ALLENTOWN, Pa. – In designing its new Anthem highway tractor, Mack Trucks set out to challenge the idea that an efficient truck has to be shaped like a “jelly bean.”
And the Anthem, to be sure, will throw a different shadow on the ground than any of its competitors. The Anthem, according to Mack, will produce 3% better fuel economy than the Pinnacle in a 70-inch sleeper configuration, and a 1.5% improvement as a day cab. This despite its large square headlights, many sharp edges, and bold, angular design.
The much-anticipated truck was shown to dealers and truck press for the first time at an unveiling here Sept. 13. It looks nothing like the new models bro-brand Volvo introduced earlier this year, and has managed to capture the distinct styling befitting a Mack, in a package that the company says will be competitive in terms of fuel economy.
“Our main goal was to design something that looks like a Mack,” said Stu Russoli, on-highway product manager with Mack Trucks. “It’s gotta be bold, it’s gotta look like a Mack.”
The company spent five years designing the new Anthem, beginning the process with visits to truck stops, where designers traded meal vouchers for truck tours, to see exactly how drivers were living in and utilizing their trucks, regardless of make.
“We asked if we could go into their truck, look around, see how they lived,” Russoli recalled. “We needed to make it look like a Mack, that was our request to designers. It also needs to be aerodynamic, and then we go into driver comfort.”
Russoli noted the strong vertical and horizontal lines on the front end of the truck, designed to be “structural.” A bold MACK across the grille has been dubbed the bridge. “It’s very structural, very strong, very Mack,” explained Russoli.
But despite the departure from the traditional slippery truck design, Mack says the new truck is also fuel efficient. The hood has a different contour than the Pinnacle, to better direct airflow up and over the cab. Swept-back fenders direct air along the side of the trailer. And a new aerodynamic sun visor also helps direct airflow up over the cab.
Other aero improvements include a close-out flange between the bumper and hood, and new bumper air dams, as well as covered tow hooks – all designed to reduce wind resistance.
Optional hood-mounted mirrors are placed on top of the hood, so they’re higher up, and also align with the side mirrors to minimize the disruption to airflow. A one-piece composite roof protects against leaks, but doesn’t allow for a skylight, something Russoli said was a frequent complaint from drivers who found them prone to leakage and to let in too much light at nighttime.
The larger 70-inch stand-up sleeper provides more interior headroom and living space for drivers. All lights on, and inside, the new Mack Anthem are LED, requiring less power draw and providing a whiter light. The LED headlights, Russoli said, provide 66% better brightness.
The hood takes 50% less effort to open, and uses a single point hood latch so drivers no longer have to circle to both sides of the hood to release latches. A three-piece hood and bumper, as well as breakaway hood and side mirrors, were designed to reduce replacement and repair costs.
Inside the cab, the dash was redesigned to put controls within closer reach of the driver. Eight switches have been moved to the steering wheel – but a base steering wheel without buttons is also available. The steering wheel is the industry’s first with a race car-inspired flat bottom, which was done for styling, but also to afford more belly room and to make it easier to slide in and out of the driver seat.
As part of the design process, Mack designers also visited used truck lots to see first-hand how trucks aged. They found issues such as worn rocker switches, which had become difficult or impossible to read. In the Anthem, switches have been laser-etched so the markings last.
The interior has a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, featuring TomTom truck navigation, Apple CarPlay, an optional backup cam, and satellite radio. The Mack CoPilot driver information center now features a five-inch, full-color screen.
The Anthem comes with a new line of Sears seats, which can be had in more than 30 feature and fabric combinations. The interior also boasts more storage – 27 cubic feet – which Mack says is the most in the industry. Pop-out side windows allow light and air into the bunk, and keep out rain due to the hinge-topped design.
The new Mack Anthem will go into production in the first quarter of 2018, and will replace the Mack Pinnacle axle back model. The Pinnacle axle-forward model will carry on, as the Mack Pinnacle.
Truck News editor James Menzies will be driving the Mack Anthem from Allentown, Pa., to Atlanta, Ga., this week, in advance of the North American Commercial Vehicle Show, where it will make its public debut. Check back soon for a more detailed, first-hand driving report.
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