Fleet Owner's comprehensive preview of 2002 commercial trucks finds the economic slowdown isn't slowing the flow of new truck models to market.

LIGHT CLASS 1-2

Dodge. DaimlerChrysler is making some interesting changes to its Dodge Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500 pickups for 2002: The light-truck line is undergoing its first major design overhaul since 1994. The most important change will be to the Ram's Quad Cab design, which will be equipped with four full front-hinged doors, rather than the current half-sized rear-hinged doors. Three inches will be shaved off the pickup's cargo bed, giving the Quad Cab more interior room.

Several new lower-displacement but higher-power gasoline engines will be offered on the 2002 Ram line. A single overhead cam 4.7-L V8, providing 235 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, will replace Dodge's current pushrod 5.2-L V8, with 230 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. Also, the new SOHC 3.7-L V6, with 210 hp and 230 lb-ft of torque, will be an option on the 2002 Ram pickup line, compared to its 3.9-L V6, which provides 175 hp and 230 lb-ft of torque.

Ford.

Ford Motor Co. has made a range of upgrades to its pickups, resulting in four new “light” models to carry it through 2002: the Ranger Edge, F-150 King Ranch SuperCrew, F-150 Harley Davidson SuperCrew, and Platinum Edition Super Duty F-250. Interior improvements include seat-integrated restraints on all F-150 SuperCrew cabs, as well as 60/40 split bench seats and captain's chairs. Powertrain improvements result in a “power improved” 4.6-L Triton engine that delivers 231 hp. A 4-wheel antilock braking system is standard across the F-Series line.

Although the Work Series line has been eliminated, essentially the same specs are available as a Work Truck Option on XL models. The SuperCrew cab option is retained, however, with four full-size doors and seating for six adults.

General Motors.

General Motors Corp. sees few changes in 2002 to its line of ¾- and 1-ton pickups introduced last year. The HD (heavy-duty) line of GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado pickups comes in three modular frames: the 2500 HD, 3500, and Chassis Cab configuration. At the lighter end of the line is the 2500 HD, with a 9,200 lb GVW. The 3500 comes in a regular 2WD package as well as a 4WD “dualie” chassis; each have 11,400 lb GVW. The Chassis Cab is a 4-door dualie model available in 2WD at 11,400 lb GVW and 4WD at 12,000 lb GVW.

The trucks are equipped with GM's powerful 6.6-L turbocharged Duramax diesel engine. Built by DMAX Ltd., a joint venture between GM and Isuzu, the Duramax 660 provides 300 hp at 3,100 rpm, and 520 lb-ft of torque at 1,800 rpm. On the gasoline side, GM has the 8.1-L Vortec V8, which provides 340 hp at 4,200 rpm and 455 lb-ft of torque at 3,200 rpm.

Workhorse Custom Chassis.

Workhorse Custom Chassis designed a Class 2 version of its step van in 2001 to compete in the cargo van market. The FT1061 step van is touted as a “stand-up” alternative to cargo vans. The new model has a GVWR of 9,400 lb, a 125-in. wheelbase, and a 126-in. load space. In addition, it boasts a 76-in. ceiling height, which makes it easier to do the kind of “indoor” work that is common to plumbing, electrical, and other trades.

By adding a shorter wheelbase model to its semicustom step van program, Workhorse wants to bring the advantages of its integrated step van to those companies that have previously operated cargo vans. The FT1061 offers nearly 68 sq ft of floor space, and the back step is only 20 in. high. The FT1061 is powered by a GM Vortec V8 gasoline engine with sequential port fuel injection. It comes equipped with antilock brakes, power steering, and independent front suspension.

MEDIUM CLASS 3-7

Bering. Bering has few changes planned for its medium-duty line in 2002, focusing instead on ramping up production at its new plant in Front Royal, Va. The LD15A covers the low end of the line, with GVW ratings of 14,510 and 18,000 lb. Powered by a 6-cyl. DDC D638 diesel with 160 hp, it is spec'd with a 4-speed Allison automatic transmission; wheelbase options range from 116 to 176 in.

