'98 NEW MODEL PREVIEW: Medium-duty class 6-7

July 1, 1997
For the most part, few new Class 6-7 trucks are being rolled out for the new model year. The most substantial changes are from Hino, which has redesigned its Class 6-7 trucks and is introducing a new diesel engine series. Nissan is also planning changes to its UD Trucks lineup.Other OEMs are mainly increasing the number of vocational options available, such as crew cabs. Freightliner is offering factory-installed

For the most part, few new Class 6-7 trucks are being rolled out for the new model year. The most substantial changes are from Hino, which has redesigned its Class 6-7 trucks and is introducing a new diesel engine series. Nissan is also planning changes to its UD Trucks lineup.

Other OEMs are mainly increasing the number of vocational options available, such as crew cabs. Freightliner is offering factory-installed AWD on its Business Class trucks. And manufacturers that hadn't already done so report that diesel-engine upgrades needed to meet '98 emissions regs now have been completed.

Also of note is the departure of Volvo GM from the medium-duty marketplace. According to the OEM, it ceased importing its Volvo FE Series as of this spring.

Ford Ford Motor Co. is making only optional changes to its F-Series line of medium-duty trucks and tractors. F 700 and F 800 models are available in GVW ratings starting at 18,000 lb. Standard power for the F 700 is Ford's 216-hp. 7.0L gasoline engine. Also available are 231- and 236-hp. "High Output" versions of the 7.0L, as well as a 218-hp. LPG engine. Base engine for the F 800 is the Cummins ISB 5.9-liter, 175-hp. diesel. Offered also are 190-, 210-, and 230-hp. ratings, and 210-, 225-, and 250-hp. versions of the Cummins C8.3 diesel.

F-Series options now include a four-door crew cab that can seat up to six; steel "Alligator Hood"; air conditioning; sliding tinted rear window; antilock brakes; Hydromount cab-mount system; and National Seating's Easyaire suspension seats, which can be installed on trucks with hydraulic brakes.

The manufacturer also points out that it continues to offer LPO (Low Profile Option) versions of the F 700/800. LPO models are available with GVWRs from 21,000 to 28,000 lb. and can be powered by Ford 7.0L gas and Cummins B5.9 diesel engines.

Louisville 8500-Series medium trucks can be spec'd with GVW ratings that start at 26,500 lb. These models list the 210-hp. Cummins C8.3 diesel as standard power. Optionally available are C8.3s ranging from 225-300 hp., Cummins ISBs from 175-230 hp., and Caterpillar electronic 3126s from 175-300 hp. The L8501 features a BBC of 101 in., which Ford says suits it for use as an "everyday vocational truck." It can be ordered as a single-axle unit with a GVWR up to 39,000 lb. Stablemate L8513 has a BBC of 113 in. and can be spec'd with a single axle for up to 41,000-lb. GVW.

Freightliner Freightliner Corp. is making no major changes to its medium-duty FL50, FL60, and FL70 Business Class trucks. The OEM is offering factory-installed all-wheel drive (AWD) on its "heavier" Business Class models, including the FL70 Series. The FL70, which is rated for 29,000 lb. GVW and up, can be ordered as a 4x4 truck, while higher GVW FL80 and FL106 models can be built as 4x4 or 6x6 units. The AWD setup uses Marmon-Herrington front drive axles and transfer cases. AWD controls are integrated into an overhead panel.

Business Class trucks with AWD can be spec'd with a step-frame option that is factory-made for specific applications requiring reduced body height. This design raises only the front portion of the frame, to clear the front drive axle, and leaves the rear frame at its standard height. The OEM points out the optional frame will lower the center of gravity of a truck's body and related equipment to reduce "rollover tendencies" and improve roll stability in off-road terrain.

Also new for vocational Business Class trucks is the optional Wired-Rite electrical control panel, which is placed in a truck's overhead console. It is designed to allow an installer to simply plug into the system when mounting a body. According to Freightliner, this option is especially suited to users of sophisticated body equipment involving PTOs, hydraulic, and electrical or air accessories. Along with streamlining body installation, Freightliner says the panel provides factory-documented circuitry for service and maintenance purposes.

For beverage haulers, Freightliner has supplemented its transverse muffler option, which eliminates exhaust modifications during the drop-frame process, with a new option for extra-length air and electrical lines. The additional hose and harness length is coiled and secured to the chassis, allowing body installers to rework frames while avoiding unnecessary splices that could cause service problems later.

Other new Business Class options include a factory-installed storage-cabinet/workstation combo positioned between the seats; Cordura seat covers; and jump seats for extended-cab models.

