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It’s 102 degrees F in the shade. I’m in Las Vegas again to blog about the launch of a new vehicle. Why can’t they ever hold these events in some place nice – like the Yukon or maybe Patagonia? Haven’t they ever seen Ice Truckers? A curious roadrunner struts by. Instinctively, I search around for the Coyote.
What greets my eyes, however, is a sight infinitely more rugged, stylish, and intelligent. He’s a cherry-red monster, fangs bared, ready to tear his rivals apart. He is Optimus Prime, the aerodynamic wonder and envy of the highways; he is the new Western Star 5700XE.
Over the years, I have been in my share of Class 8 vehicles. At this particular event, I happen to have a photographer with me, let’s call him Chuck, who is a complete stranger to the world of Heavy Duty trucking. Common wisdom tells us that you never get a second chance at a first impression. Surprisingly, many of Chuck’s first impressions eloquently describe the features that set the 5700XE apart from his peers. Allow me to impart, and expound upon, a few of Chuck’s observations:
“Wow, it’s huge!” – The 5700XE lives up to its brothers’ reputation as being a true trucker’s truck. Its lofty proportions and aggressive styling can’t help but command attention. Plus, the chrome on the cab would make Robocop blush.
“I didn’t know semi-trucks could be this nice.” and “Can you put a TV back here?” – Western Stars have been custom built by hand for decades. They are for those owners who require comfort, style, and durability. The steel cab and bunk of the sleeper are absurdly roomy and comfortable. And yes, there is plenty of room for a TV. No trucker should ever have to go without American Idol.
“Where’s the stick thingy [gear shift]?” and “Smooth ride, man…” – For the first time, the Detroit™ DT12 Automated Manual Transmission will come standard in this Western Star, resulting in marked fuel economy improvement, superb performance, and a superior driver experience. As Chuck aptly pointed out, the absence of an old-fashioned gear shift frees up room in the cock pit for all manner of important things, such as snacks or the trucker’s trusty canine companion.
“How’s the gas mileage on this thing?” – Fuel economy exceeds expectations due to several aerodynamic improvements to the hood, roof, chassis, and cab fairings that don’t compromise the cowboy styling beloved by Western Star drivers. Customers can also choose a fully integrated Detroit™ powertrain for even more fuel economy. The 5700XE takes advantage of technologies proven by his Daimler cousins, notably the Freightliner Cascadia, and puts them to work in a big way.
“This is amazing.” – Yes he is, Chuck. Yes he is. Now get your paws off the wood trim. You’re leaving smudge marks.
To summarize, this imposing vehicle is a rolling contradiction. He is at once sleek yet commanding, graceful yet fierce, efficient yet unyielding, luxurious yet fearless, severe yet pet-friendly. I ask myself, how can one truck be all of these things? And the answer comes to me. He must be a Transformer.