For Class 6, Bering offers the MD23M (23,000- and 30,000-lb GVW); the MD23A (23,000- and 30,000-lb GVW); the MD26M (25,510- and 30,000-lb GVW); and the MD26A (25,510- and 30,000-lb GVW). All are powered by Cummins 215-hp ISB 6-cyl. diesels. The MD23M and MD26M have 6-speed manual transmissions from Eaton or ZF, while the MD23A and MD26A come with 5-speed Allison automatics. Cabs are spec'd with air-suspension seats and feature a wraparound dash design that puts controls within easy reach.

Ford.

Ford Motor Co.'s line of medium-duty trucks — Class 3 through Class 7 — will remain relatively unchanged in 2002. Four-wheel antilock braking systems and towing packages are now standard equipment on all vehicle packages for the Ford Super Duty F-350, F-450, and F-550, along with power disc brakes and 4-speed automatic transmission. GVW ratings for the three are: 9,900 to 12,500 lb, 15,000 lb, and 17,000 or 19,000 lb, respectively.

The standard engine remains the 5.4-L Triton V8, rated at 235 hp with peak torque of 335 lb-ft. Other engine options are the 6.8-L Triton V10 and 7.3-L Powerstroke V8 diesel, built by Navistar for Ford.

The F-650, the Class 6 designation, is rated at 26,000 lb GVW, while the Class 7 F-750 is rated at 30,000 and 33,000 lb.

Diesel engine choices continue to be the Cummins 5.9-L ISB, Caterpillar 3126E, and 7.3-L International Powerstroke. The Cummins ISB is available with horsepower ratings of 175, 190, and 195 hp, while Caterpillar's 3126E has options of 190, 210, 230, and 250 hp.

Freightliner.

Freightliner Trucks' big news is the arrival from Europe of its Sprinter commercial van. The Class 2-3 Sprinter, originally developed in Europe by the OEM's parent, DaimlerChrysler, will be manufactured in Germany and assembled in the U.S. Initially, it will be offered in cargo and passenger van configurations. A cab/chassis version will become available next year. Freightliner believes the Sprinter fits into the light-duty commercial market between heavier walk-in vans and lighter automotive-based vans.

Sprinters will be offered in two interior roof heights — 64-in. standard and 73 in. — ]and three wheelbase lengths: 118, 140, and 158 in. Standard cargo van GVWR is 8,550 lb with 4,123 lb of cargo capacity. The 9,900-lb-GVWR version offers 5,105 lb of payload capacity. Besides the Sprinter's interior heights, nearly vertical sidewalls, and full-height rear doors, the OEM says the van's “most productive differentiator” is its Mercedes-Benz 5-cyl. inline turbodiesel with 156-hp rating.

General Motors.

General Motors plans to launch a new line of medium-duty trucks in 2002 to update its venerable GMC and Chevrolet C-Series. The GMT560 trucks will have GVWRs ranging from 16,000 to 61,000 lb, reaching the low end of the Class 8 market. Initially, the trucks will arrive in a variety of 2WD configurations, designed in regular cab, commercial, and recreational vehicle cutaway configurations. Four-wheel drive and crew cab models will be available in late 2002 and early 2003.

Though they have scheduled the release for 2002, GM considers the trucks, which boast a wide range of improvements, to be 2003 models. The radiator, engine, and transmission have been shifted back a few inches to increase the slope of the truck's hood, enlarging windshield space by 25% for better forward visibility. GMC claims the GMT560 cabs are 50% quieter and roomier. Class 6 and 7 models have three more inches of width and an inch more of height compared to GM's TopKick cabs, for example. Maneuverability has been improved through a redesigned steering system, setback front axles, and longer front suspension springs, with wheelcuts of up to 52°.

Numerous wheelbase options are available for GMT560 vehicles. Models 4500 and 5500 (Class 4 and 5) have up to six wheelbase options. The 6500, 7500, and 8500 units (Class 6, 7, and 8) have 17 wheelbase options, ranging from 128 to 308 in.

The 4500 and 5500 can be spec'd with gasoline or diesel engines: the Vortec 8100 V8 (225 and 325 hp), and the Duramax 6600 (210 to 300 hp), respectively. Transmission options include the ZF 650 6-speed manual, Allison 1000, and Allison 2400 5-speed automatic.

