Western Star’s new 57X is more than the sum of its parts. It borrows heavily from the...

Western Star’s new 57X is more than the sum of its parts. It borrows heavily from the Freightliner Cascadia on-highway platform but adds Western Star style and safety features.

Photo: Jim Park

Touted as the safest, most fuel-efficient Western Star ever, the 57X today joined the 47X and the 49X to complete “The Trilogy of Tough.” The 57X pairs Western Star’s X-series DNA with Daimler Truck North America’s on-highway platform for a rugged, distinctive appearance coupled with safety technology and a fuel-efficient powertrain. 

"With the addition of the 57X, Western Star’s new X-Series now rises to the next level,” said David Carson, senior vice president of sales and marketing for DTNA. “While the 47X and 49X serve the vocational customer, the 57X was conceived, designed and engineered specifically for owner-operators and small fleets looking for a truck that provides the safety, efficiency, durability and prestige that only Western Star can deliver.”

Membership in the Trilogy of Tough means more than having a red star on the hood. The 57X pulls through several features from the 49X and 47X, which launched in 2020 and 2021, respectively. The cab and doors are all aluminum with steel reinforcements. It has the same sculpted backwall as the two vocational trucks for increased stiffness and resistance to noise-inducing vibration.

The 57X windshield is now one piece and 28% larger than the 5700 model. It’s available with optional “Tough Glass” for better resistance to stone chipping and cracking.

The 57X is available in four cab/sleeper configurations: daycab, 60-inch mid roof, 72-inch mid roof and 72-inch Stratosphere. The 80-inch Stratosphere is no longer available. Western Star officials claims the interior volume of the 72-inch Stratosphere sleeper is 22% greater than its larger discontinued cousin.

At 129 inches, the 57X boasts the longest bumper-to-back-of-cab measurement of the trio. The hood is raked for improved aerodynamics, which contributes the length.

Built upon a successful chassis, the 57X adds Western Star style.

Built upon a successful chassis, the 57X adds Western Star style.

Photo: Jim Park

The company claims the 57X is the most fuel-efficient truck Western Star has ever built. They say it’s 5.8% more fuel-efficient than the 5700XE. The 57X gives owners a choice of Detroit engine models, exclusively. Unlike the 47X and 49X, Cummins isn’t available on the 57X.

Instead, customers can choose from DD13 Gen 5, DD15 Gen 5 or the DD16 engines mated to either a Detroit DT12 direct or overdrive automated manual transmission or a selection of popular manual models. When equipped with the full Detroit powertrain, customers can spec Intelligent Powertrain Management to further maximize efficiency, company officials said. Detroit steer axles and high-speed, low-ratio rear tandem axles are standard, while offerings from both Dana and Meritor remain on the menu.

Of course, the Detroit Assurance 5.0 safety system is standard on the 57X (when spec’d with a Detroit Powertrain), including Active Brake Assist 5 and adaptive cruise control (ACC to 0 mph). Optional safety systems include active lane assist (which includes lane keep assist), auto stop, lane departure protection and steer assist. Additionally, 57X debuts active side guard assist, which is designed to mitigate blind-side mishaps during right-hand turns. Also standard is Detroit Connect.

The helm of the 57X features digital displays rather than analog gauges. Drivers can scroll...

The helm of the 57X features digital displays rather than analog gauges. Drivers can scroll through menus without taking their hands off the wheel. 

Photo: Jim Park

New to Western Star and so far, exclusive to the 57X is the digital dash display. It features a 12-inch display on the A-panel featuring a configurable instrument cluster and all the usual need-to-know information. A second 10-inch display is mounted on the B-panel. It offers entertainment options such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (accessible with a smartphone), as well as vehicle information from Detroit Assurance. Integrated steering wheel controls let drivers control most entertainment and information functions without taking their hands off the wheel.

Major Chassis Component Options

Front axles: 12,000 - 14,700 lb.

Rear axles: 21,000 - 46,000 lb.

