2012 Ford F 150 Lariat Ecoboost Tesla Model S Tow

When the F-150 was used as the tow vehicle for the Tesla test — the one where Motor Trend editors drove the Tesla Model S from the Los Angeles area to Las Vegas — we were reminded that at some point soon, the truck should really get a trailer brake controller. Since we weren’t towing a heavy load that day, the truck’s brakes would suffice, but that wouldn’t always be the case, and we probably wouldn’t get a lot of advance notice when the Ford would be called upon to tow closer to its capacity. It would be better to make the truck ready ahead of time than to not have it and regret it.

Ford does offer a trailer brake controller from the factory, and to be honest, when we ordered our truck with the Lariat trim level, and saw that the Trailer Tow package was included, we made the mistake of presuming that a trailer brake controller was part of that package. It isn’t. You may ask why it isn’t; we certainly did. The answer makes total sense, though: people that tow on a regular basis may want to use their favorite brand of controller, so Ford gives them that choice. We opted to stay with the unit offered by Ford, and took it to a local dealership to have it installed.

2012 Ford F 150 Lariat 4X4 Front End 2

The controller cost $230, and there was already a space in the dash for the controller. We followed along as the installation took place, a process that took about an hour. The installer unbolted the bottom of the center stack, which freed the center console. He unbolted that, removed it, and set out of the way. He also unbolted the dash, exposing the areas where the wiring had to go. There had been a cover behind the dash where the controller wiring would connect to the truck, and once the installer removed that, he could plug the controller wiring in place. The unit itself, at least the interface that the driver would use, slid right into place on the center stack. Then he reassembled the interior, and the truck looked just as nice as when we brought it in, except for the new addition. But there was one more step to the installation. The electronics had to be programmed so the controller would work. After connecting a computer at the OBD II connector under the dash, the installer found the right program on the computer, and set it to run. We saw the gauge needles quickly blip from left to right (0 to max) and back, twice, and then the trailer brake controller installation was complete. He toggled through the menu within the gauge cluster to prove that the controller was set up correctly — he checked to make sure that adjusting the gain was now an option (and it was), so his job was done. And now our long-termer is ready for towing heavy loads.

2012 Ford F 150 Lariat 4X4 Cockpit

2012 Ford F 150 Lariat 4X4 Engine

2012 Ford F 150 Lariat Ecoboost Gear Shift

2012 Ford F 150 Lariat 4X4 Front End

2012 Ford F 150 Lariat 4X4 Front Three Quarter In Motion

2012 Ford F 150 Lariat 4X4 Front Three Quarters

2012 Ford F 150 Lariat 4X4 Rear Three Quarter In Motion

2012 Ford F 150 Lariat 4X4 Rear Three Quarters

2012 Ford F 150 Lariat 4X4 Front Three Quarter In Motion

2012 Ford F 150 Lariat 4X4 Front Three Quarter

2012 Ford F 150 Lariat Ecoboost Rear Three Quarters

2012 Ford F 150 Lariat 4X4 Rear End

Our Cars
Service life 8 months/21,476 miles
Average fuel economy 14.2 mpg
CO2 emissions 1.37 lb/mile
Energy consumption 237 kW-hr/100miles
Unresolved problems None
Maintenance cost $107.58 (2 x oil change, tire rotation, inspection)
Normal-wear cost $0

By Allyson Harwood

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