Over the course of a year, we drive a lot of pickup trucks. If there's another automotive outlet that drives more pickups than we do, we've never heard of it. If there's another source for pickup truck information that has more passionate and knowledgeable readers, we've never seen it.
Because of that, when we say there are certain features that should be on every pickup sold across the size and price universe, it should mean something.
We've collected our top five options - based on our own observations and comments from readers - that should not be options anymore. These need to be standard equipment.
Of course, this is only a partial list, and we want suggestions: Give us your top existing or brand-new options that should be part of the standard features list on every pickup. Although things like trailer-sway control, tire pressure monitors and backup cameras will be standard on all pickups soon, we'd like to see a few of these others as well. Join the conversation.
No. 5: Exact Tire Pressure Readouts
"Idiot lights" are fine for idiots, but we'd rather know exactly what is going on with each tire on our truck - in fact, we think that it's a safety issue. Depending on temperatures, tire pressure can fluctuate as much as 5 to 7 psi in either direction, and that will certainly affect how a vehicle handles and responds to varying situations. Add some center-of-gravity-shifting weight in the bed and things can get unpredictable quickly. Additionally, every truck should have some kind of switch that understands that you'll want lower tire pressure when four-wheeling (when you want a larger contact patch) and a higher threshold setting when carrying heavier loads and you need tires (especially the rears) to stay at maximum inflation. We shouldn't have to look at a "low pressure" light just because the sensor isn't smart enough to know how smart we are.
No. 4: Real-Time Transmission Gear Readout
We're not sure this is an actual safety issue, but we know we miss it every time we get into a truck that's not an F-Series. I like knowing what my transmission is doing and how much work and gear-changing it's going through, especially if there's a situation coming that could force me to drop into a manual gear-select mode. Whether it's a small digital readout in the corner of the instrument panel or a lineup of numbers at the bottom of the information screen, I paid for the whole transmission, so I want to be able to see exactly what gear I'm in at any moment. All the data and electronics are there, so use them to give us the information we need.
No. 3: Transmission Grade Braking
This is another of those technologies that we miss when we jump from truck to truck. Your transmission is already smart enough to know: * When you're headed downhill * The size of the load you're carrying * And whether you need to be in a lower gear hold That's information engine sensors and computer controllers already have access to. Having the brake pedal available to tap once or twice to instigate a shift or two just makes it easier to keep your truck (and possibly a good-sized load) under control. Every new transmission is smart enough, so let's make the feature available to every pickup driver. And if we want a more aggressive grade-braking setting, let us hit the tow/haul button.
No. 2: Payload Readout
We know not everyone is going to pull a trailer with their pickup, so we're comfortable not making integrated brake controllers a standard feature, even though we like them a lot. Let those who need them order and pay for them separately. However, we're going to assume that every person who purchases a pickup is going to carry some kind of load in the bed, and the more educated those drivers become about the exact weight (and even distribution) of that load, the safer they'll be on the road. I don't want a driver to have the excuse that he didn't know his load was 800 pounds over the maximum payload capacity of his truck, and that's why his brakes overheated and caused him to blow through a red light. There's a $15 scale in my bathroom that lets me know how much I weigh. Why can't there be an electronic readout on my dash (or in my info center) to let me know how much weight sits in my pickup bed? It seems that any load-leveling technology offered by an original equipment manufacturer, at a minimum, should be able to get some kind of tongue-weight calculation from the sensors.
No. 1: Headlight Adjust Switch
Again, we'll go out on a limb here and assume that if you want a pickup truck, you have some kind of load to carry in the bed of your truck. We understand you won't be carrying that load most of the time, but for those times when you do carry a good-sized load at night, here are some simple facts: Gravity will push the back of your truck down and point your headlights directly into the eyes of oncoming traffic. And for that reason every pickup should have a small multisetting switch that lets drivers adjust headlights down. That little safety feature (one that's on just about every family-toting minivan sold) helps keep everyone on the road safe, trucker or not.