Class 4-7

July 1, 2013
Class 1-3 Class 8


A variety of upgrades were made to Ford’s F-Series Super Duty chassis for this year, including beefed up towing and payload capacities and improvements to its braking system.

Those upgrades follow the introduction of a gasoline version of the F-650 Super Duty for the 2013 model year. The Ford Triton V10 gasoline-fueled engine is rated at 362 hp. at 4,750 rpm and 457 lbs.-ft. of torque at 3,250 rpm. It can also be configured to run on CNG and LNG as well, notes Todd Kaufman, F-Series marketing manager.

The gas F-650 features the “highly capable automatic transmission used in Super Duty models and will be available with or without a PTO [power take-off],” says Kaufman. The truck itself will be offered as either a ProLoader on 19.5-in. wheels or as a Dock Height model on 22.5-in. wheels. The gasoline-powered version is built as a straight truck only and carries a maximum GVW/GCW of 30,000/33,000 lbs. and will only come with hydraulic brakes, he points out.

This year, Ford raised the conventional towing capacity of its F-Series Super Duty to 18,500 lbs. while boosting payload capability to 7,260 lbs. These increases were largely due to the addition of bigger brakes to the vehicle, notes Michael Watkins, a Ford brake system engineer.

The OEM increased what’s known as “brake rotor swept area” by 16.4% in the Super Duty’s front wheel brakes and by 14.5% in the rear in part to help dissipate heat, especially on long downhill grades.

“We’ve really improved brake feel,” he says. “There’s refined modulation in the pedal; you really feel the stopping power. With a full load of cargo, drivers will notice strong, confidence-inspiring brakes.”

Those changes also support a 700-lb. increase in the maximum GVWR to 14,000 lbs. for the Super Duty, Watkins says. He also notes that Ford added a larger parking brake for its F-250 and F-350 models to help boost the maximum payload rating for both vehicles. Adding adjustable brake pedals also enhance customer comfort by personalizing the interface between driver and brake system.


Freightliner Trucks has not announced any major changes for its medium-duty lineup, which consists of its Business Class M2 106 and M2 112 models as well as its 108SD truck. The medium-heavy M2 106 lineup spans Class 5-8, with maximum GVW of 56,000 lbs. and engine ratings from 200 to 350 hp. M2 106 applications include pickup & delivery, fire & emergency, food & beverage, service & utility, refuse, dump, flatbed, towing, tanker, and sweeper trucks.

The M2 106 is available in day cab, extended cab and crew cab configurations. Available engines are the 6.7L Cummins ISB, rated at 200 to 325 hp. and 520 to 750 lbs.-ft. of torque, and the 9L Cummins ISL, rated at 350 hp. and 1,150 to 1,300 lbs.-ft. of torque. Available transmission options include a manual 6-speed Mercedes-Benz or Eaton Fuller in 5, 6, 8all, 9all, 9, and 10 speed; automated-manual 5- or 6-speed Eaton UltraShift; automatic Allison 1000, 2000 and 3000 models; and Eaton hybrids designated for city delivery, utility and tractor.

According to the OEM, the M2 106 features a large cab with plenty of head and elbow room, lower cab height with wider and taller doors, and non-slip steps for easy entry/exit; an efficient dash and easy-to-reach automotive style gauges and switches; standard tinted windshield glass that helps prevent glare for a better view of the road; a downward sloping aerodynamic hood that provides a clear, wide-open view of the road; and a low step-in height for easier entry/exit.

In addition, the M2 106 boasts up to 55-deg. wheel cut, a set-back front axle, and a swept-back front fender and bumper that together “provide one of the industry’s tightest turning radius, improving wall-to-wall and curb-to-curb maneuverability, especially within neighborhoods.”

The Freightliner 108SD vocational truck comes in Class 7-8 ratings, with maximum GVW of 79,000 lbs. and engine ratings from 200-350 hp. Its listed applications are dump, refuse, utility and sewer-vacuum trucks. The OEM notes the 108SD is engineered to “pack heavyweight power into a smaller package” allowing it to both “take toughness onto tight job sites and down narrow streets.” The 108SD is offered in day cab, extended cab and crew cab configurations.


