Isuzu rolls out gas N-Series

Nov. 1, 2011
Retail deliveries have started for Isuzu's gasoline-powered N-Series trucks the only gas low-cab-forward trucks in the market, with both regular and crew
After a two-year absence, the Isuzu NPR is once again available with a gasoline engine. Previously the result of a partnership between Isuzu and General Motors, the gasoline-powered NPR comes from the Spartan Motors plant in Charlotte MI.

RETAIL deliveries have started for Isuzu's gasoline-powered N-Series trucks — the only gas low-cab-forward trucks in the market, with both regular and crew cab models available.

“We're investing in this market and making sure we have unique products for it,” said Shawn Skinner, executive vice-president and general manager at Isuzu. “We have received from dealers over 2300 orders already, so we've chewed up the first year of production in preorders because the response was so strong.”

Initial assembly began at the Spartan Motors Inc facility in Charlotte, Michigan, on April 18. This is the first time in two years that gasoline-powered N-Series trucks have been offered by Isuzu. Previously, N-Series gasoline trucks had been assembled by General Motors at its plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, which ceased operations in 2009.

The new 2012 N-Gas models — which complement the diesel-powered Isuzu N-Series trucks already available — are powered by the Vortec 6.0-liter small-block V8 engine that produces 297 horsepower at 4300 rpm and generates 372 ft-lbs of torque at 4000 rpm. The powerplant is mated to a new six-speed automatic transmission with double overdrive and lock-up torque converter for enhanced fuel economy and performance. Previous N-Series gasoline models offered only a four-speed automatic.

A full range of gasoline-powered models is available:

  • NPR (12,000-lb GVWR). Single cab comes in wheelbases of 109, 132.5, 150, and 176 inches, and the crew cab in wheelbases of 150 and 176 inches.

  • NPR-HD (14,500-lb GVWR). Single cab in wheelbases on 109, 132.5, 150, and 176 inches, and the crew cab in wheelbases of 150 and 176 inches.

Standard on the 2011 NPR ECO-MAX is the 4JJ1-TC, featuring a high-pressure, common-rail fuel injection system, and an intercooled, variable-geometry turbocharger. Together, these features help the 4JJ1-TC produce 150 horsepower and 282 ft-lbs of torque. The NPR ECO-MAX achieves up to 20% better fuel economy than the previous 12,000-lb GVWR NPR.

The 4JJ1-TC can be driven up to 10,000 miles between oil changes, reducing maintenance costs and downtime, and has a class-leading B10 durability rating of 310,000 miles — meaning that 90% of 4JJ1-TC engines will reach that mileage before requiring an overhaul.

Standard on every NPR-HD, NQR, and NRR is the Isuzu 4HK1-TC engine, now equipped with electronic high-pressure, common-rail direct injection and a water-cooled EGR system to achieve unprecedented performance — 210 horsepower for trucks equipped with the automatic transmission, and 190 horsepower for manual-transmission models. Like the 4JJ1-TC, it can still run up to 10,000 miles between oil changes and has a B10 durability rating of 310,000 miles.

And despite the increased power and lower emissions, 2011 Isuzu N-Series trucks equipped with the 4HK1-TC engine will achieve approximately 8% better fuel economy than the models they replace.

“There's one engine and really one-size-fits-all,” Skinner said. “We have three different engines we offer. We allow our customers to be better-suited for whatever product they need.”

Isuzu will offer Fleet Director, a state-of-the-art telematics system from Teletrac Inc, as an option in its 2011 and 2012 model year N-Series trucks.

Fleet Director is a web-based solution that allows fleet managers and dispatchers to track vehicle usage in real time by sending detailed vehicle and driver performance reports that is accessible from any Internet-connected personal computer.

The system — backed by an industry-leading three-year/unlimited-mileage limited warranty — was offered for 2011 and 2012 NPR-HD, NQR, and NRR models beginning in May. It will be available as either a port- or dealer-installed option.

Fleet managers can view analytics — for their entire fleet of Fleet Director-equipped trucks, for any group of trucks the user selects, or even for a single vehicle and driver — on customizable “dashboard-style” screen views that allows the user to summarize monitoring of various areas on a single screen. Critical performance indicators include speeding miles, harsh braking and acceleration, poor cornering, and catastrophic events. In addition, Fleet Director's history playback feature provides fleet managers with an on-screen display of every equipped vehicle's activities and route, so that driver productivity and efficiency can be assessed quickly.

The system also generates up to 18 management reports that show vehicle location, operational status, mileage, speed, idle time and more.

As a result, Teletrac customers have reported that Fleet Director has helped their fleets achieve: fuel savings of up to 30%; labor savings averaging 30 minutes per day; overtime reductions of 15% on average; productivity increases of an average 12%; substantial reductions in unauthorized vehicle use; and fewer traffic violations.

Upfitter considerations

Brian Buchanan, manager of product planning, gave the following upfitter considerations:

  • Body

    Approved bodies up to 91" inside height do not require special engineering approval assuming: vertical CG is less than 63 inches above ground; 30%-40% of weight is located on the front axle; and no axle is over GAWR with the vehicle level loaded to GVWR. The complete vehicle frontal area must be calculated for all NPR ECO-MAX applications. 102-inch mirrors are available as a port-installed option (14,500 GVWR and above). They can also be installed at the dealer after the vehicle has been wholesaled. The NPR ECO-MAX (12,000 GVWR) is not approved for bodies over 96 inches wide. J-hooks are not approved for any Isuzu chassis.

  • Electrical

    Weather Pack body builder connectors are located at the end of the frame for improved body mounting and fewer electrical problems. Consult the Body Builders Guide for Packard part numbers. The connectors that match the end of the frame tail and stop lamp harness can be ordered through Isuzu dealers. These parts are now in stock: chassis harness side (#897364-5300) and stop and tail lamp (#897364-5310).

  • Mounting

    Front u-bolt installation is more difficult due to the 2010 EPA exhaust aftertreatment system.

“This is basically the same from 2011, but typically we'll have front u-bolt mounting in the location of our new exhaust system,” he said. “That makes body-mounting a little more difficult. To help alleviate that, we do include the crush block on the left-hand side of the vehicle and a mounting bracket on the right-hand side that should be used due to special considerations. If other mounting is acceptable, that's fine. But we try to provide these brackets in places of the most difficult body-mounting to help the upfit process. Care must be taken to limit the size of the subframe chamfer.”

For more 2011 Truck Product Conference coverage click here

About the Author

Rick Weber | Associate Editor

Rick Weber has been an associate editor for Trailer/Body Builders since February 2000. A national award-winning sportswriter, he covered the Miami Dolphins for the Fort Myers News-Press following service with publications in California and Australia. He is a graduate of Penn State University.