2017 Truck Review

2017 Truck Review

Even with diesel prices expected to remain stable into next year, fuel economy is once again a theme we heard often in putting together American Trucker’s annual 2017 Truck Review. How truck manufacturers will comply with 2017 fuel efficiency requirements—it’s the tail end of greenhouse gas (GHG) Phase 1 rules before the impending GHG Phase 2 regs arrive—plays a big role, from simple tweaks and minor adjustments to the latest innovations.

Heavy-truck OEMs weren’t all ready and willing to talk about their solutions as of press time, however, with Volvo Trucks North America and Mack Trucks the exceptions. But OEMs that decided to keep their 2017 GHG solutions under wraps for now hinted at big changes to come, especially where Navistar’s International ProStar tractor is concerned.

So have a look at what you may see on the road—or in your own parking lot—as the 2017 model-year trucks get rolling.

Check out the Class 8 trucks here! 

Class 4-7 trucks are here!

Class 1-3 trucks are here!


Some of the biggest changes you’ll see in the next model year from the OEM will affect its ACX Class 8 severe-duty truck model (built for refuse, concrete, water blasters, and other specialty applications), says Marc de Smidt, director of engineering at Autocar.

The addition of the Cummins ISL engine and changes to back-of-cab models with a new single-package aftertreatment system that offers “a little bit of extra frame rail space” to help with body installation are among those. RP170 connectors will be standard on 2017 ACX models, he adds, along with a variety of “small improvements” being made to the cab to improve driver comfort in terms of noise reduction and ride quality.
Also for 2017, onboard weighing and tire pressure monitoring systems can be factory-installed and thus fully integrated more seamlessly into the vehicle.

Autocar’s ACMD Class 7 “Baby 8” medium/heavy-duty chassis (used in street sweeping and refuse applications) will also feature a single module aftertreatment package that will offer 3 in. of frame rail space savings, a completely new electrical system, a variety of factory-installed options such as dual and right-hand-only drive, plus door modification to make cab entry/egress safer.
Finally, the OEM’s ACTT terminal tractor—offered in DOT and off-road configurations with both diesel and compressed natural gas (CNG) engine options—gets improved electrical controls and a new HVAC system. And a patent-pending quick release fifth wheel assembly will reduce the time it takes to connect and disconnect from freight trailers, resulting in more uptime and productivity in yard operations.


Big changes to Freightliner Trucks’ signature highway tractor, the Cascadia, are on the way for the 2017 model year as the OEM prepares to comply with new greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rules, but the company says it is keeping those changes under wraps a little while longer.
Meanwhile, Freightliner is offering a few tweaks to its vocational models, expanding its all-wheel-drive offerings and boasting ratings for the 108SD and 114SD.

The Freightliner 122SD vocational tractor is also now available with a 23,000-lb. Detroit-branded front axle, the OEM says. Those changes build on vocational model upgrades roll­ed out late last year, which included two transmission options for its 122SD unit. The 122SD can now be spec’d with Allison 4700 Rugged Duty Series and Oil Field Services auto­matic transmissions. Both of those transmission configurations feature a second reverse or “deep reverse” gear in addition to the standard reverse; automatic shifts, which automatically and smoothly make the right shift at the right time; and improved startablity, which uses less torque to launch and go, the company adds.

The OEM notes 122SD models spec’d with either Allison 4700 Rugged Duty Series or Oil Field Services transmissions are available with Detroit DD13, DD15, DD16, and Cummins ISX heavy-duty engines.

Detroit Connect has introduced new features for its Virtual Technician remote diagnostics system to further improve integration and communications. A new portal provides users additional information about overall fleet health as well as enabling them to take a deeper dive into specific fault events. This portal is available on all Freightliners spec’d with the OEM’s proprietary line of Detroit engines. It will allow users to view and archive Detroit Diesel Engine Control reports, which use diagnostics to further analyze driver and vehicle performance. Detroit Connect has been pilot testing this new portal with select customers and anticipates it will be available to all customers this year.

In addition to the portal, Freightliner’s parent company, Daimler Trucks North America, is developing a new telematics platform that will be available on select truck models in 2017. The OEM says that platform will have new connected vehicle communications hardware, will be available on a global basis, will enable integration with third-party applications, and will reduce the need for additional hardware.
Freightliner adds that this telematics platform, which will rely on cellular connectivity, will mark the introduction of over-the-air capabilities, including remote vehicle parameter settings, remote downloading of DDEC reports, and remote flashing of firmware for electronic controllers.


