2009 Truck & Van Preview

While there are some new and improved truck models making their debut in 2009, it will be a quiet year as medium- and heavy-duty truck makers prepare for the last round of changes to diesel exhaust emission standards to go into effect in 2010.

While there are some new and improved truck models making their debut in 2009, it will be a quiet year as medium- and heavy-duty truck makers prepare for the last round of changes to diesel exhaust emission standards to go into effect in 2010. One big trend, however, that is picking up steam is demand for hybrid and alternatively fueled trucks.

According to the editors at EC&M's sister publication, Fleet Owner, a trade magazine geared toward executives and managers of commercial trucking fleets that operate five or more vehicles, changes among the OEMs themselves may represent the biggest news of the 2009 model year. A deal Navistar forged with General Motors to buy GM's medium-duty truck business fell through, while Caterpillar announced it would no longer make heavy-duty diesel truck engines after 2010 — and promptly announced an alliance with Navistar that will allow both companies to expand their presence in the medium-duty market. Starting next year, Mack Trucks announced that much of its headquarters would shift south to Greensboro, N.C., to be more closely aligned with its sister company Volvo Trucks North America, leaving only engineering and research functions in its Allentown, Pa., location. The move follows a similar shift by Freightliner LLC from its Portland, Ore., headquarters to South Carolina in 2008.

Demand for diesel-electric hybrid medium-duty trucks continues to grow, with OEMs such as Navistar, Kenworth, Peterbilt, and Freightliner increasing production. More interest is being expressed in natural gas-powered trucks too, with step-van maker Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. seeing a spike in orders in 2008. Yet Fleet Owner Senior Editor Sean Kilcarr predicts that a bigger surge of changes for Class 4 to 8 commercial vehicles should re-emerge in 2010, as OEMs adjust their chassis in order to accommodate new emission-reduction technology, which for most will be selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems that spray a urea solution into the tailpipe to substantially reduce oxides of nitrogen (NOx) levels. That doesn't mean OEMs are standing still in 2009 — especially on the lighter side of the ledger, where some retooled Class 1 to 2 commercial models, such as Ford Motor Co.'s Transit Connect van, are making their first appearance in North America. Following is a preview of 2009's light- and medium-duty models.



More power, performance, and body/cab options are the major features being introduced for Dodge's 2009 Ram pickup line. In addition to a new 5.7L Hemi V8 gasoline engine, which produces 380 hp and 404 lb-ft of torque, the 2009 Dodge Ram can be equipped with a 4.7L gasoline V8 cranking out 310 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque, as well as a 3.7L V6 generating 215 hp and 235 lb-ft of torque. Four- and 5-speed automatic transmissions, part-time, and on-demand 4WD transfer cases, with 3.21, 3.55, 3.92, and 4.10 axle ratios are also on the option sheet for 2009. An automatic-transmission floor shifter, incorporated into a configurable center console, is available for the first time in a Dodge Ram. For the 2010 model year, Dodge noted it plans to roll out an advanced two-mode hybrid system for the Dodge Ram line.

Cab options include regular cab, Quad Cab, and crew cab models, with three box lengths: 8 ft (regular cab); 6 ft, 4 in. (regular cab and Quad Cab); and a new 5 ft, 7 in. box option for the crew cab. Five trim levels are available as well: ST, SLT, TRX, Sport, and the premium Laramie package.

An improved frame design incorporates high-strength steel supports for an all-new multi-link coil spring rear suspension that improves ride and handling characteristics without sacrificing payload (up to an estimated 1,850 lb) and towing capability (up to an estimated 9,100 lb).

The Dodge Ram crew cab 1500 also features the new RamBox cargo management system that provides weatherproof, lockable, illuminated, and drainable storage compartments integrated into both fender sides, with each “box” containing up to 4.3 cu ft of storage space — equivalent to five cases (120 cans) of beverages. More than 30 active and passive safety features are available, including standard front and rear side-curtain air bags, seat-belt pretensioners, ABS, BeltAlert System, and electronic stability control.

For small business owners, the Dodge Grand Caravan Cargo Van retains upgrades made to the vehicle last year, including a new exterior vinyl window shading, both full- and half-width cargo dividers, wire mesh and solid metal window interior inserts, and a cargo compartment floor mat.

The 2009 Dodge Sprinter van — a legacy from days when Daimler AG and Dodge's parent Chrysler were still one company — is undergoing relatively little change after being “super sized” for the 2008 model year and features a V6 diesel as well as an optional V6 gasoline engine.


A redesigned F-150 pickup and a light-duty van brought over from Europe represent the big news from Ford for 2009 in the light-duty category. Key improvements for the Ford F-150 are a higher-strength yet lighter-weight chassis and expanded safety features, such as AdvanceTrac with roll stability control (RSC) and trailer sway control, plus optional rearview camera assist and integrated trailer brake controller — a segment-first on light-duty pickups.

The new F-150 features a fully boxed frame constructed from hydroformed, high-strength steel side rails — and crossmembers that pass through the frame rails — for increased durability and safety, with high-strength steel doing double duty, providing about 10% more torsional rigidity, while also contributing to a 100-lb weight reduction versus the current F-150.

