I was among a very select group of CDL truck journalists who had the opportunity last week to put Freightliner Trucks’ new 2014 Cascadia Evolution through its fuel-efficient paces.
In the recently completed Evolution of Efficiency Tour - a cross-country, side-by-side comparison with an EPA 2010-compliant, similarly spec’d Freightliner Cascadia, the new 2014 model delivered up to 7 percent in fuel savings.
The 2014 tractor features some of the most advanced aerodynamic enhancements in the industry, I was told by Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) officials. (Freightliner is part of the DTNA’s family of brands.)
The 2014 Cascadia Evolution, which goes into limited production early next year, is powered by a newly designed Detroit DD15 engine.
The tractor I choose to drive had the new Detroit DT12 12-speed automated manual transmission. A two-pedal system, the DT12 combines the operational ease of an automatic with the efficiency of a manual transmission. The result: enhanced fuel economy, vehicle performance and safety.
The DT12 transmission, available in direct- or over-drive versions, complements the Detroit engines and axles.
For those not familiar with an automated manual transmission (AMT), it combines a traditional clutch-actuated manual gearbox with a high-speed, computer-controlled shift actuator and clutch. The best shift patterns, with and perfect clutch engagement, are automatically selected electronically to provide optimal power for fuel efficiency.
The DTNA officials pointed out that all trucks with the DT12 are also equipped with an advanced shift lever. Mounted on the right of the steering column, this shift lever allows a driver to better control specific functions while maintaining focus on the road.
Functions include gear selection, eco- and power-mode, manual shifting and engine brake.
A nice feature of the DT12 is its creep mode which improves slow-speed maneuvering capabilities. It allows drivers to slowly move the vehicle forward or backward for parking, docking, heavy traffic and other low-speed situations by simply putting the transmission in gear and talking their foot off the brake.
Other technologically-advanced features of the transmission are Skip Shift, eCoast and Run Smart Predictive Cruise.
Skip Shift helps to increase shifting efficiency. The electronic powertrain controls automatically “skip” unnecessary gears, enabling the transmission to run through lower gears faster to achieve cruising speed sooner.
This also allows a driver to begin the acceleration in the appropriate “start gear” based on load and grade.
eCoast is another feature designed to maximize fuel efficiency. It allows the vehicle to coast.
eCoast works by automatically disengaging the transmissions when the vehicle is coasting so that the engine operates at idle speeds while preserving vehicle momentum.
The Run Smart Predictive Cruise system evaluates the road profile more than one mile in advance, determines the most efficient vehicle speed and then adjusts the actual speed of the truck for maximum fuel efficiency.
The interior of the Cascadia Evolution’s cab has been designed with walls that reduce vibration noise. There is thick blanket of noise-dampening insulation covers everything inside the cab.
The result is an extremely quite environment, whether driving or parked.
The interior is very spacious. There is 24 inches of space between the seats and 84 inches of cab headroom. The raised roof sleeper model that I drove measured 90 inches tall inside.
Visibility was excellent all-around. The rig, which was fully loaded, handled and rode well.
I hated to have to turn the keys over to someone else to drive.