Since its 2020 pivot to become Daimler Truck North America's vocational brand, Western Star has launched its models 49X and 47X. Last week the Freightliner sibling shifted its focus from the jobsite to the road, trotting out its third new model in two years – the on-highway 57X.
The 57X will replace the 5700XE – Western Star's aero model that debuted in 2014 and starred as Optimus Prime in the Transformer franchise that same year. Following a run of just six years, Western Star shelved its model 5700XE at the end of last year. When the 5700XE debuted in the Fall of 2014, the sculpted and sleek 5700XE – XE is for Extreme Efficiency – was Western Star's official foray into the era of the aero-tractor following three years in development. The end result was a tractor heaped with airflow and a Detroit-exclusive powertrain.
Stay tuned. We'll have a detailed test drive recap of the 57X Wednesday afternoon.
Despite its position as Daimler Truck's vocational company, Western Star Brand Manager Anthony Pires said the on-highway 57X was conceived, designed and engineered specifically for owner-operators and small fleets.
"The only thing we saved from the previous truck was the steering wheel," said Ryan Major, Daimler Truck North America on-highway product marketing manager.
The 57X is the most fuel-efficient truck Western Star has ever built – 5.8% more fuel-efficient than its predecessor. About half of those gains come from an aerodynamic retooling and the other half from a powertrain comprised exclusively of Detroit products.
The 57X offers a choice of Detroit engine models (the DD13 Gen 5, DD15 Gen 5 and DD16) and Detroit DT12 Direct or Overdrive AMT transmissions. Intelligent Powertrain Management anticipates terrain and adjusts to road conditions to further maximize efficiencies. Available Detroit front steer and high-speed ratio rear tandem axles also contribute to fuel efficiency.
Inside and out you'll find only LED lighting. Outside are sensor-driven Dual-Stage Intelligent LED headlights that melt ice and clear condensation. Interior LED lighting offers better visibility and longevity.
The frame rails of the 57X are splayed and the engine mounted lower, enabling a 2-inch drop in the hood and improved airflow. Air ducts integrated into the bumper – a first for Daimler Truck North America – throw air around the tire. And, of course, a visor is standard.
Side fairings with flexible skirts are specifically designed to fill the gaps between the cab and chassis. Up top, you'll find an aerodynamic roof fairing or an adjustable aerodynamic deflector for day cab models.
Sleeper side extenders add 24-inches of aero-friendly space filler between the truck and trailer (12-inches for day cabs). They are designed to breakaway to prevent damage to the cab in jackknife situations.
Optimized drive wheel fairings smooth the air flow as it passes the trailer as do FlowBelow mold-in color drive wheel covers.
The new 57X is equipped with safety and connectivity features designed to protect the driver, pedestrians and other motorists, while providing the driver with real-time dataflow.
The 5700XE was equipped with Wabco's OnGuard and was limited lane departure warnings. The 57X comes standard with the Detroit Assurance 5.0 safety system with Active Brake Assist 5 – an always-on system that fuses camera and radar technology to detect moving objects in front of the truck and can deploy full braking. With Detroit Assurance also comes Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC to 0 mph), which keeps the truck at a safe distance and provides a more confident driving experience. Detroit Assurance 5.0 also offers optional Active Lane Assist (ALA), which includes Lane Keep Assist, Auto Stop, Lane Departure Protection and Steer Assist. Steer Assist can help reduce fatigue on the road and makes maneuvering in yards far easier. Additionally, 57X debuts Active Side Guard Assist (ASGA), which is designed to mitigate blind side issues during right-hand turns.
A 12-inch digital dash display – all new for Western Star – features a configurable instrument cluster. A complimentary 10-inch display on the B-panel displays entertainment options such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (which can be accessed with a smartphone), as well as vehicle information from Detroit Assurance. Integrated steering wheel controls let drivers control most entertainment and information functions without taking their hands off the wheel.
Four cab options are available, including Day Cab, 60-inch Mid Roof, 72- inch Mid Roof or 72-inch Stratosphere. The 82-inch sleeper is no longer available but thanks to the fractionally wider and taller cab, the "smaller" 72-inch Stratosphere is actually 22% larger volumetrically than the outgoing 82-inch. Clint LaPreze, DTNA's on-highway segment manager, said this is possible mostly by moving the seats and the bulkhead further forward, giving the bunk more room and using less space.
Inside you'll find plush leather seating and, on sleeper models, an optional enhanced driver’s lounge with table and Murphy bed. The Dual Battery Powered HVAC has replaced the ParkSmart system, and better electronics and integrated hardware make it less susceptible to vibration-induced wear and tear. The dual evaporator system allows the engine to cool the truck while running over the road or optimize idle. The electrical and engine powered compressors also run at a lower amperage (35amps vs 45amps electrical and 16amps vs 57amps engine powered). Lower use of amps leads to longer life of the compressor.
Production of the 57X is planned to begin in early 2023 for the 2024 model year at DTNA’s Cleveland, N.C. plant.