Volvo VN780: Brawny Beauty

In replacing the VN770 with the VN780 last year, Volvo restyled the exterior to provide a more masculine, aggressive stance without sacrificing the brand’s cutting-edge aerodynamics. A drag coefficient 3.2 percent less than the 770 translates into a 1.5 percent improvement in fuel economy.

It’s no surprise, then, that the classic big-truck features are missing on the 780. You will not find cab-mounted stacks or any wind-catching chrome add-ons, like huge bumpers and mirrors. The truck presents a lean, clean profile that sacrifices nothing to economy or style.

The VN has shed 1,500 pounds without giving up horsepower. Volvo hopes to attract owner-operators who want a stylish vehicle that delivers productivity and helps the bottom line. The 780 promises to fulfill this goal without compromising image, productivity or safety.

It continues to pass the Swedish Impact Test, one of the toughest safety standards. The 780 cab, like its forebears, is extremely strong and has been repositioned to reduce the trailer gap by as much as a foot. The bumper has been redesigned to add an aerodynamic bottom edge, and it incorporates an optional Vorad collision warning system.

Not the least of the truck’s ergonomically advanced features are optional Isringhausen seats, with weight memory and more adjustments than you can count. Along with Hendrickson’s air steering axle and Volvo’s air cab system, the seat provides the final element in keeping the driver comfortable. If you like to run the Cross Bronx without hitting the roof, this truck’s shock-absorbing features are for you. And performance features such as a 50 percent wheel cut and a 21 percent improvement in ride quality are a big plus.

Inside there is so little noise that four hours of talk between people in the passenger seat, the bunk and the driver’s seat during a test drive strained neither voices nor ears. Simplicity of design and striking dash lighting create a work space designed to increase productivity by increasing driver alertness and ease of operation.