CLASS 3-7 medium

July 1, 2005
Ford For 2006, Ford Motor Company is tweaking both its F-Series and E-Series medium-duty trucks.


For 2006, Ford Motor Company is tweaking both its F-Series and E-Series medium-duty trucks. Base models for the E-Series will continue to be the E-350 and E-450, although the company has added a Stripped chassis configuration for 2006. The Cutaway version (prepped for ambulance, school bus, and shuttle bus bodies, for example) will also be available. E-Series trucks come in three wheelbase versions: 138, 158 and 176 in.

New for all E-Series vehicles in 2006 is an Electronic Throttle Control (ETC) as standard. Also new is a 140-amp alternator as an option on Cutaway chassis spec'd with the 6.0L Power Stroke diesel engines built by International Truck & Engine Corp. exclusively for Ford.

For gasoline fleets, the E-350 comes with a 5.4L EFI V8 engine, while the E-450 gets a 6.8L EFI V10. The transmission package for both engines is a TorqShift electronic 5-sp. automatic with tow/haul mode.

Standard specs also include front driver and passenger airbags, four-wheel disc antilock brakes, an energy absorbing steering column and seat belts with adjustable D-rings.

In the medium segment Ford also offers F-Series models F-250 through F-750. For 2006, several engine options will be available, including the 5.4L 3-valve Triton(tm) V8 and 6.8L 3-valve Triton V10, both with electronic throttle control (ECT) and optional 50-state emissions system; and the 6.0L PowerStroke V8 Turbo Diesel, which now meets federal Low Emission Vehicle certification standards. All engines are available with the TorqShift 5-sp.automatic transmission.

Coil front springs are standard on all models; trailer brake controller is optional. Four standard upfitter switches are located on the instrument panel. Antilock brakes are standard on all medium F-Series trucks, as well as a new BlockerBeam front bumper underride protection system.

Ford will also offer its relatively new Class 4-5 Low Cab Forward (LCF) in 2006, built in conjunction with International. Features include: four GVWRs ranging from 15,000 to 19,500 lb.; V6 diesel engine with 200 hp. and 440 lb.-ft. of torque; a clean cab-to-axle on top of the frame; and standard 34-in. frame spacing.


Freightliner Trucks' medium-duty Business Class M2 V (for “vocational”) models, the M2 106V and 112V, boast new options for 2006. For severe vocational applications, a one-piece, heavier-duty bumper is offered. The bumper is constructed of 1/4-in.-thick solid steel and is available in chrome or can be painted.

Hood access hatches are now available for ordering on trucks with hoods that cannot be raised due to front-end implement usage, such as snowplows. The hood access hatches ease pre-trip inspections and general maintenance, for reduced maintenance time and costs, noted Freightliner.

Also newly available is an air-intake pre-cleaner. The OEM said the pre-cleaner is an inertial dust filter designed to extend the life of the primary air filter. According to Freightliner, the pre-cleaner creates a “cyclonic” action-as dust passes through, a skimming device captures dust and debris in a built-in drop tube. When the drop-tube reaches a certain weight, the debris is automatically purged. This option is aimed at vocational trucks run in high-dust or dirty conditions.

The Business Class M2 Vs can also be specified with a front-engine PTO provision without the standard frame rail extensions. Like other Business Class models, the M2 Vs continue to feature an up-to 55-degree wheel-cut for maneuverability, as well as a 2500-sq.-in. windshield and low-profile dash to enhance visibility out of the cab.

“These additional options round out the already extensive standard features and options that have made our Business Class M2 product line such a success,” says Mark Lampert, senior vp-sales & marketing, Freightliner Trucks. He notes the new M2 V options will be available later this year.

A new standard feature of all Business Class M2 106, 106V, 112 and 112V trucks is a noise abatement package. It consists of a decoupled barrier made from lightweight foam that is spaced away from the firewall, engine tunnel and floor, minimizing vibrations and blocking noise.

A premium noise abatement package is also available as an option for all M2 vehicles. The OEM said this package reduces interior cab noise levels by three decibels, or 50%, over standard noise levels. This premium option also increases the firewall barrier thickness by 50%.

Two new engine noise shield options are also offered on each M2. A tunnel/firewall engine noise shield helps silence noise traveling from the engine compartment to the cab interior. A hood liner insulation engine-noise shield option reduces sound traveling from the engine compartment to the outside environment and is aimed at residential and city delivery applications.