Expansion into specialty and niche markets is the watchword for Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC), with its latest partnership with ARBOC Specialty Vehicles finalized in April of this year aimed at the co-development of a low-floor rear-engine custom chassis for paratransit fleets.

Through the partnership, which started in the fall of 2012, FCCC and ARBOC Specialty Vehicles, a custom builder of paratransit vehicles for a variety of applications, are working to develop a customized, dedicated chassis for ARBOC’s “Spirit of Liberty” product line.

FCCC said the new product will be powered by a rear diesel pusher and features a low-floor design that eliminates the step-up over the rear axle, equipping the Spirit of Liberty line for its expected use in a variety of low-floor applications like assisted-living facilities, hotel and rental car transport, transit agencies, and others. The OEM adds that the chassis, available as a prototype only at this point, will offer customers a GVW of up to 25,900 lbs. while featuring ARBOC’s low-floor interior throughout the passenger area with no steps, and includes oversized wheelchair zones.

FCCC and ARBOC expect to have a second round of prototypes ready later this year or early 2014 before starting up production soon after full test validation. The Spirit of Liberty line will offer three models ranging in body length from 28 to 33 ft. and seating capacity from 31 to 37.

The expansion into the paratransit market mirrors FCCC’s steps last year into the alternative fuel field, when it unveiled its S2G chassis with a factory-installed liquid propane gas (LPG) engine.

Built on FCCC’s popular S2 chassis, the S2G’s 8L, 325-hp. engine supplied by Powertrain Integration offers LPG technology using a General Motors long block engine and other components at its core.

Designed for the medium-duty commercial market, the S2G chassis is suitable for pickup and delivery, student transportation, and municipal applications.

Like its diesel counterpart, the front-engine S2G uses the Freightliner M2 cab, which features a sloped, forward-tilting hood for superior visibility and easy engine access. It has a GVWR of 33,000 lbs. and comes equipped with an Allison 2300 automatic transmission with PTO provision.


T he most recent upgrade to Hino Trucks’ Model 195 Class 5 medium-duty chassis is the inclusion of a double cab option. It is available on both the Model 195 and 195h Class 5 cabover trucks, which were introduced late last year. Available with a diesel (195) or diesel-electric hybrid (195h) powertrain, the 19,500-GVW Class 5 trucks feature 210 hp. and 440 lbs.-ft. of torque from Hino’s 5L J05E Series engine. The OEM says the option is a four-door, six-person double cab that can also be spec’d with a magnetic suspension.

“The double cab is an exciting addition to our expanding product line and a perfect fit for a wide range of applications such as landscape, towing, moving, storage, and construction,” notes Glenn Ellis, Hino’s vice president-marketing and dealer operations, pointing out that the cab can accommodate drivers up to 6 ft., 6 in. tall.

Ellis adds that both the 195 and 195h Class 5 COE models feature an ergonomically friendly wide cab with a North American standard 33-in. frame rail width, a 56,900 PSI (pounds per square inch) frame, and a standard center-mounted rear fuel tank. The cab’s styling emphasizes aerodynamics and visibility with an angled windshield, narrow pillars and rounded-radius curves, he says.

Hino’s first mobile application, which was released this year, is designed to provide customers personalized access to the OEM’s nationwide dealer network. This free app, available via the Apple Store and Google Play, offers a collection of useful tools for drivers such as a dealer locator feature, access to HinoWatch roadside assistance, and a quick reference specifications and warranty information guide.

“Today’s drivers rely on mobile devices to stay connected. We developed this app with the driver in mind and to easily connect our customers to our ever-growing dealer network,” says Ellis. “Now drivers can conveniently access the information they need with the tap of a button.”


Navistar International’s latest addition to its medium-duty lineup is the 4x4 version of its International TerraStar model, which it began shipping to customers this spring. The TerraStar was launched as a 4x2 truck in 2010 and is the medium-duty stable mate of the larger International DuraStar. According to the OEM, offering this 4x4 version opens the TerraStar up to the remaining lighter end of the medium-duty market, which the company says includes construction, utility, emergency, oilfield, and other vocational applications.

