Freightliner has unveiled its new 2017 Cascadia class 8 semi-truck. Which, according to parent company Daimler, is the most advanced semi ever sold in the United States.
It features a raft of updates over the existing Cascadia Evolution, improving efficiency, connectivity, and safety. And you can get it with a big-ass engine.
The bodywork has been subtly but significantly reshaped in an effort to improve fuel consumption. Freightliner claims gains of up to eight per cent are achieveable, even though the powertrain is unaltered.
A bespoke connectivity platform called Detroit Connect Analytics is used, providing remote diagnostics, and on-demand fuel economy and safety analysis. Much like a race car’s telemetry, the system monitors parameters like engine revs and braking to determine how fuel efficient the driver is, and that information can then be used to help them improve their performance.
LED lighting comes as standard, while an optional package adds safety aids like autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning.
But enough about that. What’s under the hood? 95% of buyers spec Daimler’s own Detroit diesels, which range from a 12.8-liter, 350 horsepower (261 kilowatts) unit (why bother?) up to a honking-great 15.6-litre lump with 600 hp (448 kW) and 2050 pound-feet of torque (2779 Newton meters). Which is enough to spin a medium-sized planet.
That power goes to the road via a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes, though most buyers go for Detroit’s 12-speed auto. Only Detroit axles are available.
Then the only remaining decision is cab size, which runs from a two-seat day cab up to sleepers bigger and better-equipped than my apartment.
Since it was launched in 2007, the Cascadia has sold more than 412,000 units, making it by far the best-selling truck in its class. Across its full range, Freightliner hold a 43% market share in the U.S. and Canada. The 2017 model goes on sale in January.