By Jade Brasher
If there’s one thing 2020 has done, it’s put many great things on hold. Fortunately, many businesses are still trucking along—some even more than they were this time last year. Western Star, rugged and tough as they come, wouldn’t be one to let anything slow it down, and thanks to the determination of Western Star’s team of engineers, marketing personnel, and production squad, we’re getting to see the fruits of their labor in the midst of a difficult year.
Western Star launched a new truck last month: the Western Star 49X. Designed specifically for vocational applications, the 49X is truly a bright spot in the vocational trucking segment during this dismal year. I haven’t yet been behind the wheel of the new truck, but I’ve been in a virtual walk-around with some Western Star executives, and to say I’m excited to report back is an understatement. The 49X is loaded with cutting-edge, innovative, and impressive features that I can’t pack into one feature. Read my preview ahead, and stay tuned for a Western Star 49X review in an upcoming issue.
BUILT TO WORK
The new workhorse is available with two Detroit engine options. Detroit designed its DD15 Gen 5 specifically for vocational applications and features an improved aftertreatment system to decrease regens and a new power rating of up to 505 hp and up to 1,850 lb-ft of torque. For those looking for something a little larger, Detroit’s DD16 features a 16-L engine and pumps out 600 hp and up to 2,050 lb-ft of torque. The folks at Western Star encourage owners to opt for Detroit engine offerings.
For Cummins loyalists, the 49X is available with a Cummins X12 that offers up to 500 hp and up to 1,700 lb-ft of torque. Owners can also choose a Cummins X15 with 605 hp and up to 2,050 lb-ft of torque.
The 49X features the new Detroit DT12 Vocational Series automated manual transmissions. Western Star tested the DT12-V and DT12-VX transmissions for over 35 million miles. Detroit also equipped its Vocational Series with its Detroit Assurance suite of safety systems.
The Vocational Series is new for the brand and combines technology with increased durability. Some new features of the transmission include a Rock-Free Mode, Off-Road Mode, and Power Launch. The Power Launch provides drivers with powerful takeoffs while protecting the clutch and the driveline. The Off-Road Mode allows smooth driving on extreme terrain. But perhaps the Rock-Free Mode is the most innovative feature of the three. Rock-Free Mode allows the 49X to free itself from stuck situations. Samantha Parlier, VP of Daimler Trucks North America’s vocational market development, says drivers who’ve already experienced the 49X in the field are raving about the Rock-Free Mode.
At the core of the new 49X is a frame made specifically for vocational applications. The new truck is mounted on single channel frame rail with a best-in-class resistance bending moment (RBM) strength rating at 3.7 million inch-lbs. Western Star also included C-channel frame reinforcements with an RBM rating of up to 5.4 million inch-lbs. This means owners have greater durability as well as weight savings in their 49X. For applications requiring front-mounted equipment, Western Star added multiple parent rail front frame extensions. And innovations to routing and clipping locations keep wiring and air lines separated. This reduces damage and allows for faster diagnosis if a problem is encountered.
The 49X features the largest cab in its segment with 10 to 13% greater space. It’s also made of steel-reinforced aluminum, reducing weight by 8%. But a larger cab doesn’t always mean greater visibility—unless the Western Star 49X is the topic of conversation. The 49X features a one-piece windshield that’s 28% larger than Western Star’s previous versions. It features 24-inch wiper blades that provide a 37% improved wiper zone. Buyers can choose an optional impact-resistant windshield glass to protect from rocks and debris. A heated windshield option speeds up defrost in snowy conditions, and it prevents refreeze and wiper freezing. And finally, its one-piece construction makes it easier to replace.
But the measure of a truck’s visibility doesn’t come solely from the windshield. Rear visibility is also important in vocational applications, that’s why rear visibility in the Western Star 49X is maximized. Standard on day cabs is a large, single center rear window. However, high-visibility three-window configuration increases window area by 77% more than previous models.
With the 49X, Western Star offers the new Detroit Assurance Suite of Safety Systems. This is the most advanced safety system offered on a truck in the vocational segment. The system features Active Brake Assist 5 (ABA 5) that detects distance and speed of moving and stationary objects in the truck’s path. If the system determines braking is necessary, it simply enables them with no help from the operator. The system is the only system on the market that works down to 5 mph—hence the “5” at the end of its name. This feature is ideal for urban areas with heavy passenger vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Speaking of pedestrians, the system can recognize when pedestrians are about to cross the truck’s path. The system alerts the operator while partially braking (and will enable a full brake if the operator is slow to react). This is all possible through ABA 5’s camera and radar technology.
Aside from ABA 5, the 49X features adaptive cruise control down to 0 mph, a tailgate warning to mitigate collisions, lane departure warning, automatic headlights and wipers, intelligent high-beam headlights, and forward- and operator-facing video capture. Needless to say, the 49X is loaded with safety technology.
But safety doesn’t stop there. The 49X features Western Star’s new Dual Stage Intelligent LED headlights. They are designed to withstand the life of the truck—no bulbs to replace … ever! They feature amber daytime running lights, and the LED output can fully illuminate the road and jobsite to reduce driver fatigue. Dual-stage heat grids melt away ice in minutes and eliminate condensation in humid environments.
And if that isn’t enough to ensure the truck is safe, there’s more. Engineers of the 49X researched the safest methods for driver ingress and egress and designed steps that raise the bar. Operators step into the cab on stair-step designed, highly visible, corrosion-resistant aluminum steps that are larger than previous models and feature an enhanced tread pattern that allows dirt, snow, and debris to pass through. This combined with strategically located grab handles give operators more confidence when entering and exiting the cab. Once drivers are in the cab, they’re greeted with even more innovations and upgraded features. Stay tuned to find out more in a future issue.
There are so many more new and upgraded features to discuss when it comes to the Western Star 49X—and we barely covered half in this piece. Keep checking back in future issues for more about the new vocational model and to see results from my upcoming test drive. In the meantime, if you have questions about the new truck tweet at us (@mwsmag) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jade Brasher is the editor of Modern WorkTruck Solutions magazine. A graduate of The University of Alabama, Jade resides in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and enjoys writing about her town, travel, and of course, work trucks. Reach her at email@example.com. Find out more about the Western Star 49X, visit www.westernstartrucks.com.