LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The life of a journalist is often quite transient.Over the past few years I've had occasion to call many Ontario communities home, including Kingston, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, P...
ROOM WITH A VIEW: The new cab design tries to give drivers everything.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The life of a journalist is often quite transient.
Over the past few years I’ve had occasion to call many Ontario communities home, including Kingston, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Pickle Lake, Belleville, Timmins, Whitby, Waterdown, North York, Lyndhurst and Toronto. My career has run the usual course.
So believe me, even before taking on a job with Truck News in 1997, I spent more than a mile or two behind the wheel of a straight truck. As you can plainly see, it has been on trips a little longer than just a quick jaunt across town. The experience has rarely been enjoyable and one I always dreaded repeating as each subsequent moving day would approach.
After tooling around the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for a morning in one of International’s new 4000 Series High Performance Trucks, a 4300 to be precise, I can’t believe it, but I’m actually looking forward to my next change of address.
It wasn’t hard to tell that this unit has been on drawing boards since 1994 and has spent the last two years in service with fleets across North America. The result of this unusually long lead time, is a truck that has been continuously fine-tuned.
They’ve included something I’ve rarely experienced on my many moves: The ability to have a pleasant conversation.
The engineers say standard noise levels in the 4300 have been cut by 33 per cent as compared to the company’s current comparable model.
Tipping the scales at about 225lb, I (like many of the folks who turn the wheels for a living) instantly appreciated the extra 4.5 inches of belly room International has added to the design. While the extra inch of headroom wasn’t something my five-foot, nine-inch frame required, an extra two inches of cab width was nice, indeed. It allowed my driving partner and I to sit comfortably without feeling like we were invading each other’s space. But perhaps one of the most impressive advancements on the new 4300 is the increased visibility it affords the driver. The windshield has been grown by about 44 per cent. Perched in the standard high-back, individual driver seat, 2,074 sq.-in. of glass offers a commanding view of the road.
The 4300’s standard rear rubber auxiliary springs are virtually maintenance-free and work to reduce shock and vibration. The result is increased roll stability making for a smooth, enjoyable ride – even when running relatively light.
Driving in a straight line is one thing. But we all know the majority of these medium-duties will find their way onto over-crowded highways and city streets – to say nothing of rural roads that have little to do with the way most crows tend to fly.
With this in mind, International has moved to a 50-degree wheel cut in combination with a high-pressure power steering pump. These enhancements improve both the 4000 Series’ curb-to-curb and wall-to-wall turning radius’ by more than six feet over current designs.
International says that each 4300 affords fleets increased driver acquisition, retention and productivity to the tune of as much as $2,000, as well as improved residual value as much as $4,000 higher per truck. While the math involved in these calculations escapes me, I can honestly tell you this: No driver will quit because they’re not happy with the 4300’s overall performance.
In this age of high driver turnover and a shrinking trucker population, isn’t that what matters most? n