In a walk-through of how its Insight telematics platform works, Hino explains that the software picks up diagnostic trouble codes, or DTCs, from a truck as they occur. Trouble codes are transmitted to Hino and the truck’s owner, and remote diagnostics—performed in real time by technicians and diagnostics software—determine what the problem is and the severity. The system can coordinate with the owner, dealer providing service, and Hino to set up necessary shop time and ensure needed repair parts are available.

The newest trucks in the Hino lineup, the 155 cabover three-passenger and 155 DC double cab, offer a 14,500-lb. gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and are powered by Hino’s J05E 5L turbo diesel making 210 hp. and 440 lbs.-ft. of torque. The 195 and 195 DC models up max GVWR to 19,500 lbs. and carry the same powerplant, while the 238 gets a 6-cyl., 8L diesel with 230 hp. and 520 lbs.-ft. of torque. That engine is standard on the 258 and 268 models, but an 8L diesel with 260 hp. and 660 lbs.-ft. of torque is optional. The larger engine is standard on the top of the lineup, the 338.


A new vocational line joined the International family of trucks this year, with more changes ahead for the 2017 model year as the OEM plans to overhaul its ProStar and LoneStar highway tractors to match changes being made to the Cummins engine family to comply with GHG rules.


“We’ll be systematically upgrading our platforms, taking out weight, and setting the table for further improvements,” notes Steve Gilligan, Navistar’s vice president of product marketing. “We’re working closely with Cummins, and we’ll be phasing out our 2016 engines, moving to a single aftertreatment solution, and making other changes in the November-January timeframe.”

The new over-the-air (OTA) programming option for Cummins engines rolled out earlier this year is one step in that process, Gilligan adds. OTA  programming, available through the nine-pin International LINK device, enables drivers or fleet managers to use a mobile interface to update engine control modules at customer locations via a safe and secure wireless network without the necessity of visiting a dealer or other OEM service facility. This OTA service will first be available later this fall for limited production release on Cummins 2017 model-year engines, with plans to expand the service to additional model years.

In terms of trucks, the International HX Series line of Class 8 vocational trucks has replaced the PayStar model and represents the first all-new vehicle introduced by the International Truck division of Navistar since 2010.

Four HX Series models are available with both set-forward and set-back front axles in either short or long hood depending on the application. The HX515 is a 115-in. bumper-to-back-of-cab (BBC), set-forward axle straight truck for vocations  that include concrete mixer, construction dump, refuse/roll-off, and crane.

The HX615 is a 115-in. BBC set-back axle truck or tractor for vocations that include construction dump, concrete mixer, platform stake/crane, and refuse/roll-off. The HX620 is a 120-in. BBC set-forward axle truck or tractor for vocations that include heavy-haul tractor, construction dump and platform stake/crane.

And the HX520 is a 120-in. BBC set-forward axle truck or tractor for vocations that include heavy haul tractor, construction dump, and platform stake/crane.

The HX515 and the HX615 models are powered by Navistar N13 engines, while the HX520 and HX620 models offer the Cummins ISX15 engine, Navistar says.

In other vehicle news, about a year ago, Navistar and General Motors inked a long-term deal to develop and build medium-duty, conventional cab Class 4-5 trucks with International and Chevrolet nameplates, and those models will be rolling out by 2018.

Those future medium-duty trucks will be developed by marrying Navistar chassis configurations and manufacturing capabilities with GM commercial components and engines, the companies indicated. At the time, Navistar said that it planned to add 300 jobs and invest more than $12 million in facility upgrades to build these medium-duty models.

“From our standpoint, it will probably be more Class 5. It could be stake beds, box trucks, or vehicles for tree service,” Bill Kozek, president of truck and parts for Navistar, said at the time. “It will primarily be in the construction-type segment. On the Chevy side, it’s probably more Class 4 pickup models. It’s also an opportunity for both of us to participate in an area that neither of us have been [heavily] involved in [the last few years]. It allows GM to expand, primarily, its Chevrolet brand, and it allows Navistar to strengthen its International truck lineup.”

The vehicles will also use “many GM components and engines” and, from a Navistar perspective, allow it to continue its “customer-centric approach” to “provide our customers with the best products available,” Kozek said.

New from International in the medium-duty arena is the addition of the Cummins ISL engine and Eaton Procision dual-clutch automated manual transmission as options, notes Carl Webb, vice president and general manager of the medium-duty product line. “We will still offer the N9 engine and Allison fully automatic transmission for our medium-duty trucks. This just gives our customers more options,” he says.

Other medium-duty options include factory installation of the Bendix Wingman Fusion collision mitigation system and the addition of air disc brakes as a published option across the board for this segment.


