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It’s a Vision to behold

TORONTO, Ont. - All Macks should be black.It seems like a silly thing to mention in the first paragraph of a review, to comment on the color of a truck above all else. It's akin to saying you like the...

Canadian edition
Canadian edition

TORONTO, Ont. – All Macks should be black.

It seems like a silly thing to mention in the first paragraph of a review, to comment on the color of a truck above all else. It’s akin to saying you like the Hamilton Ti-Cats because they wear black jerseys.

But that’s the first thought that comes to mind as I look at the Anniversary Edition Mack Vision, with its gold striping, gold bulldog and bright finish.

This truck with a 222-inch wheelbase is simply, well, quite a vision. And the dark color helps accent the shape of the grille (it dips in the centre) and other “bright finish” components that are the hallmark of the 100 Anniversary Edition trucks that were built for Canada to celebrate the company’s 100th year in operation.

But Mack hasn’t let the name Vision limit itself to overall appearance. Once in the driver’s seat, one of the first things to catch your eye is its outstanding forward visibility. And that’s not the only vision to catch a driver’s eye.

The dash itself is well laid out, particularly as it relates to the gauges that sit around the steering column, which offer a clear view of traditional readings. The air restriction gauge mounted in the dash is another functional addition.

But perhaps one of the best features to come with the Vision dash is its driver message centre, known as the Vehicle Information Profile Display. The six-inch screen can easily be read at a glance or at virtually any angle. And by mounting the device on the B-pillar rather than posting the information in a calculator-sized display above the steering wheel, the graphic presentation of the information doesn’t have to be limited. The 10 rubberized buttons that sit below the screen itself makes for an easy change from one display to another, to check out anything from your current operating conditions to a fuel economy graph and trip information. Think of it as a window into the VMAC III’s electronic mind.

Most likely, you won’t need to check the hardware and software content, but driving tips, engine shift points and personal overspeed alarms can all make a difference in your personal driving habits.

In the cab’s header, Mack has installed a limited edition Cobra CB. Down below, cup holders are a solid design, fastened directly to the floor in front of the gear lever. But with the armrest folded down, it’s a bit of a reach to grab your drink. It probably could have been built up a little higher without interfering with the HVAC controls that sit above it.

As for the seat, the proprietary design is quite comfortable, and a sharp looker with the 100th anniversary logo stitched into its back. Unlock the seat and you can swivel around to look at the sleeper behind it.

The 70-inch mid-rise sleeper’s bunk is large enough to stretch out, and the HVAC, alarm clock and dome light controls are close at hand. And with springs in this 48-by-80-inch Serta Perfect Sleeper version, it’s more comfortable and would undoubtedly last longer than a plain foam model.

Storage pouches and cabinets are placed throughout, but one of the smartest is the shelf that separates the cab from the roof and its skylight. It’ll hold about 125 lb. worth of gear with the sacrifice of nothing more than a view through the skylight. (You are supposed to be watching the road, after all.) In all, that addition means the truck has 64 cubic feet of storage space, which includes a pass-through tunnel under the bunk.

This particular truck has a fridge and the shelf for a TV, although a Panasonic TV and VCR package would normally be standard in the anniversary editions. (For the record, it wasn’t in the truck when I began the test drive. Honest. Didn’t steal it.)

The desk that pulls out by the bunk also works as a storage drawer. It’s handy in itself, but I found the fit a little tight when trying to put my legs underneath. For an average-sized driver, however, it would undoubtedly be little problem. A power outlet is also close at hand for laptop computers, coffee makers or whatever suits your fancy.

Two-way switches control the lighting from the cab or the sleeper.

As for the drive itself, this bulldog has a good selection of horses at its disposal. The E7-460 E-Tech offers 460 hp at 1,800 rpm, while slowing power comes in the form of a Jake Brake. This was channeled through a 13-speed Eaton transmission.

The Mack Air Suspension offers a nice, easy ride, even though I’m bobtailing on this ride.

The idle shutdown setting at five minutes was a good reminder as I let the air flow when I was climbing through the bunk to make a few notes.

The engine compartment is well laid out when it comes to filling everything from wiper fluid to coolant. Both can be reached with your fleet flat on the ground, as can you readily put your hands on oil filters.

And when it’s time to lock up, a remote control comes in the form of a key fob. The fact that the lights don’t flash when you hit the remote locks adds to the feeling security. It’s not flashing a sign to everyone in the lot saying, ‘Look crooks, this is the truck that you stole the keys for.”

As with any special edition package from a truck maker, there’s an array of free stuff to be had. Buy a truck and the accessories package includes lubricants, an electrical repair kit and handheld Grote spotlight, a Garrity flashlight, first aid kit, mugs and the like.

More to the point, the trucks come with important spec’s that include Delco 450 42MT starters and 12V135A 33SI alternators, Spicer Life drivelines, air conditioners with APADS, Eaton extended-service brakes, Haldex no-lube Automatic Slack Adjustmers, Eaton Outrunner wheel seals and Con Met pre-set aluminum hubs. Think of the entire package as an anniversary gift. n

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