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Jeff Johnston Reviews Hybrid Ford 150 and the Surveyor RV

I’m Jeff Johnston for “RVing Today,” and we are really excited to spend some time behind the wheel of the new Ford hybrid F-150 pickup. Not only is it electronically and technically highly sophisticated, it also has features that are gonna be very interesting to RVing enthusiasts.

Our payload for this trip, courtesy of our friends at George M. Sutton RV in Eugene, Oregon, is a Forest River Surveyor Legend trailer model 240BHLE. It’s a laminated construction trailer, kind of a higher-end product. Makes a great match for the F-150 hybrid.

And the hybrid F-150 is not only a technological wonder, it looks great as well. Crisp but muscular body lines and well-matched details make this a truck a Ford fan should be proud to drive. It’s eye-catching from any angle. Custom wheels and outlined white letter tires are a part of the optional XLT sport appearance package. The tightly-packed under-hood space with 3.5-liter PowerBoost engine includes a variety of mysterious components related to the hybrid drive system. Best to let a professional mechanic work on this rig.

Truck bed access is stress-free, with the optional tailgate step that deploys and stores easily. As truck manufacturers mysteriously keep pushing their beds higher, this type of option is a welcome accessory.

You have 7.2 kilowatts of 120-volt AC power available with the optional pro power system. Additional plugs and USB ports provide flexible power connections. Even full-size human adults will find the cab fully accommodating. It’s cluttered, but after learning the dashboard layout and details, it works great. There’s going to be some owner’s manual time to understand all of the features. The center console folds open into a convenient surface for project-related writing jobs. The roomy backseat includes a handy under-seat storage cubby plus a larger fold-down storage bin for longer or bulkier items.

There’s a really good reason why the Ford F-150 has been one of the company’s best-selling trucks, and in fact the best-selling trucks in the country for years and years. It’s a great-sized vehicle. This one rides very well. They handle well. They’re easier to drive, easier to get in and out of compared to a larger 250 or 350. And generally speaking, it’s just a terrific all-around truck, family use that also serves well for trailer towing and RV use.

Now, in this case, the hybrid truck has technology very similar to the Prius, with an electric drive and the gas drive that kicks in as well. Going up a hill like this, it’s quiet. We’re able to travel in complete comfort. And the steering is fantastic. The instrument cluster, visibility for the gauges and such are really, really good. They’re well-illuminated and easy to understand. And that’s not always the case in some vehicles. You have to kinda get used to them. The hybrid part of the drive is totally invisible to the driver; there’s no input needed by the driver to activate anything. The data panel on the instrument cluster tells you when you’re running on strictly electric, and then that kicks off when the gas starts running as well. That happens pretty quickly as a rule, but it still gives tremendous fuel economy. We were able to squeeze out, oh, 24 to 25 miles per gallon running solo on the highway and around town. Towing the trailer, well, we’re down to around 10 miles per gallon, which is pretty much what we expect for this kind of a size of vehicle. When you’re towing a 6500-pound trailer, you’re gonna lose a little bit of fuel economy no matter what. This truck is terrific when it comes to backing up. It has the optional 360 view cameras, one extra camera each in the rear-view mirrors, and another one in the logo symbol up on the grill. And those three, plus the regular backup monitor out back, are connected together electronically to give you a bird’s eye view of the truck while you’re backing, in addition to the usual back view on the camera. The image that you see here on the in-dash monitor is fantastic. It’s the best, most comfortable, safest-feeling vehicle I’ve ever backed up. 

When you’re backing a trailer, if you’re not particularly comfortable with the idea of backing into a spot, and a lot of people aren’t when it comes to RVs, this has what they call the pro trailer feature. And that’s a small knob on the dash. When you activate that feature when you’re backing up, you use the knob like a steering wheel. And it helps to– you more or less know which way you want the trailer to go, so you turn the steering wheel that way, and it automatically turns the truck’s wheels the correct direction in order to perform that type of backing maneuver. It’s really a pretty slick feature if you happen to be at all uncomfortable with the concept of backing a trailer.

