As more of Peterbilt’s vocational customers choose the modern Model 567 over the older 365 and 367 models, the builder is expanding the newer vehicle’s available configurations to handle more jobs. The latest is the 567 SFFA, with a forward-set steer axle, first displayed at the World of Concrete show in February, in Las Vegas, Nev., a state whose bridge-formula weight laws favor longer wheelbases.
The 567, which features a wider, roomier aluminum cab and chassis improvements, came out two years ago with a setback steer axle that’s more usable in axle-weight states. If frame length and placement of rear axles remain the same, a forward-set steer axle on the 567 lengthens a wheelbase by 17 inches, according to Peterbilt engineers. That stretch adds thousands of pounds of legal payload, though exactly how much varies by state.
Often that comes with a sacrifice in turning ability, as steering gear tends to limit wheel cut, and a harsher ride due to shorter leaf springs. But not so much on this truck. With a wheel cut of 43 to 45 degrees, The 567 SFFA turned rather well and rode very well on its parabolic leafs. Just maneuvering it around the parking lot at Peterbilt of Cincinnati, where this factory-owned demo truck temporarily resided, was easier than I expected. Out on nearby streets, I didn’t have to spin the steering wheel quite as early to make tight right-angle turns as I’ve done with other axle-forward trucks.
Rear axles included tandem drivers and one liftable, steerable “pusher” axle ahead of the tandem. This is called a “tri-ax” in neighboring Indiana, and it was the usual type used there until higher-capacity “quads” — tandems with two pushers — were authorized, noted salesman Lyle Monroe at the dealership. The tri-ax is also allowed in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, though they usually have beefier wheels and tires to gain maximum weight-carrying ability. Ohio is a bridge-formula state where multi-axle dumps with two, three and even four pushers are the rule. A shorter tri-ax is not usually seen here.
“So I was kinda conservative with the load I put in there,” Monroe said. “You’ve got 12 tons of sand. That should give you a good feel for how it handles.”
It did, as 24,000 pounds in the East aluminum box settled down the suspensions and yielded a realistic riding experience. Peterbilt spokesman Derek Smith rode along on a lengthy loop consisting of freeways and state highways north and east of Cincinnati. The countryside was a mix of flat and roller-coaster terrain, more than enough for me to appreciate the Paccar MX-13 diesel’s 500 horses and freedom from shifting presented by an Allison 4700 automatic transmission. Handling through curves was flat and almost crisp, thanks again to the suspensions, plus the Bridgestone tires and the stable Sheppard power steering. Braking was strong and stable, thanks to disc brakes all around.
The cab’s width is 2.1 meters, or 82.7 inches, about 8 inches more than the old cab on the 365, 367 and other earlier Petes. This new one seems just as tight and quiet, and of course has the extra interior space. There’s plenty of legroom, and the tilting-and-telescoping steering column combined with the highly adjustable Peterbilt-brand driver’s seat let me position myself for viewing, pedal pushing and perching. This is an “office” that I’d love to work in, and I’m sure it will please drivers and owners with its comfort, reliability, durability and yes, the mystique that comes with that red oval badge.