Truck Report: International TerraStar Has Big Cab, Refined MaxxForce 7 V-8 Diesel

By Tom Berg, Truck Editor | November 10, 2010

Navistar International’s new TerraStar claims some advantages over competitors, including a taller and roomier cab and a fully tilting hood that allows full access to its engine. Combined with a commercial-only design, the vehicle proves attractive to anyone in the market for a Class 4 or 5 truck.

TerraStar will seek the business available since General Motors abandoned much of the medium-duty market last summer. Its primary competitor will be Ford Motor’s F-550, which now claims more than half the Class 5 market, Navistar executives said.

Brief drives around a stadium parking lot showed the TerraStar to be nimble and quick, but on-street driving was not possible because its hydraulic braking system had not yet been federally certified. Most striking is the cab’s roominess, comfort and tightness. The entire truck has a businesslike feeling duplicated mainly by the low-cabovers offered by importers, but the TerraStar is the conventional style favored by a big majority of buyers in North America.

TerraStar is standard with a redesigned MaxxForce 7 V-8 diesel mated to a 5-speed Allison 1000 automatic transmission. It uses the same heavy duty-based cab as other International medium-duty trucks, and sits on a frame derived from the now-discontinued CF low-cab-forward model, executives said.

The frame dips down under the cab to allow it to sit 4 to 5 inches lower than DuraStar medium-duty trucks. Though it sits 4 inches higher than a comparable Ford F series truck, the International includes a low outside step to help drivers climb inside. The wide cab easily accommodates three large men, while a large windshield and side windows offer excellent outward visibility.

The fully tilting hood allows easy access to the engine and underhood accessories and electrical parts. There, under shrouding, pipes and hoses, sits the refined MaxxForce 7 V-8. Its block is now cast in compacted graphite iron for greater stiffness and lighter weight than grey iron. It has two simple turbochargers, Advanced Exhaust-Gas recirculation that needs no urea aftertreatment equipment, and Navistar’s own electronic controls and programming software.

The updated diesel, which is also standard in some DuraStar models, has ratings of 240, 260, 280 and 300 horsepower with 560, 600 or 660 pounds-feet of torque. A Diamond Logic electrical system ties the engine to the chassis and, with its multiplexing feature, allows quick and easy hookups of switches to body tools and accessories.

TerraStar is now going into production at Navistar’s plant in Garland, Texas. It comes as a 2x4 with a standard regular cab with a 107-inch bumper-to-back-of-cab dimension. Also available are two-door extended- and four-door crew-cab versions, and a 4x4 chassis is due out next year.