Revisiting Reviews: Our 2019 test drives

John G Smith

TORONTO, Ont. – It seems odd to identify Toronto as the origin of this story – especially since our editors travel far and wide to bring you the stories about the latest trucks. And there was plenty to test drive during 2019. Here is a look back at the opinions and videos from behind the wheel.

ZF’s PowerLine 8, due on the market in early 2021, will help OEMs meet GHG Phase 2 emissions cuts.

ZF PowerLine 8AP transmission

In early 2021, German automotive supplier ZF Friedrichschafen AG will launch the PowerLine 8AP, an eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission medium-duty and vocational applications with gross vehicle weights up to 26,000 kg (57,000 lb). … more

Video: ReAX Electric Steering Assist

In infra-red view for night driving, colors are unnatural, but the clarity and detail of the image is greatly enhanced, especially on dark roads where lighting isn’t present.

MirrorEye Monitoring System

For the record, I have previously expressed a high degree of skepticism about replacing traditional mirrors with camera and monitor systems. Glass mirrors work well enough and drivers are very familiar with them. I can’t think of another safety system on a truck that drivers rely upon more heavily and have grown more accustomed to than mirrors. … more

Volvo Dynamic Steering

Volvo Dynamic Steering (VDS) is an electric-over-hydraulic steering-assist system designed to improve maneuverability and lessen driver steering effort by up to 85% at low speed, while maintaining a stiffer feel at highway speeds. … more

Video: Volvo Dynamic Steering

Hino XL8
The Hino XL8 we drove was equipped with a 24-foot Kidron refrigerated cargo box with a Thermo King T-880R TRU.

Hino’s Baby 8 XL8

We waited nearly a year and a half for a ride in one of Hino’s new XL Series trucks – specifically, for the chance to drive one of the Class 8 straight trucks configured with a 24-foot reefer box. And after all that time, equipment editor Jim Park says it was worth the wait. … more

Video: A walk-around of the Hino XL8

Video: Behind the Wheel

Peterbilt’s “cowboy” spec’

Peterbilt recently hosted more than 100 customers at the Paccar Technical Center here to show off its new UltraLoft sleeper and other offerings. But it was a Model 567 decked out in a “cowboy” spec’ that stole the show. … more

Hendrickson’s ZMD suspension

When was the last time you heard a driver say something positive about a trailer suspension? Most drivers would barely be aware that their trailers even had suspensions, but a design innovation from Hendrickson has actually prompted drivers to call the company asking what type of suspension they were pulling. They wanted to urge their bosses to spec’ the same suspension on future trailer orders. … more


Peterbilt’s Model 579 was destined to become the company flagship from the moment it was introduced in 2012.

Peterbilt Model 579

Seven years have passed since Jim Park’s first drive in a Peterbilt Model 579. That particular truck was built right around the time the model was being unveiled at the Mid-America Trucking Show in March 2012. It’s safe to say the truck has only improved with the passing of time. … more

When drivers start to realize that the fuel savings alone with these newer trucks can just about cover the truck payment, the switch from the classic style might begin in earnest.

11 mpg in an Epiq test

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It’s easy to get excited and stay excited about fuel economy when you can see positive change coming from your efforts. When I saw the numbers creeping up into the 10s on a recent test drive in a Peterbilt 579 EPIQ, I started pushing for 11. And it worked. … more

Video: Peterbilt’s 579 Epiq UltraLoft

Plows on the road in Alaska are currently guided by GPS signals, with positions measured in terms of centimeters.

Precise plowing with a GPS

It snows a lot through Thompson Pass, yet the snow plow crews there can keep running thanks to an ultra-precise GPS ­system that’s accurate to within two ­centimeters, or less than one inch. … more

Video: Plowing with a Mack Granite

Kenworth W990

It wouldn’t be fair, after a couple of hours of driving, to judge the W990 against the W900L’s 18 years in the market, but I have to say it showed very well. If the truck had any other badge on it, I think early approval numbers would be off the chart. … more

Video: Kenworth W990

Video: W990 cab and driver studio


Beverage haulers are expected to be among the early adopters of electric vehicles in urban applications. (Photo by John G. Smith)

Spicer’s turn-key electric chassis

In these early days of electrification it still seems unusual to roll ahead when a truck’s sounds have more in common with a golf cart than what we traditionally associate with commercial vehicles. And Spicer’s turnkey electric chassis offers an undeniably quiet ride. … more

Freightliner’s active lane assist will make gentle steering adjustments to keep the truck in its lane.

Detroit Assurance 5.0: Lane Keep Assist

It can be a little disconcerting to watch a steering wheel move back and forth on its own, but there it is. One of the latest new Cascadias to roll off Freightliner’s assembly line nudges left and right to keep within tracked lane markings, even when hands are off the wheel for a few seconds. … more

Video: Detroit Adaptive Cruise to Zero

Video: Detroit Lane Keep Assist

Video: Detroit Active Brake Assist

A fully electric medium duty truck eM2 for local distribution

Daimler’s electric trucks

As trade journalists, we are exposed early to emerging technologies. In the case of battery electric vehicles, we have been writing about them for close to five years now. My first BEV test drive was in 2015, and I have driven about a dozen since then. Except for three of them, most of those trucks were “proof of concept” vehicles, that is, someone bolted a bunch electric stuff onto an existing diesel truck chassis to show it can be done. … more


John G Smith

John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking,, TruckTech, Transport Routier, Inside Logistics, Solid Waste & Recycling, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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