Canter - a name long used by Mitsubishi Fuso for its Class 3, 4 and 5 low-cabover-engine trucks overseas - has come to North America with an extensively redesigned chassis, cab and fuel-efficient diesel.
Fuso Canter LCOs include four 4x2 models and a unique 4x4. A new 3-liter 4-cylinder diesel is mated to a dual-clutch 6-speed automated mechanical transmission. (Photo by Tom Berg)
Fuso Canter LCOs include four 4x2 models and a unique 4x4. A new 3-liter 4-cylinder diesel is mated to a dual-clutch 6-speed automated mechanical transmission. (Photo by Tom Berg)

The new line-up of 2012-model Fuso Canters includes fve models for applications from dry freight, refrigerated delivery, landscaping and delicate cargo transport to auto recovery, municipal roadwork and snow plowing, said Todd Bloom, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America during the introduction at The Work Truck Show in Indianapolis this week.

The line includes standard 4x2 chassis designs for class 3 through class 5 - the Canter FE125, Canter FE160 and Canter FE180, and a seven-passenger crew cab, the FE160CC. It also extends to the FG4X4, the only 4-wheel-drive medium-duty cabover in this market. The numerical designations approximate each vehicle's GVW rating in pounds.

"This is the most extensive redesign we've undertaken in seven years," said Bloom. "The 2012 models represent a new approach to the technology of transporting goods by truck, and they are specifically designed to deliver lower cost of ownership."

Canters will be priced "aggressively" against Isuzo and Ford, the principal competitors in these weight classed, he added.

The only powertrain is Fuso's new 4P10, a 3-liter inline 4-cylinder diesel mated to a Duonic 6-speed, automated manual transmission - the only dual-clutch transmission available in a commercial truck, Bloom said. The engine has dual overhead cams, dual balance shafts, and is turbocharged and intercooled diesel. The combination helps contribute to the Canter's higher fuel economy as well as its easy operation.

Adoption of Daimler Commercial Truck's BlueTec selective catalytic reduction system has brought the new drivetrain into EPA 2010 compliance. Because the BlueTec system treats emissions in the downstream exhaust rather than in the engine, the engine can be tuned exclusively for optimum performance and fuel economy, says the company.

"With the combination of the 4P10 engine, Duonic transmission and BlueTec emissions control, these new Fusos are the smoothest-running, easiest-to-drive cabovers we've ever offered," said Leighton Good, MFTA's manager, product & applications. "And they boast the highest operating efficiency, as well. A 300 percent increase in the length of the service interval also contributes significantly to lower cost of ownership."

For 2012, the standard-width 33.5" straight ladder frame has been designed with patterned holes at regular intervals along its length and height to make body mounting easier and to save weight without loss of strength. Made with 56,565 psi-yield-strength steel, this new frame provides comparable chassis stiffness and body-fitting ease as the previous FE models, at a substantially lighter weight, Good said. The frame's high strength-to-weight ratio helps give the new FE series the highest payload capability among class 3-5 cabovers.

Styling was wind-tunnel tested to reduced aerodynamic drag and improved stability. Compact halogen headlamps allow sculpted corner profiles, which enhance aesthetic appeal while improving nighttime visibility. Smooth frontal surfaces, combined with faired character lines around the doors, help to reduce wind noise, so the cabin is quieter.

2012 Fuso Canters feature roomy, fully trimmed cabs that provide ample space for the driver and two passengers. Power windows and door locks are standard, with one-touch up and down on the driver-side window. A window's upward travel stops if it encounters an obstacle. Doors include a crush bar, to help increase frontal impact protection. And the collapsible steering column offers both tilt and telescoping adjustments via one easy-to-use control.

Center and right-hand seats fold down to form a work area for the driver, and extra storage compartments have been added in the cab area. Five cab colors - white, silver, green, red and blue - are available.

The parking brake is located between the driver's seat and the adjacent passenger seat, where it's handy, but out of the way. The transmission shifter is mounted on the dash, with a simple, well-defined shift pattern. The FG4X4's transfer case range-selector lever is mounted at dashboard height, to the left of the steering wheel, so the floor area is clear of obstructions. This allows everyone to easily exit the vehicle on the curb side, generally the safer location.

Mitsubishi Fuso's unique offset door hinges open to 70 degrees, then push forward several inches to provide full access for driver and passengers, while limiting the extension of the doors into traffic or curbside obstructions.

The Canter FEs also feature dual-caliper hydraulic disc service brakes with vacuum servo assist and ABS on all four wheels, while the FG4X4 uses hydraulic drum service brakes with ABS all around. All models include an electronic brake override system for added safety.

All of the 2012 models include instrumentation that's easy to read, day or night, with the information panel conveniently located in direct line of sight. Cycling through the digital displays provides the driver with up-to-the-minute status on a wide variety of truck systems, fluid levels, and performance parameters.