The all-new Western Star 5700XE

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — The only thing more exhilarating than the view of the Nevada desert over the hood of my Western Star 5700, was the view of another Western Star 5700 in my West Coast mirrors.

This is a truck that when seen from the exterior will steal your attention for more than a moment. And yet it’s also a truck you can feel good about owning and operating, because it’s a Western Star that can finally compete with other aerodynamic models in terms of fuel efficiency. Still, Western Star designers stayed true to the brand’s heritage by creating a truck that looks nothing like the others that comprise this segment.

Truck News editor James Menzies has the opportunity to take the Western Star 5700 on a two-hour drive in the Nevada desert.
Truck News editor James Menzies has the opportunity to take the Western Star 5700 on a two-hour drive in the Nevada desert.

If you were to trace the outline of the various fuel-efficient models on the market today and leave the insides blank, it would take a discerning eye to differentiate them. The same cannot be said of the 5700XE, which somehow manages to eschew the rounded, jelly bean-styled design of other leading models while attaining fuel economy that the EPA considers good enough to place within the same bin as the others under its greenhouse gas emissions program.

T-shirts worn by Western Star people at the truck’s launch declared the 5700 brought an edge to aero, which is an appropriate tagline for this truck.

After a high-profile launch before more than a dozen trucking industry journalists in Sin City, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to stay behind and put the truck through its paces over a two-hour journey in and around Las Vegas. The 5700 I drove had a 72-inch sleeper, an EPA13 Detroit Diesel DD13 engine rated at 455 hp/1,550 lb.-ft. and the DT12, 12-speed direct drive automated manual transmission.

This is the integrated Detroit powertrain that the company says will provide a significant portion of the fuel savings customers will see from this truck, compared to previous Western Star vehicles. They’ve opted to make the truck available only with Detroit power and no other automated manual will be offered. Yes, there’s a risk some Cummins loyalists may be unhappy with this decision, but Western Star officials are confident enough in the product that they feel demand for the new truck will be such that customers will accept the Detroit powertrain and then become converted, once they experience its efficiency and performance.

Aside from the Detroit powertrain, further gains come from the redesigned front end, which better directs airflow over and around the cab. Interestingly, this is the same base cab you’ll find on traditional Western Star models, including its vocational offerings. The Western Star cab is known for its steep windshield, which is not exactly conducive to aerodynamics. However, engineers discovered ways to help assist the air up over that windshield. The most visible of these enhancements is a kick panel on the hood, just before the windshield, that directs air up and over the cab. This air ramp, if you will, doesn’t impact visibility over the hood as long as your seat is properly positioned.

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The front bumper has been redesigned to keep air from getting caught up in the wheel wells. Two end sections dubbed ‘fangs’ (yes, even the bumper end caps on this truck have attitude) reduce wind resistance without detracting from the truck’s unique look. The Western Star 5700 has a distinctive face that’s unlike any other truck in the marketplace.

The raised center section of the hood has been carried over and this section on the truck I drove was painted matte black, reducing glare off the hood. The sun visor has also been kept, which helps direct air over top the roof cap. Other aerodynamic improvements come in the form of fairings and flares that encourage air to flow to where it will provide minimal disruption to the vehicle’s forward progress.

Inside, this truck is unmistakably a Western Star. The most notable upgrade is a redesigned wood and leather steering wheel with controls placed at the driver’s fingertips, which allow the driver to scroll through the information on the driver display, flash the marker lights or to control the cruise, Bluetooth, radio, etc.

However, while other models have transitioned to a more automotive-styled driver environment, the 5700 is pure truck. The signal light stalk is heavy, the gauges large and the dash has a classic, driver-friendly layout. The driver display area is small compared to other models, which limits the likelihood of distraction and also helps retain the classic look of the interior.

Western Star has brought over from the vocational segment some serviceability features, including easy access to the fuse panels and power distribution module, which can be accessed from the passenger seat by simply removing four bolts. The entire panel can be pulled out from its home here for easy serviceability – a vocational feature that technicians will appreciate just as much on an on-highway tractor.

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Seeing this truck approaching in your mirrors gets and holds your attention.

The 5700 uses the same honeycomb-style sleeper cab that’s offered on its previous models. Its lightweight construction means the 5700’s total weight compares more favourably to other aero models as the sleeper size increases. There has always been a perception that the Western Star is a heavy truck due to its steel cab, however the truck I drove weighed in at a very respectable 17,500 lbs and that was with disc brakes and that 72-inch sleeper.

