For the 2004 model year, Ford is expanding customer choices in its medium-duty F-650 and F-750 line. For example, there will be 38 instead of 11 wheelbase options, providing a wheelbase to accommodate nearly all types of truck bodies. Five chassis heights (ground to top of frame) will be available, ranging from 28 to 37 in. For improved traction, Ford is adding differential lock axles that engage both wheels. Air brakes will be available in GVWRs down to 20,000 lb., and hydraulic brakes will be offered in GVWRs up to 33,000 lb.

Engine options have also been expanded. International Truck & Engine Corp.'s Power Stroke diesel engine, produced exclusively for Ford, will be available in four power ratings; two power ratings have been added to the Caterpillar options; and Cummins engines will continue to be available.

The E-Series Van continues to build on previous enhancements. Power mirrors became standard last year and include a driver-side power flat lens and passenger-side power convex lens. Daytime running lights are optional, and a full-length vinyl floor covering for commercial vans is now standard.

For E-Series Cutaway and Chassis cabs, a 6.8-L V8 gasoline engine is now standard, with a 7.3-L diesel option. E-350, E-450, and E-550 models are available in five wheelbase sizes: 159, 177, 191, 209 and 233 in.

An array of commercial "prep" packages are offered for the E-Series, including ambulance, school bus and shuttle bus, with optional trailer tow mirrors. Roof marker or clearance lamps and tail lamps are now offered on all cutaway models; daytime running lights are optional. The E-Series Chassis cab comes with a back panel and an optional rear glass window with slider. www.ford.com


Freightliner LLC has added two new models, the M2 100 and M2 112, to its medium-duty Business Class line. Available in GVWRs from 16,000 to 26,000 lb., the M2 100 and comes standard with a Mercedes-Benz MBE900 engine. Four- and 6-cyl. versions are available with horsepower ratings from 170 to 250. Transmissions available include the Mercedes-Benz MBT 6-sp. manual; Eaton-Fuller 6- or 7-sp. manuals; and Allison automatics. Front axle ratings range from 6,000 to 10,000 lb; rear axles from 10,000 to 17,500 lb.

The M2 112 has a 112-in.-BBC measurement and is available in GVW ratings up to 66,000 lb. M2 112 options include a factory-installed crew cab and extended cab. Available as truck or tractor, the M2 112 offers front axles rated from 12,000 lb. to 20,000 lb. and rear axles up to 46,000 lb. Freightliner's AirLiner rear suspension and heavy-duty TufTrac suspensions with ratings of 40,000 lb. and 46,000 lb. are optional. The M2 112 boasts a 1,200-sq.-in. radiator and standard Mercedes-Benz MBE4000 engine with horsepower ratings to 450 hp. Caterpillar engines are optional. Transmissions choices are Eaton Fuller AutoShift and manual 10- and 13-sp. and Allison HD Series automatics.

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. has launched a Straight Rail (SR) version of its MT-45 diesel chassis. A new 8-in. tall steel straight-rail frame enhances overall strength and reliability . GVWRs range between 14,140 and 19,000 lb ; payload capacity is 10,000 lb.

And Freightliner LLC is bringing the Class 6&7 Unimog U500 to the U.S. and Canada for specialized vocational applications. It will come in two GVWs, 26,000 or 33,000 lb., and with standard 132-in. or optional 154-in. wheelbase. www.freightliner.com

General Motors

After turning its new medium-duty chassis - the GMT560 - into the Chevrolet Kodiak and GMC TopKick models last year, GM will offer a new factory-built four-door crew cab for its '04 C5500 Chevy Kodiak/GMC TopKick models, holding up to six people. Later this year, the crew cab will be offered in GVWRs ranging from 16,500 to 61,000 lb., in a variety of wheelbases, and with gasoline or diesel engines. Two additional GVW ratings, 22,000 and 25,950 lb., provide the kind of payload capacity previously available only on larger Class 6 trucks.

Medium-duty product Manager Mike Eaves says that GM's Duramax diesel engine for the Kodiak and TopKick models would be compliant with the new '04 emissions regulations, as will the Caterpillar C-7, which is offered as an option.

