Test Drive: Mack Pinnacle

| August 07, 2007

The test truck was a 70-inch condo 2007 Mack Pinnacle, which was hooked to a 53-foot dry van loaded with concrete blocks.

With its 2007 Pinnacle, Mack Trucks plans to get “back in the highway business,” says Highway Product Marketing Manager Jerry Warmkessel, “and it’s going to stay that way.”

To evaluate this claim, I test-drove one of the Pinnacle’s five models, beginning at the Las Vegas speedway on I-15 just north of town. I selected a bright yellow, 70-inch condo with a 239-inch wheelbase and 112-inch BBC, hooked to a 53-foot dry van loaded with about 36,000 pounds of well-secured concrete blocks for a gross weight of 69,920 pounds.

It was a clear, dry day in June with moderate traffic.

The truck was powered by Mack’s new 13-liter Maxicruise MP8 with 415 horsepower at 1,700 rpm and 1,560 pounds-feet torque at 1,100-1,200 rpm, coupled with an Eaton 10-speed, fully automatic Ultrashift transmission and a 3.73 rear axle.

The Pinnacle and the MP8 are part of a trend of innovative response to fuel costs and environmental regulations.

“We’ve done more research than at any other time in the company’s history,” Warmkessel says.

For example, the MP8 comes also in an Econodyne package, intended for mostly flat interstate and less-than-truckload applications. Both the Econodyne and Maxicruise MP8s offer up to 485 horsepower and 1,660 pounds-feet of torque.

“These are the right engines for fuel economy and power,” says Powertrain Sales and Marketing Chief David McKenna, pointing out that the MP8 has the highest power density – horsepower per cubic liter – in the industry at 32-37 horsepower per liter. All MP8s are configured to work well with 6-, 9-, 10-, 13- or 18-speed manual or automatic transmissions. McKenna says Mack expects significant fuel-economy improvements in the MP8: about 4 percent better than the Mack engines the MP8 replaces.

This is partly on account of the Pinnacle’s aerodynamics, which also afford excellent visibility. I could see cars on the right when they were even with the sloped hood’s highest point, though I’m 6’4″ and keep the seat high.

Also among the truck’s features are a wider frame, increased engine-compartment airflow to cool the hotter-running 2007 engines and improved maneuverability due to a 50-degree steering-wheel angle.

For driver comfort, the Pinnacle has an insulated, quieter cab.

“We’re confident it’s absolutely the quietest cab in the industry,” Warmkessel says.

The Pinnacle also has “even-plane” throttle and brake pedals, side by side for easier and safer operation. The steering column has a position for every driver. The seats also feature numerous driver-comfort adjustments, including an attached automatic gearshift platform that swivels around behind the seat and out of the way.

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