Farm pickups usually see their fair share of road miles with a trailer in tow, especially those owned by mixed farmers who almost always have a livestock trailer. This year the major pickup truck brands seem to be vying for attention from those who pull trailers by offering increasingly better option packages.
When Ford introduced the 2017 model year Super Duty trucks in Regina last November, marketers emphasized it’s towing ability with an extensive rear view camera package available that helps the driver keep an eye on blind spots and any traffic close behind the trailer. Not to be outdone, in March GM announced it teamed up with a specialty company called Echomaster to develop a blind-spot-assist camera package that can be retrofitted onto 2014 to 2016 1500 model Silverados with trailer towing mirrors and all 2500HD and 3500HDs.
The camera kit along with a fifth wheel or goose neck hitch package will be available as a factory installed option package on new trucks this year.
“The fifth-wheel prep package has been designed by our structural engineers, to make the most of Silverado’s fully-boxed, high-strength steel frame,” said Jeff Luke, Chevrolet truck executive chief engineer, in a press release announcing the option package. “The trailering camera system was designed in partnership with our Chevrolet MyLink team to seamlessly integrate views from trailering cameras into the existing radio display.”
The retrofit package, which will be available directly from GM dealers beginning in April, includes two side cameras that get integrated into the housing of the side-view mirrors to improve vision along the sides of the truck and trailer. When the driver activates the turn signal, the system automatically displays the correct side view in the centre screen on the dash.
The rear camera is designed to be mounted to the top, rearmost edge of the trailer, providing a view of what’s behind the trailer when reversing. This camera is hardwired to the trailer lights for electrical power, and wirelessly transmits images to the dashboard display using a closed network. It also features infrared lighting, allowing for enhanced images in low-light settings.
Pressing and holding the radio “home” button for five seconds brings up the camera view menu and any camera view can be selected at any time.
A fourth camera can be added to the package, which can be installed inside a trailer. That would be handy for stock trailers, letting drivers keep an eye on cattle inside during the trip.
Later this summer GM will introduced a brake light-mounted camera on new trucks to keep an eye on cargo in the bed or help when connecting a goose neck trailer.
Cost of the camera system starts at US$999. Check out the brand ‘s website for details on the available options packages at chevrolet.com/accessories.