The Hotchkiss-designed rear suspension mounts for the rear shock absorbers are outboard of the frame rails on the new F-150 and provide for a smoother ride and improved body control. The revised suspension features 6-in. longer leafsprings, and springs are extended forward to provide better lateral compliance and refined rear axle steer characteristics. All 4×4 F-150s offer a choice of manual or electronic shift-on-the-fly 4WD systems.

On the plus-sized side, Ford expanded the interior on the F-150 SuperCrew by 6 in. to improve rear seat legroom and cargo capacity. A mechanically articulated second-row seat flips up and out of the way. Combined with a truly flat load floor, the feature gives the new SuperCrew some 57.6 cu ft of space behind the front seats.

The F-150 line gets a choice of three V8 engines, mated to either a 4-speed or a new, more fuel-efficient 6-speed automatic transmission. The engines include a 5.4L, 3-valve Triton V8 that is capable of running on E85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline), regular unleaded gasoline, or any blend in between; a 4.6L, 3-valve V8; and a 4.6L, 2-valve V8. All the V8 engines deliver a fleet-average 1 mpg improvement in fuel economy versus the outgoing F-150. Ford adds that diesel and new “EcoBoost” gas turbo direct injection engines are planned for the F-150 in 2010 as well. In mid-2009, Ford plans to fully roll out its European-engineered Transit Connect light-duty van in the North American market for commercial customers. With its standard, 2.0L 4-cyl. engine and automatic transmission, Transit Connect delivers fuel economy estimated at 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. The cargo doors on the Transit Connect open on both sides and at the rear — dual sliding side doors and 180°-opening rear doors — that make accessing its generous cargo area more convenient. Cargo capacity is 143 cu ft and can accommodate loads up to 6.5 ft long and 4.7 ft wide.


The Sprinter van will undergo relatively little change after being “super sized” for the 2008 model year. The 2009 Sprinter continues to feature a V6 diesel as well as an optional V6 gasoline engine, along with higher maximum gross weight ratings and a range of active safety systems added as standard equipment.

With a more pronounced hood and more streamlined profile, the Sprinter retains its 2 in. wider girth from last year and remains available in three lengths (233, 273, and 289 in.); two wheelbases (144 and 170 in.); and three roof heights, including a new 84-in.-high “Mega” option.

The roll-open side door, which can be specified on either side of the body, is now wide enough to handle a standard pallet, and the rear doors open a full 270°. The maximum cargo capacity for Sprinter goes to 600 cu ft, and GVW ratings are offered up to 11,030 lb for both van and cab-chassis versions.

The truck's 3.0L V6 turbodiesel produces 154 hp and peak torque of 280 lb-ft and is fitted with a diesel particulate filter to meet 2007 U.S. emissions requirements. The gasoline engine option is a 3.5L V6 rated at 254 hp and 250 lb-ft peak torque. Both engines are mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission.

For diesel models, an average 20.2 mpg was confirmed through independent testing and validation performed by Automotive Marketing Consultants Inc. (AMCI), Oceanside, Calif., with gasoline-powered models averaging 15.2 mpg. In addition, the 3.92 axle ratio is now standard for diesel models, ensuring superior fuel economy.

All Sprinters now come with Daimler AG's adaptive electronic stability program (ESP), which compensates automatically for changes in vehicle payload. ESP is integrated with a variety of new safety-related electronic and suspension systems, including rollover mitigation, skid control, ABS, electronic brake distribution, and emergency brake assist — all standard.

Other features include 16-in. wheels, high-density halogen headlamps with cornering lights, park assist with front and rear bumper sensors, power windows and mirrors, and automatic rain and light sensors to control the windshield wipers and headlights.


The big news for General Motor's light-duty lineup in 2009 is the introduction of its patented 2-Mode Hybrid system for both its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups. The company said its hybrid system is going to deliver 40% improved city fuel economy and 25% combined fuel economy gain for its full-size pickups. Both trucks feature an electric motor and battery pack combined with a 6.0L V8 engine with active fuel management and late-intake valve closing technology to further improve fuel consumption — while still providing 6,100 lb of towing capacity.

The hybrid's fuel-saving performance is derived from GM's electrically variable transmission (EVT) and 300V, nickel-metal hydride energy storage system (ESS), which works in concert with the standard 6.0L V8 Gen IV gasoline engine. GM said its hybrid technology system not only enables the Silverado and Sierra to launch and drive up to 30 mph on electricity alone, but it also allows the engine to operate in its more economical V4 mode for longer periods.

GM added that with its 2-Mode Hybrid system, the electric power used to propel the vehicle is generated by the hybrid system itself. When the brakes are applied or the vehicle is coasting, the electric motors within the hybrid system create electricity that is stored in the 300V battery. This stored energy is used to move the vehicle, and the regenerative braking cycle is renewed.

The Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra hybrids go on sale late this year and are based on platforms rolled out for the 2007 model year — platforms that will remain relatively unchanged both for hybrid and non-hybrid models. The Silverado is offered as a regular, extended, and crew cab. Cargo box lengths are short (5 ft, 8 in.), standard (6 ft, 6 in.), and long (8 ft). The pickup is available in WT, LT, and LTZ trim levels. It's also available in 2WD and 4WD.

The GMC Sierra has its own distinct trim packages, which include work truck, SLE (SLE1 and SLE2 models), and SLT, along with 2WD and 4WD configurations. Cab styles offered are regular, extended, and crew cab. Cargo box lengths are 5 ft, 8 in.; 6 ft, 6 in.; and 8 ft.

