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2016 Truck Review

2016 Truck Review

If there’s a common theme running through the 2016 model overview on the following pages, it would be about building trucks that offer more capability, more efficiency, and more simplicity.

As for capability, Class 8 truck manufacturers all boast of having the production capability to make every truck that comes off the line essentially a custom, built-to-order vehicle. That means customers can spec their new trucks exactly for the application.

Thanks to the latest technology, these trucks also come from the factory with all the connectivity the World Wide Web has to offer, whether that’s remote diagnostic systems, routing and load management, or off-duty entertainment systems.

And efficiency—fuhgeddaboudit! These new trucks are going to be pushing mpg numbers into record territory. More automated manual transmissions and fully automatic gearboxes are being offered; more comfortable and ergonomic cab interiors are available; and more work is being done on the assembly line to ensure holes in the chassis don’t need to be drilled for body wiring harnesses.
Yet there’s also simplicity: a trait becoming ever-more valued to not only make the work life of today’s commercial drivers easier and safer, but also make their trucks easier to upfit and maintain.

As a bonus and for fun, because so many truckers, when they park the rig for some home time, step out of a Class 8 cab and into a pickup, we’ve also included a brief peek at what’s new in light-duty trucks.

Capability, efficiency and simplicity. It’s the mantra OEMs followed to design and produce their 2016 models, and it will assuredly be the mantra for their future truck-making endeavors as well.



Caterpillar has introduced the CT680 model for the 2016 model year. The 124-in. BBC aluminum cab-equipped unit, which is available in both truck and tractor configuration, helps round out the OEM’s CT vocational truck line “trifecta.” 

The CT680 is a Class 8 set-forward-axle model that will be offered with the 13L C13 engine and a range of transmission options, including Caterpillar’s CX31 6-speed automatic, Eaton UltraShift Plus automated mechanical transmission (AMT), and several Eaton manual gearboxes in configurations from 8 to 18 speed. Caterpillar also plans to introduce a 15L engine option for the CT680 and for the 122-in. BBC configuration of the CT660 later this year. 

The CT680 model includes two exterior trim levels (L and LG) to address different style and serviceability needs and both are “comparable in pricing,” the OEM notes. The CT680L features a three-piece Metton hood, three-piece chrome bumper, three-piece chrome stainless grille surround, and composite halogen headlights with incandescent park/turn lights. By contrast, the CT680LG comes with a one-piece fiberglass hood, three-piece black bumper and integrated fiberglass grille surround, sealed-beam halogen headlights, and LED park/turn lights. 

A dual external air cleaner option for more efficient air management in dirty, dusty applications will be available for both the CT680 truck and tractor configurations. Ratings on the standard C13 engine powering the CT680 range from 410 to 475 hp., with peak torque from 1,450 to 1,700 lbs.-ft. The CX31 automatic, which offers six forward speeds and one reverse, comes with two side PTO (power take off) locations and an exclusive rear PTO slot. Drivers can choose from multiple seat options, including the Cat “comfort seat.” The tilting, telescoping steering column and leather-wrapped steering wheel is a standard feature. The CT680 also features a curved, sloped, wraparound windshield in either a one- or two-piece design. Caterpillar adds that all of its CT trucks—CT660, CT681 axle-forward model, and CT680—are being built at a manufacturing facility in Escobedo, Mexico.


Freightliner Trucks


The new optional AeroSmart aerodynamic package and SmartAdvantage integrated powertrain, both aimed at the Cascadia Class 8 highway tractor, are the big highlights from Freightliner for the 2016 model year. The OEM says the new AeroSmart package allows the latest aerodynamic components available for the Cascadia to be easily combined with the SmartAdvantage integrated powertrain. 

The SmartAdvantage powertrain combines a SmartTorque2-equipped Cummins ISX15 engine with the Eaton Fuller Advantage 10-speed automated manual transmission (AMT). Freightliner says this combination allows customers to quickly spec and order tractor configurations that achieve the best fuel economy possible. 

Freightliner is also offering new driver comfort options for its Cascadia and Cascadia Evolution tractor models. The second-generation Bose Ride system II truck seat suspension now features a “ride control selector” to enhance seat-top ergonomics for greater driver comfort, and a SmarTire tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) from Bendix CVS shows real-time pressure and temperature status on a dash display. A swivel mount for up to a 26-in. flat screen TV with antenna can be securely stored when not in use. 

