Class 8 Roundup

It's All About Fuel.

July 2008, - Test Drives

by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor - Also by this author

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 Titan (shown), unveiled at two trade shows early this year, is Mack's biggest, heaviest and most powerful model. It comes only with a new 16.1-liter MP10 diesel (based on sister company Volvo's D16) with as much as 605 horsepower and 2,050 pounds-feet. Titan is aimed at logging, construction and heavy hauling with GCW ratings as high as 300,000 pounds. The Granite will account for much higher volumes in those vocations and others, and now has a longer cab for more leg and belly room. Last year the MR heavy low-cab-forward got a redesigned and roomier interior and other advancements, plus a new name: TerraPro. The Vision and CH highway models are now Pinnacles, with axle-forward and axle-back versions having differently styled noses and grilles. The more traditional-looking Pinnacle Axle Forward gets a Rawhide package with extensive chrome and polished metal trim and a plush interior. The builder dropped Cummins engines two years ago and most models now come only with Mack Power diesels: an 11-liter MP7 and 13-liter MP8, with greater fuel efficiency than previous engines. The 7 and 8 come in Maxidyne, MaxiCruise and Econodyne versions, while the Titan's MP10 comes initially as a MaxiCruise with a flat torque output; later there'll be a Maxidyne version with steeper torque curve. 

The 386 (shown with ComfortClass electric idle-reduction), which combines an aerodynamic nose with the tried-and-true 370-series aluminum cab, is Peterbilt's most popular highway tractor as owners seek ways to improve fuel economy. A variant is the Model 384, with a medium-length nose and a 116-inch BBC. A low-profile version of the 388, a variation of the traditional 389 conventional, aimed primarily at auto haulers, is now available. The 386, with its wide cab and integrated sleeper, remains the builder's flagship model, and there's also a 387 daycab. The ComfortClass can now be ordered on 63-inch sleepers as well as 70-inchers, which first got the option earlier this year; it comes standard with a heavy sleeper curtain and high-density insulation, which is also part of an optional Arctic package available in various models. Engineers are doing verification work on Eaton's two-pedal UltraShift automated mechanical transmission for use in vocational trucks, and have developed proprietary lift axles with Watson & Chalin. Peterbilt's principal vocational conventionals continue to be the 365 and 367. Its Model 320 heavy low-cab-forward truck is available later this year as a hybrid using Eaton's Hydraulic Launch Assist. Nine- to 15-liter diesels from Caterpillar and Cummins are available in most Class 8 models, while the 340 "heavy 7" uses a Cummins-built Paccar PX8.

Sterling has announced a setback L-Line tractor (shown) with a Cummins Westport ISL G, a liquified natural gas engine certified for use in the Los Angeles Basin. It's meant for buyers who wish to qualify for drayage business at area ports, which are embarking on aggressive Clean Trucks programs, but the tractor is useful for other areas where authorities subsidize LNG as an automotive fuel. Sterling generally focuses on regional hauling and vocational applications with its Class 8 models. The lineup goes into the 2009-2010 model year largely unchanged. A- and L-Line conventionals with set-back steer axles have 113- and 122-inch BBCs, and use Detroit Diesel's 14-liter Series 60 and 15-liter DD15, Mercedes-Benz's 12.8-liter 4000, or Caterpillar C13 and C15 power. An L-Line with a set-forward steer axle uses the MBE 4000. L- and Acterra models designated 8500 are standard with the 7.2-liter MBE 900 diesel, while Cummins' 8.3-liter ISC is optional.

Volvo was an originator of the "shore power" concept, whose electrical equipment allows truckers to plug in where 110-volt outlets are available, and still offers this as an option, along with an inverter to charge batteries, in many VN sleeper models. Some VNs can also be ordered with a Dometic diesel or electric APU.The VN series includes the VNM (medium-length hood) and VNL (long hood). The VT series, with its high and wide hood, includes the VT800 daycab and VT 880 sleeper. 

Volvo also has mid-roof sleepers designated VT830 and VN730; both sleeper compartments are 77 inches long but 2 feet shorter in height to save weight and better match trailer and load heights for tractors pulling tankers and flatbeds. Adhering to its tradition as a safety leader, Volvo makes electronic stability control standard in VHD mixer chassis. The VHD vocational model has an optional short sleeper, built primarily for Canadian loggers who must camp in the woods. Volvo Powertrain in Hagerstown, Md., builds D11, D13 and D16 diesels (and similar MP engines for sister company Mack); the D engines are used in various models, and VNM and VHD use them exclusively. Cummins' ISX is available in VNL and 800/880 models. 

The low-profile LowMax 4900 (shown) gets a larger, 1,625-square-inch radiator to better handle cooling of EPA-'07 diesels, and has improved steering and front suspension, including asymmetric springs, for better ride and stability. An even larger 1,875-square-inch radiator is available on 4900s for high-horsepower and severe-service applications; the larger radiators fit within existing hoods and grilles. Strong air disc brakes from Bendix and Meritor are newly optional on many models, as is a lightweight sliding fifth wheel from SAF Holland. A new 40-ton integrated dump truck using a 6900EX chassis and a J&J steel body competes with more costly off-road articulated and haul-road trucks. Western Star expanded its Stratosphere sleepers for the 4900 series, which now includes 40-, 54-, 68-, 82- and 84-inch models, two with Ultra High roofs. As part of the Sterling organization (and therefore Daimler Trucks North America), Western Star will use the Detroit Series 60 and DD15 in its 4900 FA and SA models, with the MBE 4000 and Cat C13 and C15 engines as options.Those midrange offerings mostly continue unchanged into 2008, with some exceptions. 

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