Both Chevrolet's Silverado and GMC's Sierra offer StabiliTrak electronic stability control system, a locking rear axle, and a trailer package.

GM's light-duty vans will see few changes for the 2009 model year. The Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans now come standard with StabiliTrak on all 1-ton passenger models. Offered as options are all-wheel drive and the available OnStar safety and security system on both passenger and conversion models.

The versatility of the Express and Savana — as both cargo vans and passenger haulers able to accommodate up to 15 people — gets beefed up with the addition of a standard Vortec 5.3L V8 that delivers 295 hp and 335 lb-ft of torque. Both vans can also be equipped with the Duramax 6.6L turbodiesel V8, which delivers 250 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, as well as a FlexFuel E85 version of the Vortec 5.3L engine.


The Honda Ridgeline light truck is going to stay relatively the same for the 2009 model year, with its 8.5-cu-ft, in-bed trunk, 4-wheel independent suspension, plus standard safety equipment that includes side-curtain airbags and a vehicle stability assist (VSA) system.

The 4-door, 5-passenger Ridgeline is built on a closed-box, unit-body frame that combines the strength characteristics of a ladder frame with the handling and packaging advantages of a unit-body design. Powertrain highlights include a V6 engine, a 5-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission, and a variable torque management 4WD system (VTM-4) as standard equipment.

The all-aluminum 3.5L VTEC engine produces 247 hp at 5,700 rpm and 245 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. Variable valve timing and lift electronic control (VTEC) enhance low rpm torque while extending high rpm horsepower, Honda says, resulting in a broad torque curve that starts early at low rpm while still delivering top-end horsepower.

The fully automatic VTM-4 system provides decision-free operation in rain, snow, ice, sand, and mud, while also improving on-road and towing performance by distributing torque to all four wheels as needed. The system provides front-wheel drive for dry-pavement conditions and engages all-wheel drive when needed. The VSA system can apply braking force to a wheel with low traction and direct driving force to a wheel with more traction. For the rear differential, a VTM-4 lock button located on the instrument panel allows the driver to temporarily hold engagement of both rear wheels to aid traction while in first and second gears.

Maximum towing capacity is rated at 5,000 lb when properly equipped, and all Ridgeline models are ready to tow with the addition of an available accessory trailer hitch (standard on the Ridgeline RTX model). Additionally, all models come equipped with standard transmission and oil coolers, heavy-duty brakes, dual radiator fans, and prewiring for 4- and 7-pin trailer hookup (prewired on RTX). A 5-ft composite cargo bed provides half-ton payload capacity and features six heavy-duty tie-down cleats and four integrated bed lights. A dual-action tailgate opens down or to the side for ease of access to the lockable in-bed trunk.

All Ridgeline model trucks are equipped with: standard antilock brakes; VSA; brake assist; advanced dual-stage, dual-threshold driver and front passenger SRS airbags; front-side airbags with passenger-side occupant position detection system (OPDS); and 2-row side-curtain airbags with rollover sensor. A tire pressure monitoring system is also standard.


Few changes are in the works for the 2009 Nissan Titan pickup as the company prepares to roll out a light commercial vehicle (LCV) line with vehicles designed specifically for the North American market starting in 2010 — a lineup that may include a heavy, full-size version of the Titan.

The current lineup of Titan models will remain in place for 2009. This includes the XE, SE, PRO-4X, and LE, along with two cab styles (King Cab and Crew Cab) and four bed lengths, clocking in at 5 ft, 6 in. and 7 ft for the Titan Crew Cab and 6 ft, 6 in. and 8 ft for the King Cab configuration. The Titan is offered in 4×2 and 4×4 drive configurations, with a Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV) to run on E85 ethanol as a no-cost option.

The new Titan LWB models feature a 7-ft bed with the Crew Cab body configuration and an 8-ft bed with the King Cab body, along with a 37-gal fuel tank for increased driving range. The new Titan PRO-4X model offers a special off-road equipment package, including Rancho shock absorbers, a lower final gear ratio, two additional skid plates, electronic locking rear differential, white-faced interior gauges, body-color exterior trim, and special interior styling and trim. The 2009 Titan also features freshened styling with a revised front end, wheel lip moldings, and new wheel styles. Inside, Titan features a new seat design and refined meter clusters.

Nissan is keeping a spate of special features in place on the Titan, including wide-open rear doors for the King Cab model that open nearly 180° for unobstructed rear cab access; an available high-utility bed that includes an industry-exclusive, factory-applied, spray-on bed liner; a tie-down system that provides cargo hauling flexibility; and a segment-exclusive integrated, lockable bedside storage compartment.

Nissan's Endurance all-aluminum, 5.6L V8 engine remains the standard powerplant for the Titan, cranking out 317 hp and 385 lb-ft of torque. The use of advanced engine technology, such as aluminum block with cast iron cylinder liners, forged steel crankshaft, microfinished crankshaft and camshaft, graphite-coated pistons, six-bolt main bearing caps, and Super Silent single-stage timing chain, results in enhanced fuel economy with no sacrifice of performance, Nissan notes.

The Titan comes standard with a 5-speed automatic transmission with advanced shift-on-the-fly 4WD with 2WD/4HI/4LO modes with electronic control part-time transfer case. Maximum towing capacity is 9,500 lb for the King Cab and 9,400 lb for Crew Cab (when properly equipped) models. Standard features include power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, 4-wheel disc brakes with Bosch ABS, and electronic brake force distribution (EBD).

