The Second Panic Stop
In retrospect, it was a blessing that we got cut off earlier in the day and had to hit the brakes pretty hard to avoid a collision (or, “accident,” for you Californians who have 1-800-THE-LAW-2 on speed dial). It showed that the excellent optional Ford trailer brake controller was set a little too high, making the trailer brakes lock up momentarily. Adjusting the brakes down a bit proved to be just the answer for stopping straight when later coming within four feet of claiming common space and time with an elk on a snowy and icy roadway. It honestly looked as if the elk had noticeable traction problems, while the F-150 and trailer behaved perfectly during this unplanned, high-rate deceleration event.
What Goes Up Must Come Down.
With the exception of taxes and fuel prices, things tend eventually to end up down where they came from, and we were no different. After a week of driving the Lariat like most owners would, with an empty bed and without a trailer, it was time to head back west, now with an empty bed and only one item in the trailer—which sounds fine until considering that a lack of weight in the tow vehicle isn’t really a good thing, and that the one load in the trailer was a car which weighed more than the previous load.
Still, the return trip was relatively uneventful (must’ve gotten the tongue weight just right) with better mileage, partly because of losing many thousands of feet of elevation, but also due to a better understanding of the “miles-to-empty” feature on our part. With only two fuel stops, the average speed was slightly over 65 mph and the mileage closer to 10 mpg. Certainly nothing to be proud of and a far cry from the 18 highway/14 city mpg the SuperCrew is capable of in theory. When it was all said and done there were 2233 additional miles on the odometer, of which roughly 230 were regular non-towing. Overall mileage came in at 10.25, but while the Ford was thirsty it never missed a beat no matter what was thrown at it.
Yes It Can. But That Doesn’t Mean You Should.
So to answer the question about the practicality of towing with a half-ton such as this F-150, yes it can absolutely be done, and with a decent safety margin. Whether you should do it is a different story. We pity the F-150 owner who gets a half-ton instead of a ¾-ton to save on fuel, then tows frequently. It probably wouldn’t take all that long to break even on the added cost of an F-250 with a diesel, just on fuel alone. Surely the rest of the vehicle would last longer, too, as few things like running at or near capacity for very long. For those who only tow occasionally, by all means go for it. But if the salesman points to the 11,200-pound tow rating (as equipped), consider the source. Much like with this story, come to think of it.