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RICK KRANZ

How these pickup drivers will see all the road ahead

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News.

Off-roaders will appreciate this Ford option.

It’s a grille-mounted camera that gives the driver another set of eyes. The feature is available in the 2012 F-150 SVT Raptor, Ford’s over-the-top pickup.

The camera is positioned down, so the driver can see what is directly in front of the vehicle. This is especially useful when crawling over a log or heading up/down a steep hill. It’s a helpful system for avoiding large rocks or placing a tire on a particular rock. And, maybe more importantly, it could prevent a driver from making a costly mistake and damaging the vehicle.

The video from the camera appears on the navigation system in the Raptor’s instrument panel. The camera operates when the vehicle is traveling less than 15 mph. The camera includes a washer function that is activated by pressing a button on a steering column stalk.

Over the years, I’ve been invited to several off-road events, courtesy of Hummer, Jeep and Dodge. Most of the adventures have been on trails in Moab, Utah. It’s one of my favorite destinations. The scenery is beautiful. And I enjoy the challenges.

A few years back, a grille-mounted camera would have been a godsend on a Hummer H2 trip.

After cresting a hill and inching downward over steep, tough terrain, I stopped the Hummer, applied the brake, and popped my head through the sunroof. I couldn’t see what was lying ahead. No idea. Was I headed for a mini bolder? Did the terrain shift dangerously to the left or right? Was there a huge log just ahead?

No idea. No spotter. I’m on my own. Good luck.

Back then, a camera would have eased my mind, increased my confidence and prevented my white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel.

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