Test Drive: Star Power

| May 03, 2005

We battened down, buckled up and wheeled northwest on a stretch of road where Interstates 39, 90 and 94 join with Federal Highway 51. Though it was brand new, the Eaton-Fuller 13-speed allowed snag-free shifting. The simple arrangement of the dash and instrument clusters allowed me to quickly get a working knowledge of them. It was easy to get the seat and steering adjusted just right. We passed the I-39 split and continued west. The Western Star felt great – solid and smooth.

Along the way I put the Western Star’s MBE 4000 through the paces. The sluggishness I expected from a new engine, even under a light load, was not there. On medium-to-light grades in high gear I put the coals to it, and it surged forward, climbing from 60 to 75 miles an hour quickly and with ease. At that speed and on level ground I engaged the Mercedes-Benz exhaust brakes. The bottom quickly dropped out, and we were back down to 60 in short order.

By the end of the test drive, I came away impressed with the MBE 4000. As a heavy-duty, on-highway truck engine it will hold its own.

Overall, I feel the Western Star 4900 FA succeeds in maintaining a tradition that includes both looks and quality of design and build. It’s genuinely a trucker’s truck.


Specifications as Tested
Truck: Western Star 4900 FA
Price as tested: About $107,000 (includes federal excise tax)
Engine: Mercedes-Benz MBE 4000 – 450 HP at 1900 rpm 1550 lb/ft at 1100 rpm
Emissions: 2004 EPA/CARB certification
Exhaust Brakes: Mercedes-Benz Hi/Low/Off
Exhaust: Cab-mounted dual 12.5-foot vertical
Radiator: 1,300 sq. in. cross flow (upgradeable)
Starter: Delco 39MT HD
Transmission: Eaton-Fuller 13 speed
Clutch: Eaton-Fuller Ceramic Two-Plate “Easy Pedal”
Front Axle: 12,000 pounds
Drive Axles: 40,000 pounds
Gearing: 3.73
Suspension: Air Liner
Steering: TRW TAS-65
Slack Adjusters: Meritor
Brakes: Wabco ABS
Compressor: Wabco 15.5 cfm
Frame: Steel 5/16 inch X 3-1/2 inch X 10-5/8 inch
Width: 102 inches
Wheelbase: 255 inches
BBC: 123 inches
Sleeper: 82-inch Stratosphere
Tires: Goodyear 11R22.5 Radial
Wheels: 22.5-inch X 8.5-inch aluminum
RPM at MPH: 1,450 at 65
Fuel Capacity: 300 gallons
Batteries: Four Alliance 12V threaded stud
Dry Weight: 17,130 pounds
Other Features: Dual 25-inch chrome air horns and shields; halogen headlights; tinted sliding rear window; electronic engine protection system; 1500W/115V block heater; tamper-proof brake chambers; adjustable rear-suspension air with dash-mounted control; frame-mounted catwalk step; air intake accent lights; dual-level cab entry steps; digital, flush-mounted sleeper alarm clock; three 12V outlets; National 2000 Series hi-back active-air lumbar support seats; nine-pin diagnostic interface connector; stereo – Delco AM/FM/WB/CD six-speaker with multi-band, mirror-mounted antenna; two TV antennae.

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