Either engine noise shield option can be ordered with the new premium noise abatement option. However, the standard, premium and engine noise abatement packages for the M2s can be ordered independently of each other.

Another new option on both M2 106 and 106V models is Sit-Down Dual Drive. Installed by Fontaine Modification, Freightliner says it is ideal for refuse and municipal operations requiring right-side driving and controls. “Freightliner is the first OEM to offer this dual drive feature in a conventional truck as an available, published option,” notes Lampert.

And now optional on all Business Class M2 vehicles are the latest Bendix/Spicer air disc brakes, which the OEM says offer several performance advantages including improved brake pedal feel and reduced brake fade. To be ordered with the air discs, the truck must be equipped with Freightliner proprietary front axles. These brakes can be specified for 24.5-in. tires, according to Freightliner.

General Motors

All 2006 model information about the TopKick and Kodiak conventionals, as well as the T-Series and W-Series cabovers, has been embargoed by General Motors until August 1.

However, John Gaydash, director of commercial marketing for GM, did say that the OEM plans to improve the performance and capability of its medium-duty line in 2006. In particular, GM will beef up the smaller W-Series to increase both carrying capacity and power.

GM is targeting its OnStar 24/7 satellite communications package, as well as XM satellite radios, for the medium-duty fleet community in 2006. The OEM says that despite their high price tags, both technologies can offer fleet users major cost saving benefits.

Gaydash says drivers using medium-duty trucks equipped with OnStar made 6,000 calls in 2004 to unlock their doors, which means 6,000 times a locksmith didn't have to be called. The system's automatic crash notification is another major benefit.

The XM satellite radio package can give drivers instant traffic and weather updates for 21 major metropolitan areas, helping them avoid congestion and thus reduce delays. Adds Gaydash: “We realize bottom line cost is very important, but these technologies can offer a cost savings for fleets.”


Hino Motor Sales USA does not plan to make many changes to its Class 4-7 medium-duty conventionals, which were introduced in 2004 to replace the OEM's cabover lineup in the U.S.

The big news is the addition of a Hino 165 hybrid version, which was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show last November. The Class 4 hybrid, rated 16,000 lb. GVW, is powered by Hino's standard 4-cyl., 5L diesel engine, combined with a proprietary flywheel generator/starter that captures braking force when the vehicle slows, storing it as electrical power in a battery array. The electrical power is then used to augment the diesel on startup, as well as during cruising, improving fuel economy anywhere from 14% to 27%.

The standardized battery pack is the same as that used in Toyota's Prius hybrid automobile, which could make replacements easier to find and less expensive. (Toyota is the parent company of Hino.)

The conventional lineup includes six models, with GVWRs ranging from 14,050 to 33,000-lb. All are equipped with Hino's J-Series 5L or 8L engine, offering between 175 and 260 hp.


International Truck & Engine Corp. has announced no major changes to its new CF Series line of low-cab-forward trucks, which entered production earlier this year, or to its existing 4000 Series of conventional medium-duties.

The new CF line consists of the CF 500, rated at 16,000 lb. GVW, and the CF 600, rated at 19,500 lb. GVW. The OEM says the CF Series marks its entry into the Class 4-5 market with an all-new product designed and produced in North America.

Both CF models are powered by the new International VT 275 diesel. The 4.5-liter V6 boasts peak ratings of 200 hp. at 3,000 rpm and 440 lb.-ft of torque at 1850 rpm. The integrated CF powertrain includes a 5-sp. overdrive automatic transmission as standard.

According to the OEM, the CF Series offers excellent ride and handling characteristics, along with superior visibility and maneuverability. International says the new trucks also boast responsive power, smoother shifting and a quiet, comfortable cab environment. The CF Series is built on a high-strength, low-alloy steel frame with 34-in. wide frame rails, taper-leaf front suspension and standard front and rear shocks. PTO capability is offered as an option.

The International 4000 Series offers conventional models for Class 6 and higher, including the 4200, 4200 Lo Pro, 4300, 4400, and the 4400 4×2 Mid Cab tractor. Power is provided by International VT 365, DT 466 and DT 570 diesel engines, depending on specific model. Transmission choices include International and Eaton Fuller manuals, as well as Allison automatics.

The newest member of the International XT Family is the RXT, a more than five-ton, 22-ft. long 4×2 commercial pickup truck. The RXT is designed for “business owners who prefer a strong and athletic look rather than a vehicle as big and bold as the International CXT,” which the OEM calls the world's largest production pickup.

