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Revamped Freightliner medium-duty trucks adopt Cascadia resemblance

Work trucks get creature comforts and Detroit Assurance safety features

New Freightliner medium-duty trucks for 2023 will look a lore more like the bigger Freightliner Cascadia. (Photo: Daimler Truck North America)

The revamped Freightliner Plus medium-duty truck lineup coming in 2023 borrows a few styling cues from its full-size Cascadia brother. But the biggest changes are on the inside.

An all-new electrical architecture makes it easier for upfitters to wire connections to bodies and vocational equipment. The routing changes also allowed radio speakers to move from the dash to the doors — like passenger vehicles — for better sound quality.

The M2 106 and 112 Plus and the 108SD Plus and 114SD Plus from Daimler Truck North America are not all-new vehicles. But the changes are significant, drawing them closer to the market-leading Cascadia in more than appearance.

Freightliner reveals updated family of medium-duty work trucks

The Detroit Assurance 5.0 safety system that debuted on the 2020 Cascadia finds its way into the medium-duty lineup.

Active Brake Assist and Lane Departure Warning are standard. Side Guard Assist alerts the driver when an object or pedestrian is unseen on the right side of the truck. It is optional. 

Adaptive Cruise Control, which automatically adjusts cruising speed to maintain a safe following distance, will be available when production in Mount Holly, North Carolina, begins in the third quarter of 2023.

“We have customers that have the M2 as well as the Cascadia,” Mary Aufdemberg, DTNA general manager of product strategy and market development, told FreightWaves during a media program in July at the American Center for Mobility outside Detroit. “They said, ‘Hey, we want that same type of performance in our medium-duty product.’”

Freightliner Plus tracks safety performance

Fleets dispatching Plus Series trucks will get key information through the Detroit Connect Suite of Connectivity Systems. That could help reduce downtime.

  • The Virtual Technician remote diagnostic service informs fleets of the timing, location and severity of the fault. And it tells where and how to best fix the issue.
  • Remote Updates use secure over-the-air programming to make engine parameter and other updates.
  • Detroit Connect Analytics automatically analyzes, identifies driver behaviors and trends. That provides insights on saving fuel and safety performance data.  
  • Safety Event Viewer notifies fleets on how safely drivers are operating. It flags collision mitigation events by time, date and location of an event. It records the vehicle speed at the time of the event and how long the event lasted. Safety Event Viewer comes standard with Detroit Assurance with Active Brake Assist 5.

Choice of engines for Freightliner Plus trucks

The Plus series offers heavy-duty engine choices to meet on-road or vocational needs.

The 114SD Plus features the DD13 Gen 5 diesel engine with rapid torque to get payloads moving quickly. ThermoCoasting prevents aftertreatment cooldown during a running aftertreatment regen to maintain the best temperature while reducing the need for regens while parked.

The Detroit DT12-V transmission is built for vocational performance, durability and low-speed maneuverability on the work site. Its Off-Road Mode features aggressive shifting for sustained momentum. A Hill Start Aid prevents rolling back on steep grades. 

Technology in the sibling Western Star vocational 47X and 49X trucks includes Rock-Free Mode to reduce downtime caused by wheel-stuck situations. Paver Mode allows a dump truck to shift from neutral to drive without pressing the brake pedal to ensure a steady flow to the paving machine. 

The Plus series lineup also features the Cummins B6.7, L9 and X12 diesel engine options as well as L9N and ISX12N natural gas-powered engines available for the first time with Detroit Assurance safety features. Cummins will take over global production of medium-duty engines for Daimler Truck in coming years.

Eaton manual and Eaton-Cummins joint venture Endurant automated manual transmissions are available along with Allison automatic transmissions.

“For me, first and foremost is Detroit Assurance on the Plus Series as well as putting Detroit Assurance behind the Cummins engine,” Aufdemberg said.

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.