On the proprietary powertrain side and to help the power­train operate as efficiently as possible, Freightliner’s brother Detroit recently made its intelligent powertrain management (IPM) a standard feature on all Detroit DT12 AMTs paired with any heavy-duty Detroit-branded engine. The IPM system integrates preloaded terrain maps and GPS into engine and transmission functions so they  “know” the route ahead, up to one mile, and can better manage the momentum of the truck in concert with roadway terrain to reduce fuel consumption. IPM also integrates seamlessly with the newly available Detroit Assurance suite of safety systems. 





Introduced at the end of last year, the Navistar International ProStar ES (efficiency specification) highway tractor is getting additional tweaks for the 2016 model year. The Pro­Star ES is available with either Cummins’ ISX15 or Navistar’s N13 proprietary 13L engine. It can be equipped with the Eaton Cummins SmartAdvantage powertrain, which pairs the Cummins ISX15 with the Eaton Fuller Advantage automated manual transmission (AMT). 

Recent enhancements to the ProStar ES spec’d with the ISX15 include the integration of Cummins’ ADEPT electronics suite, which includes SmartTorque2 and SmartCoast. That suite continuously makes minor adjustments to speed, power and transmission gear while monitoring current grade and vehicle mass to take advantage of vehicle momentum. The end result? Maximizing efficiency while using less fuel in the process. Navistar notes that Cummins’ ADEPT and SmartCoast features are also available on non-ES ProStar models that are powered by the Cummins ISX15. 

ProStar ES models equipped with the N13 engine are coupled to an Eaton Fuller Advantage AMT and now include newly enhanced engine controls. A neutral coast feature shifts the transmission to neutral when a driver backs off the accelerator, maximizing coast time and improving fuel economy.

Taken together, those upgrades enable the ProStar ES to achieve a total fuel economy improvement of 2% over the iteration unveiled in December of last year, a model that at the time Navistar said offered a 13% fuel economy gain compared to comparable non-ES ProStar tractors.

“The ProStar ES continues to leverage the latest advancements in powertrain and vehicle technologies to drive incremental gains and provide customers with the industry’s best fuel efficiency package,” says Bill Kozek, president of truck and parts at Navistar.  “As part of our continuous improvement mindset, we’re not standing still, and we’ll continue to enhance this spec with increasingly more efficient components and advanced technologies.”

Navistar adds that its ProStar ES and other ProStar models powered by the ISX15 or the N13 are also available with XFE 75W-90. This new fuel-efficient axle lubricant reduces friction and spin losses, improves durability, and drives additional fuel efficiency improvements.





The limited edition ICON 900, based off Kenworth Truck’s W900L tractor, is what the OEM put at the top of its hit list for the 2016 model year. Kenworth says it expects to sell between 1,000 and 1,500 of the limited edition tractor, which is being positioned as a “trucker’s truck.” It is being offered with a 72- or 86-in. sleeper and up to a 600-hp. engine. 

​Kenworth is also introducing a new 76-in. mid-roof sleeper for its T680 and T880 highway tractors. Full production of that sleeper is expected to start in the fall. The OEM says that the sleeper is 100 lbs. lighter than its high-roof sleeper package and is optimized to provide a more aerodynamic profile. Operators in tanker and flatbed applications could see up to a 5% boost in fuel economy. 

Kenworth is also upgrading its super-fuel-efficient T680 Advantage package; it now offers 10% better fuel economy compared to the 2013 version. That 10% gain equates to a yearly savings of more than $4,600 in fuel per truck for the average long-haul operation when fuel cost is calculated at around $4/gal., the company stresses. New T680 Advantage specs include the addition of the OEM’s idle management system (IMS), tire pressure monitoring, wide-base tires, and predictive cruise control. The OEM’s IMS with auto start/stop is a battery-based auxiliary power unit designed to keep the cab and sleeper comfortable for up to 10 hours. 

The engine auto start/stop function, which will become available later this year, will provide automatic battery monitoring and engine startup when batteries get depleted to their minimum power levels. That will allow the truck’s batteries to be recharged while air conditioning and hotel loads are still being utilized, the OEM notes. Once batteries are sufficiently charged, the system shuts down the engine and runs again on pure battery power.        



Mack Trucks


The big news from Mack Trucks for the 2016 model year is the introduction of its LR low-entry cabover refuse unit. Built with input from customers, the Mack LR model is available in three-axle 6x4 configurations and can be powered by diesel or natural gas fuels. The OEM adds that it also designed the LR model with body builders in mind, offering additional access points and mounting locations for wiring, controls and joysticks. 