As Nissan gears up to enter the light commercial market, it is partnering with Cummins Inc. on the development of two diesel engines specifically for the new line, both of which will meet 2010 EPA and CARB standards and be manufactured in the United States. Newly designed automatic transmissions will be supplied by Germany's ZF Friedrichshafen AG. According to Ward's Automotive Reports, the LCV line will include three vehicles with GVW ratings under 16,000 lb, and one model may be a heavy pickup.


Not many changes are in store for the 2009 Toyota Tundra, largely due to the full overhaul of the full-size pickup line for the 2008 model year. Toyota is adding 13 new Tundra models and enhancing standard equipment levels, so customers can choose between 44 different models in three cab styles, including wider availability for the popular double cab and CrewMax configurations.

Previously, these 4-door models were available only in the intermediate SR5 and top-line Limited grades. With the introduction of a new “Tundra grade,” positioned just below the SR5, Toyota says customers can equip double cab and CrewMax models with key standard features, such as power bucket front seats, AM/FM stereo with 6-disc CD changer, cold kit, heated mirrors, and mudguards at no additional cost.

Standard features for the Tundra Limited grade double cab and CrewMax include the front and rear parking sonar, cold kit, and mudguards. The Tundra is available with 4×2 and 4×4 drivetrains and offers three cab styles, wheelbases, bed lengths, engines, and trim levels. All models feature standard ABS, electronic brake force distribution (EBD), brake assist, vehicle stability control (VSC), and Traction Control (TRAC).

Engine options for the Tundra include a 381-hp, 5.7L i-Force V8 engine teamed to a 6-speed automatic transmission; a 4.7L i-Force V8, producing 276 hp at 5,400 rpm and 313 lb-ft of peak torque at 3,400 rpm (the standard powerplant for the CrewMax models); and a 4.0L V6 generating 236 hp at 5,200 rpm and 266 lb-ft of peak torque at 4,000 rpm (the standard powerplant for the Tundra regular and double cab models). Both the V6 and i-Force 4.7L V8 are teamed with a 5-speed automatic transmission that features uphill/downhill shift logic.

A diesel engine option is planned for 2010, based on a concept Toyota unveiled last year. The Tundra CrewMax diesel dually project truck, introduced at the 2007 SEMA Show, featured an 8.0L, inline 6-cylinder, high-torque diesel engine made by Toyota affiliate Hino and mated to an Eaton 5-speed manual transmission.

Tundra features three wheelbases: 126.8 in. for regular cab/standard bed models; 145.7 in. for regular cab/long bed, double cab/standard bed and CrewMax models; and 164.6 in. for double cab/long bed models. The pickup's 4×4 configurations offer a part-time, electronically controlled 4WD system featuring a 6-pinion planetary reduction gearset to provide 4×2, 4×4 Hi, and 4×4 Lo ranges. The driver selects the drive mode using a dial on the dash. Tundra regular cab and double cab models are offered in standard bed (78.7 in.) or long bed (97.6 in.) configurations; the CrewMax comes with a short bed (66.7 in.). In all models, the bed measures 22.2 in. deep.



After a spate of new offerings last year, the Dodge Ram 3500, 4500, and 5500 chassis cab medium-duty trucks won't undergo much change for 2009.

The 4500 and 5500 chassis cabs feature one of the largest standard fuel tanks in the segment (52 gal) and feature increased power takeoff (PTO) pump ratings — a 55% increase in gallons per minute to provide more power for pumps, lifts, and hydraulic use.

The 4500 and 5500 feature gross vehicle weight ratings topping out at 14,000 lb and 19,500 lb, respectively.

Other new product features include a Cummins 6.7L diesel engine option (automatic transmission only) that will now be available with remote start. Both are offered in dual-rear-wheel models and four cab-axle lengths (60, 84, 108, and 120 in.), in 4×2, 4×4, dual-rear-wheel, regular, and quad cab configurations.

A 6-speed automatic transmission with PTO is available for these models, along with a 6-speed manual transmission, also featuring PTO capability. An available electronic-shift transfer case is offered, as is a factory-installed exhaust brake.

Bringing even more “big rig” feel, commercial capability, and enhanced safety, the brake system on the 3500 chassis cab is upgraded with larger rotors and calipers and thicker brake pads, while its standard GCWR has been increased to 24,000 lb.

The 3500's all-new brakes are upsized to provide more stopping power, increased brake-pad life, and improved fuel economy.

To improve stopping power, front and rear rotor sizes are increased 2% to 360 mm on the front and 358 mm for the rear. In addition, front calipers are upsized 7% to include large, twin 60-mm pistons for maximum stopping power. New brake pads are 14% thicker (12.5 mm) with a 36% larger surface area (99 sq cm). The 3500's new brakes also help reduce brake drag, which results in a fuel economy improvement of 0.5 mpg, says the OEM.

Dodge Ram 3500s also feature a new 5.7L next-generation Hemi V8 with variable valve timing (VVT) that will appeal to fleets requiring a gas engine. The new engine incorporates a 9% higher compression ratio (10.5-to-1) and an active intake manifold. These technologies, combined with engine and powertrain integration improvements, result in a 4% improvement in fuel economy. Preliminary results also show peak torque increases 8% to 404 lb-ft and peak power increases 15% to 380 hp. At 2,000 rpm, torque improves 6% to 350 lb-ft.