“The TerraStar is the smaller sibling to the DuraStar, the best-selling medium-duty model throughout the past two decades, leveraging the same platform and commercial-grade components,” says Navistar COO Jack Allen. “The TerraStar shares the same rugged, durable and hardworking DNA, making it in a class unto itself. The TerraStar 4x4 will deliver additional commercial-duty capability for a wide range of customer needs, including construction, utility, landscape, and other off-highway applications.”

The TerraStar 4x4 is powered by a 300-hp., 6.8L International MaxxForce 7 V8 engine that delivers 660 lbs.-ft. of torque. The engine is built using a compacted graphite iron block, which the OEM says offers high strength without added weight. Cummins SCR aftertreatment will be added to the engine by early 2014. A cab that is 30% wider than the competition offers 38% more visibility, says Navistar. The truck is available in extended cab or crew cab configurations and is constructed with double-sided, galvanized high-strength steel protected by a five-step professional grade coating process to resist corrosion.

The TerraStar 4x4 also features the International Diamond Logic electrical system, which allows the engine, transmission, instrument panel, and other vehicle components to continually communicate with each other electronically. By monitoring critical vehicle functions and relaying information to the driver in real-time, Diamond Logic ensures safe, efficient vehicle operation, Navistar points out.

The truck’s Allison Optimized 1000 Series automatic transmission boasts “shift energy management,” load-based shift scheduling, and automatic “neutral” for simplified operations, the OEM notes. A Fabco TC-28 gear-driven transfer case is made of forged helical gearing and roller bearings to provide high torque and horsepower capacities while offering a quiet and smooth driving experience, says Navistar.

Other features of the TerraStar 4x4 truck include International’s Ride-Optimized Suspension (IROS) system; 138- and 150-in. cab-to-axle measurements with standard cab to accommodate 18- and 20-ft. bodies; an aluminum step package and stainless steel fuel tank straps; “commercial-style” tiltaway hood that provides easy access to engine compartment for routine service and scheduled maintenance; 80,000-psi frame rails and huck-bolted frame for maximum strength; and a “commercial-grade” cab that the OEM says is designed to be more durable and able to resist cracking under heavy loads. Navistar adds that the Terra­Star 4x4 is covered by a 5-year/unlimited-mile warranty.


While not much is changing on Isuzu Commercial Truck of America’s medium-duty cabover trucks themselves, the OEM is focusing on improving the parts, maintenance and modification services that support its vehicles in the field.

First, the OEM continues to enhance its “FleetValue” line of fast moving and routine maintenance parts—oil filters, brake pads, rotors, belts, etc.—for the aftermarket, a line first rolled out five years ago. From an initial offering of four parts, FleetValue now offers 83 parts in total with the goal of offering 200 by the end of this year. Isuzu also continues to expand its PSMP, or priority service maintenance package, a dealer-based service where operators can “prepay” for basic maintenance services based on the yearly mileage nominally accumulated by their trucks.

The OEM also continues to enhance an effort launched last year via its dealership to more quickly convert or modify gasoline-powered NPR-HD (14,500-lb. GVWR) trucks for alternative fuel operation. When placing orders for new trucks, Isuzu dealers can now select a “ship-thru” option to indicate that they have arranged to have the trucks modified at one of two independent centers near the OEM’s Charlotte, MI, assembly plant. Following the modification, the center will return the trucks to Isuzu, which will then transport them to the dealers that ordered the units. This process eliminates unnecessary dealer-incurred transportation expenses and will shorten the amount of time necessary to obtain alternative fuel conversions and certain other types of modifications.

Isuzu also continues to work with Impco Technologies to finalize a bi-fuel propulsion package capable of operating on both gasoline and compressed natural gas. Isuzu says it has obtained certification from the Environmental Protection Agency for its bi-fuel conversion and is awaiting certification from the California Air Resources Board and the state of New York.


