Heavy Duty Trucking

NOV 2014

The Fleet Business Authority

Issue link: https://heavydutytrucking.epubxp.com/i/413586

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EFFICIENT. RELIABLE. AND BUILT FROM THE GROUND UP. See what the Eaton ® UltraShift ® PLUS can do for your fl eet. With the Eaton UltraShift PLUS, you aren't limited to any one chassis, set of speeds, set of ratios or service network. We give you the power to spec for your unique application to get you the competitive edge you need. Get your custom UltraShift PLUS solution today at www.ultrashiftplus.com. www.truckinginfo.com are pretty noisy, and that's just from the eddy of air and the buffeting that a big square hood sets up. The 5700XE was very quiet. I checked my iPhone sound meter app, and saw 72-73 db. That's very close to passenger car quiet, and the same reading I got from a recent drive in a Kenworth T680. I've written before on how I feel about the DT12 transmission, and can find no fault with it. It's relentless in its pursuit of skip shifting opportu- nities and it never misses a chance to grab the next gear as soon as possible. On several trips up a 6% or so grade, I found the DT12 upshifting at 1,400 rpm, which depending on the gear, landed me back at 1,000 or 1,100 rpm. That's courageous. On the opposite side, downshifting for rpm while using the engine brake, several times I was able to manually get the thing as high as 2,300 rpm. There's some serious retarding capac- ity there with a 15-liter engine. I struggled a little with the On- Guard collision avoidance system, probably because I wasn't entirely familiar with the way it works. It restricts vehicle speed to a prescribed following distance (a customer preset option), and while driving north west out of Las Vegas toward the town of Beatty, I found myself pressing down on the pedal and wondering why I wasn't accelerating. Truth was, I was coming up behind a slower car or truck, and the system is designed to maintain a set following distance. Once I figured out that changing lanes removed the threat from the radar's eyes, away I went. OnGuard braked and throttled the truck in harmony with traffic. It could be a very useful tool for a poor man's platooning arrangement. While gentle in its speed and braking management in most situa- tions, a couple of stray four-wheelers with the annoying habit of braking in front of a truck got the system's attention — and mine too — pretty quickly and the braking was pretty aggressive when it needed to be. Otherwise, the system was virtually transparent to me. I find the Western Star cab beyond spacious. And it still is. It's the same steel cab that goes back to the Constellation days in the late '90s. Tried and true, I guess, with little to improve upon. I'd prefer dashboard switches were spaced out more, or grouped into functions. Maybe it's because I get to drive one so infre- quently, I fumble around a lot looking for the right switch. Someone with more time-on-type might not have a similar complaint. The ride and handling are what you'd expect in a premium truck. For as large as it appears from the outside and from the left seat, it's still pretty nimble. The tried-and-true Airliner suspension provides a very good ride. Our truck had wide-base single tires with full-width axles so it felt very stable, even in a stiff crosswind. The mirrors produced my only negative observation, and it's a modest one. They are cab mounted, which re- stricts the door opening to somewhat less than 90 degrees. Also, with the window open, I noticed a lot of wind noise from the mirrors. My guess is there's still some aero improvement to be gained by moving the mirrors back onto the doors. Western Star GM Mike Jack- son says the 5700XE is targeted at the classic truck guy who knows that in trucking's game of pennies, aero counts. We couldn't verify the aero performance in a quantifiable way on our run. Jackson says it's second only to the Cascadia in the DTNA portfolio in terms of aero performance, and I have no reason to doubt him. It'll be interesting to see some actual numbers emerge as these trucks enter service in the spring of 2015. Overall, I was quite pleased with the truck, and ewxcited about the downsped and highly integrated powertrain. It really does offer the "large car" crowd the benefits of driving a "jelly bean," without sacri- ficing style. ■ test drive

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