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Close your eyes and try to imagine the most inhospitable landscape you can. It’s arid, with little or no vegetation. The trees and shrubs that do grow are small and often prickly. It’s boiling hot during the day and can drop well below freezing at night, yet there is no shelter from the elements. And imagine you are sitting in a new Cascadia.
On the rare occasion of rainfall, flash flooding rips through the landscape and then promptly disappears back into the sandy soil. Leaving it as dry and desolate as before. This hostile land, forbidding to all but the most intrepid, provided the perfect testing ground for myself and a small group of journalists to finally get behind the wheel of the new Freightliner Cascadia®.
Possibility to checking Features
Our three hour journey began on the far southern tip of a town I know well – Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas is the ideal city to host a trucking conference due to its Location and excess of hotel and conference space.
We struck out northeast initially, driving through irrigated suburbs whose growth over the past decade has propelled Las Vegas to the title of 28th largest city in America. The three-lane freeway provided the opportunity for the journalist-slash-trucker to experience the lane tracking, active brake assist, adaptive cruise control, and other safety features integrated in the new Cascadia.
Experimenting with the tools
Near Boulder City, the famously alcohol-and-gambling-free outpost founded to house the builders of the Hoover Dam, we turned south, now heading into the desert in earnest. Unencumbered by traffic, my Alabamian driver, Jason, relaxed into the roomy seat.
He felt confident enough to begin experimenting with the different tools and settings in the cockpit as our representative from Freightliner Marketing, Ryan, walked us through the finer points of the Detroit Assurance™ suite of safety systems, which were continually taking stock of our position relative to the road lines and other traffic using a combination of radar and cameras.
As Jason and Ryan transitioned conversation to classic cars, I decided to test out the new cab interior lighting concept, which was developed with help from the lighting experts behind the Boeing Dreamliner. Although the day was bright, the back of the sleeper remained dark enough to be able to appreciate the halo lighting and soft task lighting that can be dimmed to the user’s preference.
The sleeper itself was comfortable, with thoughtful storage and details like a larger refrigerator and full-sized microwave. The vibration and noise in the cab were also notably decreased from the latest Cascadia thanks to 3M™ Thinsulate™ technology and added door seals. My colleagues and I could hear each other perfectly from a distance of about six feet. I’ve ridden in my fair share of sleeper cabs, and this one is a game changer.
A real bonus
Around the town of Searchlight (when I say “town” I mean a rusty water tower and a few double-wide mobile homes), I interrupted the gentlemen’s raptures about Corvettes to ask Jason how he was feeling. He reported feeling at ease and comfortable due to the automated manual transmission, cruise control, and the lack of vibration in the steering wheel.
He also remarked the redesigned cockpit put all his instruments conveniently close at hand and the new mirrors reduced the amount of neck swivel, a real bonus since the hotel pillows had left him with a sore neck.
Admiring the Joshua trees
Nearing the halfway point of the trip, we turned west toward the California border onto Nevada State Route 164, also known as Joshua Tree Highway. The narrow road runs pin-straight for many miles through a, for lack of a better term, “forest” of Joshua trees. If you’ve never seen a Joshua tree, I recommend Googling it. The Joshuas lent the vista a somewhat whimsical feel, and for a while I simply sat back on the bunk and admired the scenery through the one-piece panoramic windshield.
After a few miles, we pulled off to switch drivers at a small, dusty turnout. Surprisingly, we were not alone. A vast Setra coach bursting with French tourists had already colonized the area. No less surprised to see us in our two enormous Freightliners, they naturally became curious. As soon as one meek tourist snapped a photo of the two trucks, the curiosity snowballed.
All of sudden we had 50 tourists scrambling in and out of the cabs, taking selfies in the driver’s seat, and joyfully honking the horns. Through the group’s guide and translator, one of the journalists – who, incidentally, should be given a job in our marketing department for his performance – introduced the new truck and a bit about our company to an eager audience. A few that spoke English asked questions and complimented the truck’s sleek grill, vibrant paint job, and beautiful exterior lines.
Perfect Terrain to test the stability
The second half of our journey brought rapid elevation changes, curves, and the perfect terrain on which to test the stability of the rig and the engine brake. I’d been informed that the driver had only his learner’s permit, so I was nervous approaching the tight downhill curves, but driver and truck alike performed admirably. A few miles further down Route 164, we passed the tour group again, and this time they were ready for us. Video cameras out and rolling, they were able to capture our Cascadias in their element.
Feelings of safe, satisfaction, proudness and confidence
As we skirted the Mojave National Preserve and headed out of California back towards Nevada, I was struck most by how I felt riding in the new Cascadia through this pre-historic, sun-soaked landscape. Firstly, I felt incredibly safe knowing about the hundreds of features working to prevent collisions and other accidents.
I felt ethically satisfied in my awareness of the steps taken to reduce emissions and increase fuel economy. I felt proud of being part of a team who appreciates that even a heavy-duty truck can and should be a thing of beauty. And I felt confident in the continued success of a company that puts its customers first by creating the best products time and time again.