General Motors Marketed under both GMC Truck and Chevrolet badges, the conventional C-Series and cabover T-Series offer a full range of medium-duty choices with single- and tandem-axle trucks, low-profile models, and even tractors. Both the T- Series, which was introduced as an all-new model in 1997, and the C-Series, which was formerly known as the TopKick and Kodiak, will see only minor changes for the 1998 model year.

Covering Classes 5 through 8 with GVWs of 18,000 to 61,000 lb., the C-5500, C-6500, C-7500, and C-8500 can be ordered with GM 6- or 7-liter V8 gasoline engines, or Caterpillar's 3116 diesel, which has ratings up to 215 hp. Options for running the V8s on LPG or CNG are also available.

Transmission choices for the C-Series include two Spicer "Easy-Shift" synchronized 7-speed boxes delivered with synthetic lubricants. Standard brakes for single-axle models are hydraulic discs with 4-wheel ABS. Rockwell Q Plus air brakes with ABS are optional for single-axle trucks and standard with tandem axles. There are 12 wheelbase choices, as well as options for a wide range of front and single- or 2-speed rear axles. One new offering for 1998 is a 23,000-lb. capacity rear air suspension.

The T-Series, which is built at GM's Janesville, Wis., truck plant, offers the same engine and model choices as the C-Series with the T-5500, T-6500, T-7500, and T-8500. GVW ratings range from 23,100 to 54,600 lb., and a tractor version is not currently available. The standard transmission for single-axle tiltcab models is the Allison AT, while tandem-axle versions come standard with the Allison MD. Eaton 5-, 6-, 9-, and 10-speed manual transmissions filled with synthetic lube are also available.

The T-Series cab, developed jointly by GM and Isuzu, has been designed for optimum visibility and driver comfort, with standard power windows, power steering, seating for three, and numerous storage areas. Silicone-filled hydraulic cab mounts are used both front and back to isolate drivers from road vibration, and both spring and air-ride suspensions are offered.

Hino The new model year brings major changes to the medium-duty lineup for Hino Diesel Trucks, including a new family of diesel engines and a long list of improved driver amenities.

The new Hino J-series of engines includes two medium-duty models, both 6-cyl. diesels displacing 8 liters. Used in the FD, FE, FF, and SG3320 models, J08C-TD produces 200 hp. and has a peak torque of 456 lb.-ft. The company's heaviest truck, the SG3325, gets the J08C-TE engine, rated at 250-hp. with a peak torque of 550 lb.-ft. Major features of the new J-series include a 4-valve overhead cam with variable intake for better combustion efficiency. New rolling rocker assemblies and other design changes also reduce internal friction, according to Hino. Electronic fuel controls have been redesigned to minimize emissions, oil seals have been upgraded, and an automated glow-plug option added.

Looking at model specifics, the FD2220 and low-profile FD2220-LP are both rated 22,300 lb. GVW and offered in five wheelbases ranging from 149 to 218 in. They can be ordered with either a 6-speed overdrive synchromesh manual transmission or Allison's AT452 4-speed automatic. Service brakes are air over hydraulic, and an exhaust brake is standard for 1998.

The Class 6 FE2620 (25,995 lb. GVW) and the Class 7 FF3020 (30,000 lb. GVW) share the same powertrain and brake system as the FD. There are five wheelbase offerings for the FE ranging from 181 to 245 in. The FF is available in four wheelbase lengths -- 181, 199, 218, and 228 in.

Moving up to the top of Class 7, the SG3320 (32,900 lb. GVW) is equipped with the 200-hp. version of the new J-series diesel and a 6-speed direct-drive synchromesh manual transmission. Allison's MT643 automatic is offered as an option. Air brakes are standard and wheelbase choices are the same as those for the FF.

Differing from the SG3320 only in power, the SG3325 carries the 250-hp. version of the Hino J-series diesel.

Isuzu Completely redesigned just last year, the Isuzu F-Series medium-duty cabover line will remain essentially unchanged for 1998. The Class 6 FSR and Class 7 FTR and FVR all combine a new Isuzu-built cab with an exclusive Isuzu powertrain and General Motor's C-Series chassis. Final assembly for the new models is being carried out at GM's Janesville, Wis., truck plant.

Features for the F-Series tiltcab include excellent driver visibility, increased use of sound insulation, an air-suspension driver's seat, a more powerful heating and ventilation system, a right-hand power window, increased interior storage space, side-impact door beams, daytime halogen running lights, and power-assisted steering.

Rated 23,100 lb. GVW, the Class 6 FSR is powered by a 6-cyl. Isuzu diesel producing 200 hp. and peak torque of 426 lb.-ft. at 1,500 rpm. The standard transmission is an Isuzu 6-speed manual overdrive, and Allison's AT545 is available as an option. Hydraulic power-assisted ABS disc brakes are also standard.