Cab interior enhancements on the LR model include tilt and telescopic steering columns, power windows and power door locks, memory mirrors, in-dash air conditioning, standard in-cab LED lighting, and an instrument cluster with color LCD. The rear cab windows now wrap around the rear cab corners, improving driver visibility. The 11L Mack MP7 diesel engine is standard in the LR model, cranking out 325 to 345 hp. and 1,200 to 1,280 lbs.-ft. of torque, while the Cummins Westport ISL G natural gas engine is optional. 

The LR model is equipped with either an Allison RDS 5-speed or 6-speed automatic transmission. 

Mack introduced new functionality for its Pinnacle highway model aimed at bulk and liquid haul applications. Called Load Logic, the system includes a 6x2 liftable pusher axle option designed for vehicles that routinely haul out heavy and return empty. Mack says Load Logic and the 6x2 are designed to monitor trailer weight and adjust the truck’s driveline configuration to boost fuel efficiency without impacting performance. Load Logic integrates an advanced sensor in the rear suspension with the Mack mDrive automated manual transmission (AMT), enabling it to operate as a direct drive transmission when hauling loaded trailers. It then switches back to an overdrive format, enabling a 12th gear to lower cruise rpms and maximize fuel efficiency. 

Mack also introduced a severe-duty version of its mDrive AMT dubbed the mDrive HD, which is now the standard gearbox on its Granite and Titan trucks. The 12-speed mDrive HD is engineered to work exclusively with Mack MP7 and MP8 engines and is controlled through a dash-mounted shift pad by selecting drive, neutral or reverse. For more demanding jobsite maneuvers, the premium shift pad can be operated manually to hold a gear, downshift or upshift.





The top 2016 model news from Peterbilt Motors remains the introduction of its 579 EPIQ fuel efficiency tractor spec, which incorporates aerodynamic styling, an optimized powertrain, and what the OEM calls “innovative” fuel-saving technologies. The Model 579 EPIQ includes APEX, an optimized drivetrain that pairs the Paccar MX-13 engine with the Fuller Advantage automated manual transmission. Also included are numerous aerodynamic enhancements developed through computational fluid dynamics research, wind tunnel testing, and thousands of miles of on-the-road validation. 

Other elements of EPIQ include a roof fairing bridge that reduces the gap between truck and trailer; enhanced chassis fairings that minimize the opening in front of the tandem axle; rubber wheel closeouts on the front axle; a durable bumper dam that reduces aerodynamic lift and drag; and a bumper-to-hood seal that redirects air around the truck. Other fairings include 18-in. sleeper side extenders with 8-in. rubber flares; rubber skirting along the chassis fairing from the quarter fender to the front of the tandem axle with rubber closeouts under the sides of the cab and sleeper; and roof fairings with an exclusive rear wall closeout. 

The company has launched a new set-forward front axle configuration for its flagship vocational Model 567 for the 2016 model year, along with an all-wheel drive option for that same model in a set-back front axle configuration. This includes the Marmon-Herrington MT-22H front drive axle rated at 22,000 lbs. and the Dana Spicer DS4636 drive axle rated at 46,000 lbs. 

On top of that, a 58-in. sleeper is now available for the Model 579 in both low- and mid-roof configurations, along with liquid natural gas (LNG) fuel system options for both its Model 579 and 567 LNG trucks in daycab configurations. Both of those models in LNG configuration are powered by the Cummins-Westport ISX12 G with up to 400 hp. and 1,450 lbs.-ft. of torque.



Volvo Trucks


Topping the 2016 model-year list for Volvo Trucks is its new VNX 630 model designed for high gross weight applications and heavy-haul tasks like equipment hauling, oil and gas delivery, and timber transport. It is offered with a tridem rear axle group. 

The Volvo VNX 630 tridem features three rear drive axles instead of two, resulting in an 8x6 configuration that can easily manage up to a 69,000-lb. rear axle load. The extra traction capabilities of the tridem axle enable the VNX 630 tridem to easily traverse steep terrain, mud, ice and other off-road conditions, the OEM notes. Equipped with a Volvo D16 engine that delivers up to 600 hp. and 2,050 lbs.-ft. of torque, the VNX comes standard with the Volvo I-Shift automated manual transmission and features a mid-roof sleeper configuration. 

The company also introduced a new 6x2 liftable forward axle option for select models that automatically adjusts to load weight changes and offers 4x2 operation under certain conditions. Ideal for bulk haulers or general freight operations, the OEM says key benefits of “adaptive loading” using this 6x2 liftable forward axle option include greater fuel efficiency, improved traction, lower maintenance costs, and increased driver productivity. 