Like several of its competitors, Kenworth Truck is keeping most of its 2017 GHG upgrades close to the vest for now. Yet the OEM released a batch of new enhancements to its highway and vocational products this year that will carry on through its 2017 new model overhauls.

Kenworth’s vocational flagship model, the T880, can now be equipped with the Hendrickson Ultimaax severe-duty rubber suspension. That suspension is available with axle ratings from 46,000 to 52,000 lbs. and axle spacings of 54 and 60 in. with 11-in. ride height for applications such as refuse, sand and gravel, crane/boom, platform, construction, and logging.

The OEM began production of a 40-in. sleeper berth configuration this year for its T880 and T680 models aimed particularly at regional bulk haulers, open-deck and flatbed operators, as well as vocational fleets that use straight trucks such as petroleum fleets. Compared to Kenworth’s 38-in. AeroCab sleeper, the 40-in. unit offers an extra 22 cu. ft. of storage space and a 6-in. lower roof.

Kenworth is also adding Allison Transmission’s TC10 fully automatic gearbox as an option for its T680 and T880 tractors. The OEM’s TruckTech+ remote diagnostics package is now standard on its Class 8 models when equipped with the Paccar MX-11 engine. A complimentary two-year subscription to TruckTech+ is available as long as the truck is covered by the OEM’s two-year standard warranty. It comes with a complimentary subscription for customers purchasing extended engine warranties through Kenworth. After the warranty period, Kenworth’s remote diagnostics tool can be maintained by subscription.

The OEM is also making its Kenworth Aero Advantage Fairing available as a factory-installed option for its T680 Advantage highway model when equipped with a 76-in. or mid-roof sleeper compartment and is expanding its auto start/stop engine monitoring system to prevent fuel gelling.
Initially introduced as an option on T680 sleeper models, auto start/stop is also now available on T880 sleeper units as well as T680 and T880 day cab models. The option may be ordered with or without the Kenworth Idle Management System, a battery-based auxiliary power unit package.

Kenworth is offering a new clear back-of-cab diesel emissions fluid (DEF) tank configuration option for its T880 and T680 that is designed to maximize fuel capacity by removing the DEF tank from the frame rail and mounting it above the fuel tank and under the cab. This setup also features a lightweight 7.3-gal. DEF tank, which shaves about 25 lbs. off the weight of a standard-mount DEF tank. It also clears the way to install larger fuel tanks, giving the truck a longer range, the OEM says.

New axle options are the name of the game for Kenworth Truck’s medium-duty lineup, with its T370 conventional model now available with Meritor non-drive front steer axles rated from 16,000 to 20,000 lbs. and Meritor 44,000- and 46,000-lb. heavy-duty tandem-drive rear axles. Meritor MFS-20 front axles and Meritor MT-44 and RT-46 Series tandem drive rearaxles for the T370 can be spec’d with the Paccar PX-9 engine rated up to 350 hp. and 1,150 lbs.-ft. of torque.

“The expanded axle offering will now enable operators to leverage the T370 for a broader range of vocational applications that require 20,000-lb. front and 46,000-lb. rear suspensions, such as dump, fuel, utility, crane, service trucks, or mixers,” Jason Skoog, Kenworth’s assistant general manager for sales and marketing, noted earlier this year. “The Paccar PX-9 offers excellent power in a smaller footprint to move more weight. Coupled with the higher-capacity Meritor front axles, customers can have more of the payload’s weight shifted to the steer axle and still take advantage of the T370’s short bumper-to-back-of-cab measurement.”

The MFS-20 front axles, which are available with 16,000-, 18,000-, and 20,000-lb. gross axle weight ratings, include a heavy-duty, cross-brace-reinforced front frame assembly; bolted cross members; and either 105/8-in. frame rails with insert or 103/4-in. frame rails. Full inserts are available for both of these rail sizes. Iron hubs, drum brakes, and dual-power steering gears, along with a power steering cooler, complete the lighter engine/higher-capacity front axle combination. According to Meritor, the MFS-20 features an optimized turning radius to provide sharper wheel cut and increased maneuverability.

Along with the new Meritor axles, the T370 is now available with heavy-duty rear suspensions rated up to 46,000 lbs. from a variety of leading suppliers in either spring or air configurations.


The big news for Mack Trucks is what will be changing under the hood of its highway and vocational units for 2017. There will be overhauls to the OEM’s proprietary MP Series engine lineup and vocational-themed enhancements to its mDrive automated manual transmission (AMT).

