OEMs roll out new models, redesigns

Dec. 13, 2002
HERE'S a look at new models and major redesigns from the major manufacturers for 2003: Dodge In Class 1 and 2, DaimlerChrysler's Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500

HERE'S a look at new models and major redesigns from the major manufacturers for 2003:


In Class 1 and 2, DaimlerChrysler's Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups will have a new diesel option from Cummins: the High Output turbodiesel 5.9-liter, producing 555 lb-ft of torque at 1400 rpm and 300 hp at 2900 rpm. Cummins says the engine's new high-pressure, common-rail fuel system — which injects a small amount of fuel to start combustion before the primary charge is injected — reduces noise substantially by smoothing out the combustion pressure in the cylinder.

The new 5.7-liter HEMI Magnum V-8 is the standard gasoline engine for the 2500 and 3500 pickups. It generates 345 hp at 5600 rpm and 356 lb-ft of torque at 4400 rpm.

The two-wheel-drive Rams have a new rack-and-pinion steering system that improves handling, while the four-wheel-drives have an all-new recirculating ball system that improves on-center steering feel because of lower internal friction. Rear-axle capacity has been increased to 12,000 lb. The four-wheel-drives offer new transfer cases: a conventional manual shift for ST and SLT models, and an electric shift for the SLT Plus.


In Class 8, production has been ramped up on the Coronado, the new flagship model. The OEM says the new on-highway long conventional “marks the beginning of a new era for traditionally styled heavy-duty trucks.”

The 132" BBC truck features a distinctive exterior look that combines retro and contemporary styling, including standard polished aluminum wheels and Chaparral interior package. Choices include the 70" Raised Roof SleeperCab or 70" Mid-Roof XT (Extra Tall) SleeperCab.

Freightliner's own AirLiner rear suspension and “leaf-and-a-half” front spring suspension are other standard features. The OEM says the Coronado SleeperCab meets or exceeds European ECE R-29 and Swedish crashworthiness standards, and that it will continue to produce the Classic and Classic XL, its other long-nose conventional models.

Freightliner also has launched the Business Class M2 as the next generation of its medium-duty line. The M2 trucks eventually will go from Class 5 through 8 and offer 100-, 106- and 112-inch BBC models. Limited production has begun on the 106" BBC M2, and extended and crew-cab versions are available.

The M2 line includes an aluminum cab with a 2500-sq-in windshield and sloped hood. Wheel cuts as sharp as 55 degrees enhance maneuverability, delivering a turning radius of under 57' with a 20' van body. The Mercedes-Benz MBE900 4- and 6-cylinder diesels are standard, in ratings from 170 to 280 hp, mated with an Allison automatic transmission.

The Class 2-3 Freightliner Sprinter, marketed by DaimlerChrysler Vans LLC, is now available as a cargo or passenger van in two GVWRs (8550 or 9990 lb), three wheelbases (118, 140, or 158 inches) and with a standard or high roof. Also, for applications that prefer the box closed off from the cab, a cab/chassis version of the Sprinter is available.

A refrigerated-body model, engineered by Germany's Kerstner GmbH, has a reefer package including insulation provided by polyurethane rigid-foam formed parts and impact-resistant ABS paneling installed without rivets or screws, providing a hygienic interior for food transport. The Kerstner Cool Jet 201 reefer unit includes CFC-free coolant and an integrated evaporator that keeps the cargo bay free of intrusive components.


The Class 8 improvements include an extended day cab for T600, T800, and W900 models, adding 6" to the current cab length, mounting the seat 2" farther back from the steering wheel for added room, and offering a seat recline of up to 21 degrees.

Additional storage of 2½ cubic feet on the rear wall and three more inches of headroom are provided on the extended day cab, which can be ordered with optional Kenworth proprietary corner window and will be available with back-of-cab or side-of-cab mounted exhaust.

The aerodynamic T2000 includes a redesigned optional roof fairing, reducing air drag by 3% and improving fuel economy by as much as 1.5%. The new fairing's modified shape allows better air flow up and over a van trailer, Kenworth says.

Also being introduced is a new hood for the on-highway W900L with curved windshield, providing performance enhancements and reduced weight at no additional cost while maintaining the company's traditional long-hood look and design.

Lightweight components now offered: AG380 air suspension (available on all Class 8 models) and Hendrickson's HAULMAXX suspension for vocational applications.

