Freightliner has taken the covers off the 2018 evolution of its top-selling model, the Cascadia with claims of a five per cent improvement to fuel economy.

The redesign has focussed on aerodynamics, enhancements to the DT12 automated transmission, elliptical-shaped mirrors, a new upper door seal and integrated antennas.

Freightliner will continue to offer the current Cascadia and the Cascadia Evolution, giving customers the most expansive model range in the brand’s history.

According to vice-president of sales and marketing Richard Howard, the Cascadia has been a major factor in increasing the brand’s US market share by 8.1 per cent since the model’s launch in 2007.

“Starting with the best truck is the best place to start,” he said.

Howard also acknowledged the new Cascadia is a complete overhaul of the current model.

The engine has been lowered with a splayed frame rail to give better access under the hood. The lower seating of the engine also allows for a rounder front end of the truck, which differentiates the new Cascadia, giving it a more modern image.

The new Cascadia is available in Professional and Elite trim and with optional Aero and AeroX aerodynamic packages. Every truck will come loaded with Detroit Connect telematics and will be constantly connected.

“The biggest mobile device on the road will be the new Freightliner Cascadia. Detroit is upgrading its telematics with the launch of a new portal that will allow customers to manage Virtual Technician remote diagnostics and monitor key data points,” he said.

Virtual Technician will be offered for five years on the new Cascadia with no subscription fees. Customers will also be able to receive remote engine updates and will be able to select a new Detroit Analytics service that aims to convert data from the fleet into meaningful information.

On the interior Freightliner worked closely with interior design firm Teague. LED lighting is standard and dimmer switches allow drivers to control bunk lighting.

General manager of product marketing and strategy, Kary Schaefer said Freightliner’s goal was to turn the Cascadia into the most desirable truck on the road.

“Driver turnover and wages are a big part of fleet costs,” said Schaefer.

“We wanted to develop a truck that drivers are proud to drive. We want to think of it as a tool for attracting and retaining new drivers for fleets.”

The sleeper is also configurable for team drivers. A new telescoping ladder allows safer and easier access to the top bunk and folds neatly away when not in use.

The new driver display is extremely vibrant, using bright colours to communicate important messages to the driver. Fault code information is presented in plain English instead of by code.

“We spent a lot of time on the dash layout trying to understand where the placement of switches and gauges need to be for different heights and sizes of drivers,” Schaefer added.

The new Cascadia will be available with Detroit Assurance 4.0, an updated collision mitigation system that will now be able to identify pedestrians and apply partial braking. The radar range has also been extended by 50 meters.

The new Cascadia will enter production in early 2017 with production ramping up in the second quarter.