OOIDA’s new ride: 2017 Western Star 5700XE

By Suzanne Stempinski, contributing field editor

Western Star was the one presenting the gifts at its 50th anniversary bash in late April held in Chandler, Ariz.

Jon “Doc” Osburn, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s tour truck driver, received the keys to a white and blue 2017 Western Star 5700XE to pull the “Spirit of the American Trucker” tour trailer around the country.

This is the third time Western Star has partnered with OOIDA, providing a truck for OOIDA’s mobile outreach efforts around the country.

“OOIDA and Western Star share a common customer base. OOIDA appeals to the ‘little guy’ making sure their rights are preserved and respected. At Western Star, we also value them. We share a lot of the same customers,” Mike Guarino, On Highway Manager for Western Star, told Land Line.

“With our 5700XE, while we know that large fleets will appreciate us as a reward truck, traditionally our loyal Western Star customers are owner-operators and small fleets.”

The Western Star 5700XE “Spirit Truck” is old-school cool. Big hood, square grill, looks tough. Even with fairings. Under the hood, the Detroit DD16 engine with 560 horsepower and 1,850 lb-ft of torque and the Detroit DT12 automated manual transmission create a powerfully fuel efficient combination that rivals the Freightliner Cascadia.

The interior is jaw dropping. The 82-inch, high-roof sleeper has lots of cherry wood cabinets and storage space, thoughtfully planned to include room for your suitcase and portable potty. The bed is big enough for two. Or in the case of the “Spirit of the American Trucker,” it’s the right size for a man and his dog.

The only thing left was to take it for a spin. I hopped behind the wheel accompanied by Western Star President Kelley Platt and Jon Osburn.

The truck was quiet and nimble. The visibility through the split windshield was panoramic. The A pillars did not create blind spots.

“I really like this truck,” said Jon. “Last year I spent more than 200 nights on the road. I expect to be gone at least that much this year so it’s important to have a truck that works well for me.”

No need to raise our voices to carry on a three-way conversation. This is a truck that’ll work hard from day to night.

Just remember, if you catch Jon at one of his tour stops, and you want to check it out for yourself, you can.

“I’d be happy to let anyone take a look around the truck,” Jon said.

At Western Star, celebrating 50 Years of Legendary Awesomeness is a milestone they’re proud to recognize – along with being bad asses and one-of-a-kinds – as they head into the next chapter of their story.

From a company that started as part of the White Motor Co. in western Canada in the logging fields in 1967, they quickly migrated into a wide variety of other applications requiring tough and sturdy equipment. It had to be; sometimes there was no local shop to perform repairs.

That legendary toughness continues to this day, but now there’s a significant dealer network backing them up with 362 selling dealerships and an additional 200 parts and service locations.

At the anniversary event, I had the chance to get up close and personal with a variety of Western Star trucks.

First up was the new 4900 XD. It came in the shape of a 25-ton dump truck. Stout and powerful from the ground. I couldn’t wait to slip behind the wheel. Powered by the Detroit DDC 60, 14-liter, 500 hp engine with an Allison 4500 RDS automatic transmission, it was calling my name.

I climbed up and got settled, buckling up and surveying the off-road course. I started out a little gently, feeling my way through the bumps and ruts. As we rocked and rolled around the first curve and up the hill, I got bolder.

I figured the truck might run even smoother if I hit the tops of the bumps instead of the bottoms so I slapped my foot to the floor. I was right. It’s good to be the first truck because I had nobody to whack as I topped the hill blind. We didn’t quite get air, but not for lack of effort. That big bad dump truck took it and gave as good as it got.

Next in my sights was the 4700SF concrete mixer. It sported a Detroit DD13 and the Allison 4700 RDS automatic transmission. Mindful of the fact that it was mixing, I opted to make a gentler run around the course. No point in getting over-rotated and having or causing a wreck. Sweet.

The last vocational truck I drove was another 4900 XD. This one had an Elliott HiReach Lift attached to the frame. We practically sprang over the course with the light attachment and quick response from the Detroit DD16 and Allison 4500RDS. I could have played with these trucks all day. While any of them could be driven down the road, they are designed to be tough and efficient in challenging working environments.

While Western Star’s current market share is a small but loyal niche, they have bigger goals, aspiring to more than double their standing by the year 2025.

“We want the next 50 years to be just as awesome and more so,” said Platt. LL