The Class 6-7 T300 conventional includes a number of new improvements: a new dash with better ergonomics; contemporary styling, and an enhanced HVAC system; a standard dash with a wrap-around instrument panel, easy-to-reach placement of AM/FM radio, rotary HVAC controls, and a standard under-dash console including driver cup holder, ashtray, and lighter.

Allison 2000 and 2400 Series automatic transmissions are available on the T300, featuring fully automatic five-speed overdrive transmissions with lockup and a powerful 32-bit microprocessor. (PTO drive gears are optional.)

The Allison automatics are mated to Caterpillar's 3126 diesel, rated at 545 lb-ft of torque or less. A Spicer SPL100 driveline also is part of the package.

Kenworth has introduced a 14,600-lb capacity front axle for applications requiring higher front-end weight capacity.

The T300 is available as a straight truck or tractor in a variety of wheelbases, single or tandem axles, air or hydraulic brakes, and GVWs ranging from 26,000 to 54,000 lb.


The OEM is offering a Class 8 Vision DayCab as a tractor or straight truck, with GVW ratings from 35,000 to 60,000 lb. Mack says the DayCab is a “stylish, lightweight, and aerodynamic alternative” with a newly designed door with larger side windows and a large lower “peep” window to significantly improve visability.

The DayCab can be spec'd with lightweight MaxAir suspensions and 12,000-lb front and 40,000-lb rear axles for regional use. For vocational applications, it is available with 14,600-lb front and 46,000-lb rear axles, Mack camelback suspensions, and Mack's new Maxitorque T300 transmission.

The highway version of Mack's ASET (Application Specific Engine Technology) engine powers the new truck, using cooled EGR and variable-geometry turbocharging. Models go from 310 to 460 hp, including a new 380/410-hp MaxiCruise version.

Mack says ASET engine for on-highway fleets will use cooled EGR (C-EGR) technology and vocational engines will use internal EGR (I-EGR) technology. C-EGR recirculates exhaust back into the engine's combustion chamber to burn off emissions; I-EGR keeps the exhaust in the engine's cylinders from one combustion cycle to the next to reduce emissions.

In medium duty, Mack is making no major changes to its Freedom Series, which replaced its Mid-Liner Series last year. The Freedom line includes four cabovers in Class 6-7, designated as the M, L, XL, and XXL models. The cab size can be the Standard 63" BBC or 79" BBC XTRa cab.

Mack says the Class 6 M model, with 17.5" wheels, has one of the lowest cab heights in its class and a very low loading height, and the Class 6 and Land Class 7 XL models (19.5" wheels) allow easier cab access than competitive models. The Class 7 XXL model (22.5" wheels) uses a standard frame height.

The Mack E3 diesel engine powers all Freedom Series trucks, which have either the standard rating of 210 hp or the 250-hp rating that's optional on XL and XXL models.


The most popular Frontier 4-door Crew Cab model is the Long Bed, which is 74.6" with extensive frame reinforcements. The 2003 version comes with a center console, 25% larger glove box, and up to three power outlets. Engines: 4-cylinder V6, or 210-hp supercharged V6.

The Alpha-T, an all-new full-size pickup concept vehicle, will be introduced for 2003, featuring a sharply sloped A-pillar and unique glass panel/roof treatment, with a scooped hood and aggressively styled 4-door body and cargo bed. The four-wheel-drive Alpha-T is powered by a 300-hp, 4.5-liter DOHC V8 engine and equipped with a rugged, off-road suspension for tough work environments.


The biggest improvement in Class 8 is a new cooling package designed specifically for the EGR engines. The OEM says the new setup improves cooling efficiency by 35%, reduces system weight by 80 lb, and saves space by placing the charge-air cooler on top of the radiator rather than in front of it.

Model 357 includes a redesigned hood and setback front-axle package for its straight truck and tractor configurations. Peterbilt says the increased slope of the hood improves forward visibility, and the axle setback decreases the turning radius.

Hendrickson's Haulmaxx suspensions will be offered on all vehicles. Peterbilt and its parent, Paccar, worked with Hendrickson in the development of the suspension, optimizing its design and that of associated crossmembers on Peterbilt vehicles. The Haulmaxx comes in 40,000- and 46,000-lb ratings for Models 379, 378, 385, 357, 362, and 320.