Few changes are going to be made to the F-Series Super Duty for 2009, as Ford completely revamped its medium-duty lineup last year. The F-Series Super Duty still features a new 6.4L, power stroke V8 turbocharged diesel engine built by Navistar with a beefed up towing capacity of 24,000 lb and maximum payload of more than 6,000 lb.

The F-450 model now incorporates a rear leaf-spring suspension while using the radius arm front suspension. This setup provides for the tightest turning radius in its class, greatly improving maneuverability when towing. The engine delivers 350 hp at 3,000 rpm and 650 lb-ft of torque (on the F-250 and F-350) starting at 2,000 rpm. Transmission choices include a 6-speed manual with overdrive or a TorqShift 5-speed automatic. On the gasoline side, a 5.4L, 3-valve SOHC Triton V8 gas engine is offered with 6-speed manual transmission.

Ford is making some updates to its E-Series line of medium-duty vans for 2009, including a redesigned instrument panel and console, door trim panels with more storage, built-in auxiliary switches users can customize, wider-opening rear doors, and more comfortable seats. The center console doubles the usable storage space of the previous version — and now includes three larger cup holders.

Four new optional user-defined switches on the dashboard are also included as well as a more efficient wiring harness, which makes it easier for upfitters to integrate aftermarket features.

A message center is available in E-Series vans and wagons that feature standard vehicle maintenance information and miles-to-empty and fuel economy numbers.

The message center is standard on vans equipped with the 6.0L, power stroke V8 turbodiesel engine and includes an engine-hour meter that keeps a running total of engine use.

The company is rolling out a new package of products called Ford Work Solutions for its F-Series Super Duty XL, XLT, FX4, and E-Series trucks — a collection of technologies aimed at making business and fleet owners more productive and successful.

Ford Work Solutions include: an in-dash computer developed with Magneti Marelli and powered by Microsoft Auto that provides high-speed Internet access via the Sprint Mobile Broadband Network and navigation by Garmin; Tool Link, a radio-frequency identification (RFID) asset tracking system developed with Dewalt and ThingMagic to maintain a detailed real-time inventory of tools or equipment stored in the vehicle; Crew Chief, a fleet telematics and diagnostics system; and a cable lock security system developed in partnership with Master Lock. The chassis and suspension improvements have also resulted in an increase in the maximum GVWR from 14,050 lb to 14,500 lb. Additionally, the maximum front GAWR is increased by about 10%, from 4,600 lb to 5,000 lb.


Freightliner Trucks' newest medium-duty Business Class model is the M2e Hybrid drop-frame truck. It was engineered specifically to deliver fuel savings and reduced emissions in beverage fleets, according to the OEM, which says the truck is also suitable for utility, P&D, and power-takeoff (PTO) applications. The Class 6 truck is powered with the Eaton medium-duty hybrid diesel-electric system.

Freightliner's hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) design, which features a diesel engine coupled with an electric motor/generator and batteries, works in line with the engine and transmission, enabling operation with electric or diesel power either separately or together. According to the company, the M2 106 boasts up to a 30% savings in fuel consumption and up to an 87% reduction in idling time.

Suitable for easy access to cargo and featuring simplified loading and unloading, the drop-frame truck maximizes load capacity while maintaining superior maneuverability, visibility, and driver comfort, says the OEM. Like all M2 models, the truck has an aerodynamic aluminum cab and offers a 55° wheel cut, sloped hood and a 2,500-sq-in. windshield for enhanced visibility and increased safety. Freightliner Trucks has not as yet made any other major product announcements for its medium-duty models.


The biggest changes to the MT-45 and MT-55 walk-in van chassis built by Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) deal with the rapid rise in quotes for hybrid and compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered models, outstripping the number of quotes for the company's standard diesel-powered chassis, says Mike Stark, FCCC's senior technical sales manager.

FCCC says that under federal incentive programs its hybrid trucks may be eligible for up to $4,500 in tax credits, while a CNG-powered chassis can get up to $25,000 in tax credits.

The MT-45 and MT-55 hybrid models are powered by a Cummins ISB 5.9L diesel meeting EPA 2007 emissions requirements and Eaton hybrid technology with lithium-ion batteries. The Eaton system features a new low-profile hybrid drive unit that provides a completely flat floor in the driver compartment without any cab modifications. The diesel-hybrid package offers a 40% improvement in fuel economy and a 90% reduction in emissions compared to non-hybrid vehicles, according to FCCC. The CNG trucks use the Cummins D Gas Plus engine, producing 195 hp and feature twin aluminum fuel cylinders, providing a fuel range of up to 275 mi. The MT-45 and MT-45 Straight Rail (SR) medium-duty chassis offers a GVW rating between 14,140 lb and 19,000 lb. The significant difference between the MT-45 and MT-45 SR is in the 8-in.-tall steel straight-rail frame chassis, designed to enhance overall strength and reliability. It can accept bodies up to 22 ft in load length and volumes up to 950 cu ft and has a payload capacity of 10,000 lb, plus a 50° wheel cut for greater maneuverability. The standard engine for both the MT-45 and MT-45 SR is the Mercedes-Benz MBE900 170-hp diesel engine, with Allison 1000 Series automatic transmissions standard, as well as multiplex instrumentation wiring with full diagnostics and a heavy-duty TRW steering column. The MT-55 is a bigger version of the MT-45, offering a larger GVWR of 20,500 lb to 30,000 lb. Both the MT-45 and MT-55 are offered with an optional 190-hp MBE 900 4.8L engine that cranks out 520 lb-ft of torque.