The RXT is powered by an International VT 365 diesel V8 boasting 230 hp. and 540 lb.-ft. of torque. It's fitted with an 8 ft. long bed and commercial hydraulic brakes for stopping large loads or trailers. Other features include a low step-in height, aerodynamic hood and a crew cab that seats five.


General Motors and Isuzu Commercial Truck has given its N-Series cabovers a fresh new look on the outside while adding more features directed at driver comfort and convenience on the inside.

Exterior enhancements include flush-mounted headlamps, cornering lamps and turn signals, as well as a new composite bumper.

Inside, drivers can expect to find lighter colors and a new, breathable cloth seat material. A tachometer has been added for diesel models, to aid PTO operation and a new rear steel engine cover is designed to improve back-of-cab appearance and help retain heat during cold weather operation.

N-Series models (Class 3 NPR, Class 4 NPR HD and Class 5 NQR and NRR) also feature standard power door locks for '06, a new engine control module mounting bracket for improved body mounting, plus a Donaldson polypropylene air cleaner (for the diesel single cab) for easier serviceability and more corrosion resistance, according to Isuzu.

Power options have likewise been expanded. An NPR diesel model with a 12,000-lb. GVW rating certified in all 50 states is available for '06, extending the diesel-power availability to five GVW ratings: 12,000, 14,500, 17,950 and 19,500 lb.

The 5.2L Isuzu 4HK1-TC turbocharged, intercooled diesel engine produces 190 hp. and 387 lb.-ft. of torque, and can be paired with a 6-sp. manual transmission or the Aisin 450-43LE 4-sp. automatic.

The gasoline-powered Vortec 6000, 6.0L V8 engine can also be spec'd for the NPR and NPR HD models. It delivers 300 hp. and 358 lb.-ft. of torque driven through a Hydra-Matic 4L80-E 4-sp. automatic. Warranties for '06 N-Series vehicles have been extended to 36 mo./unlimited mileage.

Isuzu has also introduced a series of conventional trucks, dubbed the H-Series and available in Class 6 (HTR, 25,950 lb.), Class 7 (HVR, 25,950-33,000 lb.) and Class 8 (HXR, 33,000-54,600 lb.) weight ratings.

All H-Series feature the Isuzu 6HK1-TC 6-cyl. diesel engine, with hp. ratings from 200 to 300 and torque output from 520 to 860 lb.-ft., driven through an Allison 2400 or 2500 series (2500 is standard on HTR and HVR) or Allison 3000 or 3500 series (HVR and HXR only). The Allison 3000 is standard on the HXR. Manual transmission fans can also chose either the Eaton 6-sp. (HTR and HVR) or the Eaton 9/10-sp. (HXR).

Cab options include the regular three-person cab (105-in. BBC) or a six-person crew cab (146-in. BBC). Driver and passengers have a variety of seating options, including air seats and a two-person passenger seat that features a fold-down work surface and integrated storage.

Low-cab-forward F-Series models will continue to be available in a wide range of configurations for 2006, although no major changes are anticipated. A tandem-axle, 56,000-l.b GVWR was added in '05.


Kenworth Truck Co. has announced no major changes for the 2006 model year for its T300 medium-duty conventional model. The truck is available in Class 6 or 7 configurations, either as a straight truck or tractor, in a variety of wheelbases and with either air or hydraulic brakes.

The OEM says the T300 is designed to meet a wide range of vocational and pickup-and-delivery applications. The truck features a 20-deg. sloped hood, 50-deg. wheel cut, one piece windshield, and Daylite doors, according to Kenworth, that help make it ideal for deliveries requiring high visibility and maneuverability. In addition, KW notes, the T300's aluminum and fiberglass cab with cowl mounted mirrors add strength and durability.

The T300 offers front axle ratings from 8,000 to 14,000-lb. and rear-axle ratings from 19,000 to 40,000 lb. Available engines are the Cummins ISB or ISC or Caterpillar C7 diesels in ratings running from 190 to 330 hp. These can be mated with Eaton Fuller AutoShift and Allison automatic transmissions. Options include hydraulic disc brakes.

Steve Gilligan, general marketing manager, reports that recently added options for the T300 include a center console containing a workstation for driver efficiency and an Australian burl wood-accented dash “for a luxury touch,” as well as corner windows to aid in backing up and negotiating tight spots.

