Day Two of testing for the Truck Trend Pickup Truck of the Year takes us up into the Cajon Pass near San Bernardino, California. The mission: trailer towing. The Interstate 15 freeway winds through what is known as the Cajon Summit at a maximum elevation of over 4,000 feet. The pass features a steep uphill and downhill grade—the perfect testing ground for our eight pickup trucks.
Our load mats are secured to the trailer with weight calculations already done ahead of time. Since the trucks can tow equal loads, there were no adjustments this year in removing or adding mats. We also added mats to the beds of the other trucks when the trailer was not hooked up to get a feel for how they hauled up and down the pass.
The towing portion of our test consists of scores for engine and transmission operation. We look at trailer visibility in the mirrors and how the truck handles going up and down the steep grades. A Tow/Haul mode on the trucks helps the transmission shift into the proper gears. We look at how each truck handles with the trailer load.
There is always a monkey wrench thrown into a perfect day, and ours landed right in the afternoon after lunch. We discovered the welds on the trailer were cracked, sending our test to a grinding halt. A quick phone call to a local U-Haul rental location got us back on the road with another trailer. We adjusted the load to continue testing. We also hired a mobile repair shop to come out and fix the broken weld on our trailer so it could be safely towed home.
After trailer testing, we had fun with a photo shoot near the railroad tracks in a picturesque area of the Cajon Pass. The trucks looked amazing pitted next to moving freight trains and the San Bernardino Mountains in the background. We have to wonder if the train conductors would rather be driving our 2019 lineup over their lumbering freight trains.