The Western Star 5700 provided an exceptionally steady ride, particularly while cornering, an attribute that stems in part from its wide cab mounts.

It was comfortable to drive, particularly with the DT12 automated transmission. There are some surprisingly steep grades outside Vegas, including a long 6% climb near Summerlin, which tested the DD13. It was up to the challenge, though I bet many Canadian customers will opt for the DD15, which will net better fuel economy when you’re running the hills. Climbing that long 6 percenter, I was able to employ the kick-down feature available on the DD13/DT12 combo, which when the pedal was depressed to the floor dropped a gear and provided a little extra torque to manage the climb.

The DT12’s paddle shifter allowed me to drop a gear or activate the engine brake without reaching to the dash.

Another nice feature available on the Western Star 5700 is Meritor Wabco’s OnGuard collision mitigation system. I’ve experienced it before, but not in heavy traffic such as that I encountered returning to the city. When in cruise control OnGuard measures the distance to other vehicles in front of the truck and applies the engine and service brakes as necessary to maintain a safe following distance. It took some getting used to, before I was willing to really trust the system but after a few miles of interacting with heavy traffic I found I was able to place my trust in the system and let it do its thing.

OnGuard seems to have been dialed in; it didn’t overreact to vehicles that momentarily cut into my personal space, as long as those vehicles were moving faster than I was and quickly got out of my way. When cruise isn’t set, audible warnings will alert you to potential danger but it’s up to the driver to adjust his or her speed as necessary. OnGuard is a really nice option to have, especially in traffic.

My daytime drive didn’t give me the opportunity to check out the improved lighting system offered in the 5700 but officials claim a new projector beam headlight design provides much better nighttime visibility. I know they look good from outside; we got a sneak peek at the 5700 after dark and the headlights ensure you can identify this truck even when it’s dark out. A thin LED accent strip along the top and outside edges of the lamp give it a distinctive appearance.

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Only a handful of 5700s have been built and it was exciting to be among the first to drive one. Now the race is one to see who’ll be the first to own them. This is a truck that will stand out on the highway and separate its owners from the herd. Production is scheduled to begin next April and will ramp up over the summer. When it comes to design and drivability, the Western Star 5700 hit not just home runs, but grand slams. If its fuel-efficiency comes in on target and it’s priced right, this truck may finally allow the brand to break through into the on-highway tractor segment in a big way.

– For more on the launch of the Western Star 5700, including a photo gallery, go here.

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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 or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • Now this is one awesome truck! In my opinion, it stands out above all the other wannabes with its looks and aerodynamics. Truly a classic! However, I’m a little disappointed with the interior, the dash, same old hat in design. I think Western Star should consider an “automotive-styled” interior with center console, (but not sacrificing on the gauges) reaching to the floor with integrated cup holders. Those two cup holders hanging in mid air just don’t cut it! Would also be nice to have a cup holder in each door. Western Star, you’ve made a good looking truck, now consider the interior. Jon, a truck driver from PA

  • I have ordered a Western Star with Lone Mountain Truck Lease, 82 extended cabin, DD15 and work station, stratosphere high ceiling. I am very excited and can not wait for the delivery but I do agree with Jon Swarey about the front design. I wish they would have designed a little more modern console with better cup holders similar to the KW T 680 or the International I am currently driving also maybe more space on top for paper work and documents.
    Motti, Denver CO

  • Motti T • 16 hours ago

    I ordered a western star 5700xe an I am cancelling my order.
    First. They advertising an option of Ultra High Stratosphere Sleeper and it is a lye and false advertising, it is no more then a mid roof sleeper. You will never see a picture of the back of the truck anywhere, they don’t want you to see it. The ultra high stratosphere sleeper as they say it is has a gap between the sleeper and the top fearing.
    I ordered a study but to my surprise if you want to sit down you will have to bow down your head because the top bunk is so low, Volvo did a much better job, the do have a high sealing like all other trucks, but this western star 5700xe sucks.

    Second. It looks like they where in a hurry to finish the truck design to a certain deadline because they forgot about paperwork storage. Believe it or not there is no space anywhere for bills of lading, logbooks, notebooks, pens or permits only in the door pouch. Nothing in the dashboard or on top, none whatsoever. Not to talk about that the cup holder sucks too.

  • Hi, this looks like a wonderful truck from the outside.

