Hands-On Experience

USING the sprawling 1,600-acre Las Vegas, Nevada, Motor Speedway complex as a stage, Mack Trucks launched its Mack Performance Tour in early June. Fifteen Granite vocational trucks and 10 Pinnacle premium highway trucks are fanning out across North America to show off the new models, all equipped with Mack's US 2007 emissions-certified MP Engines.

The tour, themed “Breakthrough Innovation,” is intended to let truck users see and experience first-hand Mack's 2008 truck models, engineered with engine exhaust-scrubbing technologies to meet the more stringent 2007 federal diesel emissions regulations. Visits will be made to Mack dealerships throughout the US and Canada through the end of September. All of the tour trucks are loaded to capacity to give drivers a real feel for the trucks and engines.

The 11-liter MP7 and 13-liter MP8 engines have a “broader range of engine offerings than the previous generation of Mack engines, with more horsepower ratings, increased power, and exceptional low-end torque while remaining fuel-efficient and running cleaner,” said David McKenna of Mack's powertain division.

“The MP8 has the highest horsepower range with the lowest emissions ever offered by Mack,” he said. Horsepower goes from 415 to 485, with torque levels from 1,540 to 1,700 lb-ft. The MP7 is available in 325 to 405 hp ratings, with torque ratings from 1,200 to 1,560 lb-ft.

Fuel economy

The new MP engines are expected to increase fuel economy by about 3% on highway and 6% for vocational use because of improvements to the injection and air management systems.

Mack plans to introduce fuel tank chassis fairings and other aerodynamic aids for its Pinnacle models. The fairings are expected to increase fuel economy about 1.5%.

The new MP Engines incorporate Mack's Vehicle Management and Control System (V-MAC IV), which provides enhanced monitoring of the truck and engine.

The engines also come with DataMax, a trip recorder that captures vehicle trip histories, duty cycle information, and scheduled maintenance intervals, all of which can help boost productivity, efficiency, and profitability.

Mack has kept its three distinct engine families to address specific operating conditions:

  • Econodyne - intended for typical highway-steady speed operations.

  • MaxiCruise - for high-performance in rolling highway and vocational applications.

  • Maxidyne - optimized for maximum power at low-speeds in severe-duty conditions, especially in off-road applications.

All engines work with a wide range of manual, automated, and automatic transmissions.

Little change

Having the opportunity to drive a number of the tour trucks on Interstates, secondary highways, and streets, I was pleasantly surprised, as there seemed to be no sacrificing of power or performance. Fuel economy was good as well, which I was able to track on those models equipped with real-time fuel economy displays.

The automated and automatic transmissions required much less effort than manuals, allowing me to better concentrate on driving. With less physical shifting, there is less fatigue after a long day.

While driving one of the Pinnacles, a warning lamp appeared on the dash, indicating that the diesel particulate filter needed regeneration — a process which burns off the trapped particulate matter. It took place automatically.

I had expected a drop in engine power and performance, but there was none. If I had not seen the warning light, I never would have known the regeneration took place.

Driver environment

The Pinnacles and Granites share the same cab — said to be Mack's strongest, most durable cab ever. An entirely new driver environment offers more leg, knee, and belly room.

The Pinnacle Sleepers come in a 48-inch and 56-inch flat-top, 60-inch and 70-inch mid-rise, and 70-inch high-rise with a 112-inch BBC. All are spacious with features and amenities that bring an extra measure of comfort to life on the road.

A new wrap-around “cockpit style” dash includes a new primary gauge cluster and space for up to 25 switches.

The standard driver information display is upgradeable to the CoPilot, a driver interactive expanded display that allows drivers to easily toggle through 50 screens that provide real-time fuel economy and trip data, detailed maintenance and fault summaries, and supplemental sensor readings.

Also new are a broadly adjustable steering column and new driver foot pedal controls. All pedals are suspended, rather than floor mounted, and are on the same plane. I could leave my heel on the floor when switching between throttle and brake pedals.

The new trucks are quieter than their predecessors because of new high-tech sound deadening material that has lowered noise and vibration.

Job specific

Mack is developing a host of new products and features specifically for the on-highway market segment. Just released is an optional seven-inch, full-screen, integrated navigational radio system that combines AM, FM, satellite radio, weather band, CD, Global Positioning (GPS), and voice turn-by-turn directions with optical aids. The system also can get road conditions and locate points of interest, restaurants, and gas stations.

The system has three-camera capability, allowing the placement of video cameras around the tractor to avoid blind spots.

Also through the radio system is wireless tire pressure monitoring, with the ability to set low and high tire pressure thresholds.

Another new option for the Pinnacle is the Idle Free Hybrid System, an anti-idling system that uses battery power to provide electrical power and to heat and air condition truck cabs. This system, which provides either 12- or 120-volt power, has the ability to keep a truck cab and large sleeper air conditioned at 78°F for 10 hours with an outside air temperature of 100°F.

The new Granites have improved maneuverability, a tighter turning radius, a better ride for harsh jobsite conditions, and new engine and cab mounting systems.

More information about Mack's Performance Tour, along with a complete tour schedule, can be found at: www.mackperformancetour.com.

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