Gilligan points out the T300 is “a proven product that appeals to a wide range of vocational truck users,” including food and beverage haulers, fire departments, propane and fuel fleets, general construction and landscape firms, and dry and refrigerated van operations.

Mitsubishi Fuso

Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America did a complete redesign of its Class 3-7 cabovers in 2005 that is expected to remain unchanged in 2006.

New on all 2006 models, however, are improved warranty programs, including an augmented bumper-to-bumper warranty of 35-mo./unlimited mileage and a limited 5-yr. powertrain warranty. According to Robert McDowell, exec. vp & COO, Class 4 FE and Class 5 FG models are covered for 5 yr./175,000 mi, while Class 6 FK and Class 7 FM models get 5-yr./250,000-mi. coverage.

Powertrain warranties cover the engine, Aisin automatic transmission or Mitsubishi manual transmission, clutch housing and pressure plate assembly, rear axle housing and internal parts on all FE models, plus the front axle housing and internal parts on 4WD FG models.

There are limitations, however, including the expected list of fluids and filters, normal wear items like tires, brake and clutch linings and wiper blades, and custom truck bodies, plus failures due to abuse, accident, improper maintenance, etc., he says.

The OEM also announced that in a mid-year update to '05 models, engineers have focused on making the cab environment friendly and comfortable, with car-like controls used wherever possible. As a result, the FE 120, FE 145, FE 180 and the FG 140 4WD models have cabs with plenty of room for a 6-ft. driver plus two helpers. All seats recline and have generous forward-aft adjustment; the seatback on the assistant seat folds forward to provide a flat work surface when not occupied.

In addition, the transmission shifter has been moved to the dash and the parking brake lever has been placed between the seats, so the floor area is clear. This improves legroom for passengers, and makes it easier for curbside exit for the driver, Mitsubishi Fuso says.

If more room is needed, the FE 145 Crew Cab is available to seat seven, with four full-access doors and storage areas under the rear bench seat.

To reduce driver fatigue, all of these models are equipped with one-touch tilt/telescoping steering wheel adjustment, high-mount HVAC vents, easy-to-reach storage slots, adjustable driver's armrest, noise-reducing door seals and high-mount air intake, tinted windshield glass, and power windows and door locks.


Peterbilt Motors. Co. reports no big changes in the works for its Class 6-7 conventional offering, the Model 335, which it began rolling out just last year. The medium-duty Pete is aimed at a wide range of applications, including pickup and delivery, beverage, municipal, dump, fire and rescue, crane, tanker, mixer, refuse and utility, and is available as a truck or tractor.

The two-pedal automated Eaton UltraShift transmission is now available on the Model 335. “The Model 335 is used in a wide range of settings which demand drivers' full attention, such as urban pickup and delivery and construction sites,” says Bruce Ewald, Peterbilt asst. gm-sales & marketing. “By eliminating shifting and the use of a clutch pedal, the UltraShift will help drivers keep focused. It will also help reduce operator fatigue for greater productivity, leading to more stops or loads for more profit.”

The automated transmission is available on the medium Pete in two torque capacities, 660 lb.-ft. and 860 lb.-ft. Both can be mated to the Cummins ISC and Caterpillar C7 engines. The OEM notes the UltraShift uses a “wet clutch” design to provide an automotive, “urge-to-move” feel commonly associated with automatic transmissions using torque converters. Peterbilt says the transmission can increase fuel economy vs. a manual gearbox by using computer-controlled shifts for optimal efficiency and performance. The optional transmission also helps reduce maintenance requirements and maximize vehicle uptime through a durable, reliable design, says the OEM.

A key standard feature of the Model 335 is its new forward lighting system that Pete says provides 40% better “down-road coverage” than conventional sealed-beam systems. The OEM says the lighting design creates a higher intensity beam with a broad, even distribution for outstanding nighttime visibility. Additionally, bulb replacement is simple and requires no special tools, and vertical height adjustment can be done without even opening the hood, notes Pete. The Model 335 boasts an upgraded interior as well, with many features designed to enhance operator comfort, productivity and ergonomics.


Sterling Truck Corp. reports different axle and suspension offerings on its Acterra and L-Line models for medium-duty (Class 5-7) applications. An enhanced 12,000-lb. taper leaf front suspension is available for all Sterling Class 7 and 8 models. The OEM says this lightweight, low-maintenance front suspension offers up to a 14-lb. weight savings when compared to the previous design and provides improved ride quality due to reduced interleaf spring friction. The suspension comes equipped with maintenance-free rubber bushings with spring spacers to reduce wear and friction.

