Lately I haven’t had much quality time with our F-150, mostly because I was out of the country for a few weeks attending a friend’s wedding and speaking horrible Spanish in Mexico. I may have been on vacation, but the F-150 was hard at work. Read on to see how our truck performed when features editor Scott Evans used it to rescue stranded relatives during a snow storm on Thanksgiving break. –Erick Ayapana
My wife’s extended family lives in the little mountain town of Quincy, California, roughly an hour and a half northwest of Reno. The main road into town was closed by the horrific Camp Fire down the mountain, leaving the back way from the east or a number of narrow country roads as the only ways in. Coming from Los Angeles, we went the back way as it’s only slightly longer and more reliable. Coming from the Bay Area in a Tesla Model 3, my in-laws decided to roll the dice on the much more direct back roads over the long way around on highways.
Normally, the Model 3 has no trouble with the hills or the distance, but freezing temperatures tanked battery efficiency and turned rain in Quincy to snow on the road over the mountain.
We got the collect call just before 9 p.m. Thanksgiving Eve. The in-laws were already an hour late getting to my brother-in-law’s house, we assumed due to traffic and rain. It was worse than that. They were calling from a payphone in tiny La Porte, California, 30 miles away with no cell service and a Tesla battery at 22 percent and falling. Adding insult to injury, tire chains and “slippery” mode weren’t enough to overcome the unplowed road on the Model 3’s standard summer tires.
We threw shovels, saws, blankets, food, water, and an old set of chains from Grandpa’s F-250 into the long-term F-150 and mounted a rescue mission. Rain and heavy fog meant slow going on the narrow, winding road with no guardrails. Halfway to La Porte, we found the snow. Speed dropped from 45 mph to as slow as 20 mph, but we got through with the F-150’s 4×4 system switched to four high and its drive mode set to Snow, which greatly helped the throttle and transmission calibration.
With the in-laws and as much luggage as we could fit in the cab, we set back out over the mountain. Snow had begun to fall heavily again, filling my tracks from the way over and reducing visibility to 100 feet or less. We crawled halfway back to Quincy at 15 mph before we got through it. The F-150’s Michelin Primacy XC all-seasons are a far cry from winter tires, but their mud and snow rating proved itself and saved me having to chain up.
We walked in the door just after midnight, over three hours to go less than 70 miles roundtrip, but we made it.
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