Kenworth Truck has announced several changes for its medium-duty Class 6 T270 and Class 7 T370 conventional cab models. The T270 and T370 models are now available with an optional aerodynamic roof fairing. “In the heavy-duty segment, roof fairings are a common sight, but not so much for medium-duty fleets,” says Doug Powell, Kenworth’s medium-duty marketing manager. “However, we expect to see a transformation in that area. There has been a surge in requests for roof fairings for our medium-duty conventionals, and we’re pleased to now offer the aerodynamic fairings for tractors as well as on trucks that run box vans.”

The Kenworth roof fairing is available for factory installation as a two-piece model. It can also be installed at a KW dealership as a one-piece version. “The fairings are similar to what we’ve run on our Class 8 trucks, so they’re proven in durability and functionality,” says Powell. Thanks to improved fuel economy and low cost, the benefits and paybacks in ROI can be relatively short, he adds.

The OEM has also introduced a new heavy-duty front frame assembly option for the T370 truck that it says makes it easy for body builders to install customer winch bumpers. The new option includes durable austempered ductile iron cast front drive brackets, 3/8-in.-thick steel front adapters, enhanced radiator crossmember assembly brackets, C-channel front frame sections that can accept a winch bumper, and Ram Horn tow hooks for vehicle transport.

The bumper adapters can be used with other specialty bumpers commonly installed on utility, overhead automobile haulers, and fire and emergency vehicles, Kenworth points out. To order the heavy-duty front frame assembly, the T370 must be specified with front springs rated at a capacity of 13,200 lbs. or more. It may be ordered with either a front or non-front drive axle.

“The T370 front frame option assembly package especially targets customers, such as utilities and municipalities, that operate medium-duty winch trucks,” says Powell. “This option simplifies and standardizes the installation of specialty winch bumpers and further expands the benefits and value of the Kenworth T370 for customers.”

The other medium-duty trucks offered by Kenworth continue to be the Class 5 T170, Class 7 T440 and Class 7 T470 conventional-cab models as well as the Class 6 K270 and Class 7 K370 cabover models that were rolled out in 2012. Both the K270 and K370 are aimed at urban-delivery applications. According to Powell, beverage distributors, pickup & delivery, furniture and food processors have been among the early customers.

“This year, we expect our cabover sales to increase further,” he states. “We expect to see customers that run lighter trucks move to longer-lasting trucks with components designed to stand the test of time… the K270 and K370 will lower the total cost of ownership.”

Mitsubishi Fuso

The 2014 model-year Fuso Canter FE and FG Series medium-duty trucks being rolled out by Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America (MFTA) this year feature a longer 169.3-in. wheelbase for the Class 3 Canter FE125 and a side-mounted fuel tank as just some of the all new options available for these work trucks, according to Todd Bloom, MFTA’s president and CEO. There are also extended service intervals of 18,000 mi.

He says the longer wheelbase for the Canter FE125 model will allow the application of bodies up to 20 ft. long in a truck that has a GVWR of 12,500 lbs. and a body/payload capacity of 7,095 lbs., making it better suited for high-bulking applications like furniture delivery.

The optional side-mounted fuel tank can replace the standard rear in-frame tank on any FE model with a wheelbase of 133.9 in. or longer for delivery trucks that require tuck-under liftgates or for rollback or stinger-type auto recovery applications.

“And while it may not seem like a major change, the addition of the Clarion AM/FM/CD radio, with its Bluetooth, MP3 and USB compatibility, recognizes a fact of life in our business: Most medium-duty work trucks are not driven by professional drivers,” says Bloom.

“The more we can do to design our trucks to mimic the cars that our customers’ employees are used to, the better we equip those customers to hire the drivers best suited to their businesses,” he adds. “Further, the Bluetooth capability ensures that drivers of our Canter models can communicate via cell phone unencumbered, offering convenience and permitting use in those areas in which hands-free operation is legislated.”

MFTA also says its new 2014 model-year Canters began meeting the new greenhouse gas fuel efficiency standards promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency and Dept. of Transportation standards back in April, two years ahead of the regulatory compliance mandate.


