Putting some Stars through their paces

When I was very young, I enjoyed playing with trucks in the dirt and on the blacktop. I’d push them around, maneuvering through and around various obstacles.

Last week, on the ground of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, I had the chance to once again play with trucks in the dirt and on asphalt. Only this time, instead of pushing them around, I was behind the wheel driving.

The occasion was part of Western Star Trucks' Get Tough 2012 Ride & Drive event that broke in its dealers, customers and potential customers for the opportunity to learn about and experience a variety of Western Star models.

Featured at the event was the new Western Star 4700 - a Baby 8 vocational truck introduced last year in both set forward and set back axle versions.

Also at the event were 4800 and 4900 models, and the just introduced model 4700 day cab tractor.

All of the trucks had DD13, DD15 or DD16 diesel engines with either a manual, automated or automatic transmissions.

The event had an off-road course for construction model 4700s; a performance course to demonstrate the 4700's maneuverability; a closed road course; and a chance to take the trucks out on the highway.

Never one to pass up an opportunity to drive any new truck, I took complete advantage of the opportunity and drive everything, including a twin steer model and a right-hand drive extreme duty Western Star mine truck sold overseas.

While "playing" with trucks is always great fun, ride and drive type events really enable a person to get a true feel for a vehicle.

The 4700 model has great visibility and maneuverability, and when combined with an automated or automatic transmission is a real pleasure to drive. For a work truck, the cab was spacious, quiet and comfortable.

Opening the hood and crawling around in and under the truck, I found that it would be easy to work on.

During a presentation to the group, Western Star general manager Michael Jackson said the company, since being acquired by Daimler in 2000, now has a dedicated staff and resources devoted to growing the brand and its market share.

More product introductions can be expected, he said, including a new on-highway vehicle that will be considerably more aerodynamic than the Western Star 4900 with Fuel Efficiency (FE) package.