Isuzu offers all-new N-Series

Isuzu Commercial Truck of America Inc introduced its all-new N-Series that delivers more cab room, enhanced safety features, and more power, along with meeting the new, more stringent 2007 US and California diesel-emissions standards.

The wheelbase stretches to 200" on NQR and 212" on NRR models - increases of 24" and 36", respectively, from the previously longest available wheelbase of 176". The longer wheelbase is available on NQR 22' models and NRR 22' and 24' models.

Isuzu has launched a special body program through Supreme Corporation to provide special pricing for 22' and 24' dry-freight vans.

For 2008, the overhead cam 5.2L 4HK1-TC diesel engine delivers more power and reduced emissions. Horsepower increases to 205 at 2400 rpm (up from 190) and torque increases to 441 lb-ft at 1850 (up from 387). It covers GVW ranges from 12,000 lb to 19,500 lb. With its B10 durability rating of 310,000 miles, 90% of the engines should reach this mileage before a major component failure, provided good maintenance practices have been followed, according to Dan Cutler, executive director of product development LCF.

The 5.2L diesel engine is equipped with a standard fuel/water separator that is heated with returned fuel and features a dash-mounted warning lamp. This separator warns the driver when water is present in the fuel filter and needs to be drained, which helps prevent vehicle down time and supports a more efficient operation. The 5.2L diesel can be mated to the new Aisin A465 heavy-duty six-speed automatic with double overdrive, or with a six-speed manual transmission with all forward gears synchronized.

The 5.2L diesel engine meets the emissions requirements that went into effect on January 1 — all diesel engine manufacturers must reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions by 90% compared to the previous diesel engine standards, which were established in 2004.

To reduce nitrogen oxide levels, the 5.2L diesel engine uses an advanced exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system and a variable geometry turbocharger.

To reduce particulate matter, a ceramic honeycomb channel diesel particulate filter (DPF) was created to capture sulfate particles and soot. Exhaust gases are directed through the channels and a porous material that traps the particulates. To clear the particulates and prevent clogging, a regeneration process occurs to burn off the trapped particulates and clean the filter using high exhaust gas temperatures.

Regeneration in Isuzu trucks can occur through self-regeneration, an automatic process that occurs as the vehicle is driven throughout the day and does not require driver involvement. The vast majority of vehicles will regenerate automatically. Forced computer-initiated regeneration occurs if the vehicle operation does not produce exhaust gases hot enough for the automatic process to occur.

In the event that the computer cannot force regeneration, a control light will alert the driver to activate a dashboard switch to initiate the regeneration process. Special system-sensing and control software was developed to precisely control engine combustion and DPF regeneration.

To meet the EPA regulation for lower diesel fuel sulfur emissions, Isuzu-designed emissions systems work efficiently with the new fuels and lubricants. The ‘07 emissions regulations also require all crankcase gas emissions to be reduced. To comply, a closed crankcase system was added to reroute ventilation gases back into the engine for combustion.

Helping to reduce operating costs while increasing vehicle uptime is a new 10,000-mile oil and oil filter interval on N-Series models equipped with the 5.2L diesel engine.

For Isuzu N-Series customers who prefer a gasoline engine, NPR and NPR HD models are available with the Vortec 6.0L V-8 engine. For 2008, the Vortec 6.0L delivers 325 horsepower - 25 more than the previous version - and 360 lb-ft of torque. These models are mated to the Hydra-Matic 4L80 four-speed automatic with lockup torque converter and overdrive.

The Vortec 6.0L is 50-state compliant with federal CFFV/LEV and California ULEV emissions requirements. It has a 200,000-mile design life and is backed by a three-year/36,000-mile warranty. Customers may purchase extended service plans that cover their vehicles for up to five years/100,000 miles.

Improved cab

Enhancements for 2008 for the best-selling low cab forward (LCF) truck in its segment were especially focused on increasing driver comfort, which can correlate to increased driver productivity, Cutler said. Driver comfort begins with a new and improved cab mounting that delivers a smoother, more comfortable ride. The cab itself is larger and more spacious, with more side-to-side and front-to-back room (4"). This provides more seat travel, as well as increased head room (4"), shoulder room (7"), and leg room on both standard and crew cab models.

To facilitate driver ingress and egress, the 85-degree swing-out door opening is wider than the previous model, as is the self-cleaning entry step. The high-back seats are covered in Tricot breathable cloth, which stays cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Additional 2008 N-Series driver comfort features include: a 16,400-BTU high-output ventilation system; standard air conditioning on gasoline models, available on diesel models; tilt and telescopic steering column; power steering; and a tapered leaf front and multi-leaf rear suspension.

The N-Series also features a number of improvements to further aid driver convenience, including:

  • A new dashboard with a full complement of easy-to-see gauges and warning lamps. It features a five-din opening for such optional equipment as radios, GPS systems, rear-view cameras, etc.

  • An easy-to-remove panel at the front of the cab for easy access to the wiper motor and linkage, electrical cab connections and air-intake filters, facilitating maintenance of these items.

  • Storage areas in the seat backs, dashboard, glove box, overhead storage shelves and rear-storage organizer.

  • Standard power windows and door locks.

  • An auxiliary power outlet for a cell phone or other electronics.

The new cab is built with greater corrosion protection from the galvanized steel panels to the electro deposit paint primer and high-quality enamel paint topcoat. The closed section and increased gussets and reinforcements also improve the durability of this new cab, as well as increasing the safety of the driver and passengers. Additional safety equipment on the 2008 N-Series includes:

  • A new seat belt design that offers easier operation and therefore promotes use.

  • Low-cut side windows for added visibility.

  • Larger, 17"×8" side mirrors with integrated convex sections.

  • Available heated mirrors.

Market dominance

Ed Crawford, director of vocational marketing, said that Isuzu has increased its overall market share to 64.3% during the downturn after being 63% in 2006.

“We have our finger on the pulse and believe we are reacting as quickly as possible as the market changes at a rapid pace,” Crawford said.

As of November 2006, Isuzu commercial trucks dominated the Class 3-5 medium-duty LCF truck market with a 41.4% share. Isuzu also has been the best-selling cab-over brand in the US since 1986. Of the nearly 400,000 Isuzu-built diesel trucks sold in North America since 1984, more than 83% are still registered and in service, as are more than 99% of the gasoline models sold since 1993.

Crawford said Isuzu has “become less dependent on our strategic partnership” with General Motors.

“While we still operate many JVs across the world, we see ourselves focusing less and less on it,” he said. “Isuzu is involved in a major expansion outside of the Japanese market focusing on 300,000 units in Canada, Mexico, China, Thailand, Russia, Australia, South Africa, and Europe. The US is considered a major market for Izusu worldwide. Plans for bringing new products and technology for the market here are coming in the next few years.”

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