Peterbilt Motors has not announced any major changes for its medium-duty lineup. The company’s medium-duty product line, which spans Class 5 to 7, continues to include the conventional cab Models 348, 337, 330 and 325 as well as the cabover Models 210 and 220. The OEM has made its extended day cab feature available on its medium-duty trucks. With this option, customers can expand the length of their day cab by an additional 10 in. and receive nearly 6 in. of added headroom.

The extended day cab, which was launched in 2011 on Peterbilt Class 8 truck models, is designed to increase a driver’s comfort and productivity. Both the driver and passenger seat recline is doubled to 23 deg., and there is 4 in. of added space between the steering wheel and the seat. In addition, 4 cu. ft. of built-in rear wall storage compartments have been added for equipment or paperwork.

Among the OEM’s most recent medium-duty updates is the expansion of powertrain options for Models 337 and 348 equipped with all-wheel drive to include the Paccar PX-8 engine. Optimized for these Class 7 models, the 8.3L 6-cyl. is rated up to 350 hp. and 1,000 lbs.-ft. of torque and provides increased throttle response and acceleration, notes the OEM.

The PX-8 offers two engine braking systems: A variable-geometry turbo provides standard engine braking up to 125 hp., and an optional compression brake delivers incremental braking horsepower. The all-wheel-drive versions of the Models 337 and 348 are also available with the Paccar PX-6 engine and either an Eaton Fuller manual or Allison automatic transmission.

The Model 337 is available in both truck and tractor configurations with GVW ratings of 26,000 to 35,000 lbs., while the Model 348 can also be ordered either as a truck or tractor and offers GVW ratings of 35,000 to 66,000 lbs. as well as “optional capacity ratings to suit almost any specialty vocation.”


Starting with the 2013 model year and continuing with the 2014 models, Ram boosted the weight ratings for its line of heavy-duty pickups and chassis cab trucks.

The towing capacity of the Ram 2500 heavy-duty pickup is now 18,350 lbs., with a GCWR resting at 25,000 lbs. The Ram 3500 claims a 30,000-lb. trailer capacity and 37,600–lb. GCWR, thanks to a class-exclusive 50,000-lb.-PSI, high-strength steel frame; improved transfer case; higher load transmission; and upgraded 325-hp., 6.7L Cummins diesel engine cranking out 850 lbs.-ft. of torque.

The Ram chassis cab trucks (designated 5500 models) also got a boost in towing and GCWR capability to 29,600 and 37,500 lbs., respectively.

A variety of features go along with the rating boosts, including a factory-integrated fifth wheel and gooseneck hitch mount; a 17,000-lb. Class V hitch with 1,800 lbs. of torque weight; electronic stability control for dual-rear wheels; and a center high-mounted, stop light-positioned camera to provide a full view of the bed for easier hookup of fifth wheel or gooseneck trailers as well as cargo monitoring.

The company is also introducing an industry-exclusive Ram active air intake system that automatically draws cooler air from the front of the vehicle when it senses increased heat. This function also engages at high altitudes for better throttle response in low oxygen environments. When conditions are wet from snow, ice or water-fording, the system pulls air from an underhood inlet.

To handle the beefed-up towing capability, a front and rear suspension system with advanced geometry builds upon the chassis improvements and greatly improves overall roll stiffness. An advanced three-link front suspension on the Ram 3500 is necessary for the vehicle’s higher GVWR and for use with heavy front loads, including snow plows. Additionally, a Hotchkiss leaf spring rear suspension on the Ram 3500 offers improved ride and handling while helping deliver higher towing and payload capability.