The big medium-duty product news this year is the rollout of the 4500 model cutaway version of the GMC Savana and Chevrolet Express commercial vans. These Class 4 trucks are supported by a stronger chassis that enables a 14,200-lb GVW with lower mass — giving them a “best-in-class” payload rating of 9,100 lb, according to GM. The company claims it is the only OEM to offer an emissions-compliant V8 diesel in this GVW category.

The Express/Savana 4500 is offered with a gas V8 and GM's 6.6L Duramax turbodiesel V8. A Hydra-Matic HD 4L85E electronically controlled 4-speed automatic transmission backs both available engines. It was designed for the heavy-duty use of commercial cutaway vans and features a brazed torque converter turbine, induction-hardened turbine shaft, 5-pinion reaction and output gear carriers, and improved overrun roller clutch. With a new, strong frame and robust powertrains, the 4500 offers up to 20,000-lb GCWR for exceptional towing capability, says GM. Each model comes with a 5-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.

Unique frame enhancements, chassis design details, and drivetrain features deliver flexibility in a single platform, according to the OEM, while the 4500's body structure is designed to handle the extreme duty cycle encountered by many cutaway vehicles. Key features include a new rear axle with reinforced housing, gears and axle tubes, a high-capacity rear spring assembly, rear stabilizer bar, and an enhanced parking brake system with thicker rear brake rotors for improved heat dissipation.

Any 4500 chassis (except school bus applications) specified with the 14,200-lb GVWR and Duramax diesel engine receives a 57-gal rear-mounted fuel tank that was designed with input from upfitters. The tank is mounted lower on the chassis, providing a flat mounting position for ambulance bodies, etc. The tank's fuel sender and all fuel lines have been upgraded to meet B5 biodiesel performance requirements. All other General Motors medium-duty models are expected to continue unchanged into the new model year. These are the conventional Chevy Kodiak and GMC TopKick as well as the Chevrolet and GMC T-Series and W-Series cabovers.


For the 2009 model year, Hino Trucks will offer Eaton's Ultrashift highway value (HV) transmission in select Class 6 and 7 chassis, along with an extended cab option available for all of its platforms. Hino says its 268A and 338 models can be equipped with the Eaton Ultrashift HV, designed for Class 6 and 7 trucks up to 33,000-lb GVW, with diesel engines delivering up to 260 hp. The Ultrashift HV also features a lubed-for-life design with no scheduled maintenance, no filters to change, and an automatic hill assist to reduce rollback.

All Hino models can now be equipped with an optional 30-in. extended cab version, side windows with operating vents, and a fully trimmed Hino interior. The outside is constructed using corrosion-resistant composite materials, the company says. The 30-in. cab extension has the same cab height as the standard cab.

The base model has no seating, with an optional full-width bench seat in black vinyl, or a 26-in. day bunk with foam mattress and under-bunk storage. Hino offers six conventional truck models: the 145, 165, 185, 238, 268, and 338, with GVW ratings ranging from 14,050 to 33,000 lb and equipped with Hino's J-Series 5L or 8L engines, which offer horsepower ratings of 175 to 260.

Standard features for 2009 models include a new cab interior color scheme; exhaust brake; aluminum fuel tanks; powder-coated steel wheels (not available on 145 model); programmable idle shutdown; and new chip-resistant coated bumper. New factory-order cab configurations now include the extended cab, right-hand drive standup, and dual-steer sit down style.

Optional features include a 120-psi frame available for all 338 wheelbase options; air suspension on MDT hydraulic models; power locks packaged with power windows; differential lock on 21,000-lb-capacity rear axle including 268A; and additional rear axle ratio options. Also, all of Hino's truck models now come standard with an air tank, even if the truck uses hydraulic brakes. That's because all trucks will be equipped with an air-controlled butterfly valve engine brake to help manage exhaust backpressure and engine heat while offering a way to slow the vehicle without using the brakes.


International has rolled out the medium-duty DuraStar Hybrid diesel-electric truck. Already in production, the DuraStar improves fuel economy by 30% to 40% in city P&D applications, and by more than 60% in utility-type applications where the engine is completely shut off so crews can operate equipment such as aerial booms solely on electric power from the vehicle's battery reserve, says the OEM. International notes that in such applications, the diesel engine restarts roughly every 2 hr to recharge the battery pack.

The RouteMax charges the cold plates — coated steel plates with tubing that contains a salt-brine solution — to provide an efficient way to maintain a cool temperature inside the truck body, says International.

No major changes have been announced for the other trucks in the International medium-duty range, including the cabover CityStar, CF500 and CF600 models, and the 4100, 4300, and 4400 Series conventional trucks.


Navistar's purchase of General Motors' medium-duty business is going to change how Isuzu approaches the U.S. medium-duty market, but this shouldn't affect its 2009 product lineup.