Volvo has also rolled out a version of its I-Shift AMT dubbed the I-Shift SD for “severe duty” on- and off-road applications that require frequent shifting. The I-Shift SD is available on Volvo’s VHD truck models when spec’d with the OEM’s proprietary D11 and D13 engines. It’s standard on VHD straight trucks rated at 66,000 lbs. GVWR or higher and tractors rated at 125,000 lbs. GCWR or higher. 

Finally, Volvo is introducing a “super direct drive” option to boost fuel efficiency by lowering engine rpms at a given vehicle speed, a concept called downspeeding. By using a direct drive I-Shift AMT, the package offers additional fuel efficiency benefits compared with conventional direct drive transmissions, the OEM explains. Made available for order this year, Volvo’s super direct drive option is designed for linehaul applications that operate in top gear at a GCWR of 80,000 lbs. or less with maximum engine torque of 1,850 lbs.-ft. The super direct drive spec incorporates Meritor’s 2.28 ratio for its 14X tandem drive axle and RPL35 driveline. Meritor has fortified the design by enlarging the pinion system to accommodate extreme torque levels associated with downspeeding. 



Western Star


The start of full production of the 5700XE tractor introduced last year is the big news from Western Star for the 2016 model year. The 5700XE features a 126-in. BBC with a set-back axle and is available with a range of sleeper configurations. The XE in the Class 8 truck’s name stands for “extreme efficiency,” in part to help highlight the 5700XE’s aerodynamic hood, roof, chassis and cab fairings—all designed to reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency. 

Western Star adds that the 5700XE features a swept-back four-piece bumper with an under-bumper valance to further help boost aerodynamic efficiency, along with halogen headlights optimized for both aerodynamic performance and visibility. A new visor is engineered to work in conjunction with the slope in the 5700XE hood’s rear air ramp to direct airflow over the cab without any aerodynamic penalty. 

Optional chassis side fairings reduce drag by up to 6% while still providing easy access to batteries and the truck’s diesel exhaust fluid tank. 

The 5700XE can be spec’d with a Detroit DD13, DD15 or DD16 engine and comes standard with a Detroit DT12 automated manual transmission that can be mated to any of them. 

For ultimate fuel efficiency, customers can select the integrated Detroit Powertrain featuring the new downsped Detroit DD15 engine rated at 400 hp. and 1,750 lbs.-ft. of torque, Detroit DT12 transmission with Intelligent Powertrain Management (IPM), and Detroit axles with specific configurations and gearing. 

Drivers will appreciate the inside of the corrosion-resistant galvanneal lightweight steel cab of the 5700XE. Western Star has added an adjustable steering column and steering wheel featuring integrated controls that help drivers focus on the road ahead. 

Finally, the 5700XE is equipped with the proprietary Detroit Virtual Technician remote diagnostic service. This is part of the Detroit Connect suite of integrated telematics solutions, which also includes Visibility fleet software and the forthcoming On-Board Tablet as options for the 5700XE.



Ford Motor   


The big news from Ford for the 2016 model year is the addition of more options for its Transit van and its popular F-150 pickup, which underwent a major overhaul for the 2015 model year. The OEM is making its SYNC 3 communications and entertainment system an option for the 2016 Transit. It is also boosting the number of available configurations for the Transit to 58, up from 47 in model year 2015, thanks to the addition of dual sliding cargo doors on Transit medium- and high-roof vans. 

All 2016 Transit vans and wagons come standard with a rearview camera and trailer hitch assist technology. Trailer hitch assist automatically engages when the vehicle is shifted into reverse and displays a graphical overlay on the screen that helps guide drivers when lining up a hitch with a trailer. On top of that, Transit cutaway and chassis cab customers have the option to display the area behind the vehicle on the rearview mirror. 

Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist will be offered as an option on the 2016 model F-150. The technology  limits vehicle speed while letting the customer steer the trailer with a control knob as the truck steers its wheels. To operate, the customer rotates a knob to indicate how much the system should turn the trailer. The feature automatically steers the truck to turn the trailer. 

Ford’s gaseous-fuel prep package for F-150 pickups equipped with the OEM’s 5L V8 engine allows the truck to operate on either compressed natural gas (CNG) or propane. 



General Motors


Topping the 2016 model upgrade list for General Motors is the addition of a 2.8L Duramax turbodiesel engine for its GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado midsize pickups. The OEM says that technical details and Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy estimates for those pickups—brought back to life in the 2015 model year—will be available closer to launch. 