Smith Electric Vehicles

Bryan Hansel, CEO of Smith Electric Vehicles, says that little change will be apparent right now on the company’s Newton Class 4-7 platform, currently offered in both a delivery truck and step-van configuration. However, a prototype is in the works to allow for the bi-directional flow of energy to and from the Newton’s battery system as part of the U.S. Dept. of Defense contract to equip trucks with “vehicle-to-grid” capability. Hansel says that capability would allow off-duty trucks connected to the electrical grid for recharging to help “stabilize” electricity demand—and be paid by the hour to provide such service. “That could change the whole revenue-generating face of electric trucks in the medium-duty space,” he explains. “Having 10 Newton trucks in a fleet would mean the capability to offer 1 megawatt of electrical storage, and utility companies would pay for that storage.”

Currently, Smith’s Class 4-7 Newton chassis is offered in three wheelbase options (154-, 177-, and 201-in. variants) with payload capacities ranging from 6,100 to 16,200 lbs. The all-electric step-van model, built in unison with Utilimaster, offers a GVWR of 14,000 to 26,400 lbs. with a top speed of 55 mph range of 40 to 100 mi. on a single charge, depending on how the vehicle is operated.

Hansel also related the status of Smith’s smaller-sized, all–electric Edison van model. The Edison is built around the European version of the Ford Transit chassis and features GVWRs of 7,700 to 10,100 lbs. and payload capacities of 1,600 to 5,100 lbs. He said the Smith Class 3-4 model is in flux as Ford is moving to a new global-platform design for its vans and chassis cabs that will require a complete re-engineering of the electrical-propulsion package for the Edison. Hansel adds that Smith also continues to focus on the school bus market with its all-electric 42-passenger bus model built on the Edison chassis dubbed the Newton eTrans.


The Workhorse medium-duty brand as well as patents and its Union City, IN, assembly plant were purchased by Amp Holdings from Navistar International earlier this year via Amp Trucks Inc., a newly formed subsidiary. The company plans to produce chassis, step vans and other vehicle types for the North American medium-duty truck market. These will include Amp’s all-electric Workhorse chassis along with gasoline-, propane- and CNG-powered and hybrid units. At the time the sale was announced, the new owner said a specific timetable to reopen the Workhorse plant will be announced “as the transition occurs and order backlogs are established.” Amp Holdings is also the parent of Amp Electric Vehicles, founded in 2007, which manufactures electric-drive systems for Class 3-6 commercial truck platforms.

In May, the OEM said it will introduce an all-electric Workhorse step van model. Amp Trucks says the all-electric powertrain incorporates a dual-motor system that produces 250 kW and “accelerates the 19,500-lb. GVW vehicle faster than the original factory-installed diesel engine.” The system has a total energy storage system of 100 kWh that “can push the 1,000-cu.-ft. vehicle 100 mi. on a single charge.”

Accelerated durability testing of the all-electric van was completed at the independent Transportation Research Center (TRC). Amp says it engaged TRC “to simulate the rigors of package delivery in an environment where it is common to keep their vans in service for 20 years or more.” The accelerated durability testing ran for 4,000 mi. during the Ohio winter from February to April. The comprehensive tests included running 2,000 mi. at curb weight and 2,000 mi. fully loaded. Each durability cycle was just under 10 mi. long, and consisted of traversing a series of resonance, chatter, and impact bumps; a series of moderate washboards, frame twists, and dips; inverted chuckholes; stopping and starting on a 20% brake slope; “lock-to-lock” figure-8 maneuvers; a short slalom course; and traversing gravel roads.

According to the truck maker, the durability testing during the winter “demonstrates, on an accelerated time frame, the ability of Amp’s powertrain, battery management system, and related all-electric components to successfully withstand the rigors of operating under extremely demanding conditions while maintaining the structural integrity of the vehicle and Amp’s all-electric system.”

Amp noted that Workhorse will continue to offer its W42 and W62 commercial truck chassis. The W42 has GVW ratings of 12,000 to 14,500 lbs., while the W62’s GVW ratings cover 19,500 to 23,500 lbs. Engine options for both chassis consist of a choice of a 4.8L or 6.0L engine, with each powered either by gasoline, propane or compressed natural gas.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr | Editor in Chief

Sean previously reported and commented on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry. Also be sure to visit Sean's blog Trucks at Work where he offers analysis on a variety of different topics inside the trucking industry.

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