The Kodiak and TopKick C4500-C5500 Series (Class 4-5) trucks are available in regular and commercial cutaway chassis cabs, as well as vocational applications. The C4500 has a GVWR of 16,000 lb., while the C5500 comes in 18,000 and 19,500 GVWR versions. The heavier end of the Kodiak/TopKick line includes the C6500, C7500 and C8500 Series, with. GVWRs ranging from 19,501 to 61,000 lb.

In '04, the Chevy/GMC T-Series low-cab-forward line (Class 6-8) will have a new chassis and feature a number of components currently found on GM's conventional C-Series. A new tandem-axle model, rated up to 56,000 lb. GVW, will be rolled out early next year, as well as a new tractor model. Changes to the chassis and frame will mean that the T-Series vehicles can take a wider range of truck bodies. The Duramax 7800 diesel is the engine spec for the T-Series. In addition to the current 250-hp. model, 275- and 300-hp. versions will be released in '04. www.chevrolet.com and www.gmc.com


The big news from Hino Diesel Trucks is that it will offer a conventional cab in 2004. Details will not be divulged until later in the year, however. For now, Class 4-7 cabovers remain the company's primary product line.

Hino's Class 4 FA4J Series have GVWRS of 15,000 lb., and are powered by 4-cyl. diesel engine using 5-sp. direct-drive synchromesh transmissions or 4-sp. Allison AT542 automatics. Capacity for the FA has increased, with wheelbases now ranging from 115 in. to 165 in.

GVWR for the Class 5 FB4J Series is 17,600 lb., and the trucks are powered by 4-cyl. diesel engines.

In Class 6, Hino offers the FD2J Series and the FE2J Series. GVWR is 23,000 lb., and wheelbase options range from 148 in. to 217 in. to accommodate 16- to 24-ft. bodies. FE vehicles have a GVWR of 25,995 lb., and can accommodate 16- to 28-ft. bodies.

Hino's Class 7 offerings include the FF2J Series and SG2J Series. The FF, designed for 18- to 26-ft. bodies, has a GVWR of 30,000 lb. GVWR for the SG2J Series is 32,900 lb., and a wheelbase of 244 in. accommodates 19- to 28-ft. bodies. SGs have 4-valve overhead cams, 6-cyl. diesel engines, and an engine-driven PTO option available on trucks with manual or automatic transmissions. www.hino.com


A new entry to the market this year is Hyundai Truck America (HTA). In the past, Hyundai marketed its truck cabs through the now-defunct Bering Truck Corp. HTA is taking over where Bering left off, but is moving into the medium-duty market slowly, offering chassis in two vehicle classes.

The Class 4 HLD150 and Class 6 HMD230 and HMD260 trucks are all cabovers. Standard features include ABS brakes, air conditioning, tilt/telescopic steering column, cruise control, front- and rear-axle shock absorbers, power windows and door locks, air suspension for the driver's seat, and reading lamps for drivers and passengers.

The HLD150 is powered by a 160-hp. DDC 638 engine and equipped with an Allison AT542 4-sp. automatic transmission; GVWR is 14,510-lb. The HMD230 (23,000-lb. GVWR) and HMD260 (25,510-lb. GVWR) are powered by 215-hp.Cummins ISB engines. Transmissions for are ZF 6S-850 6-sp. synchronized overdrive manuals. The HMD230 is offered in five wheelbases, the HMD260 in two. www.hyundaitruckusa.com


International Truck & Engine Corp.'s latest addition to its medium-duty 4000 Series is the International 4400 4x2 Mid Cab tractor. The OEM said it is "engineered for urban and regional applications where the vehicle mission requires more than 10% bobtailing." Standard power for the 4400 is the International DT466 diesel rated 215 hp. and 620 lb.-ft. of torque; DT466 engines with ratings up to 250 hp., and DT530 engines with ratings up to 300 hp. are options.

International says the 4400 offersoutstanding maneuverability, a commanding view of the road, exceptional serviceability, excellent fuel economy and superior powertrain performance. Standard features include a cab air suspension; and a parabolic, taper-leaf front suspension system with tuned shock absorbers. In addition, the truck features a lighter, stronger frame backed by a seven-year limited warranty.

"The International 4400 Mid Cab tractor represents the logical extension of our medium-duty product line into urban and regional applications that desire economical diesel power and productivity delivered in a durable and serviceable on-highway tractor," said David Johanneson, group vp & gm of International's Medium Vehicle Center. www.nav-international.com


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