Also available on Acterra and L-Line trucks is the Hendrickson Composilite ST 13,500-lb. steerable pusher axle. Sterling notes this option is well-suited for mixers or to save weight. It provides a 160-lb. weight savings when compared to the HLUS-2 Paralift Ultra axle. The axle uses a lightweight composite tie rod to reduce total weight without compromising durability; allows zero torsion bushings to spin freely to eliminate bushing windup; and features a 28-degree wheel cut for superior maneuverability, said Sterling. In addition, in-line air springs maximize packaging space and avoid undercarriage obstructions both inside and outside the frame rails.

According to Jim Crowcroft, product marketing manager, both Acterra and L-Line medium-duty can be ordered as a “body builder-preferred truck with a wide range of components that can be spec'd for nearly any application.”

Already offered for powering the Acterra, the Cummins ISC engine is now available as well on L-Line trucks. Fully compliant with EPA 2004 standards, says the OEM, the ISC delivers “significant advantages over previous generations of Cummins engines, including improved reliability, reduced downtime, maintaining oil change intervals, and a long life-to-overhaul.”

Sterling notes the engine features a high-pressure, common-rail fuel system that “delivers superior performance with lower emissions and reduced noise.” This is possible “because the design maintains high injection pressures regardless of engine rpm for outstanding performance across the entire power range.”

UD Trucks

Since the UD Truck line built by Nissan Diesel received a complete overhaul for the 2005 model year, only a few changes are being made for 2006.

According to Dave Trussell, marketing manager, Nissan Diesel is making four major changes to its all-cabover product line in 2006. The first is that the OEM is adding a 238.2-in. “R” wheelbase for its UD 2600 model, specifically to give customers using a 25,950-lb. GVWR vehicle more flexibility in choice of body length than before. The new wheelbase can fit dry van bodies ranging from 26 to 28 ft.

Second, Trussell said a full-depth air-dam style bumper is going to be standard equipment for all UD 1800CS (City Spec) through UD 3300 models in 2006, giving those trucks better aerodynamic performance. Third, cruise control will also be standard on those models.

The fourth change for 2006 is the addition of an automatic transmission option for the first time on the UD 3300. The OEM is offering Allison's 2500RDS automatic transmission. In addition, UD says that all Allison transmissions installed on UD trucks in model year 2006 will come factory-filled with Allison's TranSynd synthetic transmission oil.

The UD product line includes nine truck models, with GVWRs ranging from 13,000 lb. (UD 1300) to 33,000 lb. (UD 3300). Standard engine specs are the 4-cyl. MD 175 diesel for UD 1300, 1400 and 1800CS models, and the 6-cyl. MD 230 for the 1800HD up through the 3300.

Workhorse Custom Chassis

The new W42 chassis from Workhorse Custom Chassis makes its debut this year as a 2006 model, replacing the P42 commercial chassis inherited by Workhorse when it bought General Motors' walk-in van chassis division in 1999. Workhorse says it will produce a gasoline-engine version of the W42 in July, followed by a diesel-engine option in September or October.

Workhorse will continue to offer the GM Vortec 4.8L and 6.0L gasoline engines, and will add a diesel option — the International VT 275 V-6, which cranks out 200 hp. and 440 lb.-ft. of torque. The W42 chassis will also feature Brembo four-wheel disc brakes and a new Westport Wide Track I-Beam front axle with a full 50-degree wheel cut and a track that is 5-in. wider for more stability and better handling. The rear axle track will also be wider.

The W42 gets an upgraded transmission for its diesel application, the Allison LCT-1000 electronic 5-sp., as well as new parabolic taper leaf suspension springs, front and rear, with custom-tuned 32mm shock absorbers.

Rear axle ratios on will change from 5.13:1 to 4.63:1 on the diesel application, resulting in reduced prop shaft speeds and longer drive line life, along with quieter operation.

Finally, the W42 will offer the Meritor WABCO four-channel ABS system with full J-1939 diagnostics capability, a new ZF variable ratio power steering box and ZF belt-driven power steering pump, a bigger radiator and cooling fan, and a new Smart Cluster instrument panel with LCD screen for driver and diagnostic information.

Workhorse says that the W42 will be offered in GVWR ranges from 9,400 to 14,500 lb., with wheelbases from 125 to 190 in. A single rear-wheel option will be available for GVWR up to 12,000 lb.

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