Offered in both 25,950- and 30,000-lb.-GVW ratings and with wheelbases ranging from 140 to 248 in., the Class 7 FTR shares standard powertrain and brake system specs with the FSR, and an air-brake system with ABS is offered as an option.

The heaviest model in the 1998 Isuzu lineup is the 33,000-lb.-GVW FVR, which is powered by a 230-hp. Isuzu 6-cyl. diesel producing a peak torque of 492 lb.-ft. at 1,500 rpm. Work on developing a 270-hp. version of that engine could also persuade Isuzu to add both a tractor and tandem-axle truck model of the FVR later in the model year, according to sources.

The standard transmission for the current FVR is an Isuzu 6-speed manual with overdrive, and ABS-equipped air brakes are also standard. Available wheelbases range from 140 to 248 in., which can accommodate 14- to 20-ft. bodies.

Kenworth Kenworth Truck Co. has not announced any changes to its T300 conventional and K300 low-cab-forward medium truck lines for the '98 model year. The "T3" is available as a truck or tractor with GVWRs starting at 26,000 lb.

Power offerings include Cummins ISB 5.9-liter and C8.3 engines and Caterpillar's 3126. Engine ratings run from 210 to 300 hp., and 6- or 9-speed manual gearboxes and automatic transmissions can be spec'd. KW says that T3 tandem-axle options allow loading capacity of up to 50,000 lb. vs. just 33,000 for the standard single axle T3. Also available is a 13,200-lb. front-axle rating aimed at Class 7 users.

The tiltcab K300 is offered with GVWRs running from 26,000 to 33,000 lb. Available wheelbases extend from 140 to 240 in. Power is supplied by Cummins ISB and C8.3 diesels, covering a range of 190 to 250 hp. Transmission choices include automatics and 6- or 9-speed manuals.

Mack Mack Trucks Inc. reports no significant changes will be made to its MS and CS Mid-Liner Series. Both MS and CS vehicles offer front axle ratings to 12,000 lb. and rear axles up to 20,000 lb. for use in freight-hauling and vocational applications. The OEM notes it will continue to offer an array of options, such as the Team Manager factory-built crew cab, specifically aimed at meeting the requirements of vocational medium-duty fleets.

MS tiltcabs can be ordered in wheelbases from 138 to 232 in. and can be spec'd with a 6-cyl. turbodiesel from a range of 180 to 210 hp. A 120-in. wheelbase tractor version boasts a GCW rating of 60,000 lb. and comes standard with the 210-hp. powerplant.

CS conventional models are offered with wheelbases ranging from 156 to 246 in. and 6-cyl. engines from 180 to 210 hp. The tractor model has a BBC of 103 in. and, like its cabover cousin, provides the 210-hp. diesel as standard equipment.

Mitsubishi Fuso Only minor cosmetic changes are planned for Mitsubishi Fuso's '98 medium-duty cabover models. It will continue offering two basic models, the FK in Class 6 and the FM in Class 7, in wheelbases ranging from 164 to 230 in. Both share a recently redesigned cab featuring a wide windshield, extensive use of sound deadening materials, and many car-like driver comfort features such as fully adjustable bucket seats, power steering, and a tilt/telescopic steering wheel.

The Class 6 FK has a GVW rating of 25,995 lb. and is powered by a Mitsubishi in-line 6-cyl. diesel producing 200 hp. The standard transmission is a Mitsubishi 5-speed manual with synchromesh for 2nd through 5th gears, and the Allison AT542 automatic is also offered.

The Class 7 FM is offered in four versions with GVWs ranging from 30,000 to 32,900 lb. The FM-MR, FM-HR, and FM-SR are powered by the 200-hp. Mitsubishi diesel, while the heavier FM-SP gets a 230-hp. version of that engine. The standard transmission for all four FM models is Mitsubishi's 5-speed manual, and transmission options include the Allison 545 automatic for the FM-MR and FM-HR, as well as a 10-speed manual for the FM-SP.

Navistar Navistar International Transportation Corp. has announced optional extended-warranty coverage of 48 mo./200,000 mi. on its medium-duty truck models. The OEM has also increased the warranty on its midrange engines. Coverage on the T444E powerplant has been bumped up to 84 mo./ 250,000 mi. Warranty on DT466 and 530 engines now extends up to 84 mo./300,000 mi.

The OEM has incorporated a new electrohydraulic fuel-injection system, dubbed Split-Shot, into all standard-torque versions of the DT466E; all high-torque DT466E engines except 230- and 250-hp. ratings; and all T444E engines. Navistar says that by more precisely delivering fuel to the combustion chamber, Split-Shot injection improves cold-weather starts, reduces noise, and cuts emissions.