Mack’s 11L MP7 and 13L MP8 engines received a number of advancements for 2017 that are designed to simplify maintenance and improve efficiency and productivity. Both engines feature an updated wave piston design that Mack says raises the compression ratio and enables more complete combustion of fuel, while a common-rail fuel system more precisely injects fuel. Combined with a two-speed coolant pump, these features help increase MP7 fuel efficiency by up to 5.1% and MP8 fuel efficiency by up to 5%.

Additional improvements to both engines include a new two-piece valve cover, shimless rockers, and a low-pressure fuel system with an enhanced, integrated aftertreatment dosing module to reduce maintenance needs.

An updated double-walled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) flow sensor helps reduce condensation and soot buildup in cold weather, while a new intake throttle enables a faster warmup when the engine is started.

For the OEM’s Super Econodyne downspeeding highway tractor package, Mack will offer a 2017 MP8 engine equipped with a turbo compounding system that converts waste energy from the exhaust into mechanical energy that is fed back to the engine. The system adds up to 50 additional horsepower, enabling a substantial fuel efficiency increase of up to 8.8% compared to the previous MP8 model.

The OEM’s enhanced Mack mDrive HD 13- and 14-speed AMT variants feature up to two additional low-ratio creeper gears to provide improved startability for heavy loads while maintaining  proper gearing for fuel efficiency at speed.

Mack adds that the mDrive HD 14-speed, available only in overdrive configuration, adds a second ultra-low-speed reduction gear designed for curb pouring applications or low speed, heavy-haul maneuvering. Both transmissions offer up to four reverse gear ratios.

The mDrive 13-speed will become the standard gearbox on Mack’s Granite vocational model. The mDrive HD will be available on Granite models with a 2017 MP8 engine and on the OEM’s Titan vocational tractor and Pinnacle highway models.

Further extending the fuel efficiency improvements associated with the AMT, the OEM is rolling out Mack Predictive Cruise, an intelligent system that memorizes a route when cruise control is on, storing up to 4,500 hills in its memory. Mack Predictive Cruise constantly monitors speed, engine load, weight, and road gradient to help it select the best gear for the road ahead, and it can increase fuel efficiency by up to 1%, the OEM notes.


The big news for Peterbilt Motors (aside from its 2017 GHG updates, which the OEM is keeping quiet about for now) is the addition of a new vocational chassis, the Model 520, aimed at refuse operations and the development of Allison Transmission’s TC10 transmission for its Model 567 and 579 highway tractors.

The TC10 fully automatic gearbox will be mated to either Paccar or Cummins engines. To be offered with ten forward speeds and two reverse, the TC10 uses a patented torque converter and twin counter shaft design and is covered by a five-year or 750,000 mi. warranty, the OEM says.
The OEM also just rolled out a new paint formulation. The Axalta coatings used on its heavy-duty truck cabs and sleepers enhance color qualities and durability. Additionally, the company says its new base and clear coatings offer better color characteristics for greater gloss, reflectivity and luster.
New chassis routings for the Model 579 and 567 units, which run the length of the truck, now organize air, electrical and fuel lines into individual bundles for faster identification and servicing. The routings are secured with newly designed frame brackets that hold each bundle separately and provide even greater durability, the company notes.

Peterbilt also unveiled a “Heritage” edition of its Model 567. Reflecting Peterbilt’s history in the Northwest logging industry, the edition is configured with a 121-in. BBC and set-forward front axle (SFFA) and can be spec’d as a day cab or with a 72- or 80-in. sleeper. Its exterior features bright bumper, grille bars, exhaust stacks, mirrors, sunvisor, chromed air intake bezel and metal hood latches, polished rocker panels, quarter-fender closeout panels, fender brace and brackets, battery boxes and fuel tanks, and special Heritage badging that is uniquely numbered and mounted to the grille and sleeper (when applicable) for the first production trucks.

The Model 520’s dual-station cab, which comes with the OEM’s ProBilt interior package, offers two nearly identical work environments so drivers can seamlessly operate from the left- or right-hand side. This includes dual controls for the parking brakes, heating ventilation and air condition system, and stereo. Peterbilt says the console sides of the Model 520 are angled to give operators easy visibility and access to the same controls and displays from the right and left.

The truck comes standard with a Paccar PX-9 diesel engine with an optional Paccar MX-11. It can also be spec’d with optional 9L or 12L natural gas engines. The Model 520 offers 27% more windshield viewing area than previous designs and two headlight options: single halogen bulb lamps (standard) or light emitting diode headlamps.

