June 5, 2007
Freightliner’s FL series have been popular hauler trucks for big trailers in the past.
Now with the Freightliner M2 business class truck, it’s a whole new experience.
Quieter cab and better visibility make the M2 lead the pack in a class 5 and 6 truck.
Summit Hauler is a Freightliner M2 luxury conversion from Kansas, that brings new meaning to towing in comfort. Easy to maneuver, once you get the feel of a wider truck, it’s like handling a 1-ton. What you notice first is better visibility over the nose “better than a 1-ton pickup truck. With a 55 degree front wheel cut versus 53 degrees on a GM C5500 and 45 degrees on a Ford F550, the turning radius which is 52 feet, 8 inches beats most pickups. The Summit Hauler wheelbase is 186 inches compared to 172 inches of the longest pickup truck, the Ford F250 crew cab long bed.
When I switched from 1-tons to a 2-ton truck for my 33-foot hay trailer on the farm, I stopped constantly working on my truck. Just try crawling under your 1-ton and then slide around under the Summit Hauler. The size of the drive train on the Summit Hauler is impressive, a massive three piece drive shaft. The optional CAT diesel C7 has 350 horsepower and 860 lb.-ft. of torque or Mercedes diesel MBE900 with 330 horsepower and 1,000 lb-ft torque. The third engine option is the C13 CAT. To cool all this power is a 1,000 square-inch radiator. For those muddy fairground parking lots, the Summit Hauler has a manual locking differential.
The transmission is an Allison 3200 TRV 6-speed auto with four programmable settings for the tow mode. This Allison is an adaptive learning transmission. By the third trip, the truck was downshifting the way I wanted it to, just from learning my driving style. This trucks has air everything ” air park brake, air brakes, air cab, air rear suspension and both of the front seats are air ride. Oh yeah, and the air horn. The Air ride rear suspension has a manual dump valve so you can lower the truck height to hitch it to your trailer.
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The receiver hitch is overbuilt like the rest of the truck at 30k Class V with a 2,700 pound tongue weight capacity. The engineered bed is plate metal which is strong and heavy enough to be the ballast for a smooth ride for a single dual axle. It will surprise you how much bounce you get with duals when you are not hauling weight.
The Summit Hauler handles like a smooth pickup truck when empty. Part of the great handling is from the oversized steering box. You don’t feel much road feedback. With the long lasting Michelin low profile H (16 ply) rated tires, these big trucks take little effort or input.
The bed has a sprayed on bedliner, made to use hard, and it comes with a wide one piece formed hitch trough that is 25.5 inches wide, enough clearance for a Cushion Coupler or Trailer Saver hitch. Four roomy lighted toolboxes have self tightening handles. The bed is undercoated and equipped with a B&W triple plate bed hitch for a gooseneck or 5th wheel. The dual wheel liner tub, protects lights the rear lights. The rear fenders are stainless steel.
For handling, a front stabilizer bar and a rear axle ping tank controls the air suspension with more wheel travel. There is a 7.5K front axle and 12.5K rear axle for a 19,500-pound Gross Vehicle Weight Rating and 33,000-pound Gross Combined Weight Rating. This makes the Summit Hauler exempt from the new IRS rules on FET tax. Summit Hauler has an equalizing 150-gallon fuel tank to take advantage of buying cheaper diesel outside of Colorado.
Stopping ability is so important with today’s larger trailers! Air brakes have the stopping power you only dreamed of with a pickup, at about half the cost to maintain as hydraulic brakes for better braking and longer brake life. The new ABS computers have improved driver-friendly control for applying brakes. There is a controlled air valve for adjusting braking pressure whether you are towing or not, and an automatic heated air dryer on the brake lines for low maintenance, just like the big rigs. Summit Hauler comes with a PAC-Brake exhaust brake. You’ll love this in the mountains. You can leave it on like I do with a trailer and it will automatically slow you down when you let off the gas pedal. BrakeSmart trailer brake controller is my favorite and yes it’s available with air brakes and standard on Summit Hauler.
The Summit Hauler’s Wing dash is one I wish I had in my truck. All the gauges and controls surround you within easy reach. The leather seats fit my large body like a glove. Auto adjusting armrests with lumbar heated seats are in front, and there is a heated second row which folds into a bed. Insulation under the strut-assisted easy-tilt hood and cab are part of the quiet equation, along with the double door seal and a third seal on top. This comes with all the toys, like power heated mirrors, tilt telescope steering wheel and power window switches on all doors, aluminum crew cab with air ride, lights underneath the aluminum running boards, even a master electrical switch in the cab were all well thought out.
One of my favorite features of this truck is the Voyager 4 channel backup camera. Watch that hitch connect the first time. The screen will split into 4 screens for optional cameras. I’d put a camera on the back of the trailer and in with the horses to see if they are behaving. It’s a separate screen from the Pioneer GPS with 3 D.
The GPS has a screen to tell you your speed and direction. Most vehicles are 1 to 2 mph off on the factory speedometer. You can also look at your GPS 3D map on the ceiling 17-inch swivel LCD DVD screen. Now your back seat driver can watch the road for you.
Thanks to Summit Hauler for the review truck. Visit them at http://www.SummitHauler.com.
Kent Sundling (alias “Mr. Truck”) spent 20 years wearing out pickup trucks as only a farmer could. With over 1 million miles pulling trailers, Mr. Truck has a unique collection of truck and farm stories that will educate and entertain. Mr.Truck gave up his bib overalls and John Deeres in his quest to save the farm and moved to the big city to sell trucks. After selling trucks for 10 years, this farmer now writes for eight magazines and owns over two dozen Web sites, helping folks find the “Right Truck.” If you have a question for Mr. Truck, you may contact him at his Web site, http://www.mrtruck.net.