Over the last month, I have been busy traveling and showing my new 2018 Freightliner Cascadia though out the Midwest. Many people have been anxious to get an up close look at the new design features inside and out. Due to dealer open house requests, I have not been able to transport any freight of real consequence in regards to weight. I was hoping to have some fuel mileage and performance results regarding the new DD15 400 HP, 1750 lb-ft engine. DT12 direct drive automated manual transmission, Detroit 2.16 rear axle ratio combination. However, due to this busy open house schedule I am not able to report at this time any real performance characteristics. I did manage to get in just a few shipments during the month however they all weighed less than 14 lbs.
Having driven throughout the month of April with the new truck, I logged approximately 9,000 miles. Here are my initial thoughts in the early stages over these miles traveled. I always thought and experienced the quietness of the previous Cascadia. This truck however takes it to another level. They have added a third door seal, quiet steel in the dog house area, extensive use of 3M Thinsulate, insulation throughout the cab and the DD15 only turning 1200 RPM at 65 MPH makes for an extraordinarily quiet environment.
Ride quality has been difficult to judge as I’ve been light or empty. I will say that my 13,300 lb. capacity front axle suspension has been surprisingly compliant on washboard and rough roads.
I initially did not see the need for the one piece windshield which offers 12 percent more wiper coverage than the previous two piece design. It seemed to me that the driver complaints regarding wiper coverage were unfounded. My first trip out just happened to be in the rain and it changed my opinion as the visibility was markedly improved.
The message has been received from the designers regarding how much time we actually spend in these trucks. When I was asked my opinion from the designers about sleepers and cabs, I made it clear that we are not “camping.” I am pleased to report that they got the message. The new driver lounge features a “real” fold down Murphy bed and a “real” mattress. Gymnastic skills are no longer required to access the upper bunk area as a new fold out telescoping ladder has been added for convenience. No longer does having a driver lounge mean you will be sleeping on four cushions that seem to be pulled out of a 1970’s conversion van. This area converts to a table and two chairs to a regular bed in less than 30 seconds. The cabinets are aircraft inspired with the shelving leaning towards the outside walls of the cab. This prevents your items that are stowed from rattling towards the front door of the cabinets. The microwave cabinet not only has a nice strap for securing but also a robust strapping mechanism to secure your microwave.
The interior lighting is 100% LED. This includes a front and rear dome light, adjustable ambient lighting, dining lamp, two reading lamps, food prep area lighting along with foot well lamps, map lamps and finally a dim ambient light which illuminates the dash wing panel switch gear along with the cup holder area.
While attending the open house events this month, I found it quite interesting on how the truck was being received by the truck technicians. For years, technicians are not typically overly excited in regards to new designs. They like us need to learn new skills at times along with devising ways to replace difficult to reach components. Truck technicians had been brought into Portland, Oregon to view early prototype units. They were then asked to give their two cents as to how to make the design more technician friendly. Needless to say, the technicians were not shy and gave well in excess of their two cents. Many of their requests were honored and changes were made in order to improve maintenance accessibility on the newly designed Cascadia.
Many locations where I have stopped with the truck to sleep, eat or fuel have involved drivers and onlookers coming over to take an up-close look. The feedback from drivers has been predominately positive in nature.
On Monday, I will head out on the first run with a shipment weighing in at approximately 39,000 lbs. I am looking forward to experience how the new Detroit drive line performs. Stay tuned as I’ll be giving more updates on the new Cascadia.