Vehicle Research

Bigger, Brawnier 2017-MY Work Trucks

October 2016, Work Truck - Cover Story

by Jack Roberts

The Chevrolet Low Cab Forward will debut in seven models, ranging from Class 3-5. (Photo courtesy of Isuzu Commercial Truck of America)
The Chevrolet Low Cab Forward will debut in seven models, ranging from Class 3-5. (Photo courtesy of Isuzu Commercial Truck of America)

Given the high cost of research and development today, most truck designs tend to evolve slowly over time, adding new features and options each model year as opposed to dramatic new enhancements. This year, medium-duty OEMs didn’t follow a set pattern as some opted to return to tried-and-true vehicle concepts, while others push ahead with advanced telematics and safety systems.

AT A GLANCE

New models for 2017 feature:

  • More power and cargo capacity.
  • High-tech upgrades.
  • A variety of configurations and options to meet your work truck needs.

General Motors

A partnership that ended during the economic downturn almost a decade ago has been renewed with the return of Isuzu-built medium-duty cabover engine (COE) trucks to Chevrolet dealer lots next year.

Chevrolet LCF (Low Cab Forward) trucks will debut in seven models ranging from Class 3 to 5, with gasoline engine options available as options for Class 3 and 4 models. Wheelbases range from 109 to 212 inches, with GVWRs ranging from 12,000 to 19,500 pounds. All trucks will be offered in either Regular or Crew Cab versions.

Additionally, both Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD trucks get a new, patented air intake system that drives cool, dry air into the engine for sustained performance while providing cooler engine temperatures during difficult driving conditions. Chevrolet said the new intake system underwent extensive testing based on the most challenging real-world driving conditions to ensure capable performance no matter the weather and is recognizable by a dramatic hood scoop that provides 60% of the air to the Duramax diesel engine from an inlet at the front of the hood.

F-Series Super Duty enhancements for 2017
include increased towing and gooseneck capacity. (Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Co,)
F-Series Super Duty enhancements for 2017 include increased towing and gooseneck capacity. (Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Co,)

Ford

Ford’s Transit and E-Series van models are fairly new designs in automotive years, so the company has focused on increasing driver comfort and productivity for 2017. After listening to fleet customer feedback, Ford redesigned the Transit vans with a new, walk-through center console arrangement and powered running board option. A SYNC 3 communications and entertainment system will be available in 2017 Transit Cargo Vans.

The E-Series van family gets a power boost in 2017, with Ford’s 6.2L V-8 now available as an option in 2017 E-Series stripped chassis and cutaway models. 

Enhancements for F-Series Super Duty trucks in 2017 will focus on more power, with F-450 fifth-wheel towing capacity increased to 27,500 pounds and maximum gooseneck capacity raised to 32,500 pounds. Conventional towing capacity will be rated at 21,000 pounds with maximum payload at 7,630 pounds. F-450 also gets a horsepower boost for 2017, with Ford’s 6.7L Power Stroke diesel engine cranking out 440 hp and 925 lb.-ft. of torque.

Conventional towing capacity will be rated at 21,000 pounds with maximum payload at 7,630 pounds. F-450 also gets a horsepower boost for 2017, with Ford’s 6.7L Power Stroke diesel engine cranking out 440 hp and 925 lb.-ft. of torque.

Ford F-650 and F-750 trucks will receive new power take-off (PTO) options for 2017 with the addition of a mobile PTO mode giving fleets the ability to operate a wide range of equipment on job sites. 

New Freightliner M2 features include custom LED headlights, air disc brakes, and Detroit Virtual Technician Telematics. (Photo courtesy of Freightliner)
New Freightliner M2 features include custom LED headlights, air disc brakes, and Detroit Virtual Technician Telematics. (Photo courtesy of Freightliner)

Freightliner

The Freightliner M2 can be spec’d in a variety of configurations, including day cab, crew cab, and extended cab versions with GVWRs up to 66,000 pounds. Engine offerings for 2017 will include a new option, Freightliner’s proprietary Detroit DD5, as well as previously-offered Cummins ISB and ISL diesels. Transmissions include Eaton Fuller manual gearboxes, the Eaton UltraShift AMT and Allison 1000, 2000, and 3000 Series automatics. 

New M2 features for 2017 include custom LED headlights from Truck-Lite, air disc brakes, and the Detroit Virtual Technician telematics system which Freightliner says will provide medium-duty fleets with deep-dive operational information regarding vehicle performance and health to allow more informed maintenance decisions and reduce breakdowns and downtime.  

Every Hino truck sold in North America will
be equipped with INSIGHT vehicle telematics. (Photo courtesy of Hino Trucks)
Every Hino truck sold in North America will be equipped with INSIGHT vehicle telematics. (Photo courtesy of Hino Trucks)

Hino

Beginning with the 2017 model-year, every Hino truck sold in the United States will be equipped with, and supported by, the company’s INSIGHT vehicle telematics program, providing fleets with instant access to vehicle information as well as remote diagnostics and vehicle case management that allows fleet managers to monitor a wide array of vehicle activities such as idle times, heavy breaking, speed, location, distance traveled, and much more. 

Hino has designed the system to alert the fleet, the dealer, and Hino in the event of a breakdown to provide instant support with streamlined service, including appointment coordination and progress updates.  

