By Susan Stempinski
For the last couple of years there’s been a low-level rumble from folks in the know about International Truck & Engine Corp. It’s grown steadily louder until now. With the siren’s song of a high performance diesel engine leading the way, LoneStar has roared into the Class 8 truck world.
Visually stunning, combining a look that reflects the heritage of International’s 1939 DMAXX pickup truck with cutting-edge technology and the glossy bling of today, this truck paints a picture well worth examining. It’s dramatically different from anything currently on the road.
“Our goal was to marry aerodynamics and fuel economy with a classic, premium image,” said Tom Baughman, vice president and general manager of the Navistar Heavy Truck Vehicle Center.
This truck is designed to appeal to owner-operators and small-fleet owners looking for an “Advanced Classic” truck. Baughman defines that group as, “Image conscious, concerned with fuel economy, projecting an air of confidence, and wanting a high level of personalization in their trucks.”
Starting at the front, the vacuum-formed, one-piece, chromed aluminum bumper complements the deep V styling of the grille. Maximizing the aerodynamics as the front end knifes through the air, the LoneStar’s hood sports swooping fenders with inset headlamps, louvers, and on the cowl uniquely designed exterior air cleaners that minimize wind drag.
Customizable mag wheels make a proud, shiny statement. Shrouded mufflers are tucked alongside the doors, and can sport 7-inch turnout pipes from the factory. The 73-inch factory sleeper with a high roof cap helps keep the air moving in the right direction, up and over the top.
Don’t forget the lights. LED lights under the bumper; in the visor; under the cab and sleeper; along the tanks, skirting system and fairings; and across the back are all immediate options. The tanks are set forward with the fueling point under the doors. Fairings open with pop and toggle latches. The battery box and air tank are on the driver’s side, and there is space for the MaxxSaver APU on the second-seat side.
Step inside the truck and prepare to be surprised and delighted. When drivers and owner-operators talked about what they wanted inside a truck, the designers and engineers at International really listened.
Good looks and ergonomic design begin at the point of entry, with billet aluminum door sill plates, pop-open wing windows, and color-coordinated leather door panels and seats. The automotive-style dash, trimmed in your choice of rosewood or titanium, is easy on the eyes. Gauges and switches are in all the right places.
The smart, leather steering wheel adjusts up to 100 degrees and offers cruise control, light controls and more at your fingertips. The optional digital display keeps you informed, while built-in Bluetooth technology helps you stay in touch.
The view through the windshield provides an unbroken expanse, spreading out and across the hood. Sit back, enjoy the ride and go to work. The 15-liter engine under the hood was a Cummins ISX at inception and became a C15 Cat within 60 days of launch.
The LoneStar has either manual or automated transmission and other features – such as a 50-degree wheel cut, traction control and roll stability – to help keep you safe.
LoneStar offers the “suite” approach to life on the road. As your seat swivels toward the sleeper, the floor mat gives way to wood-veneered laminate flooring, changing your focus from work space to living space.
A three-piece, crescent-shaped sofa opens in each of the segments to access side box and central storage compartments. A Murphy bed pulls down one-handed to reveal a 42-inch innerspring mattress.
Abundant storage is available, including “airline” cabinets across the back. There is space for a microwave, television system and a fridge. There is also a pull-out cutting board, and two pull-out tables offer a place to eat or set up a work station. And there is even more storage.
Across the aisle, cabinets with adjustable or removable shelving offer an option of folded and/or hanging space for your clothes. While you’re relaxing, enjoy the optional Monsoon stereo system with 11 speakers, subwoofer and amplifier. Lighting is effective and strategically placed in both the sleeper and cab.
Without the voluntary noise-making options, the truck is designed to be extremely quiet – with a 2 decibel reduction over ProStar, including optional sound and thermal insulation packages.
Because of the advanced aerodynamics, LoneStar is projected to be 5 percent to 15 percent more fuel efficient than classic trucks. That could result in a cost savings of $3,000 to $9,000 per year. And that’s at the current fuel costs of more than $3 per gallon.
OK, let’s talk a few more numbers, like cost. Base price for a LoneStar daycab is estimated to begin at about $115,000. Add a sleeper, kick it up a few notches with many of the 42 optional accessories immediately available, and a really loaded version could set you back $135,000 to $145,000.
That’s still less money than a comparably equipped
Pete 389 or Kenworth W900. What’s the empty weight? Karen Denning, director of communications, said it is 19,100 pounds. Wheel base options range up to 280 inches.
Room for improvement?
Without having an opportunity for a test drive, I could identify only a couple of areas that need some tweaking. At the top of the list: The floor-level cabinets in the back are not wide enough to accommodate a portable potty. I know, you’ve heard me on this subject before, but it’s that important.
Second, the fuel tanks would look better positioned further back, and on a longer wheel base it would help keep weight off the front axle.
Third, and the pickiest nit of my bunch, I’d like to see a carpet option for the cab and even the possibility of the wood floor throughout. This truck was carefully designed to separate work space from living space and that makes some psychological sense. Aesthetically, floor matting is not that attractive.
So who is going to want to get down the road with this truck? Owner-operators are going to love its operating efficiency, classic good looks and excellent pricing. Small-fleet owners and managers are going to appreciate what it will do for driver attraction and retention.
This hot truck will be the talk of the town, not only at MATS, but going down the road. Full production is scheduled to begin by August. LL
Suzanne Stempinski can be reached at email@example.com.