Although there won’t be many changes to speak of to Peterbilt Motors’ medium-duty lineup in the coming year, the OEM plans to keep placing particular emphasis on its two compressed natural gas (CNG) medium-duty Model 337 and Model 348 options that were introduced back in mid-2015. Both vehicles are now in production and can be configured as trucks or tractors and are “an ideal choice” for dump, refuse and short- and regional-haul operations, the OEM says. According to Scott Newhouse, Peterbilt’s chief engineer, those two CNG-powered medium-duty models are optimized with a 110-in. bumper-to-back-of-cab (BBC) configuration for the addition of natural gas storage tanks.

“The CNG Model 337 and 348 give Peterbilt the industry’s most competitive portfolio of natural gas vehicles,” Newhouse says. “The dimensions provide a BBC 2 in. shorter than any competitive model and a cab height that is 21/2 in. lower.”


The big news for Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA) is retooled engines and powertrain enhancements aimed at 2017 GHG compliance while delivering for performance and fuel economy improvements.

Wade Long, director of product marketing at VTNA, notes that the OEM’s retooled D11 engine features a
2.2% fuel efficiency improvement versus the 2014 model along with several enhancements. These include a new two-piece valve cover; new common-rail fuel system that helps boost fuel savings while quieting the engine; new wave pistons that improve fuel/oxygen mix for cleaner burning; an assembled camshaft that reduces weight by 27 lbs.; shimless rockers; and a power boost to 425 hp. VTNA says production on the new D11 will start in January 2017.

The OEM’s revamped 2017 D13 engine offers a 2.5% fuel efficiency gain versus its 2014 predecessor. It uses the same new common-rail fuel system, wave pistons, and assembled camshaft as found in the 2017 model D11, along with a new two-speed coolant pump on XE models that boosts fuel economy by 0.5%. VTNA is also offering 100 lbs.-ft. of extra torque for the 455-hp. version of this engine, increasing overall torque to 1,850 lbs.-ft. Production on the D13 will begin in October.

In mid-2017, the OEM plans to roll out a D13 engine featuring turbo compounding, which adds another 50 hp. via waste heat recovery, offer­ing a further 3% fuel economy boost versus the standard 2017 D13 model. Long notes that no major changes are being made to the 2017 D16 model compared to the 2014 iteration. A new one-box exhaust aftertreatment system will be standard on the D11 and D13, while the D16 keeps the two-box system.

Also, VTNA is introducing “crawler gears” for its proprietary I-Shift automated manual transmission (AMT) for vocational and heavy haul applications up to 220,000 lbs. GCW or more with application approval.  Available as an overdrive in Volvo VHD, VNX, VNM and VNL models, the I-Shift with crawler gears can be spec’d with Volvo D11, D13 and D16 engines.

A new I-See option will work in tandem with the I-Shift AMT to “learn” roadway topography, and the gearbox will memorize and store it for use the next time that particular route is traveled. Long notes that up to 4,500 different routes can be stored as part of this new function.

Western Star

A variety of vocational enhancements represent the big news from Western Star Trucks at this point, with the latest offering being a 23,000-lb., Detroit-branded front steer axle offered in the set-forward and set-back configurations of the Model 4700. This 23,000-lb. front steer axle will soon be available in Western Star 4800 and 4900 models as well, the OEM notes.

Western Star also recently rolled out its Extreme Duty (XD) Offroad package and the MBT-40 Transformer chassis for both the articulated and ridged frame markets. Engineered specifically for extremely rugged environments, it’s now available on both the 4900 and 6900 models. There are  plans to make the XD Off-road package available on other models in the future.

Starting this fall, Western Star will begin offering the Eaton UltraShift Plus automated manual transmission (AMT) in the 5700XE with new ratings that allow for power take-off and higher gross combination weights. The rollout will begin in Octo­ber with the UltraShift MHP and MXP targeting chip trailer applications and vehicles with high GCVWR.  The Eaton Advantage 10-speed AMT will be available for the 5700XE in March 2017 with multiple PTO locations available.

Western Star 4900 and 6900 truck models can now be spec’d with the 4700 Offroad Series (ORS) fully auto­matic gearbox. The 4800 ORS is only available on the 6900 model. Allison’s ORS transmissions come with two-year warranties and are available with Detroit DD15, DD16, Series 60 Tier III, and Cummins ISX engines. The OEM has also unveiled a Fabco FAT-30 auxiliary transmission for the 6900XD. It is a stationary shift three-speed and is ideal for extra heavy-duty on- and off-road jobs, able to  handle 30,000 lbs.-ft. of input torque.

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