The Allison Transmission Innovation Center in Indianapolis opened in March 2022. It is a 96,000-square-foot facility designed to develop and validate products and technology.  -  Photo: Vesna Brajkovic/HDT

The Allison Transmission Innovation Center in Indianapolis opened in March 2022. It is a 96,000-square-foot facility designed to develop and validate products and technology.

Photo: Vesna Brajkovic/HDT

Isuzu, Cummins, and Allison Transmission held a truck driving triathlon at the Allison Innovation Center in Indianapolis in May, as members of the media and about 40 fleet officials were able to test out the F-Series medium-duty Class 6 and Class 7 trucks.

The 96,000-square-foot facility played host to the Isuzu F-Series Ride and Drive event, where courses were set up just outside to display how these vehicles operate.

Breaking Down the Class 5 Isuzu NRR Truck

The medium-duty, Class 5 Isuzu NRR truck has a 6-speed automatic Allison transmission and a body payload from 12,221 to 12,997 lbs. The vehicle’s truck weight and trailer weigh comes in at 25,500 lbs. GCWR. 

Additionally, the truck has a 30-gallon in-frame fuel tank.

The standard cab can seat up to three people, while the crew cab features seating up to seven.

Trusting Truck Tech

Drivers were instructed to drive between 25 to 30 mph straight ahead towards an obstacle in the road without pressing the brake. This enables the automatic braking system to engage and the truck to avoid hitting the obstacle.  -  Photo: Isuzu

Drivers were instructed to drive between 25 to 30 mph straight ahead towards an obstacle in the road without pressing the brake. This enables the automatic braking system to engage and the truck to avoid hitting the obstacle.

Photo: Isuzu

The first test drive of the day was a little out of the driver’s hands. The Class 5 Isuzu NRR truck is equipped with the advanced driver’s assistance system (ADAS), an automatic braking functionality. 

Of course, the brake pedal can be used, but if the operator does not engage with the service brakes when heading toward an object, the automatic emergency braking feature will brake for them. This feature is designed to help mitigate collisions.

“This is not a fail-safe system,” said Tim Ellsworth, product planning manager at Isuzu. “The driver should always remember the priority is to stop the vehicle on their own.”

ADAS also features a lane departure warning system. This is an audible and visual notification system to let the driver know if they are making an unattended lane departure without using the turn signal.

The final feature of ADAS is Adaptive Cruise Control. The is similar to the standard cruise control system, but it keeps in mind following distance to the vehicle in front of the driver.

Each test driver was able to perform two laps at a test track adjacent to the center. There was a bit of a surprise around the first turn. Drivers saw ADAS in action, as they approached an object in the middle of the road at 30 mph. The automatic brake kicked in to stop the vehicle before colliding with the object. I’m a cautious driver (often described as a “grandpa”), so this was challenging to let go of the control. However, it showed the system can be trusted.

I Like to Maneuver, Maneuver. I Like to Maneuver, Maneuver. You Like to Maneuver!

The manuverability course was set up to mimick the kinds of turns and manuvers a truck would have to make in a residential or urban envirnoment.  -  Photo: Louis Prejean/Work Truck

The manuverability course was set up to mimick the kinds of turns and manuvers a truck would have to make in a residential or urban envirnoment.

Photo: Louis Prejean/Work Truck

The next vehicle at the center available to test out was Isuzu's Class 7 FVR truck. This time, the test was all about maneuverability.

The track featured a slalom course with a few loops for the drivers to navigate around. The goal: don’t knock down any of the cones on the track.

The group before mine did not hit a single cone on the test drive, so the pressure was on.

The track highlighted the medium-duty truck’s turning radius.

The vehicle features the Cummins B6.7L diesel engine, and it can operate in tighter spaces courtesy of a shorter wheelbase.

The one question I’m sure people have -- did I hit a cone during the test drive?

The world may never know.

I Am Speed

Ride and Drive participants also had the opportunity to test the acceleration of Isuzu's Class 6 FTR.  -  Photo: Louis Prejean/Work Truck

Ride and Drive participants also had the opportunity to test the acceleration of Isuzu's Class 6 FTR.

Photo: Louis Prejean/Work Truck

Isuzu's Class 6 FTR was the final vehicle available for participants to test drive outside of the center.

This time, the track was designed to test the acceleration of the vehicle. 

The straightaway drag course started with racers favorite "christmas tree” to indicate when to smash that pedal. Once completed, the driver’s reaction time and top speed were calculated and printed out. 

This course provided friendly competition among the group. Each driver was eager to see their times and compare them to the rest of the group. 

I kept mine a secret, not because the time and speed were bad, but I like to keep some information to myself (It’s because the time and speed were bad). 

The Class 6 FTR comes with a 50- or 100-gallon fuel tank. It is also equipped with the 6-speed automatic Allison 2550 RDS transmission.

Calling it a Day

Isuzu Commerical Truck of America President Shaun Skinner gave fleets an update on the medium-duty truck market, saying the company follows IHS Markit and ACT Research reports, which forecast bullish growth.  -  Photo: Isuzu

Isuzu Commerical Truck of America President Shaun Skinner gave fleets an update on the medium-duty truck market, saying the company follows IHS Markit and ACT Research reports, which forecast bullish growth.

Photo: Isuzu

The event concluded with Isuzu Commercial Truck of America President Shaun Skinner giving fleets an update on the medium-duty truck market.

“The problem with the F-Series has not been as much of a supply chain issue as it has been a build and trying to be sure that when we get it out, everything is right on it,” Skinner said. “So there's been a few unexpected challenges, but I think we're through that.”

The Ride and Drive showcased different features from the 2022 Isuzu F-Series, and brought out an overall positive shared experience among the hosts and participants of the event.

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