International 4000-Series trucks are available with new interiors as well as a special exterior-graphics package. The OEM is also making National Seating's Cush-N-Aire model its standard suspension seat on all 2000, 4000, and 8000 Series vehicles.

Joining the midrange lineup this year is an extended-length cab version of the International 4900 fire-service truck. Other Class 6-7 4000 Series models include the 4700 4x2; 4700 Lo-Profile 4x2; 4700 LPX 4x2; 4800 4x4; and 4900 4x2. Standard GVWRs on these vehicles start at 19,500 lb. and available wheelbases run from 128 to 254 in.

Navistar also points out that comprehensive Diamond Services are available to buyers of any size order of medium-duty trucks. The OEM says the programs cover more than 30 areas, including maintenance, parts, analysis, finance, insurance, and lease/rental support. While Diamond Services lends "singular identity" to an array of services, according to the OEM, fleets can "customize the service packages to best meet their needs."

Peterbilt Peterbilt Motors Co. has not announced any changes to its Class 7 lineup for '98. The Model 330 conventional features a 108-in. BBC, a huckbolted aluminum cab, and a two-piece flat windshield. Standard powerplant is a 210-hp. version of the Caterpillar 3126. Optionally available are other Cats from 185 to 300 hp., as well as Cummins engines from 210 to 300 hp. The 4x2 configuration comes equipped with an Eaton 10,000-lb.-capacity front axle with options covering up to 12,000 lb. Rear axles of up to 40,000 lb. are available to meet a variety of vocational needs.

The Mid-Ranger Model 200 low-cab-forward truck boasts a tiltcab and is offered in 30,000- and 33,000-lb.-GVW ratings. Available wheelbases run from 149 to 240 in. The base engine is a Cummins C8.3 diesel rated 210 hp. at 2,200 rpm. Optional power includes Cummins ISB 5.9-liter engines in a range from 190 to 210 hp. The standard transmission is a 6-speed manual.

UD Trucks At presstime, Nissan Diesel America had not finalized plans for its 1998 lineup of medium-duty UD Trucks. Look for an official announcement, which should include powertrain and perhaps even model changes, later this summer.

Currently, the company's three medium-duty models all carry an aerodynamic tiltcab introduced in 1995. The UD medium-duty cab features hydraulic suspension, extensive use of corrosion-resistant materials, a front cab panel for service and fluid checks, an automotive type interior, a tilt/telescopic steering column, and a high-capacity air-conditioning system.

Rated at 23,000 lb. GVW, the Class 6 UD2300, is offered in low-profile and standard dock-height configurations. It's powered by a Nissan Diesel 210-hp. 6-cyl. turbocharged engine producing a peak torque of 433 lb.-ft. at 2,800 rpm. A 6-speed overdrive manual is the standard transmission, with Allison AT542 and AT545 automatics offered as options. Wheelbases for the UD2300 range from 147 to 216 in.

At the top of Class 6, the UD2600 is rated 25,995 lb. GVW. Powered by the 210-hp. Nissan Diesel, it also comes standard with a 6-speed overdrive manual transmission and offers Allison AT automatic transmissions as options. Six wheelbases from 148 to 254 in. are available, accommodating bodies as long as 28 ft.

In Class 7, the UD3000 shares the same powertrain and wheelbase specs as the UD2600 but is rated 30,000 lb. GVW.

About the Author

Jim Mele

Nationally recognized journalist, author and editor, Jim Mele joined Fleet Owner in 1986 with over a dozen years’ experience covering transportation as a newspaper reporter and magazine staff writer. Fleet Owner Magazine has won over 45 national editorial awards since his appointment as editor-in-chief in 1999.

Sponsored Recommendations

Reducing CSA Violations & Increasing Safety With Advanced Trailer Telematics

Keep the roads safer with advanced trailer telematics. In this whitepaper, see how you can gain insights that lead to increased safety and reduced roadside incidents—keeping drivers...

80% Fewer Towable Accidents - 10 Key Strategies

After installing grille guards on all of their Class 8 trucks, a major Midwest fleet reported they had reduced their number of towable accidents by 80% post installation – including...

Proactive Fleet Safety: A Guide to Improved Efficiency and Profitability

Each year, carriers lose around 32.6 billion vehicle hours as a result of weather-related congestion. Discover how to shift from reactive to proactive, improve efficiency, and...

Tackling the Tech Shortage: Lessons in Recruiting Talent and Reducing Turnover

Discover innovative strategies for recruiting and retaining tech talent in the trucking industry during this informative webinar, where experts will share insights on competitive...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!