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All 2008 Ford F-150s will benefit from new cargo management and rearview camera options.

Just a few years ago the only cargo management system you could find on a pickup was bungee cords and plywood. Now almost every full size truck will have a factory supplied payload organizer next year.

Ford hasn’t lost its marketing mojo when it comes to the factory installed cargo management system in the hauling portion of the F-150.

Back in the 1920s Procter and Gamble beat the competition and made a fortune on shampoo simply by adding the words, “rinse, lather, repeat” to the bottle. In a pickup truck analog, FoMoCo has doubled the number of extruded aluminum C-channel side rails to two on each wall.  Do you really need two sets of cargo rails and an assortment of plug-ins to micromanage your payload? Probably not, but it sounds good when GM, Toyota, and Nissan only come with a single rail to add accessories to. And where every bragging point is a challenge, it probably won’t be long before Ford’s competitors add a second rail to their cargo systems also. Some sales guys at Alcoa are going to win more than a few trips to the Bahamas for this move.

The default cargo management system setup comes well equipped with a pair of side-mounted lockable plastic storage bins (matched to the truck’s ignition key) that can each hold up to 60 pounds. The double walled bins have drain holes to thermally manage any cold beverages you might put in them. Also included are two crossbars that can hold up to 100 pounds and a header bar to split up the box into separate spaces. Slickly designed, squeezable cleats are easier to move than the standard twist type used on other trucks and can hold up to 600 pounds. One shortcoming, the cargo management system will only be available on the 6.5-foot Styleside box.

Ending another improvisational tradition for pickup owners, Ford will offer its take on a rearview camera for the F-150. The optional eye removes the need for indecipherable spousal sign language and confusing, “left, no right, no left” commands while backing up to hitch a trailer or into a tight parking stall. It’s mounted high up, next to the tailgate’s lift handle instead of down on the rear bumper.

Ford also moves the camera’s video image from the console mounted navigation display to the rearview mirror, so you don’t have to drop an extra $2500 on a navi/DVD screen to get this option. In normal driving conditions, with the video picture off, the rearview mirror reflects light across its entire surface just like a standard mirror. In reverse, though, the picture shines through the mirror’s reflective layer and provides red, yellow, and green depth markers to help center and alight the truck while backing up. The camera’s fisheye lens ensures the driver can see the periphery of the vehicle and not just a narrow angle. To assist with frequent forwards and backwards maneuvers, the camera’s video feed will remain on in the mirror for 5-seconds after putting the truck into drive.

We spent a few minutes practicing using the new backup system. It’s immediately intuitive and extremely useful for seeing what’s behind the truck on the pavement (like a rake or bicycle) or at tailgate level (like a trailer or light pole) without having to rely only on the incessant and increasingly urgent tones of the F-150’s ultrasonic rear parking assist system. And for some very fine, slow maneuvers we actually turned off the sonar’s irritating chimes and went 100% visual using the new system.

Pricing hasn’t been announced yet for the cargo management or rearview camera systems.

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