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Isuzu FTR: Medium-Duty Truck of the Year

April 2018, Work Truck - Cover Story

by Lauren Fletcher - Also by this author

The Isuzu FTR was introduced at The Work Truck Show 2016 and named Medium-
Duty Truck of the Year just two years later. (Photo courtesy of ICTA)
The Isuzu FTR was introduced at The Work Truck Show 2016 and named Medium-Duty Truck of the Year just two years later. (Photo courtesy of ICTA)

The Isuzu FTR was named the 2018 Medium-Duty Truck of the Year, picked by Work Truck magazine readers from a field of nine competitors. With the award now in its 11th year, this marked the third Medium-Duty Truck of the Year win for the automaker (the Isuzu Reach won in 2012 and the Isuzu N-Series in 2013).

In voting for the award, professional fleet managers were asked to consider which of the nine competing trucks best fit their fleet requirements, including application effectiveness, durability, quality, servicing, maintenance, and lifecycle costs.

“The FTR is a great work truck that fits a number of needs across a lot of vocational markets. From food delivery to construction, how our customers use the FTR continues to grow. It has a great platform that can easily be upfit to carrying freight but has also been upfit with dump and chipper bodies for those vocations needing more payload in rugged environments. Overall, the FTR is still growing and it will be interesting to see what vocations it introduces or reintroduces back into the Isuzu brand,” said Shaun Skinner, president of Isuzu Commercial Truck of America (ICTA).

Landscaping Fleet Adds FTR

Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply, which is based in Phoenix, is using several customized Isuzu FTR trucks for use at its Northern California location. The company is the nation’s largest family-owned supplier of landscape and water management products.

Isuzu and Supreme identified Ewing’s industry-specific and business-specific needs to develop a customized
vehicle for Ewing. (Photo courtesy of ICTA)
Isuzu and Supreme identified Ewing’s industry-specific and business-specific needs to develop a customizedvehicle for Ewing. (Photo courtesy of ICTA)

Supreme Industries customized the trucks by upfitting them with a heavy-duty platform and 3/16-inch steel-over-rough-oak floor so workers can move concrete and fertilizers; stake-side flatbeds; payload securement devices; a 21-foot custom-length bed; D-rings on the bed floor; a cross-member added to the frame for strength; liftgates with foot control; and consistent applications of Ewing’s custom blue paint on the body.

Powered by Efficiency

Introduced for the first time at The Work Truck Show 2016, the FTR is powered by Isuzu’s renowned 4HK1-TC 5.2L turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine — a first in the segment, according to the automaker. The powerplant is mated to an Allison 2000 Series 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine generates 520 lb.-ft. of torque and 215 hp.

“For fleets, the FTR is a great fit. The FTR’s efficient four-cylinder diesel is at the top of the list. Most Class 6 trucks cannot match the FTR in fuel efficiency and the engine goes beyond being efficient, it is also durable. The 4HK1-TC engine carries a B-10 durability rating of 375,000 miles. The efficiency and durability of the FTR help provide a low cost of ownership while holding a strong residual value synonymous with the Isuzu brand,” Skinner said.

Production on the FTR began in early 2017 at the 80,000-square-foot Spartan Motors facility in Charlotte, Mich.
With a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 25,950 pounds, the FTR features eight wheelbase configurations to accommodate bodies from 14 to 30 feet, allowing for a variety of body applications. It was designed with a clean back-of-cab to provide more space for body applications compared to the previous F-Series truck.

“A lot of fleets have standard spec’ed bodies and may only have a couple different sizes they commonly use. But, with the FTR they can build bodies from 14 to 30 feet across eight wheelbases to make their fleets more flexible to their cargo and route requirements. What’s even better is that thanks to the FTR’s low-cab-forward design, they can carry more cargo on the same wheelbase when compared to a conventional cab. The larger CA dimensions allow for about a two-foot longer body,” Skinner added.

In addition, the truck features a 50- or 100-gallon left-hand side-mounted fuel tank, based on wheelbase, tilt and telescopic steering columns, and an exhaust brake is standard.

Check out the Medium-Duty Truck of the Year Award presentation video here.

An Urban Driver

The Isuzu FTR was built with urban fleets in mind and was designed with a focus on increased maneuverability and enhanced visibility.

“Most trucks in the Class 6 market are conventional cabs. This makes them tougher to maneuver in urban areas where space and visibility are at a minimum in tight quarters. The FTR’s low-cab-forward design is the best in the class when it comes to maneuverability and visibility. This not only enhances safety but also makes the FTR easier to drive,” Skinner said.

The FTR features a tight turning diameter of 43.7 feet (on the 152-inch wheelbase) to 65 feet (on the 248-inch wheelbase). When you add the 24-foot van body to the 212-inch wheelbase you have a 56.5-foot turning diameter.

Finally, the conventional cab with 24-foot van body on the 250-plus-inch wheelbase has around a 64-foot turning diameter.

The Isuzu FTR features a tight turning radius for enhanced urban maneuverability and an increased line of sight for driver visibility. (Image courtesy of ICTA)
The Isuzu FTR features a tight turning radius for enhanced urban maneuverability and an increased line of sight for driver visibility. (Image courtesy of ICTA)

In addition, the FTR provides increased forward visibility when compared to traditional cabs with an improved forward line of sight.

The truck also offers enhanced driver ergonomics, with a wide step and wide, 90-degree door openings that allow ease of access to the truck’s interior.

On the inside, the three-across seating provides room for the driver and two passengers. When not in use, the center front seat can fold down, providing storage in addition to the space behind the seats.

“All of us at Isuzu Commercial Truck of America would like to thank all of the readers of Work Truck Magazine for this honor for the third time in six years. We are all very proud of the all-new Class 6 Isuzu FTR — and this year’s honor is particularly rewarding for us since the FTR is new to the Class 6 truck arena,” Skinner concluded. 

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