We enjoyed looking at the new Ford F-150 hybrid truck, so now we’re moving on to its payload, a Forest River Surveyor Legend trailer. It’s a winner of an RV combination. Over here on the driver side of the trailer, you have your usual shore power connection, all the water connections for the city water fill, black tank flush, and there’s a cable and satellite TV connection back here as well, plus the sewer outlet, low point drain, and so forth. The slide-out, which houses the dinette on the inside, is really nice and deep, and that gives plenty of room on the inside, opens it up for floor space. And up here, of course, you have your fresh water fill for the fresh tank, and one access to the under-bed storage area. Very convenient. Plus, of course, the water heater. Out back here, we have a pretty handy addition. For those who are space-challenged, pull the two retaining pins and you have pretty handy storage spot, where you can put all kinds of extra gear you might want to haul along; firewood, bicycles, that sort of thing. And this little door goes to the area where the bunk beds are in back, and you can fold the lower one up and be able to use it for storage for things, a kayak or something along those lines. It’s a pretty handy little arrangement. Over here on the passenger side, you have a compartment with a handy slide-out tray that can accommodate the right size little grill for cooking outdoors. And a small refrigerator, very handy for those tailgating sort of events. And the grill for this is elsewhere in the camper; it just hasn’t been installed on this demo model yet.

In addition to the handy little square “scan me” device here for people who are into that sort of high-tech thing, this rig is also equipped with their arctic package. And that allows you to camp in, of course, much colder climates, so for snowboarders, skiers, that sort of people, this is a handy little option. Laminated construction makes some nice smooth side walls, well-insulated, and has this… heavy-duty entry steps. We really like this option; 260 pounds, doesn’t even budge.

Classic little floor plan in a rig this small. We got a Murphy bed up front, sofa that folds over into a sofa bed. Nice-sized dinette that makes into a decent bed. It’s pretty deep. Lots of room in the floor here because the slide-out moves the dinette out. L-shaped kitchen, very convenient, very practically made. Over here, we’ve got the control panel with the awning, slide room, and various lighting controls. Furrion radio and the Go Power solar charge controller for this–the optional solar panel on the roof. That’s nice to have, great for people who wanna go out boondocking. And up front here, of course, we have a little bit of storage up above. The usual cabinets on the side of the bed. Up front here by the sofa bed, you’ve got some handy USB plugs on either side, and the sofa bed can fold down into a traditional bed. Or bring the rest of this down, flop that guy down, and you have a really nice Murphy bed here. Fold it back up, pop the sofa bed back, and you’re ready for the road or for entertaining.

Very nicely arrayed kitchen for a smaller trailer, modest-sized trailer. Terrific three-burner stove with oven. Classy-looking stove. The sink, the square stainless steel with the high-rise faucet. Kinda convenient; it’s like working at home. Microwave, and of course your overhead light. Decent-sized television, optional, which comes out on an arm; you can aim it at either the dinette or back at the sofa bed. Good-sized double door refrigerator. That’s always handy when you have multiple people along or you’re going out longer. And the bunk beds in back, they’re kind of like full-sized beds, more or less. They’ll accommodate an adult, fairly lightweight one, anyway. And the bottom folds up so you can use the back door in the trailer, and then move– store things in here; like I said, long things like kayaks or hang in bicycles, that sort of thing. 

And the back corner, of course, is the bathroom with the usual stuff in a bathroom: toilet, sink, control panels for monitoring the water levels, and that sort of thing. Lots of room in there.

Looking all around here, this is a really nice floor plan, very practical, nice flow of foot traffic, access to the dinette and the sofa bed up front, and the terrific little bunk beds in back here. Definitely an interesting option for small families or couples.

RVers will likely find the Surveyor Legend 240BHLE Bunk House as a fine companion for camping adventures. Abundant safety and convenient features, plus excellent drivability and fuel economy, make the F-150 an attractive towing option for RV enthusiasts. Match the truck to a right-sized trailer like the Surveyor Legend 26-footer, and your RVing adventures are limited only by your imagination.