Isuzu will still deliver its Class 3-5 trucks badged as the N-Series for Isuzu dealers and the W-Series for GMC and Chevy dealers. Diesel-powered versions of those trucks will still be manufactured in Japan, while gasoline-powered models will continue to be assembled in the United States. Isuzu is also directly distributing its Class 5-7 F-Series to its 200 U.S. Isuzu dealers. GMC/Chevrolet versions of that medium-duty cab remain badged the T-Series for now.

The long-serving N-Series line of LCFs received a big makeover for the 2008 model year, so little will change on the 2009 models.

Horsepower now sits at 205 at 2,400 rpm for the 5.2L overhead cam, 4HK1-TC turbocharged, intercooled diesel engine, with torque getting a similar boost to 441 lb-ft at 1,850 rpm. That engine covers GVW ranges from 12,000 lb to 19,500 lb and has a B10 durability rating of 310,000 mi.

An Aisin A465 heavy-duty, 6-speed automatic with double overdrive or 6-speed manual transmission is available with the 5.2L diesel.

Producing 325 hp and 360 lb-ft of torque, a General Motors gasoline Vortec 6.0L V8 uses the Hydra-Matic 4L80 4-speed automatic.

N-Series diesel models include the NPR, NPR HD, and NQR in regular or crew cab models, and NRR. The gasoline engine is available on the NPR and NPR HD models.

Available in four different wheelbases, the N-Series can accommodate truck bodies ranging from 10-ft to 20-ft long, and body/payload combinations weighing between 6,829 lb and 9,411 lb.


Kenworth Truck Co. has expanded its medium-duty offerings into the Class 5 arena with the T170 straight truck, which is offered in a 4×2 configuration with a GVWR of 19,500 lb. Standard power is provided by a Paccar PX-6 diesel engine rated at 200 hp and 520 lb-ft of torque. Other standard specs include an 8,000-lb front axle, 11,500-lb rear axle, hydraulic brakes, and low-frame height chassis with 19.5-in. wheels and tires. The T170 can be specified with a manual or automatic transmission.

Other T170 features include a single-piece steel bumper placed forward of the hood to help reduce impact damage and Metton quarter fenders to add durability and impact resistance. According to Kenworth, halogen projector low-beam headlamps provide up to 30% more light. There is also a 35-gal steel fuel tank, steel battery box and ABS cover, and heat-treated frame rail.

T170 options include a telescoping/tilting steering wheel, workstation with two 12V power ports, corner windows, and an electronic shift module. The OEM also points out that because there is no doghouse, noise inside the cab is reduced.

Kenworth has also announced full production of its medium-duty, diesel-electric hybrid models. These Class 6 and 7 trucks feature Paccar PX-6 engines and Eaton's hybrid drive system. According to Kenworth, the fuel economy benefit for these trucks may be as high as 30% in P&D applications and up to 50% in utility truck operations.

The AG210L single-axle rear suspension is described as “an economical choice” for Kenworth Class 6 and Class 7 conventional models. The AG210L, which is a 2-bag version of the heavier AG400L, is a 21,000-lb rear suspension for the T370 and T270.

Continuing in the lineup with no major changes announced are the Class 7 T370, Class 6 T270, and T270 hybrid-electric conventional models, as well as the Class 6 K260 and Class 7 K360 cabovers. The OEM notes the K260 and K360 are based on the LF55 built by its European subsidiary (DAF).


According to Mitsubishi Fuso, after introducing significant upgrades for the 2008 model year, the OEM isn't making any significant changes to its lineup of medium-duty trucks.

The light-duty Class 3 FE125 (12,500-lb GVW) has an OBD II emissions monitoring system required by California and other states. Power is provided by a 4.9L Mitsubishi diesel, producing 185 hp and 391 lb-ft peak torque. It will only be available with an Aisin 6-speed automatic transmission. Offered in three wheelbases ranging from 114.6 in. to 153.4 in., the FE125 will accommodate bodies up to 18 ft.

The Class 4 FE145 (14,500-lb GVW) is available in four wheelbases, including a 155.3 in. length introduced for the first time in 2008. An Aisin automatic transmission is standard.

The Class 5 FE180 (17,995 lb GVW), which includes five wheelbases since the 2008 addition of a 189.4-in. version, has an available 6-speed Mitsubishi manual transmission.

The Fuso lineup also includes a 4×4 FE140 (in a 138.2-in. wheelbase) and the FE145 Crew Cab.

The introduction of an aerodynamic cab last year on FK/FM medium-duty models cuts drag up to 25% in flatbed applications and lower chassis heights. Those include the Class 6 FK200 (19,850-lb GVW), which has a frame height of 36 in. and can accommodate bodies up to 24 ft. Like all FK/FM models, it is powered by the 7.5L 6M60 Fuso diesel, producing 243 hp and a peak torque of 513 lb-ft.

The Class 6 FK260 (25,995-lb GVW) is offered with either a spring or full-air rear suspension with the frame height at 38 in. The air-suspension version can dump its air bags to lower the truck an additional 2.5 in. while stationary. The FK260 includes air brakes.

The Class 7 FM330 (32,900 lb GVW) can be fitted with bodies ranging from 16 ft to 28 ft.


Peterbilt's newest medium-duty is the Class 5 conventional Model 325. The Model 325 is rated 19,500-lb GVW in straight-truck configuration, putting it at the very top of Class 5. It's powered by Paccar's PX-6 diesel, offered in 200-, 240- and 300-hp ratings and torque ratings running up to 620 lb-ft. Standard specs include front and rear hydraulic disc brakes with ABS and a 6-speed manual transmission. An automatic transmission is optional.

