A close look at the Freightliner Cascadia….At this year’s Mid-America Truck Show, I was able to have a good close look at this popular model of Class 8 highway truck.
Now, I must first admit, that I’ve never owned a Freightliner, nor am I a Freightliner fan.
But, we’re seeing the Freightliner Cascadia more and more on the road these days… in fact, it may very well be the most commonly sighted rig on the road these days….probably more than any other model of big rig out there, and that’s significant. There’s just got to be a good reason why.
Freightliner’s goal is to sell trucks and they’re obviously selling more than any other Class 8 manufacturer out there and this has been the case for quite some time.
Freightliner Cascadia Features
I think the design team at Freightliner have done a lot of things right. Here’s some of the features of the Cascadia that I like:
- The door openings from both the cab and to the bunk are quite large, to accommodate any size driver and makes for easy access. The cab and bunk is nice and high too, 84″ in the cab and 90″ in the bunk.
- Special spring set-up on the hood, for stability and to keep it from closing too hard
- The seats are wider, higher and longer than standard seats. They also swivel, too, which I think is a particularly good feature.
- Freightliner has worked hard to reduce cab noise, this year boasting a 50% reduction in road and wind noise, than in previous models. They believe, and rightly so, that a quieter cab reduces driver stress and fatigue, both when at the wheel driving or in the bunk.
A well rested and low stressed driver is obviously a safer driver, so they are creating an environment that is conducive to safety…… good thinking.
- The bunks have fridges mounted at waist height, so the driver doesn’t need to bend to access the fridge….smart thinking.
- There’s also plenty of power outlets for the many electronic devices that truckers all seem to have now.
- Decent storage: I find ample storage to be a problem in most trucks I’ve ever owned. (storage spaces are deep)
- Battery shut-off: a small but important feature, so the driver can turn off the battery, for power preservation
- On the inside of the Freightliner Cascadia, it is spacious and comfortable, which is rather deceiving when you look at the truck from the outside…. it is clearly not a big vehicle, when it comes to Class 8 trucks.
- I’m sure this feature of keeping the Cascadia interior spacious, yet compact, lends itself to a vehicle that is quite maneuverable and it’s light….. much desired qualities in a truck nowadays, especially for fleets.
- A lighter vehicle will also get better fuel mileage and scale a greater pay load…. all very important for owner operators as well as fleet owners.
- Larger windshield for improved visibility
High Cost of Freightliner Parts
If I had to say anything negative about the Cascadia, (or Freightliners in general), it would be that
i) Their resale value is low because there are usually plenty of used Cascadias available at any given time and
ii) the parts can be quite expensive if you’re doing your own repairs and if not you can wait days in many cases, to get your rig into a Freightliner shop.
Recently, we bought 2 pieces of a standard alternator bracket sold by Freightliner. The cost was $89 for a threaded adjustment rod and $144 for the bracket which mounts to the alternator that the adjustment bolt slides through. …..a ridiculous price! Working or repairing these trucks even for minor repairs is obviously not cheap, from my own personal experience…. some of the parts are clearly overpriced.
I guess that’s part of how Freightliner makes money.
Some of the features we didn’t particularly like:
- The dash set-up – a ‘spacey’ looking new dash configuration, but not enough storage.
- Mirror set-up – We found the mirrors to be too small and the placement was poor: they were too low for good full-field visibility.
- Cheapo mattress – Freightliner could stand to upgrade the mattress.
First-hand experience from trucker, James Romphf-Dennis: James drives a 2013 Freightliner Cascadia daycab (with a DD13). He tells us his truck is a great truck and very reliable. However, he notes there are 2 things that get under his skin…
- the mirrors protrude from the housing, which means in the rain or when the windshield washer is used, the mirrors are useless.
- from time to time, especially in a heavy rain storm, the doors seals leak and water runs down the door interior and onto the seats.
Overall, a Good Truck
However, I must say that of all the big truck manufacturers, not only did Freightliner probably do the best job of predicting the market they needed to appeal to, they were the first manufacturer to read the market correctly in appealing to the large trucking company fleets, with economically practical, fuel efficient rigs as opposed to concentrating their efforts on owner operator sales.
You don’t often see fleets of long nose Peterbilts or Kenworth trucks…. and there’s clearly a good reason for that.
These big trucking companies figured out years ago that fancy long hood trucks, would become a thing of the past in favour of the drop-nosed fuel efficient models.
In fact to be honest, if I were in the market for a new truck as an owner operator, the Freightliner Cascadia would probably be my truck of choice, primarily due to the fuel mileage and availability of dealerships for maintenance and repair.
An owner operator can learn what to buy, by looking at what makes and models the big fleets are buying. The big fleets have already done the research on what they feel is the best truck available for the best value.
The new Freightliner Cascadia seems to be a decent truck and is certainly worth a serious look for any owner operator in the market for a new truck.
Something else I must confess, it sure would be hard to give up the long nose trucks.
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