The 6500, 7500, and 8500 have a wider range of diesel options, including the Duramax 7200 at 175 to 210 hp, the Duramax 7800 at 200 to 275 hp, and the Caterpillar 3126E at 190 to 300 hp. The gasoline option is again the Vortec 8100.

Hino.

Hino Diesel Trucks is making a big shift to automatic transmissions for its 2002 model-year vehicles. The Allison MD 3060, with park provision and spring brake, will be standard on Class 7 units — the SG 3320 (32,900 lb GVW; 200 hp) and SG 3325 (32,900 lb GVW; 252 hp). The SG 3325 is also available with an RT 8709 Eaton Fuller transmission option for fleets that work both on- and off-highway. Hino will offer its own MFO6S 6-speed air-assist manual transmission, which provides easier shift control and clutch operation, for both SG models. The SG chassis will feature a longer wheelbase in 2002, accommodating truck bodies up to 28 ft.

Hino's FF 3020 (33,000-lb GVW) will also receive an Allison automatic transmission package, but without a park provision; it will have a driveline park brake. Hino says as more medium-duty fleets try to get below the 30,000-lb-GVW limit to avoid the CDL requirement, interest in this chassis model is dropping off.

By contrast, the FE 2620 (25,995 lb GVW) and FD 2320 (23,000 lb GVW) are gaining market share. Both will be equipped with Allison 2400 5-speed automatics, including park provision.

At the low end, Hino's FB 1817 (17,600 lb GVW) and FA 1517 (15,000 lb GVW) will have longer wheelbases to accommodate the longer bodies that are popular in the medium market. The FA model line gets a new 165-in. wheelbase so it can handle 18-ft bodies.

International.

International Truck & Engine Corp.'s all new line of medium-duty trucks — the International 4000 Series — is part of the OEM's new “High Performance Trucks” family. According to International, the “High Performance” tag on the new line is more than hype. The OEM offers these added-value figures for 4000 Series vehicles, based on 200,000 ownership miles: $1,062 for improvements in preventive maintenance; a 20% overall reduction in repair time (valued at $500); a $1,000 to $2,000 increase in driver productivity and retention; and up to $2,260 in savings due to new design features.

The 4000 Series features an electronically integrated powertrain. According to International, matching transmission shift points with engine power curves increases driver control, vehicle reliability, and fuel economy. The powertrain boasts enhanced versions of the International DT 466 and DT 530 midrange diesel engines driven through Allison automatic transmissions with exclusive shift schedules or manual transmissions with gear ratings developed specifically for the International engines' power characteristics.

Isuzu.

American Isuzu Motors is bringing out a crew cab for its 2002 model-year trucks. The N-Series NQR Crew Cab, which holds seven, comes on a 14,500-lb-GVWR chassis. Two wheelbases are offered: a 150-in. for 12-ft bodies and a 176-in. for 16-ft bodies.

American Isuzu also has a host of other changes for its entire 2002 lineup of low cab forward trucks. Model choices start with the Class 3 through 4 N-Series trucks. In the Class 5 segment, Isuzu offers the NQR and FRR. Class 6 and 7 offerings include the FRR, FSR, FTR, and FVR models.

N-Series trucks now feature self-adjusting front-disc and rear-drum brakes, as well as antilock brakes standard. For NPR models, the 30-gal fuel tank is mounted between the frame rails.

The 2002 Class 3 NPR GAS and Class 4 NPR HD GAS are equipped with a U.S.-built 5.7-L engine that produces 250 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque. The 2002 NQR adds a Class 5 weight specification of 17,950 lb GVW and a body payload capability ranging from 10,382 to 10,592 lb. Available in four wheelbase choices, the NQR can handle bodies from 12 to 20 ft.

The new 2002 Class 5 FRR was conceived and built to offer fleets an 18,000- to 19,500-lb-GVWR vehicle, with a 7.8-L, 6-cyl. Isuzu engine delivering 200 hp and 441 lb-ft of torque. The standard transmission is an Isuzu MLD6Q manual 6-speed with overdrive; Allison AT542 4-speed automatic is optional.

