It was off to Marshall, Mich. last week, for a joint press event hosted by Eaton and Cummins. There was lots to see and drive at this one. Among the highlights was a 2017 Cummins ISX15 engine. Two of them, actually.

One had the SmartAdvantage small step overdrive powertrain and the other showcased a brand new direct drive version. The small step overdrive powertrain switches easily between the top two gears for optimum efficiency in linehaul applications averaging 65 mph or above.

The new direct drive version holds the direct drive 10th gear as much as possible. It’s intended for regional haul applications with lower average road speeds. The newer configuration subscribes to the theory of getting into top gear as soon as possible and staying there. With the small-step overdrive version, it’s okay to drop a gear, as when you do, you are operating in more efficient direct drive in ninth gear.

There was a lot to take in on this drive, over a mix of Interstate and two-land rural roads. First, the new ISX15. Cummins was reticent to go into any specifics about how it has improved the 2017 version of its ISX, as this was a prototype engine and the launch date is not until late 2016. Suffice to say, the Cummins guys are pretty stoked about this engine. They vow it’ll deliver improvements in the four key areas customers care about: driveability, uptime, maintenance and fuel economy. They say the other guys will have some catching up to do when the engine launches late next year.

The SmartAdvantage is a nice powertrain to operate. The engine runs slow for excellent fuel economy. Eaton and Cummins have worked hard to integrate their transmission and engine. The results of this heightened collaboration are evident when driving it. The SmartAdvantage now has a new Web site with more information about the expanded product offering.

You can read my full report here.

We drove this International ProStar with 2017 ISX15 engine and SmartAdvantage powertrain.
We drove this International ProStar with 2017 ISX15 engine and SmartAdvantage powertrain.
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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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