Towing a trailer once meant that only those who possessed certain knowledge would be able to go fishing, tow a race car or pull a camper safely. For me, it took four long years of practice working a job behind the wheel of a jacked-up Ford F-250, hauling tons upon tons of mowing equipment for my local parks department, to become proficient.
This revelation came behind the leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel of GMC’s outgoing 2018 Sierra Denali. Sitting in the plush, heated and cooled captain’s chair, I could barely feel the 6,000 pounds I was towing behind me. Even GMC’s smallest full-size truck engine, a 5.3-liter V8 generating 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque, felt like overkill for what used to amount to a heavy load.
With Utah’s pristine landscape, the plush confines of the cabin and the uneventful nature of modern towing, mile after mile just streamed by at highway speeds without incident (or excitement). When we finally reached our destination a few hours later, one of GMC’s representatives who had chosen to sit in the rear of the cab asked me what I thought about the drive. I pondered for a few minutes and answered with this: “Modern pickup trucks have removed nearly every skill-based variable once associated with towing. I could drive this truck and trailer confidently with just one finger.”
It wasn’t his fault, though. He didn’t have the same training I had received. It took failure after failure for me to finally get it right. If my dad had the keys to a modern Sierra Denali like the one I piloted through the purple and rose mountains, my anecdote likely would’ve ended differently.
It seems then, with the advent of driver-assistance technologies, that the skills of the past have become almost redundant. There’s still the matter of having confidence in your abilities to trailer safely, but you’re no longer required to obtain those skills through years of practice. That confidence, and indeed much of the skill once needed to trailer, can now be bought at your local dealership. Towing is much different from the way things were when I learned.