I recently drove the truck pictured above, but before you call and report me to the authorities for driving without a CDL, I want to point out that I was on a closed track. I am always hesitant to hoist myself up into a truck cab where the door handle is more than eight feet above my head (a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea). This time, however, it was worth the effort.
During Western Star’s 50th birthday event, I tried out several Western trucks in the new XD-25 line, which are available with a Tier III Series 60 or Detroit DD13 engine, and are powered by the Allison off-road series (ORS) transmission and planetary gear sets. Together, the engine and transmission combination results in more power for loaded applications and higher speeds when unloaded, the truck maker explained. Additional features found with all Western Star XD Off-Road products include rugged slippered spring suspensions, simplified maintenance components and metal fender butterfly hoods for long-life durability.
My test drive of the Western Star XD-25 dump truck took place on a large, deep, dirt circular track in the desert just outside Phoenix, which was designed to give drivers a taste of real-life construction site driving challenges, primarily inclines, bumps, ruts and curves—oh, and dust. Lots of dust.
From the moment the air brake was disengaged and the truck crept out on to the track, I knew I could handle the task. I took a deep breath and I was off over rough terrain, around banked curves, up hills and down inclines, which, by the way, were graded to obscure the view of what was on the other side.
No fears, however—the truck handled everything with ease, good traction, great power, and the cab was cool and quiet. Halfway through the course, I considered the fact that if this writing thing didn’t work out, I could always go into construction driving.
During the 50th birthday celebration in Phoenix, Western Star also showed off several of its on-highway models. In a cab with Kelley Platt, president of Western Star, I asked about designing cost-effective on-highway trucks.
“Take the Western Star 5700 model, for instance,” she began. “Because everybody uses the truck in essentially the same fashion, we have a set of operating characteristics in which it has to work. We can design and test—and really test to the nth degree—to make sure that we’ve got something that’s going to be cost-effective, that it’s going to be fuel-efficient, that it’s going to be serviceable, that it’s going to be durable and it’s really going to meet the needs of that fleet.
“We had the advantage because we’ve done so much work on the Cascadia and the next-generation Cascadia,” she continued, “that when we put the 5700 together, we had the benefit of that experience, and we’re able to design a truck that is almost as fuel-efficient as the Cascadia but still has that edgy, unique appearance that an owner-operator looks for.”
On- or off-highway, Western Star trucks are built with all the power and performance features that drivers of any size and ability, like me, can easily handle.