And it’s huge. Our other car, a Mini Cooper S, could probably fit in the bed. But this is the perfect truck for us and it comes into our lives at the necessary time. This purchase is, of course, part II of our grand plan to become equipped to truly explore outstanding natural areas. Part I was acquiring an Airstream travel trailer, which we accomplished back in March by visiting the fine folks at Colonial Airstream in Lakewood, New Jersey and making a purchase from their extensive inventory.
We knew our next step was purchasing a tow vehicle, and we approached it the same way we handled the Airstream research and acquisition. At the outset, endless hours were spent reading reviews, building sample trucks online and learning about different available features. For the first time in my life, I have actually needed to pay attention to things like towing and payload capacity. Our Airstream travel trailer can weigh up to 7,500 pounds when fully equipped (including the trailer itself plus propane, batteries, water, food and all our other personal belongings) and will place approximately 850 pounds of weight on the hitch. It takes a serious truck to handle that sort of duty.
Our research revealed that there is a dizzying array of combinations available for virtually every model of truck. A basic, entry-level pickup from any manufacturer (think regular F-150, Chevy Silverado) makes sense as a daily work truck with limited payloads, but has nowhere near the towing and carrying capacity that we need. However, these models are also available with significantly beefed up specifications. Also, each manufacturer offers several models with substantially more capacity (F-250, F-350, GMC 2500, etc.) but those vehicles are truly enormous and often fueled by diesel, which was not our preference. The complicated grids showing the various combinations of features — and the resulting towing / carrying capacities — were enough to overwhelm even my resident spreadsheet guru. Sample spec sheet:15RV&TT_Ford_F150_r1_Jan12
After getting something of a handle on the market through online research, we headed out Memorial Day weekend to visit multiple dealerships and test drive different models that could meet our needs. Disappointingly, no dealer offered us a free hot dog. That may explain why no truck was purchased that day. But we were able to narrow down our choices to two specific models in which we liked the vehicle feel while driving and the setup of the instrumentation, and which provide the power (and braking) needed for our planned towing. Finally, we embarked on a search to locate — whether new or used — a truck with the exact specifications we wanted.
Our particular requirements were for a “supercab” or “extended cab” with a smaller backseat area rather than a full crew cab, 4-wheel drive, amped up towing specs, and leather seats. Yup, just like our Airstream will allow us to camp in luxury, we will be traveling to our destinations in style.
As is so often the case, once we identified exactly what we wanted, the universe made it available. We located, via cars.com, a gentleman selling a very low-mileage F-150 Lariat with the exact specifications we wanted, who lives a mere two hours’ drive from us. Serendipity at its best!
We quickly came to terms and agreed to meet last weekend for the test drive and sale. The truck was everything we expected — basically in mint condition — and it is now ours. Our new truck is rated to tow close to 11,000 pounds, and I am really happy to have that extra safety margin for our future trailer adventures.
My biggest reservation about being a truck owner is my general distaste for the truck-owner stereotypes that have been drilled into my brain by watching countless super bowl ads featuring manly (white) men doing physical labor in rural America and heading home in their giant trucks. We’ll be doing our best to show that truck owners can also be environmentalists (our truck gets super gas mileage considering its power), feminists, and people who like a multicultural setting. That fact that our truck sports a “save the sea turtles” license plate is the first small step in this effort!
Stay tuned for part III of the grand plan: driving the truck to New Jersey and returning with the Airstream in tow. That journey is tentatively planned for early July. Has either of us ever towed anything in our lives? Nope! Had either of us spent any meaningful time driving a powerful truck before purchasing our new vehicle? Nope! Am I bothered by any of this?
Nope! *Turns out we suck at parking the new truck. While some may say “practice makes perfect,” I am hoping that practice can merely produce something approaching basic competence. In any case, perhaps we are foolishly optimistic, but mostly we are fired up thinking about the future adventures that await.