

Full-size models are the stars of the pickup segment, but smaller trucks have made a comeback. The market for mid-size pickups took off in the mid-2010s, and two new-for-2022 compact models – the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz – are set to shake up the marketplace even further.

No matter what size of pickup you’re after or what you plan to use it for, you’ll find features designed to add comfort, convenience, and capability. Here are five of the most innovative pickup truck features available today.

Ford F-150 Onboard Scales and Smart Hitch

In 2021, the Ford F-150 added a built-in scale system to the rear suspension of its F-150 pickup to help you measure your truck’s payload and trailer tongue weights.

Payload is the maximum weight a pickup is rated to carry in its bed, while the trailer tongue weight tells you whether you need to redistribute the cargo in your trailer for proper weight balance.

As you load cargo into the F-150’s bed, the onboard scales will display the payload weight on the truck’s infotainment screen. You can also monitor the weight via four LEDs built into the taillights, which are calibrated according to your specific truck’s configuration and light up one by one as you approach the truck’s payload.

When you lower the trailer tongue onto the Smart Hitch, the same telltales indicate whether the tongue weight is within spec.

Ram 1500 Rambox and Honda Ridgeline in-bed trunk

Pickup trucks are great at carrying large cargo, but for smaller items you want to protect from the elements, you either have to put them in the passenger cabin or buy an aftermarket bed box. Both are viable options, but the former is annoying if you have a full load of passengers, and the latter takes up valuable space in the bed.

The Honda Ridgeline and Ram 1500 offer useful solutions to the small-cargo conundrum. Honda’s is the in-bed trunk, a 207L compartment under the rear half of the cargo floor accessible via a trapdoor-like hinged panel. At first glance, it looks difficult to access with the tailgate open, but the Ridgeline’s tailgate can also open to the side, so you can stand right up at the truck’s bumper to reach into the trunk.

The problem with the Ridgeline’s trunk is that it’s only accessible if you’re not carrying anything in the bed itself. The Ram 1500 gets around that with its Rambox cargo management system, which builds weatherproof compartments into the side walls of the truck’s bed above the wheel arches, where you can keep smaller items like tools and tow chains easily accessible.

Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra trailer backup assists

If you’re new to towing and you think driving forward with a trailer hitched up is tough, wait until it’s time to back up and you have to turn the steering wheel opposite to the direction you want to move the trailer.

The all-new 2022 Toyota Tundra is the latest full-size pickup with a feature that makes it easier to back up your trailer. When you’re ready to reverse, Toyota’s straight path assist system takes control of the Tundra’s steering to keep the trailer going straight back while you control the brakes and throttle.

Ford’s pro trailer backup assist system is a little more sophisticated. Once you begin backing up, you turn a knob on the dash to steer the trailer in the direction you want to go. The system will steer the truck in the same direction you turn the knob, eliminating one of the most intimidating aspects of maneuvering a trailer.

Chevrolet Silverado Trailering Cameras

No matter how much experience you have towing a trailer, you always need to be able to see where you’re going. Chevrolet offers its Silverado pickup with as many as eight exterior cameras that all but eliminate blind spots, providing up to 15 different views of what’s going on in front of, beside or behind your truck-and-trailer rig.

Our favourite is what Chevy calls the transparent trailer view, which uses a camera installed on the back of the trailer to show you an unobstructed view of what’s behind you. You can also toggle to a hitch view that makes it easier to hook up your conventional trailer, or an interior camera that lets you check on the cargo inside the trailer.

Ford Maverick Three-Position Tailgate

The 2022 Ford Maverick is one of the smallest pickups you can buy today. It shares its underpinnings with the Ford Escape and Bronco Sport compact SUVs, and slots in below the Ranger mid-size model as Ford’s entry-level truck. Predictably, the Maverick gives up some payload and cargo capacity to larger pickups, but its three-position tailgate boosts this little pickup’s utility. If you lock the tailgate in its partway-open position, it sits level with the tops of the wheel wells and can support 181 kg (400 pounds). That lets you carry up to 18 4×8 sheets of three-quarter-inch plywood, despite the bed being just 4.5 feet long. Your lumber payload is supported by the wheel wells up front and the tailgate at the rear, making this little truck a lot more useful than it looks.