I didn’t learn to back up a trailer until I was 37 years old.
Until then, panic set in whenever it came time to go backwards with anything attached to the hitch of my car. Especially at the dump. That’s where a burly man would point to the empty slice of space between two massive F-250 Super Duty trucks and expect me to back my trailer perfectly between them. I’d try, only to wind up with the trailer nearly parallel to my car while hanging my head in shame.
My dad, on the other hand, can expertly perform a 3-point turn in the space of a small driveway while towing a 35-foot boat.
I’ve gotten way better, and trips to the dump are now handled with confidence, but I definitely didn’t get the right gene passed down into my DNA. That’s why new functions such as Volkswagen’s Trailer Assist are not just cool options, they are vital to the ego for people like me.
Volkswagen recently released this fun new ad promoting its Trailer Assist feature:
How much does Trailer Assist actually help, though?
VW defines its Trailer Assist function like this:
Maneuvering with a trailer can become a test of patience for the uninitiated, for the combination does not always respond as you might expect; occasionally the trajectory being followed is reversed in the mirror. The steering angle is decisive for precise reversing: the optional Trailer Assist assumes the steering function. The driver simply needs to select reverse, press the Park Assist button and use the mirror adjustment button to enter the direction that the trailer should follow. The Passat now steers automatically. However, the driver is still responsible for gearshifting, acceleration and braking.
Steering is the biggest problem for most trailer owners, so the technology, if it works as advertised, could save folks a lot of frustration and embarrassment.
There’s one (ahem) hitch, though: Trailer Assist is not currently available on Volkswagens sold in the United States. That’s bad news for poor trailer drivers such as myself, but the technology is expected to make it to these shores soon.
Volkswagen isn’t alone, though, in helping drivers go backward with their trailers. Ford’s new Pro Trailer Backup Assist has drivers to turn a knob on the dash to control direction while the truck does the rest. The computer controls steering and the vehicle’s speed with the gas and brake pedals. The rear camera even gives the computer a reference angle and limits the truck’s speed as the angle of the trailer increases.
Backing up a trailer will never be difficult again.
Would you want your next vehicle to include Trailer Assist?