Freightliner’s 122SD: A Walkaround

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If you weren’t already aware, the S-D in 122SD stands for severe duty. This truck is built to take on some pretty big, pretty tough jobs.  The Ultimate Test Drive Team spent a day with this truck in and around Napa, California to see if it lived up to the billing. It took all sunny California could throw at it and came back for more. It didn’t even break a sweat. The 122SD lives for roads that would break your average highway hauler in half.

This is the first test drive we’ve done on a vocational truck, and they are rather different from your standard highway hauler. They have to be designed and built to last the original 10 years or more. They may not see the mileage a highway truck sees, but they get the hours and they spend many of those hours in some harsh conditions, like off road, in mud, on construction sites, and in this case, in the oilfields of northern Alberta.

In the vocational sector of this industry, the truck is often a secondary choice in the customer’s mind. They may be spec’ing a piece of equipment, such as a crane or a concrete mixer, and the truck is just a means of getting that tool to the jobsite. So Freightliner builds a chassis like the 122SD with a 10-year lifespan in mind, and it’s build to accommodate the body the customer wants as well as the terrain the truck will be working in.  Here we have a truck spec’d for hauling a crude oil tank and eventually pulling a pony trailer with another tank.

The eight-wheel-drive and tri-drive axle grouping is built for carrying capacity as well as mobility in very difficult conditions.  After all, most oil well drilling sites aren’t located at the side of an Interstate highway. These guys have to go way off road to get to where the work is done. That’s why they need a truck like the 122SD.

We shot two videos of the 122SD while we were in Napa. One is a walk-around highlighting the features and components that go into a tough truck like this. The other is a test drive on some terrain that would give a highway truck a hard time, but certainly not the worst this truck will ever see.

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Jim Park was a CDL driver and owner-operator from 1978 until 1998, when he began his second career as a trucking journalist. During that career transition, he hosted an overnight radio show on a Hamilton, Ontario radio station and later went on to anchor the trucking news in SiriusXM's Road Dog Trucking channel. Jim is a regular contributor to Today's Trucking and, and produces Focus On and On the Spot test drive videos.

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