First look: Western Star’s all-new on-highway truck

Aug. 2, 2022
Western Star's 57X has been built from the ground up for owner-operators and linehaul fleets. It will replace the brand’s 5700XE on-highway truck, which was discontinued at the end of 2021.

YPSILANTI, Michigan—The on-highway segment has a new kid in town.

Billed as the most technologically advanced third chapter of its "Trilogy of Tough" X-Series, Western Star has introduced the all-new 57X, an on-highway truck built from the ground up for owner-operators and linehaul fleets. It joins Western Star's 47X and 49X, which serve the vocational market and were introduced in 2021 and 2020, respectively.

The 57X will replace the brand's 5700XE on-highway truck, which was discontinued at the end of 2021. Last week, industry media had the chance to test drive and get to know the new 57X at the American Center for Mobility—located just outside of Detroit.

At first glance, the grille of the 57X has a new, bolder design compared to its predecessor. The 57X also touts a two-piece aerodynamic bumper with functional air ducts, making it the first bumper in the Daimler Truck North America (DTNA) family of products that has openings on the side to enhance airflow around the vehicle, Steve Mignardi, DTNA's VP of on-highway market development, explained.

The truck's exterior features dual-stage intelligent LED heated headlights that melt ice or clear condensation, splayed frame rails that allow for lower engine placement and enhanced aerodynamics and visibility, and a one-piece windshield that is 28% larger than the two-piece windshield from the legacy 5700XE.

Breakaway brackets are also inherent to the 57X and have been added to reduce the risk of cab damage in a jackknife situation, Mignardi points out in the video clip below.

Four cab options are available for the 57X, including day cab, 60-inch mid-roof, 72-inch mid-roof, or 72-inch stratosphere configurations. All cab interiors feature leather seating and ergonomics for enhanced driver comfort. An optional driver's lounge with a table and Murphy bed are also available on sleeper models.

Another feature that differentiates the 57X from the 5700XE is Western Star's new routing and clipping design under the hood. Brackets on the chassis are designed with three separate routing channels—one for electric lines, one for airlines, and the third for fuel lines.

"The truck is constantly vibrating down the road, and that vibration causes wear between the harnesses, which causes downtime," Mignardi explained. "This new system prevents that downtime by cleanly routing the clipping and the separation between electric and airlines. Even after hundreds of thousands of miles of use, it'll be like new, and it gives the highest probability of uptime due to the elimination of rubbing and chaffing."

In addition, a new parked HVAC system allows drivers to run heating and air conditioning for up to 10 hours, depending on ambient temperature, without running the engine.

One notable new safety feature based on customer feedback is quite easy to overlook at first glance. That feature is a lock mechanism that prevents the hood from automatically closing on a driver or technician in the event of a wind gust or other unexpected force.

"We listened to our customers, and we built the truck from the ground up," Mignardi said. "The 57X shares the DNA of the X-Series and is redefined for on-highway.

"The 57X has the most advanced technology in a Western Star product ever," he added, noting that the truck comes with all-new electrical architecture and is the first in DTNA's portfolio to come standard with digital dash displays.

Aerodynamics, fuel economy

Aside from the bumper and frame rails mentioned earlier, additional aerodynamic features include 24-inch side extenders for sleeper options and 12-inch side extenders for day cabs; roof and chassis fairings available for the day cab, 60-inch, and 72-inch mid-roof sleeper options; chassis side fairings with flexible skirts to fill the gaps between the cab and chassis; optimized drive wheel fairings to smooth airflow as it passes the trailer; and standard FlowBelow wheel covers on the back drive wheels.

With aerodynamics and powertrain improvements, customers will experience a fuel economy improvement of 5.8% over the previous 5700XE, noted Ryan Major, DTNA's on-highway product marketing manager.

The new 57X also has a weight reduction of 1,000 lb. compared to the 5700XE legacy model. Part of that weight reduction comes from shorter sleeper configurations—up to 72 inches for the 57X compared to 82 inches for the 5700.

"Even though it's 10 inches shorter, the volume has actually increased," Major said. "The volume will be about 22% larger than the previous 5700. We accomplished that with width and height—there is a lot more headroom and upper storage area."

The additional light weighting comes from the latest Detroit Gen 5 engine designs, which offer all-new aftertreatment systems, increased down speeding, and new piston designs for better combustion.

See also: Daimler Trucks North America, Detroit deliver next-level fuel efficiency

The 57X gives owners a choice of Detroit engine models: the DD13 Gen 5, DD15 Gen 5, and DD16. The 57X is available with Detroit Powertrain components, including Detroit DT12 Direct or Overdrive AMT transmissions, which reduce fuel consumption and increase efficiency while improving shifting and reducing wear. Furthermore, intelligent powertrain management anticipates terrain and adjusts to road conditions to maximize efficiency. Available Detroit front steer and high-speed ratio rear tandem axles also contribute to fuel efficiency and performance while reducing maintenance, according to DTNA.

"Even though it's a next generation, it doesn't really do it justice when you talk about it," Len Copeland, DTNA product marketing manager, said of the Gen 5 engine designs. "It's the same platform and same concept with a lot of similar looking parts, but we changed 80% of the engine to accommodate what we needed to do, which was manage that aftertreatment and really improve the fuel efficiency on it."

Copeland added that the DD15 Gen 5 engine offers 3.4% better fuel economy than the previous DD15 Gen 4.

"We are taking a strong stance and sticking with the DD engines," Major explained. "The Detroit drivetrain is tried and true. Our customers love that drivetrain, and it's a big selling point for us under the Daimler umbrella."

Advanced technology, connectivity

The 57X is equipped with safety and connectivity features designed to protect the driver, pedestrians, and other motorists. Forward radar is located just below the grille for the Detroit Assurance 5.0 safety system, and a camera system is matted on the windshield.

The 57X comes standard with the Detroit Assurance 5.0 safety system with Active Brake Assist 5, an always-on system that fuses camera and radar technology to detect moving obstacles in front of the truck and can deploy full braking. With Detroit Assurance also comes adaptive cruise control (ACC to 0 mph) and optional active lane assist, which includes lane-keep assist, auto stop, lane departure protection, and steer assist.

Additionally, the 57X debuts active side guard assist, designed to mitigate blind side issues during right-hand turns.

All new for the Western Star 57X are digital dash displays that feature a configurable instrument cluster and provide the operator with real-time information about the vehicle to help minimize downtime.

The larger screens display entertainment options such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as vehicle information from Detroit Assurance. Integrated steering wheel controls let drivers manage most entertainment and information functions without taking their hands off the wheel.

A 10-inch B-panel display can be spec'd with a trucker-based GPS through the factory; however, digital dash functionality is not yet ELD compliant, Major pointed out. That is something the OEM plans to incorporate long-term, he told FleetOwner.

Production for the 57X is planned to begin in early Q1 2023 at DTNA's Cleveland, North Carolina, truck manufacturing plant. Order windows will open in the next few months.

About the Author

Cristina Commendatore

Cristina Commendatore was previously the Editor-in-chief of FleetOwner magazine. She reported on the transportation industry since 2015, covering topics such as business operational challenges, driver and technician shortages, truck safety, and new vehicle technologies. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.

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