Over the past few decades, many truck manufacturers have retreated from the broad range of models they offered to specialize in specific segments of the market. However, recently, some brands have been expanding their offerings once again and returning to segments they had previously abandoned. Among those going down that path are International (under Navistar ownership) and Mack.
As late as 1980, International — then known as International Harvester — was building heavy trucks (and farm machinery) and was still in the SUV market. That same year, the company halted production on the four-wheel drive Scout, which was five years after it bailed out of the pickup segment. In 2018, however, the brand re-entered the light-duty truck market with its CV model range, providing limited offerings in the Class 4 and 5 segments. That makes International the only manufacturer from the current stable of heavy-truck brands to introduce new models that far down the class scale.
The brand claims to be bringing a commercial manufacturer’s focus on support and uptime to the Class 4 and 5 segments, hoping that will be one reason to lure buyers away from the more familiar automotive offerings, like Ford’s F-series.
“We are backing it up with the expertise of the International dealer network, the only network in this category 100 per cent dedicated to commercial vehicles,” said Michael Cancelliere, Navistar’s president, Truck and Parts, in the press announcement. “We’ve designed, built and tested the CV series to deliver the commercial-grade power, reliability and practicality that growing businesses require, along with the comfort, safety features and easy drivability that drivers appreciate.”
Models in the CV series are available in both two- and four-wheel drive versions with GVW ratings from 16,000 to 23,500 pounds (7,257 to 10,659 kilograms). When it comes to towing, the CVs can stretch up to a 37,500-pound (17,009 kilogram) gross combined vehicle weight rating, making them ideally suited to gooseneck stock trailers and the like that are common on farms.
The CVs get a Navistar 6.6-litre turbocharged V-8 diesel engine rated at 350 horsepower and 700 pound-feet of torque at 1,600 r.p.m. Mated to that V-8 is the buyer’s choice of one of three Allison automatic transmissions.
Buyers can also choose a regular or crew cab version mounted on a 141- to 243-inch wheelbase chassis. The two-wheel drive trucks can be ordered with rear airbag suspension for a better ride and load handling, making them even more capable haulers.
They also get a forward tilting hood like their bigger Class 8 brothers, providing easier access to the engine than standard top hood designs. The battery box is mounted under the cab for easy access there too.
Inside the cab, a driver should feel as comfortable in a CV as in any of the trucks offered by the Detroit Big Three automakers. The cabs offer premium interior finishes with a focus on driver ergonomics, according to the brand. Multiple infotainment options are available, including an eight-inch colour touch screen with navigation and, for the first time in an International truck, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Says Cancelliere, “Our philosophy is that driver comfort is critical to get the job done smoothly and efficiently, and the CV series brings that philosophy to life.”
In early 2020, Mack (which is now a division of Sweden-based Volvo trucks) announced it was returning to the medium-duty truck market after a very long absence. In early March, it debuted the new MD series models at a U.S. truck show. These trucks fit into the Class 6 and 7 medium-duty categories.
The MD series trucks can be spec’d out with one of eight different wheelbases from 150 to 270 inches, which means they can accommodate 10- to 26-foot bodies.
For power, the MD series models rely on a Cummins B6.7 inline six-cylinder diesel, either turbocharged or naturally aspirated. Those choices give buyers a range of power from 220 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque to 300 horsepower and 660 pound-feet. Those engines can be mated to either of two, six-speed Allison automatic transmissions with double overdrive and programming to optimize fuel consumption. The Cummins has an engine brake to help in different road conditions and to extend the life of the service brakes.
Mack is also bringing some of the high-end creature comforts available in its over-the-road trucks to the MD6 and MD7 models as well, things like a cab suspension that uses a pair of airbags to help isolate the cab from the chassis. Also, a high-back bucket seat for the driver that also uses air suspension. The flat bottom steering wheel gives the driver a little more space to settle into, which could be especially helpful if a driver is a little thick around the middle. And, of course, there’s Bluetooth connectivity to keep you legally talking on your cellphone while driving.
The MD models will have no problem stopping with a load on. An S-cam air brake system, like those on larger trucks, also gets Bendix anti-lock braking. Leaf springs are the standard suspension type for the rear axle, but Mack AirRide can be ordered as an option instead. Also, powder-coated steel wheels are standard; but if making a statement is high on your list of priorities, you can get a set of shiny aluminum rims to mount the 11R22.5 tires on.
A 50-gallon fuel tank is standard, but that can be upgraded to a 90-gallon version; both get mounted on the driver’s side of the frame.
The company is so confident you won’t have any trouble with the new bulldogs, a 24-month base warranty is standard. However, the cab and frame rails are covered by a standard 60-month corrosion guarantee. The engine and transmission are warrantied independently by Cummins and Allison.