Let’s cut straight to the punch-line; no, I’m not cocky about my truck but rather, I’m so proud of how Tank (my truck) tows.
Below is my story of how I ended up buying a 2016 F-150 EcoBoost Engine, Max Tow Package pickup truck – when everyone said it wouldn’t be big enough to tow my tiny house.
Agree with me or not, I did the research and ignored anecdotal advice; thankfully, it paid off.
My truck, which I lovingly refer to as Tank, towed my 18-foot tiny house from Portland, Oregon to Indianapolis, Indiana without a hitch (…pun, intended). Tank handled it beautifully. He is a lean, mean, towing machine and as my only source of transportation, I’m grateful for his efficient engine, smaller size (relatively speaking) and comfort. I trust we’ll have a long relationship together!
Early in my tiny house planning days, it dawned on me that my cute grocery-getting Honda CR-V wasn’t going to be enough to tow my tiny house. The idea of 2 vehicles seemed insurmountable having just left my cushy corporate job downtown to pursue Try It Tiny and help those working towards their tiny house lifestyle.
Nonetheless, I put my big girl pants on and went out to find a truck – the Maggie-way! I researched every type of pickup out there. I went to dealerships prepped with questions, I test drove trucks for weeks, re-tested, re-researched and spoke to every sales person in the greater Indy-area. By the end, I’m sure the smart sales people saw me coming and immediately ran to the bathroom / breakroom or anywhere close by to avoid me.
My first question was always a real head-scratcher, “I want the smallest truck you have that can tow at least 11,000 pounds.” Nearly every associate did an about-face before staring at me as if I had two heads.
Here’s what I found; newer trucks tow a lot (I mean, a lot!) more than older trucks. Pickups hold their value so much, that a used-truck deal is a dime a dozen, particularly if you’re wanting a new, efficient one. Since I was opting for a leased truck, a newer one made sense for multiple reasons.
So, I had cleared the hurdle of new versus used; Check!
Two things to look for in your tow-hauling beast of a machine are (1) EcoBoost and (2) Max Tow Package. So, for the truck novices out there (or for those who haven’t shopped for a truck in a couple years), what do these things mean?
- EcoBoost: this type of engine gets a fuel-saving gold star. It’s lighter, more efficient and now, you can even get these beauties with automatic start-stop technology.
- Max Tow Package: this package on your truck will give you several things like towing mirrors, upgraded backup assist cameras, trailer sensors, upgraded transmission cooling features, etc. In my terms, it effectively tricks out your truck to be the mean, massive towing machine it was intended to be!
These two things combined with the newer model of pickup was the winning combination for me. My quarter-ton F-150 can tow over 11,000 pounds and I have put the miles on it to prove it.
Here are the details on the Max Tow Packaged referenced (which I’ll include in the article as well for future reference, but so you have it here): Max. Trailer Tow Package (required for towing up to 12,200 lbs.; requires 3.5L EcoBoost engine) includes 4-pin/7-pin wiring harness, Class IV trailer hitch receiver, Smart Trailer Tow Connector, Pro Trailer Backup Assist, auxiliary transmission oil cooler, 3.55 electronic locking rear axle, trailer brake controller, and upgraded front stabilizer bar and rear bumper. (And thanks Luke, unfortunately, I did not have it weighed when it was fully completed. The article references the max towing capacity of 11.2)
A feature which I am hoping to do a short video showcases the backup trailer assist. For someone like me, who had previously never towed, I was worried about backing up with the house. This system auto-senses your trailer using a thorough setup process w/barcodes to recognize each trailer you own. It then allows you to reverse using the dial vs steering wheel and makes it really easy.