    I find that detroit engines aren’t quite as powerful on grades as CAT and Cummins engines but they’re not too bad.

    But the thing I find the most annoying about Western Stars is that the interior is straight out of 1974! Oh my god please make a new cab with more features for the drivers! Decent cup holders without holes would be a nice start.

    And how about different dash boards and nicer gauges? Have they seen Kenworth and Mack cabs?

  • First of all I will say from the outside its a sharp looking truck. My wife and I are team drivers with the new 5700 and she hates it, myself on the fence…. It has nice ride but to me nothing has changed in it since 1999 same dash, no storage even for pens!! The cup holders are in a awful place for driver. I have to go to passengers side cubby to put my wallet away!!! And to top it off the hvac is the same style as when western star was created you either freeze or you die from heat nd must run Ac constantly. Very disappointed in this new truck glad it’s a company truck and hoping to get my cascadia back. Like the other person said I think they rushed this out without putting any thought in interior design.

  • Been driving this new 5700ex -DD-15-12-speed-for a month now-where do I start-Nice looking truck-but the low beams lights suck-cup holder sucks-ac works about 50 % of what it should be-air control on dash wont blow air to where its supposed to-the fridge and bunk fan were broke on delivery-truck is not smooth on highway-beat you to death bobtail-CB-has no range-satellite radio wont work-when in heavy rain truck hydroplanes-yup really does -sounds and feels like the truck is smashing water underneath-And yes I think the truck was thrown together -no place for front cab storage-I have had this to dealer 20 times and each time it come back out not fixed-pre delivery was a disgrace-as most problems were existing-I like the look and the front seat that’s about it-no front bunk curtain -no TV antenna- My old Volvo with a d13 would put this truck to shame with power and non factory options !!!

  • Not sure where to begin…..Ordered my 5700 in May of 2016, told the dealer I wanted it piggybacked. We’ll…they used it to piggyback. Orderd it with a greasless 5th wheel, when I got it the 5th wheel was full of grease!! Orderd it with two tone tan… black seats! Really?? Fridge stopped working on the first trip out! When I sit and do my log book (paper logs)….not any lighting any where near where I’m sitting. All in all….the truck reminds me of something out of a 1970s movie! The sad thing is…..I’m stuck with this mortgage for 5 long years! Over rated and waaaaayyyyyy overpriced! I would not recommend buying this truck!

  • Just turn 85k on my 2016 5700 and I am still in love with this truck. I am not a professional OTR I use the truck to tow a 23k fifth wheel RV and when we pull into a camp ground the smart phones come out and the cameras start snapping. The only thing I dislike is I lost all the overhead storage that we had in our Cascadia.

    • Seriously? You bought a full-sized semi-tractor just to pull your gigantic RV around? Seriously, at that point, you might as well just stay home. Just can’t live without all the comforts of home, then stay there. Although even the biggest 5th wheel campers I’ve ever heard of didn’t require a 17,500-pound semi truck to pull. A class smaller would still be overkill.

  • The Western Stars Trucks are the Best. l Drove one and missing it. Dump Truck. with tri axle Trailer. Driving Bus right now. Thumbs up for the Stars. Red is the Best. Drive with Pride. Keep on Trucking, #1 Safety.

  • We are owner operators in Canada can anyone tell me where can I find the dimensions for the 5700XE?? Height..width..length with a 53ft flatdeck..I’m trying to load Santa’s gift to us..a GPS..can anyone help??Happy Holidays

  • I just got a new 5700 XE – 924 miles showing when it was delivered to our dealer. 3798 miles after a short week( 2 trips ). It’s solid, quiet and smooth. Detroit 475 hp with Eaton 10 speed, 3.56 rears, hauling with loaded round trips weighing 78500 and keeping overall average at 6.9 mpg.

    The truck works great ! I love it. I can relate to what the others are whining about, BUT it’s just cry baby silliness.

    Yeah, it would be nice to have a curtain on the windshield… I have my own that goes up in less than 60 seconds and it has my own personal style (NBA team) displayed. The cup holders? pssh, paper storage? pssh..You mean you want to have a GARBAGE DUMP on top of your dash, like all the trashy drivers you see? I have an accordion style file box (office depot $3.79) on the floor, behind my seat, to keep bills until I turn them in.

    Wide cab between the seats, plus enough room to actually straighten your legs forward in the drivers seat. The cab is higher than any other truck on the road gives a better view of the road ahead.

