From a maintenance perspective, I didn't notice anything that appeared to be downright difficult, but the cab fairings will get in the way of some tasks. Engine work could be a chore on the Cat engines. They're packed pretty tight under the hood, while the Series 60 I drove with the rack-and-pinion steering set-up had a little more air between the frame rails. DPF maintenance shouldn't be much of an issue, considering how infrequently it's required, and Cascadia's DPF is frame-mounted under the bunk, easy enough to get at.
The sophisticated electronics will demand qualified technicians. Cutting into the wrong wire in a multiplexed electrical system can create problems. Its modular design lends itself to replacement of defective electronics rather than repair, so what you save in shop labor, you may incur in parts inventory. Just my guess.
Buyers who remain emotionally detached from the asset acquisition process will appreciate Cascadia's engineered improvements and inherent operating economy. Even if the sticker price is a little higher than the competition's, it won't take long to realize the lower life-cycle costs and high driver acceptance rates. I think Cascadia will prove to be a truck that earns its keep.
Image-conscience owner-operators may balk, initially, at its slightly boxy appearance, but those that buy with their heads rather than their loins will appreciate the benefits of this truck. It's designed for comfort, efficiency, and low cost of operation. The cab is unbelievably quiet, the ride is terrific, and there's a ton of room in the cab. It was designed to keep maintenance and repair costs to a minimum while offering substantial fuel savings through its wind-tunnel proven aerodynamic superiority.
As for the big radiator, it's likely that we'll see higher displacement engines come our way in 2010 as a means of complying with even stricter emissions reductions. The big radiator could be a necessity in a few years. In the meantime, given the choice between Cascadia's large-ish rad, and the near-constant roar of a very aggressive fan behind a smaller rad, I'll take the big hole in the nose any day.
Test Vehicle Specs
Tractor Freightliner Cascadia 72-in raised roof sleeper cab
Engine Caterpillar C15 ACERT 475 hp / 1,650 pounds-feet
Clutch Eaton Fuller 15.5-in. Solo Ceramic (hydraulic linkage)
Transmission Eaton Fuller RTLO-18918B 18-speed
Drive Axles AAC MBA ART400-4 Ratio 3.42
Freightliner Air-Liner 40,000#
Front Axle AAC AF13.3 13,300#
Front Suspension 1 1 / 2 leaf 12,000#
Steering TRW Integral gear
Front Meritor 15X4 Q+ drum
Rear Meritor 16.5X7 Q+ drum
ABS WABCO 4S/4M Anti-lock braking system
Wheels Accuride 22.5 x 8.25
Front Michelin XZA3 275/80R22.5
Rear Michelin XDA3 275/80R22.5
Fuel Tanks 100 gallon/378 L aluminum X 2
Cab Aluminum, 125-in BBC, 3-piece composite hood
Cab Interior Premium, Two-tone charcoal
Seats National NTS 5E-P3 Elite Highback (proprietary)
Cascadia By Numbers
Curb weight (full fuel) 20,500 lb
Steer 11,880 lb
Drives 8,620 lb
Turning circle 33.7' curb-to-curb
Closest sight to ground apx 13' (16.6' SAE)
Shoulder width 76"
Height at standup point 94"
Seat to ceiling min 44" max 56"
Legroom min 14" max 21"
Floor height 49"
Door opening (post to post) 34"
21" (at armrests)
27" (at seat sides)
Width at cabinets 38.5"
Height at bunk 98"
Bunk to ceiling (lower) 37"
Cruise 1,300 rpm 66 dB(A)
Hard pull (1,300) 67 dB
Engine brake (2000) 70 dB (fan on)