It was a dark and stormy night. Seriously, it really was, making it a very good thing that the 2009 F-150 we were using to tow some 5000 pounds of stuff from SoCal to the southern tip of the Rockies was far more surefooted than we’d expected. The trip continued in a stormy fashion, and it wasn’t until almost halfway through the 1000-mile journey that the wipers finally got to lie down and rest—at this point, nearly useless anyway, due to becoming embedded in ice as the altitude had increased near Flagstaff, Arizona.

Our impressions and thoughts about the luxo SuperCrew Lariat as a tow vehicle had been formed and consequently also changed a few times. Initially, the idea of towing anything that would warrant the use of extendable mirrors and a built-in brake controller with a half-ton pickup seemed completely wrong. After all, those are items one would need and use on a ¾- or one-ton pickup, but not on a half-ton, especially a half-ton with a living-room-size cab followed by a short bed.

Thankfully, we were wrong.

Those extendable mirrors were a must for seeing past the sides of the enclosed trailer, although it’d been nicer yet if the built-in wide-angle portions hadn’t been partially rendered useless by needless plastic on the mirror head. Meanwhile, the brake controller wasn’t really needed, which was a very good thing.

With several miles of eight-percent or better downhill grade at the start of the trip, the thought of the little 5.4-liter motor holding back a total of some 10,500 pounds on compression braking alone was, well, unnerving. In reality, tapping the four-wheel disc brakes once or twice was all it took to descend the grade in a safe fashion. Quite impressive. Chalk one up for Ford’s tranny engineers.

Zooming along the Interstates on flat ground taught us that the option-laden F-150’s weight and 144.5-inch wheelbase were adequate for what we’d committed ourselves to do. In all fairness, the handling was more than just adequate—and we didn’t even have a weight-distributing hitch, which rightfully should’ve been used both for the vehicle’s sake and legality. But we were still not fully convinced that this was an all-good idea, and on edge accordingly. In other words, nowhere near relaxed enough to try figuring out all the switches and gizmos on and around the snazzy dash.