Just for kicks, International Truck and Engine recently put a pickup bed on one of its 20-ton haulers and paraded it around to gauge customer reaction. The response was incredible. Hence, last September at its plant in Garland, Texas, International officially unveiled the world's biggest production pickup truck: the new four-wheel-drive CXT.
The CXT is built on the same platform as International's dumps and snowplows. At the time of this writing, all CXTs are fitted with code 12NPM DT466 engines that produce 220 hp at 2,200 rpm and 540 lb-ft of torque at 1,400 rpm. The latest iteration of this legendary powerplant features four valves per cylinder to improve engine breathing performance with lower emissions; new, quieter digitally controlled G-2 Electro-Hydraulic injectors that reduce emissions while improving fuel economy; dual-censored timing control for more accurate engine timing; and a new EVRT electronically controlled turbocharger that provides the responsiveness and boost needed at low speeds with a wide operating range.
Power is sent downstream to a massive 13AEG 2500 Series Allison Vocational five-speed automatic transmission. This monster weighs in at 330 pounds, has a nominal torque capacity of 550 lb-ft, and features a spin-on oil filter and an oil level sensor. From there, torque is split to the axles via an enormous Meritor MTC 4208 two-speed transfer case. Meritor also manufactures the CXT's huge axles. The front is an MX-10-120 that boasts a 10,000-pound capacity, air-locking differential, and a 13.25-inch ring gear diameter. The rear axle is an RS-17-145 with a 17,000-pound capacity and 15-inch ring gear diameter
Between the huge axles and the gigantic frame-featuring 10-inch-tall framerails-is International's IROS suspension, featuring parabolic taper leaf springs with shock absorbers up front and air bags in the rear. International says this suspension is specially tuned for the CXT's weight. Air is also used to suspend the cab and the driver and passenger seats. The 14,500-pound CXT rides on 11R22.5 Goodyear tires (single front, dual rear) mounted on polished aluminum wheels. Air brakes with four-channel ABS are used to reign in the rolling mass.
The CXT offers a mind-boggling number of standard features, including bright-finish heated mirrors, exterior sunshade, keyless entry, foglights, air horn, tilting steering wheel, vertical bright-finish tailpipe, 9,000-pound capacity hitch, and polished front and rear bumpers. The option list is equally impressive and includes features such as leather, multi-position front seats; a rear-view camera; a 10.5-inch drop-down DVD screen and player; a deluxe center console; a rear fold-down bench seat; carpeting; black walnut wood trim; and an Alpine XM radio. CXTs can also be ordered with a tilting pickup bed, and by the time you read this, higher horsepower diesel engines.
In a relatively short amount of time, the CXT has left an indelible mark on the truck world. For those folks searching for diesel power, look no further, just up.
Behind The WheelDon't let the Ford dualie truck bed fool you. From the moment you climb up the two steel steps and slide behind the large steering wheel of the CXT, it's clear that this is a medium-duty truck in every way, shape, and form. The big DT466 engine growls when you turn the key, and in the big-rig mirrors you can see a spurt of dark exhaust from the tall exhaust stack as the engine comes to life. At idle, the exhaust note and engine growl are much lower than light-truck diesel engines, and this too reminds you that this is a serious pulling machine.
To simplify the driving experience, the only transmission available is the Allison five-speed automatic. Hit the brake, push the bright yellow dash-mounted parking brake in to charge the air brakes, and with a hiss of air and a grumble of the engine, you're ready to go. We found that driving the CXT isn't all that bad from a size perspective. At 21 feet in length, it isn't absurdly long and we managed to slip the CXT into a variety of parking slots. The biggest difference from a light truck is the CXT's height, which requires the driver to be aware of what's overhead.
On the highway, the overall ride wasn't too bad, but an occasional dip or road imperfection sent the air-ride seats-and us-on a roller coaster ride for a few seconds. We're not surprised, considering the complete lack of weight over the rear axle compared to what the chassis was designed to haul. The engine easily pulls the 14,500-pound CXT, though on hills, the transmission quickly shifts out of Fifth gear to hold speed. The cruise control provides seamless speed control and the transmission exhibits positive upshifts as well as downshifts. On dry pavement, the air brakes work quite well as air brakes go. On snowy or wet roads, they weren't so much fun, exhibiting the vague, then shockingly grabby, feel of a semi running bobtail. We're not so sure the ABS was working in our tester, because it exhibited a fair amount of wheel lock-up on snow, sand, and wet pavement. Inside the truck, our tester was shockingly un-truck-like. Wood trim, leather seating, thick carpet, limo lighting, DVD player, and an audio system with subwoofer all combine to produce a luxurious interior worthy of a Cadillac Escalade.