So, here I am, 4,030 miles of road behind me in our new Cascadia that we’ve named “Celeste”. In the last blog, I let you know how we came up with the name for our new truck. Quite simply, it’s for the heavenly ride quality, and the roof-mounted solar panels extracting energy from the sun. These 4,030 miles have been our normal Laredo to Charlotte run. Each direction is 1,382 miles. These total miles have been in the initial run bringing Celeste home to Laredo, the round trip to Charlotte, and back to our last fuel up close to home.
The ride is smooth. I must say, initially, the softer spring rate, which improves the ride quality, took a little bit to get accustomed to. Of course, steering control and feel were complicated by the addition of lane keep assist. This is a new feature that helps to nudge the truck towards the center of the lane. I will do a complete blog on lane keep assist, once I’m more familiar and have given myself time to become acclimated to the system.
My first impression of driving Celeste is the exceptional ride quality. I don't know whether to give credit for the improvement to the Hendrickson AIRTEK steer axle, or to the LINK ROI Cabmate cab suspension. Let's start with the AIRTEK air ride integrated steering suspension. This is my first experience driving long distances with an air ride steer axle. So, there was some adjustment to the handling characteristics which are different than the previous 13,200-pound capacity spring ride suspension on our last truck.
The improved drive quality from the Hendrickson air ride suspension would seem to come from two areas. The first improvement comes from the air ride suspension, which is infinitely adjustable in regards to the spring rate, based upon the load weight carried. The second improvement seems to come from the reduction of unsprung weight. For those of you who are not familiar with the term “unsprung weight,” it’s referring to any weight that is hanging from the suspension, as opposed to mass being supported by the suspension. Why is low unsprung weight important? Unsprung weight is what the shock absorber of your suspension controls. In this case, the AIRTEK suspension reduces the unsprung weight in excess of one hundred pounds. This, in turn, reduces the amount of weight that the shock absorber needs to dampen when encountering a bump in the road.
The second area of ride quality improvement comes from the LINK ROI Cabmate air ride cab suspension. The LINK ROI Cabmate suspension offers electronically controlled shock absorbers that react to the road conditions, in order to provide the smoothest ride possible. What I’ve noticed on some horrendous stretches of road, which seem to be trying to replicate a durability test track, is that there has been a significant improvement in ride control. Often, in previous trucks, in these same sections of highway, there would be coffee trying to splash out of my travel mug, or items left sitting in the passenger seat would find their way onto the floor. What I’ve noticed with this revolutionary cab suspension offering from LINK Manufacturing, is that everything in the cab stays sitting exactly where I put it. Simply said, this suspension needs to be personally experienced to fully appreciate the ride improvement offered by this electronically controlled suspension system.
Now, let's get into the area in which many of you are interested, which is the fuel mileage. As discussed earlier in another blog, the first load for Celeste coming back from the Carolina's was heavy at 78,500 pounds gross vehicle weight. On the route to Laredo, we had several traffic delays and holiday traffic. Nevertheless, we had achieved a fuel mileage of 8.8 miles to the gallon.
Since then, and including the fuel-ups up to now, we have averaged 8.86 mpg loaded at an average of 63,600 lbs at speeds of 70-75 mph where safe, legal and applicable, as project 70+/10 continues. Of note, I am now needing to fuel more often than I did in our previous truck, due to now only having a single 150-gallon fuel tank instead of twin 120-gallon fuel tanks. Needless to say, we’re excited about how Celeste is performing and achieving our early goals. And, as always, we will continue to test and improve on Celeste's fuel mileage.