International LT Series ‘most driver-centric Class 8 vehicle we’ve ever built”

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img_3847International on Friday unveiled its new flagship Class 8 on-highway truck, capping a design and development process that relied heavily on driver feedback.

The end result – the International LT Series – is the company’s most fuel efficient line of trucks to date and according to Jeff Sass, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Navistar, “the most driver-centric Class 8 vehicle we’ve ever built.”

“It all starts with the guy who has got his hands on the wheel,” says Navistar president Troy Clarke.

Available in Classic and premium Diamond trim levels, the truck features an all-new interior that – based on a review of the more than 500 points where the driver and truck interact – offers better elbow room, hip room and leg room. Driver input also led to a mix of high-tech and traditional features that emphasize driver ease of use.

img_3850“We made some interesting discoveries along the way,” says Denny Mooney, Navistar senior vice president of global product development. “Truck drivers want a truck designed like a truck. Career truck drivers aren’t interested in automotive styling. They want trucks designed to do a job. They need easy to use controls, great visibility and great ergonomics.”

Kenneth Stiltner, who currently drives a ProStar for Cowan Systems, was one of the drivers Navistar engineers and executives spent time with farming for ideas and feedback.

“I love the steering,” he says of the new truck. “I love the visibility and the windshield. I love the new mirror they’ve got on.”

img_3840The redesigned interior features a premium dash cluster with a digital driver display that places everything within reach while offering real-time monitoring of fuel economy. The new display also offers up to 15 customizable digital gauges. “The dash – I don’t have to go looking for anything,” Stiltner says. “I look straight ahead and I can see it.”

In addition, the air horn was relocated back to its traditional, intuitive position over the driver door in response to driver feedback.

As far as Stiltner is concerned the greatest improvement over the ProStar was made inside the cab – the seat.

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“I’ve got short legs. I’ve got to get a board to put underneath [the seat] to level it out,” he says. “I drive 11 hours. I’ve got to be comfortable.”

The aerodynamic improvements that boosted the LT Series’ fuel efficiency also yielded a four-Sone decrease in wind noise inside the cab.

“Less noise also reduces driver fatigue,” Mooney adds.

“The door feels great,” David Majors, Navistar vice president of product development, adds of a seal improvement that also enhances noise reduction. “It sounds great.”

The LS Series comes with standard LED headlamps, a column-mounted gear-shifter and engine brake switch, and a redesigned one-piece side window for a clearer line of sight.

“The mirrors have been engineered so the driver will have to turn their head less,” Mooney adds, noting 15 percent less on the driver’s side and 5 percent less on the passenger side.

Bendix Wingman Advanced Collision Mitigation system also comes standard in the LT Series. Bendix Wingman Fusion and MeritorWABCO OnGuardACTIVE systems are offered as options.

Designed for uptime

Clarke says the LT Series was designed “from the inside out” and in an effort to boost uptime, International reviewed reliability data and other information collected from 230,000-plus subscribers to its OnCommand Connection diagnostics system. Data in-hand, the company and made multiple enhancements to support increased reliability and serviceability.

Denny Mooney, Navistar senior vice president of global product development, says in some cases the company completely redesigned entire systems to reach its goals.

The LT Series ushers in a new single-canister design aftertreatment system that is 60 percent smaller and 40 percent lighter, and also offers quicker servicing. Cab wiring includes all-new harnessing and an in-cab power distribution module that is inside the truck, away from the weather.

All key service points under the hood, inside the cab and around the vehicle were designed for easy access and servicing, and many components have been engineered with longer intervals between required maintenance.

Aero and efficiency improvements

The LT Series’ improved aerodynamics provides 7 percent better fuel efficiency than the company’s most recent fuel economy leader, a 2017 ProStar equipped with the Cummins ISX15 engine. The LT Series delivers 3 percent improvement in fuel economy from its aerodynamics alone, Mooney adds.

Upgraded aerodynamic features on the new International LT Series include an aero-contoured hood (which is sloped an additional 4 inches), fender, wheel opening and chassis skirts and an aero-enhanced three-piece front bumper. Longer side extenders shorten the trailer gap.

img_3834Aerodynamics in the LT Series were fine-tuned using computational fluid dynamics, one-eighth scale and full-size wind tunnel and coast-down testing.

International’s predictive cruise control, which uses preinstalled GPS maps and the latest commercial route data to make adjustments to cruising speed without the need to pre-drive the route, looks ahead of the vehicle and recognizes the terrain and continuously calculates the most efficient speed and gear for optimal fuel economy in real time.

A new electronic control systems also uses programmable parameters to optimize efficiency.  

“I believe this is the start of many more advancements of these types of systems,” says Clarke. “The truck driver … his expertise is required in take offs and landings,” he adds, drawing comparisons to the automations in commercial air travel.

The LT Series will be offered in multiple configurations, including day cab, 56” low roof sleeper, 56” hi-rise sleeper, 73” hi-rise sleeper and 73” sky-rise sleeper.

Powertrain options

The LT Series, which is available for order as of Friday, is being launched with the new 2017 Cummins X15 engine, with a horsepower rating of up to 500 HP in the efficiency series and up to 565 HP in the performance series.

Sass says there are already more than 2,000 orders for the LT on the books with deliveries expected to begin in November.

Available in the spring will be the new 2017 Navistar N13 engine, which is rated up to 475 HP and 1,750 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s design is 500 to 600 pounds lighter than traditional big bore engines, the company claims.

Steve Gilligan, Navistar vice president of product and vocational marketing, says production of ProStar trucks equipped with a Cummins engine will end in December in North America. ProStars equipped with an N-Series engine will end in April 2017.