FleetOwner got invited along on a test ride of a new 2010-compliant Volvo VN780 highway tractor hauling a trailer load of baled paper, with the GCVW topping out at 67,000 pounds. The tractor -- part of a special "2010 Driving Success" North American road tour -- comes equipped with a Volvo D13, Volvo I-Shift automated manual transmission (AMT), wide base tires on the tractor's tandem axles, a battery-powered bunk air conditioning system, full aerodynamic fairings, and Volvo Enhanced Cruise (VEC) system.
A new addition to the VN780's aerodynamic package is an adjustable roof fairing, designed to smooth out the airflow over the top of either dry van or refrigerated trailers in order to improve fuel economy.
Note the round "globe" in the VN780's bumper, above and to the right of the license plate -- that is the housing for the Volvo Enhanced Cruise (VEC) forward-looking radar sensor, which detects vehicles that are too close to the tractor, sounding an audible warning tone and adjusting the truck's following distance automatically if the cruise control is engaged. The "globe" is now heated to prevent ice and snow build up, which could interfere with the radar beam. At right is Ed Saxman, Volvo's powertrain manager, our driver for this test ride.
Part of the test drive took place along I-77 in North Carolina up into Virginia, passing Pilot Mountain (seen in this photo), which is a quartzite monadnock rising to a peak 2,421 feet above sea level. It is one of the most distinctive natural features in the state of North Carolina and is a remnant of the ancient chain of Sauratown Mountains. Its original Native American name is Jomeokee, meaning "great guide."
To test the "Eco-Torque" engine horsepower and torque boosting feature of Volvo's I-Shift transmission, the test ride went through Fancy Gap, VA, part of southwestern Virginia’s Blue Ridge Highlands region, rising some 2,790 feet above sea level. The view here overlooks over both Virginian and North Carolinian valley communities nestled beneath the southern Appalachian Mountains.
In an unusual occurrence, the final leg of the first half of the Volvo test ride from North Carolina into southern Virginia went both south and north simultaneously, as this highway sign indicates.
During a rest break on the return leg of the test trip back into North Carolina, drivers were encouraged to take a look at some of the features on the new 2010-compliant VN780 tractor -- especially its I-Shift automated manual transmission.
A new feature for Volvo's I-Shift AMT is "Eco-Torque," which gives the company's truck engines -- like the D-13 pictured here -- a "dual personality" if you will. In certain driving conditions, the I-Shift will boost engine horsepower and torque to a higher level in order to maintain vehicle performance and fuel economy. In the test ride's case, the D-13 "changed" from a 435-hp rating generating 1,550 ft-lbs of torque to a 500-plus hp rating cranking out 1,750 ft-lbs of torque in order to prevent downshifting in hilly terrain.
Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×