According to Peterbilt, the Model 325 is extremely durable, thanks to such features as an all-aluminum cab, steel bumper and aerodynamic hood, and fenders made from Metton, an advanced composite material that can withstand minor impacts, bumps, and scratches. In addition, a stainless steel grille with chrome surround provides greater protection compared to plastic grilles and also adds distinctive Peterbilt style to the vehicle. The 325 uses the same headlamp system as Pete's other medium-duty conventionals.

The OEM says it offers drivers a comfortable operating environment. Designed for easy entry and egress, a new step configuration allows drivers to move in and out of the cab at a more comfortable and safe position.

Peterbilt also plans to offer a new dash for its medium-duty trucks soon, complete with a new navigation system to make those vehicles more productive for fleets. The OEM notes that its medium-duty Model 330 and 335 diesel-electric hybrids will go into widespread production this summer.


Sterling Truck Corp.'s newest medium-duty model — the Bullet — is a Class 4/5 chassis-cab truck. The Bullet, a twin of the medium-duty Dodge Ram, features such standard specs as a Cummins 6.7L ISB diesel with exhaust brake, a power take-off prep package, air conditioning, and cruise control. The Bullet is offered with a regular cab (2-door) or quad cab (4-door) with choice of 4×2 or 4×4 drivetrain.

The company has made no announcement of changes to its Class 3-6 Sterling 360 low cabover or to models in its Acterra line of Class 5-and-up conventionals. The 360 is offered in three pre-engineered models in popular weights and sizes. Five wheelbases are offered to accommodate a full range of 12-ft to 20-ft bodies.

Sterling has introduced several factory-installed safety options on all Acterras as well as its heavy-duty truck models. These include air disc brakes, a new collision warning system from Eaton, and roll stability control (RSC) from MeritorWabco. The OEM says its proprietary air disc brakes are suitable for applications that are notoriously hard on truck brakes.

The OEM is offering the new Eaton-Vorad VS-400 collision-warning system, which includes features such as a cruise control regulating tool, a more compact sensor, and an easier-to-understand driver interface unit. The VS-400 provides in-cab notifications that help the driver identify traffic conditions in advance. Alerts are provided for slow-moving vehicles, stationary objects, and short following distance warnings, says Sterling. This system includes the SmartCruise feature, which uses data from the collision warning system to help the truck maintain the appropriate minimum distance from the vehicle in front of it. All of these notifications are communicated to the driver through an upgraded driver-interface unit that features an LCD screen with text and graphics.

Already available for order is the MeritorWabco RSC, which Sterling calls an “economical, reliable, and proven system for avoiding rollover accidents.” The OEM says it is offering RSC for operators who want to reduce rollovers as well as jackknifing and loss of control.


Not many changes are occurring to UD Trucks for the 2009 model year. The top of the frame rails on all UD models are now going to be clean of all rivets to make it easy for body installation, the OEM says. Next, factory-installed Hendrickson air suspensions will be an option for several versions of the 2600 UD model, along with every model of the company's larger 3300 chassis.

The cabs on all UD truck models are going to remain largely unchanged, with air ride seats, air conditioning, and power windows and door locks all standard features.

Highway rib tires are now standard for all positions, whereas heavier lug tread tires used to be standard fare on the rear wheels. This should simplify life for most operators.

Standard equipment includes dual convex side view mirrors with heated versions now available as an option; factory-installed backup alarms to boost safety and make the upfitter's job easier; and tensile steel frames, which were previously an option.

The UD 2600 LP, so designated to signify it's a “low-profile” model, remains an option for the 26,000-lb chassis, which is designed for fleets working in tight areas. All UD models are also getting 12V power outlets in the cabs, so operators can charge and use both cellphones and laptops while on the go. Finally, all of UD Trucks' 2009 models are certified as “clean idle vehicles” under California's tough idling regulations.


Recently, the walk-in van manufactured by Workhorse Custom Chassis has seen a number of changes, starting with its heavy-duty (19,500-lb and 23,500-lb GVWR) W62 chassis and continuing with a reworked front hood and grille. The makeover has also brought the truck a new name, the MetroStar. The OEM says the new moniker relates the vehicle to the “Star” model names — WorkStar, DuraStar, etc. — used by International, of which Workhorse is a wholly owned subsidiary.

The MetroStar is available on 86.5-in. and 93.5-in.-wide bodies, offers cargo lengths from 10 ft to 22 ft, and can be ordered built on the full range of Workhorse gas and diesel chassis options, which run from 9,400-lb to 23,500-lb GVWR. The manufacturer uses GM's 4.8, 6.0 and 8.1L Vortec gas engines as well as International's 4.5L MaxxForce 5 V6 diesel. While the MetroStar is offered exclusively through Workhorse dealerships and built exclusively on Workhorse chassis, it can be fitted with Utilimaster and Morgan Olson bodies.

Workhorse is also offering a power take-off (PTO) option for walk-in trucks built on its heavy-duty W62 diesel chassis. The PTO option can be installed at the dealer, the company says, before the truck is upfitted with vocational equipment such as air compressors, generators, and hydraulic pumps. Workhorse says it has created an “integrated build process” that enables the PTO option to be specified with the chassis right from the dealer.

TAGS: content
Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.