The 2002 Class 6 and 7 FTR now include 140- and 248-in. wheelbase models, with a GVWR of 25,950 lb for Class 6 and 30,000 lb for Class 7.

Kenworth.

Kenworth Truck Co. has made a number of improvements to its Class 6-7 T300 conventional. Dana Spicer's Low Maintenance System (LMS) bearing and seal package is now standard on the front steering axle of all T300s. The LMS hub package includes Timken half-tolerance bearings, a precision bearing spacer, Dana Spicer Outrunner oil seals and ConMet aluminum hubs. Kenworth says benefits of the package include expected longer bearing life, longer seal life, better bearing control, and a 3-yr/350,000-mi. warranty.

Now available on Class 6 T300 models is a Bosch hydraulic disc brake option. The braking system comes with the HydroMax brake booster, WABCO antilock modulator valve, and Bosch zero-offset pin slide calipers.

On Class 7 T300s, Kenworth has added an option that allows upgrading the front axle and related components to a 13,200-lb rating. Kenworth says this allows a Class 7 unit to handle somewhat heavier than standard loads without sacrificing ride and steering ability.

The OEM has also made several new options available on its Class 6-7 K300 cabover. The trucks, which feature Cummins ISB engines (in ratings from 185 to 240 hp), can now be spec'd with a 6-speed Eaton Fuller AutoShift transmission as well as with the previously offered Eaton Fuller 6-speed manual.

Mack.

Mack Trucks is rolling out the Freedom Series, an entirely new line of medium-duty trucks, that will replace its Mid-Liner Series. The cabover Freedom vehicles are available in a range of four Class 6 and 7 models. The Freedom Series models are designated the M, L, XL, and XXL. Each is available in one of two cab sizes — the Standard cab with a 63-in.-BBC and the XTRa cab with a 79-in.-BBC measurement.

With 17.5-in. wheels, the Class 6 M model offers one of the lowest cab heights among competitive medium-duty vehicles and allows for one-step cab entry. The truck also has a very low loading height, which Mack says makes it ideal for retail and wholesale deliveries. The Class 6 L and Class 7 XL models feature 19.5-in. wheels, and two-step cab entry.

UD Trucks.

UD Trucks is not making many changes to its medium-duty models for 2002. The truck maker builds nine models that cover Class 3-7. Class 3's UD 1200 has a GVWR of 12,000 lb, while the Class 4, UD 1400, is rated at 14,250 lb. For Class 5, UD offers the 1800CS (City Spec), as shown in, and the 1800HD (Heavy-Duty), both with GVWR of 17,995 lb. UD makes three models for Class 6: the 2300LP (Low-Profile) and 2300DH (Dock-Height), both a 23,000-lb GVWR; and the 2600, with a 25,995-lb GVWR. The Class 7 unit is the UD 3300, with a GVWR of 32,000 lb.

UD says the heart of its vehicles is the Nissan Diesel FD46TA engine, a direct-injection turbocharged and intercooled diesel. Engines for the 1200 and 1400 are rated at 145 hp, with the 1800CS engine rated at 175 hp.

Workhorse Custom Chassis.

Workhorse Custom Chassis is adding a new powertrain to its venerable P-47 step-van chassis. In August of this year, Workhorse began offering the new Cummins ISB4 diesel engine, along with Allison's 5-speed LCT 1000 automatic transmission.

In the third quarter of this year, Workhorse will begin offering its new 2002 chassis design, called the W-Series. A 19,500-lb-GVW model will be introduced first, followed by a 16,000-lb-GVW model.

The initial gasoline engine option for both packages will be General Motors' Vortec 8100 8.1-L V8, rated at 340 hp with 455 lb-ft of torque. A diesel engine package will be offered as well, although Workhorse has yet to release details of the package. Allison's LCT 1000 5-speed automatic will be the transmission package offered for the W-Series.

For 2002, Workhorse is adding a 9-ft 3-in. step van body to its FasTrack line. To appeal to the cargo van market, the new step van will offer four types of interior designs. The FasTrack program, which offers five van sizes with various preset interior designs, enables the company to deliver a vehicle in four weeks.