Taking test drives is one of the perks of the job for HDT editors. Tag along and see what we drove in 2019 and what we thought of new tech in new trucks.
 - Photo: Jim Park

Taking test drives is one of the perks of the job for HDT editors. Tag along and see what we drove in 2019 and what we thought of new tech in new trucks.

Photo: Jim Park

One of the great perks of being a truck and transportation editor is conducting test drives of new or significantly updated commercial vehicles, and 2019 was no exception. Here’s a look back at our 2019 test drives for a taste of what’s happening on the front lines of commercial vehicle technology, styling and ergonomics.

Test Drive and Video: Daimler’s Lane-Keep Assist Autonomous Steering System

HDT Equipment Editor Jim Park said he sees definite advantages for drivers using Daimler's Lane-Keeping Assistance autonomous driving technology. 
 - Photo: Jim Park

HDT Equipment Editor Jim Park said he sees definite advantages for drivers using Daimler's Lane-Keeping Assistance autonomous driving technology. 

Photo: Jim Park

Everyone is interested in autonomous truck technology, and HDT Equipment Editor Jim Park is no exception. While Jim remains skeptical about the timeline and market penetration some experts says we’ll see as this technology matures, he does see benefits from advanced driver assistance systems that are the basis of emerging autonomous control systems. Go along for a ride with Jim as he sees for himself just how well Daimler’s new Lane-Keeping Assist, part of Detroit Assurance 5.0, works for him on a test drive outside of Las Vegas while attending the annual CES electronics show.

Click here for a "Focus On" video delving more into Daimler's Lane Keep Assist.

Test Drive: Stoneridge Mirror Eye Rear View Camera System

As with any new technology, there is an adjustment period with rear-view camera systems, our editor Jim Park discovered. 
 - Photo: Stoneridge

As with any new technology, there is an adjustment period with rear-view camera systems, our editor Jim Park discovered. 

Photo: Stoneridge

These days, test drives can often be about trying out new technology as opposed to driving a new vehicle down the road. That was the case when an intially-skeptical Jim Park took the Stoneridge MirrorEye out for an evaluation run, which you can read about here.

On the Spot Video: Volvo's Dynamic Steering Assistance System

One finger is all Jim Park needed to maneuver a big VNL tractor around with the Volvo Dynamic Steering System engaged.
 - Screen image: Jim Park

One finger is all Jim Park needed to maneuver a big VNL tractor around with the Volvo Dynamic Steering System engaged.

Screen image: Jim Park

Jim Park got another chance to test out some future technology during a visit to the Volvo Customer Center, in Dublin, Virginia. During his visit, he found the time to take a new VNL tractor spec'd with the OEM's new Dynamic Steering system out for a spin, and was impressed by what he learned

Test Drive and Video: The Peterbilt Model 579 Epiq

Outstanding views both out of the cab and down to the uncluttered instrument panel won high marks from Jim Park during his Peterbilt Model 579 UltraLoft test drive. 
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Outstanding views both out of the cab and down to the uncluttered instrument panel won high marks from Jim Park during his Peterbilt Model 579 UltraLoft test drive. 

Peterbilt spent serious time, money and energy boosting the fuel economy bona fides of its flagship Model 579 sleeper. And in July, our equipment editor, Jim Park, took a new Model 579 spec’d with Peterbilt’s Epiq aero-trim package and UltraLoft sleeper out for a 1,000-plus mile run through the desert to see how all those new fuel economy enhancements came together.

Read Jim’s full drive report here.

Check out a video tour of the Model 579 Epiq here plus a full photo gallery.

Test Drive and Video: Dana’s Electric Truck Power Train

This Peterbilt Model 320 outfitted with Dana's latest electric powertrain showed it was more than capable of a day's work on the streets of Atlanta. 
 - Photo: Jack Roberts

This Peterbilt Model 320 outfitted with Dana's latest electric powertrain showed it was more than capable of a day's work on the streets of Atlanta. 

Photo: Jack Roberts

Early in 2019, at the Technology & Maintenance Council Annual Meeting, Senior Editor Jack Roberts was given the chance to take a Peterbilt Model 320 spec’d with Dana’s new electric truck powertrain on a test drive through the busy streets of Atlanta. The truck performed like a dream, and Jack came away deeply impressed with both Dana’s technology, and the potential electric trucks have in transforming short- and urban-delivery fleet applications. Read about trucking's electrified future here and watch the video here.

Video: ZF’s Autonomous Driving Control Modes

Jim Park climbed behind the wheel of an International tractor fitted with ZF's new GPS-based autonomous control system. 
 - Screen Image: Jack Roberts

Jim Park climbed behind the wheel of an International tractor fitted with ZF's new GPS-based autonomous control system. 

Screen Image: Jack Roberts

Jim Park was able to check out more emerging autonomous technology when he got behind the wheel of an International tractor outfitted with ZF’s GPS-controlled autonomous system optimized for yard work and shot this video detailing the drive and how this new technology works. Take a video tour with Jim and see for yourself why ZF has staked out a leadership position in emerging autonomous truck technology. 

For more from ZF, watch Park's video of his hands-on experience with its ReAx Electric Steering Assist.

Test Drive and Video: Hino XL8 Straight Truck

Hino has beefed up its North American medium duty trucks. And the HL8 model is the first of these brawnier conventionals to hit the road in North America.
 - Photo: Jim Park

Hino has beefed up its North American medium duty trucks. And the HL8 model is the first of these brawnier conventionals to hit the road in North America.

Photo: Jim Park

Sometimes our name confuses people. But at Heavy Duty Trucking, we report on working trucks of all shapes, sizes and classes. And that includes medium-duty, urban haulers, too. And Hino is certainly a prime candidate for a test drive based on those criteria. The Japanese truck OEM has targeted medium-duty, short- and urban-haul applications as its bread-and-butter spec, and the much-anticipated HL8 conventional straight truck was Jim Park’s chance to see how Hino plans to go after those markets. Check out his full drive report here. And take a video tour of the Hino XL8 with Jim as your guide, here.

Test Drive: The Isuzu FTR Straight Truck

The Isuzu FTR is a big truck that is decidedly light on its feet, our Senior Editor, Jack Roberts, found. 
 - Photo: Jack Roberts

The Isuzu FTR is a big truck that is decidedly light on its feet, our Senior Editor, Jack Roberts, found. 

Photo: Jack Roberts

If you’re looking at medium-duty trucks, sooner or later you’re going to be checking out an Isuzu low-cab forward truck. Isuzu came to North American in the 1980s with a new concept in how urban delivery trucks should look and perform and they’ve never looked back. Senior Editor Jack Roberts was curious to see if that well-established design philosophy would hold true for the company’s largest truck it currently sells on this side of the Pacific, the FTR model. Read his full test drive report here.

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