    Yeah, I would like to have a shelf and “glovebox” within drivers reach FROM the drivers seat…but ‘none of the above’ flaws would make me want any other brand of truck available now.

  • Comment Sections never cease to amaze me…

    Lets clear things up here. The 5700XE is an aerodynamic OTR offering meaning good fuel milage, wide range of powertrain and sleeper options. Western Star isn’t targeting new drivers that want modern automotive styled interiors with 28 cupholders and 57 USB charging ports and multiple touch screens. This is a truckers truck, in a premium package.

    This truck has the widest selection of sleeper options in the industry, from a flat top “coffin” style, up to the 82″ long Ultra High Stratosphere which is the biggest, by volume, available on the market (Yes, Kenworth fanboys, it’s bigger than the 86″ Studio Sleeper). It is also the only sleeper on the market with real wood cabinetry. A work station (booth style table in place of traditional one-piece mattress lower bunk) can be had in the 68″ High Roof, 82″ High Roof, and 82″ Ultra High. In the Ultra High, you can sit at the work station with plenty of head room between you and the upper bunk, just like in the Volvo VNL 670/780 and their updated 760/860 versions.

    The Detroit DD15 Motor, is plenty powerful. In fact, It out pulled an identically spec’d Paccar MX13 and Volvo DD13 hauling identical loads (Cobequid Pass in Nova Scotia, all three trucks grossing 49,000kg)

    And finally, anyone that thinks they rushed the design and/or production of this truck, knows nothing about Western Star. It takes longer to assemble a Western Star sleeper truck than any other on the market. If there’s no handy place for your Big Gulp and Doritos, then you’d be happier in an International ProStar.

    • Ah, so the lack of cupholders and storage cubbies are FEATURES, not flaws? I see. What would a REAL trucker want with such things, anyway? I am sure that Western Star thought carefully about whether or not to include usable cupholders and cubbies in the cab, and then intentionally scratched those out of the design, because “we build trucks for REAL truckers!” Right?

    • Although I agree with most of your post, the comment about plenty of headroom while at work station is a flat out lie!! I ordered and received a 2020 5700 with lounge kit and top bunk and have to keep top bunk folded because my head hits it. Even with it folded, the back of my head hits the top bunk supports. Love the truck anyways, and would order it again, but just not with the top bunk.

  • First of all, just because the marketing people at Western Star put a tagline about “bringing edge to economy” (ugh!) on the marketing campaign, and just because they decided to call the plastic pieces on the bumper “fangs” for the same reason, doesn’t mean the truck has “attitude”. Or rather, it may have attitude, but not because some dumbass in marketing told me so. When I hear a marketing person tell me “those aren’t rear-view mirrors, they are aero-blades”, I feel like punching him and I think less of the truck for it. In short, if this truck has attitude, it is entirely due to itself, not because they call the aero-pieces on the front bumper “fangs”. That just sounds stupid. And I think they are trying way to hard to make sure “it looks like it has attitude”. Western Stars always looked cool before this mostly because they just tried to look like classic trucks, and that just inherently looks cool. It’s like when they try making Harleys seem even more ‘badass” by hanging all kinds of “extreme” bits and pieces off of them, when what made a Harley look badass to start with was the simple, classic outline and chrome and metal parts.
    And while it’s not as much “jellybean” as some trucks, it’s certainly a lot more so than a truck of 30 years ago was. That’s just as rounded and aerodynamic as the most slippery truck on sale in 2008. Just because they’ve resisted going as far as others in lowering the drag of their tractor, doesn’t mean they’ve “kept the classic truck outlines”.

  • Hello Folks,
    Let me give you a history lesson. Western Star trucks originated out of Kelowna, British Columbia Canada back in the 70’s. They only built about 50 trucks a year. You had to wait about a year to get one!! They were used for the most extreme conditions such as logging trucks and Oilfield Trucks. These trucks took a beating down many narrow roads and other extreme conditions such as working in -20-30 degree weather. I am an old time trucker and I believe this new model will take the market place over the next few years. Do your homework – 386 trucks (used) for sale all across North America. That speaks for itself compared to the other mfgs. So, if you are fortunate enough to own one of these trucks you have the world by the balls!! I own 2 of them and we are putting about 100,000 miles/year. Our profitability is 30% higher than any other truck I have owned. By the way, my handle on the road was – THE FLYING DUTCHMAN. I am a legacy in the industry. Believe me, when I say these are the best!!! Take care.