2018 Ford F150 Takes on the World’s Toughest Towing Test: 2018 Gold Hitch Awards Kick-off (Video)

2018 ford f150 turbo v6
2018 Ford F150

How does a 2018 Ford F150 do at towing a 9,500 lbs CM Trailers Cargo Mate trailer up and down a 7% grade of an 8-mile stretch of the highest elevation interstate highway in the country – the Ike Gauntlet? This is precisely what we doing with these tests. The top elevation of the toughest towing test in the World is 11,158 feet above sea level. If a truck does well in this environment and under heavy load, it will do great in your day-to-day operation.

The 2018 Gold Hitch Awards towing competition is back! This is our fourth year of testing, comparing, and awarding pickup trucks and truck-based SUVs. We show all of our testing setup and procedures on video. We let you know as much as possible about our scoring system, and we make our final votes for the winning trucks on video. We will announce the winners of the 2018 competition in early April, 2018. In the meantime, we will be testing every midsize, half-ton, and heavy duty truck we can get our hands on.

There are no closed door voting or decisions here. We use the real-world data and truck’s performance to select the winners.

First up the mountain is the refreshed 2018 Ford F150 with the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine. This is the most powerful engine offering in the F150 (not counting the Ford Raptor).

2018 Ford F150

Engine: 3.5L EcoBoost V6 (twin turbo)
Power: 375 hp / 470 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Max Towing: 12,700 lbs
Rear Axle Ratio: 3.55

Safety is of primary concern when towing a heavy load. We are using a new 8×20 feet Cargo Mate trailer with tandem axles and a total weight capacity of 12,500 lbs. All half-ton trucks will tow this identical trailer with 9,500 lbs of total weight in order to compete. This weight will max out many half-ton trucks, and this is why we chose it.

This specific F-150 is equipped with a maximum towing package that includes additional cooling, a 3.55 rear axle ratio, hitch, integrated trailer brake controller, and pro trailer backup assist system (just to name a few components). It also means that it is rated to a tow a maximum of 12,700 lbs. This is a very heavy rating, provided that it is a large crew cab truck with a 4×4 system and a Lariat package.

Ford’s owner’s manual directs all to decrease the total truck and trailer weight by 2% for every 1,000 feet of elevation gained. We follow all manufacturer requirements, as such this weight is near this truck’s maximum given our elevation.

Ike Gauntlet Scoring

The maximum points any truck can get is 100. The downhill portion of the test is scored out of 25 points. Every time we touch the brakes on the way down subtracts a point. On the way up, an 8-minute run is the benchmark (worth 25 points), and every 5 seconds over that subtracts a point. (A truck cannot get extra points to going under 8 minutes.) 6.0 MPG trip meter reading is the benchmark(worth 25 points), and every 0.2 MPG below that subtracts a point.

Finally, there are a maximum of 25 subjective points. We use the following criteria to decide on the subjective score: cabin comfort, handling and suspension squat, sway or sway control, mirrors, and towing essentials (integrated brake controller, easy trailer chain hookups, high-tech driver aides such as cameras).

How did the 2018 F150 do? Check out the video for all the details.

[Spoiler Alert]: The truck got 74.5 points.

Andre Smirnov is an Automotive Enthusiast, Producer, Reviewer, Videographer, Writer, Software Engineer, Husband, Father, and Friend.