Isuzu’s new Class 6 truck hits dealerships in mid-2017. (Photo courtesy of Isuzu Commercial Truck of America)
Isuzu’s new Class 6 truck hits dealerships in mid-2017. (Photo courtesy of Isuzu Commercial Truck of America)

Isuzu Commercial Truck of America

Isuzu Commercial Truck of America will have an all-new Class 6 truck hitting dealerships in mid-2017 with its FTR model cabover, which is designated as a 2018 model-year truck.

The new truck will feature Isuzu’s 4HK1-TC 5.2L, four-cylinder diesel engine, which the company says is the first four-cylinder offered in Class 6. Horsepower and torque ratings have not been finalized yet, although the engine will be mated to an Allison 2000 Series automatic. The new truck will be available in eight wheelbase configurations and will accommodate bodies from 16 to 30 feet. 

Kenworth’s T370 now features Meritor heavy-duty axles. (Photo courtesy of Kenworth)
Kenworth’s T370 now features Meritor heavy-duty axles. (Photo courtesy of Kenworth)

Kenworth

A range of expanded axle offerings are the primary 2017 upgrade for Kenworth’s T370 medium-duty trucks with the addition of Meritor heavy-duty front and rear axle systems.

The new axles include non-drive front axles rated from 16,000 to 20,000 pounds and Meritor’s 44,000 and 46,000 heavy-duty, tandem-drive rear axles. The Meritor MFS20 front, and MT-44 and RT-46 Series rear axles can be spec’d with PACCAR’s PX-9 diesel engine, rated at 350 hp and 1,150 lb.-ft. of torque. 

Kenworth says the new axles feature a heavy-duty, cross-brace-reinforced front frame assembly, bolted cross members, and either 10-5/8-inch frame rails with insert or 10-3/4-inch frame rails, iron hubs, drum brakes, and dual-power steering gears with a power steering cooler to offer fleets a lighter engine and higher-capacity front axle option. According to Meritor, the MFS20 front axle gives T370 models sharper wheel cuts for a tighter turning radius and improved vehicle maneuverability while offering longer service life and easier maintenance. 

Both the Kenworth T270 and T370 will feature more frame packaging options in 2017, allowing for more complex body installations. The design upgrade focuses on making body installations easier for utility, fire, and street maintenance departments as well as towing operators and hydronic service providers. 

Peterbilt now offers Bendix Wingman Fusion safety system optional. (Photo courtesy of Peterbilt)
Peterbilt now offers Bendix Wingman Fusion safety system optional. (Photo courtesy of Peterbilt)

Peterbilt

Peterbilt’s all-purpose Model 330 conventional truck and Model 348 Class 7 for vocational and specialty vehicle applications get the majority of the company’s 2017 medium-duty upgrades with the addition of Bendix’s Wingman Fusion vehicle safety system as an option and an upgraded SmartNav Infotainment system.

Wingman Fusion integrates several advanced vehicle safety systems into a single-functioning unit with simplified driver warnings, while the new infotainment system features real-time vehicle monitoring, GPS navigation, phone and messaging, a fully integrated audio system, Internet browsing, and integrated viewing of up to four optional external cameras.

Additional Model 330 upgrades for next year include a space-saving between-rail fuel tank and Meritor steer axles with a 55-degree turn angle, reduced scrub radius, and reduced weight with a lighter beam design. 

Peterbilt’s Class 7 Model 220 cabover  receives a new 8,000-pound lift axle option for improved weight distribution and variable weight demands in 2017, along with a new 34-foot body connection harness that makes body installation faster and more efficient as it can be moved anywhere on the frame or body. 

Likewise, Peterbilt’s Class 7 Model 337 conventional receives the same upgrades as the Model 330 for 2017, with the addition of a new Fuller Advantage automated manual transmission with up to 1,450 ft.-lb. of torque and a new front bumper extension option that provides a mounting location on the front bumper to accommodate heavy-duty roof racks, FEPTO systems and crane supports.

The optional front bumper extension will be available for Model 348 trucks in 2017 as well. 

Ram 3500, 4500, and 5500 commercial chassis cabs have received towing capacity and maximum trailer weight upgrades. (Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC)
Ram 3500, 4500, and 5500 commercial chassis cabs have received towing capacity and maximum trailer weight upgrades. (Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC)

Ram Trucks

The original Dodge Power Wagon retains legendary status among truck aficionados to this day. So the return of the Ram Power Wagon next year is certainly bound to turn some heads. Not surprisingly, the truck features a bold, distinctive look with power to match: A 410 hp, 6.4L Hemi V-8 sits under the hood churning out 429 lb.-ft. of torque. 

If the Power Wagon is a little too racy for your fleet needs, the new, 2017 Ram 2500 4x4 Off-Road package may be more to your liking. This new Ram truck features a host of features usually found on Ram 2500 Crew and Mega Cab 4x4 models, including Hill Descent Control, tow hooks, a transfer case skid plate,  Bilstein shocks, a limited-slip differential, and a standard 6.4L HEMI engine for Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, and Limited trim levels. 

Ram 3500, 4500, and 5500 commercial chassis cab trucks have all received towing capacity and maximum trailer weight upgrades for 2017. An LED tail lamp is available as an option, while all 2017 Ram trucks will feature a standard five micron cabin air filter. 

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