Driving the new aerodynamic Western Star 5700 on a test was enjoyed by Diesel’s US correspondent, Steve Sturgess. Launched at the 2014 Mid America Trucking Show, the truck was also a transformer, Optimus Prime, for the movie Transformers: Age of Extinction, it is unlikely to make it to Australian shores any time soon.
Since launch it has reached full production for the US market as Western Star’s aero model with aero performance second only to the Freightliner Cascadia Evolution. The 5700 is very much a Western Star with all the ruggedness, which has made it a favourite in the world’s wilder places.
It uses the same Constellation cab as the traditionally styled 4900, but the new bonnet, side skirts and rooftop fairing give it a sleek, sculpted and swoopy style quite different from other Western Star models.
The curvaceous hood, side skirts and roof fairings and the extensive bling do a masterful job of updating the existing galvanised steel cab after it first appeared on the Western Star Constellation 4900 long-nose back in 1996.
The sleeper line-up on the 5700 is the same as the 4900 in North America, stretching in a number of models from a day-rest box at 34 inches to the a full long-and-tall treatment with 82 inch sleeper. In the fullness of time, there will be three sleeper roof options with a mid-roof, high-roof and Stratosphere-roof offerings.
Powertrain options are the same as the 4900s with DD13, 15 and 16 power coupled to a Detroit DT12 automated 12-speed or any of the Eaton Fuller manuals.
Among the various 5700 models available for evaluation were a couple of day cabs, one with a 10-speed manual and the other with the DT12 automated transmission. Lurking at the back of the pack was a highway version of the 6900 with less aggressive wheel and tyre spec and the 6×4 was equipped with a lifting pusher axle. Driving it was a foretaste of the off-road equipment driven later in the day and with its Allison transmission and three speed auxiliary transmission could handle extreme heavy haul tasks on just about any continent, at the head of multi-trailer on-highway road trains.
Diesel was there to drive the 5700 and it proved to be a very desirable long-haul or regional truckload prime mover. The wide cab means plenty of room to get up and move around when the truck is parked for the night. There are a host of sleepers for different wheelbases and operational requirements. For drivers the visibility forward and to the sides is excellent.
Also for drivers, the wide-apart front cab mounts on the Western Star’s unique cab crossmember mean a very stable cab suspension. The real winner for the driver though is the quiet in the cab when running down the road.
If it has a drawback, it’s the fact that the 5700 is a real eye-catcher, especially when dressed up. Long time drivers like the attention they get and, by all accounts, relish the additional time spent when filling at the truck stop or backed on to the loading dock, asking questions and showing off the truck to others envious of the proven success of the 5700 driver.