Speaking of fullsize pickups, GM is rolling out several new changes. For starters, an 8-speed automatic transmission is now standard on Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups (along with the high-end GMC Yukon Denali/Yukon XL Denali models) equipped with the OEM’s 420 hp., 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 engine. The GM-developed Hydra-Matic 8L90 8-speed is about the same size and weight as the Hydra-Matic 6L80 6-speed automatic, but its 7.0 overall gear ratio spread is wider. This provides a numerically higher first gear ratio to help drivers start off more confidently with a heavy load or when pulling a trailer. The 8L90 also enables numerically lower rear axle ratios, which reduce engine rpm on the highway. 

Select 2016 model Chevrolet Silverado and Silverado HD pickup models are also expected to feature a new “prognostic” maintenance capability called Proactive Alert. This is provided via the vehicle’s OnStar 4G LTE onboard wireless network in combination with fleet management tools from Telogis.

Bi-fuel package options allow Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD pickups to operate on CNG.  A dedicated CNG option on the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana cargo and passenger short-wheelbase vans is available for the three- and four-tank system. The bi-fuel CNG option will be available on all Silverado and Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD single-rear-wheel models. 

GM also revealed the fuel economy ratings for its City Express cargo van. GM says the City Express is rated at an EPA-estimated 24 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, resulting in 25 mpg combined. This is due to the van’s 2.0L dual-overhead cam inline 4-cyl. engine matched to a continuously variable transmission. 





A new compact van is what Mercedes-Benz USA is touting for the 2016 model year. The Metris will be available in October in passenger and cargo configurations. It is 202.4-in. long, 75.9-in. wide and 74.8-in. high and is powered by a 4-cyl. gasoline engine producing 208 hp. and 258 lbs.-ft. of torque. An optional eco stop/start function is incorporated with its 7G-Tronic 7-speed automatic transmission. 

Like the Sprinter, the Metris is packed with a variety of safety advancements, including six airbags for the cargo van. All models will feature standard attention assist, crosswind assist, and standard load-adaptive electronic stability control. 





The long-awaited 2016 Titan XD fullsize pickup was unveiled by Nissan earlier this year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The Titan is touted to be the first in a new line of fullsize pickup models.  

Powered by a Cummins 5L V8 turbocharged diesel engine cranking out 310 hp. and 555 lbs.-ft. of torque, the Titan XD crew cab will be the first release in a line that will ultimately feature three cab configurations, two frame sizes, three powertrain offerings, and five grade levels. Eventually, the Titan will have multiple powertrain choices, including a gasoline V8 and the company’s first V6 offering in this class.



Ram Trucks


The ProMaster City van is a compact version of the fullsize ProMaster and is designed to appeal primarily to two types of customers: small individual trade businesses that don’t have “heavy load” requirements and delivery companies. 

The powertrain combines a 2.4L Tigershark gasoline-fired I-4 engine cranking out 178 hp. and 174 lbs.-ft. of torque matched to a 9-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy numbers are 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.  The 9-speed automatic is a ZF-designed transmission built under license by Chrysler at its Kokomo, IN, plant. 

The van’s compact MacPherson front axle strut suspension includes large-diameter shock absorbers, steel springs, and a solid stabilizer bar combined with an independent, bi-link rear suspension.

On the pickup side of Ram’s ledger, the OEM introduced a Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE (high fuel efficiency) model that gets a reported 21 mpg in city driving and 29 mpg on the highway for a combined rating of 24 mpg. 

Ram also introduced an off-road package—the Ram 1500 Rebel. The Rebel package features a 1-in. raised ride height for improved off-road approach, departure and break-over angles; Bilstein-supplied front and rear shocks with unique tuning; a new steering calibration; and a softer rear stabilizer bar for improved dynamics. 

The Ram 1500 Rebel will be available exclusively as a crew cab model with a 5-ft. 7-in. bed length in 4x2 or 4x4 configurations. Both are powered by a 3.6L Pentastar V6 generating 305 hp. and 269 lbs.-ft. of torque. Also available is a 5.7L Hemi V8 engine cranking out 395 hp. and 410 lbs.-ft. of torque connected to the TorqueFlite 8, Ram’s 8-speed auto­­matic transmission.





Redesigned from the ground up, Toyota’s 2016 midsize Tacoma pickup features a new V6 gasoline engine option that the OEM says will provide more power while sipping less fuel. The truck will be powered by a 2.7L 4-cyl. engine or a new 3.5L Atkinson cycle V6 equipped with Toyota’s D-4S technology, which uses both direct and port injection. The engines are paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission with electronic shift. The V6 can also be mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, the OEM notes. 

The Tacoma’s tailgate features an integrated spoiler for improved aerodynamics along with what Toyota calls an “easy lowering feature,” which allows it to slowly drop without slamming down. 

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