In Class 6-7, Peterbilt is making new options available on its Model 330: five-speed automatic Allison 2000 and 2400 Series transmissions, which feature simple two-pedal operation. The Allison 2000 is available in trucks with GVW ratings up to 30,000 and the Allison 2400 up to 26,000 lb. Both automatics feature maximum input torque of 525 net lb-ft and a tower-mounted shifter that is available with converter-driven PTO provisions that have PTO pads on the right and left sides of the unit.

A Reyco auxiliary spring, rated at 4500 lb, is another new option. The OEM says it is interchangeable with the 3000-lb rated spring, is compatible with all Model 330 rear axles rated at 21,000, 23,000, and 26,000 lb, and is an ideal option for vehicles requiring additional rear support, such as those that dump material or have a forklift operated inside for loading and unloading.

Model 330s spec'd with optional hydraulic brakes, available on Class 6, now come standard with a new Bosch axle-mounted driveline parking brake.


Medium-duty (Class 5 and up) Acterra trucks are now available with Mercedes-Benz 6-speed manual transmissions featuring hydraulically actuated clutch systems in two versions: the direct drive MBT520 for trucks up to 50,000-lb GCW and the overdrive MBT660 for trucks up to 60,000-lb GCW. The MBT520 has an overall gear ratio of 9.20 for engine producing peak torque of up to 520 lb-ft, while the MBT600 has an overall gear ratio of 9.18 for engine up to 660 lb-ft of peak torque.

The transmissions are fully synchronized, boat hydraulically activated clutches, and are compatible with Mercedes-Benz, Caterpillar, and Cummins medium-duty diesel engines.


The OEM has rolled out a new VN on-highway Class 8 model which it says meets the key objectives of “increasing operator revenue and reducing costs” by the “maximization of vehicle uptime and the promotion of driver productivity.”

Volvo describes “superb visibility,” convenient operating controls, and “excellent” climate control, and says the new cab was “developed with drivers for drivers” and boasts a design that is luxurious on the inside and good-looking on the outside.

Chassis improvements: a new front-axle position and new front air suspension. The new Volvo D12 diesel engine features variable-pulse technology.

According to Volvo, the integrated design of the new VN will result in a “reduction of component weight while meeting EPA '02 requirements and increasing performance.”

Western Star

The new low-profile version of the 4900 EX heavy-duty truck, the LowMax, features a lowered cab and sleeper height and styling features aimed at boosting driver appeal.

The high-style highway tractor design comes with a 132" BBC dimension and a set-forward front axle. Its cab height is almost a foot lower than standard, and the resulting lowered step height allows easy access to the cab. Western Star says the LowMax's low center of gravity improves handling and stability, and a reduction in the frontal area of the truck provides significant aerodynamic enhancement as well as contributing to the truck's distinctive look.

Standard equipment: 1300-sq-inch crossflow radiator for optimum engine cooling; a low-ride-height front suspension and a 6.38" ride height AirLiner suspension. The Low Max is available in a range of sleeper sizes and roof heights. With cab lights and horns removed and running on low-profile 275/70 R22.5 tires, the overall height is just over 104".

Workhorse Custom Chassis

The OEM will continue to expand on 2002-model year introductions for chassis in the 8000- to 16,000-lb GVWR range while dropping the 19,500-lb GVWR W-Series.

The Cummins ISB four-cylinder engine and Allison 1000 Series 5-speed electronic transmission form the option package of choice for step van operators who want to spec diesels in the 10,000- to 14,100-lb GVWR range. Engine ratings are at 170 hp at 2,300 rpm and 145 hp at 2300 rpm, with both providing 420 lb-ft of torque at 1600 rpm.

The gasoline engine option for step vans remains GM's Vortec V-8, with two ratings: 195 hp at 4200 rpm and 250 lb-ft of torque at 3200 rpm, or 235 hp at 4000 rpm and 325 lb-ft of torque at 2800 rpm.

The OEM continues to offer its FasTrack step van program, including five step-van size and interior design options that can be delivered in four weeks; final dealer up-fitting can take as few as 10 days. A 9', 3" step van body was added last year to the FasTrack line in a bid to compete with cargo vans.

A Class 2 model of its step van, the FT1061, is being marketed as a “stand up” alternative to cargo vans. Specs: 125" wheelbase, 10', 6" load space and 76" ceiling height. It is rated at 9400 lb and is powered by the GM Vortec V-8 gasoline engine. ABS, power steering, and independent front suspension are standard.