Front suspensions: Taperleaf, AirLiner, or Hendrickson Airtek

Rear suspensions: AirLiner Single or Tandem

Frames: 7mm, 8mm, or 11mm

Brakes: Air disc or drum

DEF: 13 or 23 gallons

Fuel: 60-150 gallons per side

TPMS: Bendix

Drivelines: Detroit, Meritor or Dana Spicer

A New Star is Born

It’s hard to believe but the Western Star 5700XE, previously the most aerodynamic truck in the lineup, is eight years old. It’s debuted in 2014, which, with the pace of technology improvements, makes it absolutely ancient.

The safety systems of 2014 are outdated, as are the overall electronics, the wiring, the aerodynamics, the lighting ... So rather than applying a healthy dose of perfume to an aging pig, Western Star basically redesigned its flagship on-highway truck from the ground up.

The immediately obvious changes include a more rounded shape overall. Gone is the angular frontal profile of the 5700XE. It has a lower hood crown, a rounded bumper, a new roof profile, and a totally new chassis fairing package. One might see a more than passing resemblance to Freightliner’s Cascadia, and for good reason. The Cascadia is a pretty slippery truck.

Even the most jaundiced old-time owner-operator would be hard-pressed to ignore the claimed 5.8% improvement in fuel efficiency over the 5700Xe.

Western Star has borrowed the best ideas from Daimler’s premiere highway truck and baked them into the 57X: improved aerodynamics, advanced engine technology (DD13 and DD15 Gen 5) and cutting-edge safety technology. But at the end of the day, Western Star still has a certain cache in the market. This truck is more than a repackaged Cascadia.

Mundane Little Deal Makers

We have already mentioned most of the significant upgrades of the 57X, but there are many little things that, combined, make this truck hard to walk away from. The C-loop mirror mount, for example, supports a couple hundred pounds. Not that you’d ever swing from your mirrors… but if you did, they might not break off. They are break-away too, so if some clown in a parking lot gets a little too close, at worst, they’ll get knocked out of alignment, not broken off.

Western Star added heating elements to the headlight lenses, a highly desired solution to a...

Western Star added heating elements to the headlight lenses, a highly desired solution to a problem drivers have struggled with since the advent of the LED.

Photo: Jim Park

There’s some neat accent lighting on the truck, like a yellow LED array inside the air intakes, and an amber brow light over the headlight. They look pretty cool. And the headlights have a heated outer lens to melt snow, ice and condensation. The problem with LEDs is they don’t produce the heat that incandescent lamps do, so thank you Western Star for recognizing that inconvenient little fact. 

And from the maintenance side, the electrical interface between the cab and the engine compartment has been nicely cleaned up. All the various control modules now reside in what Western Star calls the E-vault under the dash on the passenger side of the truck. It’s very easy to access and it’s protected from the elements. The driver’s side of the firewall has a new wiring and plumbing layout, making it easier to service.

The engine compartment got a wiring upgrade that cleaned up the firewall interface and put the...

The engine compartment got a wiring upgrade that cleaned up the firewall interface and put the important electronics inside an E-vault under the passenger side of the dashboard rather than exposing them to the elements.

Photo: Jim Park

So, what do you get with a Western Star 57X? You get the same DNA as the tough and proven 49X and 47X but refined for on-highway service. You get several very efficient powertrain options from 13- to 16-liters, and the latest generation of engine design with the Gen 5 DD13 and DD15.

In short, the 57X is everything you’d expect in a Western Star without the fuel-sucking angularity and excess weight. It was designed from the ground up as a highway hauler, and so it incorporates all the fuel-saving and calamity mitigating features you want to see in a truck with that level of risk exposure.

The 57X combines the safety features the legal department wants to see with the styling and creature comforts the recruiting department will appreciate. It’s not your granddad’s Western Star, but those days are behind us. The 57X is a truck for its time.    

About the author
Jim Park

Jim Park

Equipment Editor

A truck driver and owner-operator for 20 years before becoming a trucking journalist, Jim Park maintains his commercial driver’s license and brings a real-world perspective to Test Drives, as well as to features about equipment spec’ing and trends, maintenance and drivers. His On the Spot videos bring a new dimension to his trucking reporting. And he's the primary host of the HDT Talks Trucking videocast/podcast.

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