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Minuteman Trucks Blog

2018 | Truckinginfo | Jim Park 2019

A typical year for HDT Equipment Editor Jim Park includes traveling around the country, test driving all of the latest trucks and technologies and 2018 was no different. This year’s batch included his first test drive of a refuse truck, a brake test comparing disk and drum brake performance, and a urban jaunt through New York City in an electric cargo van.

The last test drive I did in 2018 was Kenworth’s W990, the successor-in-waiting to the W900L. We went to Phoenix to film an Ultimate Test Drive video and put about 300 miles on the truck in the mountains east of the city. It’s a “Large Car” in every sense of the word, but it rides and handles splendidly. It will win its share of hearts when we get used to its contemporary styling



This was my first test drive of a refuse truck, and I came away impressed with not only how well the truck handles and how intuitive it was to operate (after I figured out the controls), but how difficult the refuse driver’s job really is. There’s no comparing the LR model to a highway truck, I concluded that if I was driving a refuse route this would be a fine truck to do it in.



Another different and interesting test drive, this time comparing the performance and feel disk and drum brakes. I spent two days at the test track doing full stops at various speed from 30 to 65 mph and with various application pressure from mild (10-20 psi) to full (100-120 psi). The results revealed very similar performance between the two in all situations except hot-brake stops where the discs did better than the drums.



From the “future technologies” file, I got to drive a truck equipped with Bosch’s new electric over hydraulic steering system called Servotwin. It’s a driver assistance feature that makes maneuvering a truck easier but it’s also a precursor to automatic lane keeping and driverless trucks.




I did this test drive in June at Cummins’ Jamestown, New York engine plant. The X15/Endurant combination is the pinnacle of integration between these two components. They function together at least as well as any of the vertically integrated engine/transmission combinations I have driven, and there’s a calibration to any taste from the fuel-economy sensitive fleet to the performance-oriented owner-operator.



September was the month I clocked 10.4 mpg in an economy-optimized Mack Anthem 6×2 tractorequipped with advanced aero and turbo-compounding technologies. I drove three trucks on that trip, traveling from Asheville, North Carolina almost to New Orleans. The last truck I drove have a fuel system problem and was unable to complete the trip. Each of the three trucks was spec’d a little differently, but all of them managed better than 8 mpg for trip, which is pretty good for a brand-new truck.


Seattle in February can be a dreary place but driving a battery-electric Kenworth T680 powered by a hydrogen fuel cell added a little sunshine to the trip. The electric drivetrain made the truck really peppy and operators won’t have to worry about range or long charging times as long as there’s a hydrogen supply nearby.



Summertime in Austin Texas is hot, but the cooling system developed by Hyliion and powered, free-of-charge, but the hybrid propulsion system was just the ticket. I drove the company’s 6-by-4 Hybrid Electric (6x4HE) hybrid and found that it makes the truck feel like it has only half the load that’s actually in the box. The system captures energy from vehicle momentum while rolling downhill and returns it to the wheels to ease the load on the engine during periods of high demand. It really is free energy, and the cooling system gets its power from regenerated energy too.


I saw this truck displayed at a summer truck show near Montreal, Quebec in August, and I knew right away it was something different: a “vocational” tractor spec’d for long-haul operation. Personally, I really like the look of the short hood teamed with the big sleeper. When I made the call to arrange a test drive, I discovered there was only one other truck like it, and both were special orders from a dealer in Montreal. At the time, Kenworth’s PR department didn’t even know about it. It turned out to be a great driving truck, spec’d for Canadian weights of 122,000 GVW.


I drove this new engine from Cummins back in December 2017, but the story ran in January. The X12 has an 11.8-liter displacement and will be a worthy competitor in regional and vocational applications to other 11- and 13-liter engines. So far, the engine has been placed in an Autocar refuse hauler and Freightliner’s 114SD vocational chassis. It’s light and powerful, with ratings from 325-500 hp and 1350-1750 lb-ft, and it weighs just 2050 pounds. The one I drove was rated at 455 hp/1,700 lb-ft. I dragged it along some interstate and two-lane roads in western New York and Pennsylvania and it never missed a beat. I’d look for more of these coming to dealer lots in 2019.


This was another late-2017 drive with a 2018 publication date. I drove it in Brooklyn, New York in the environment it was intended to serve. It was peppy and quiet — except for the noise from the empty cargo area — and well-suited for city service. We heard recently that FedEx just placed an order for 1,000 of these vans, so obviously they are doing something right.




The Merry Month of May found me in Sioux Center, Iowa on a different sort of test drive: testing a cab suspension rather than an entire truck. Link Manufacturing’s ROI Cabmate (Road Optimized Intelligence) was still in development at the time, but it’s slated for roll-out to the OEMs in 2019. It is a semi-active suspension, meaning it offers variable-rate damping in the suspension’s shock absorbers. The damping rate is electronically controlled using input from two accelerometers built into the rear of the cab and two position sensors that monitor the movement in the truck’s main suspension. It really does smooth out the ride.