Mitsubishi debuts new lineup

Mitsubishi Fuso has completed the most extensive redesign of its Class 3 through 5 cabover trucks in 10 years. In addition to this new truck line, the company has also significantly upgraded its Class 6 and 7 models and introduced a new corporate logo, which will appear nationwide in 2005.

According to Bob Aquaro, vice president, product assurance, the new FE Series of medium duty trucks debuted three years ago in Japan. “So we’ve got some history behind them,” he notes. But, Aquaro adds, the FE models were developed with a global market in mind and a great deal of their design cues were taken from the North American vocational truck market. “So although we tried hard to make sure these trucks can adopt into different markets around the world, we’re confident that contractors in the United States will immediately identify with their new layout and the features it offers.”

Increased available torque means more low-end power for drivers
All 2005 Mitsubishi Fuso FE trucks, as well as the four-wheel-drive FG model, will feature the new 4M50 299-cubic-inch (4.9-liter), four-cylinder engine. This engine is turbocharged and intercooled and has a dual-overhead-cam, dual-balance shaft. The company’s Class 6 FK and Class 7 FM models will use the 6M60 460-cubic-inch (7.5-liter) single-overhead-cam, direct-injection, turbocharged, intercooled diesel engine.

Both engines are complete drive-by-wire systems, Aquaro says. There are no direct mechanical links between the throttle and the engine. All driver commands are relayed and interpreted by an on-board computer system that prioritizes engine responses. Meeting peak emissions for that particular moment in time is always the computer’s primary task, regardless of road and load conditions.

“Many medium-duty truck users feared that compliance with the 2004 EPA on-highway emissions standards would affect performance and fuel economy,” says Robert McDowell, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Yet, while all of our 2005 diesel engines meet the 2004 EPA regulations, numerous engine and design improvements, along with enhanced cab aerodynamics, have actually allowed us to increase torque and horsepower.”

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Indeed, the torque enhancement on both engines is so significant that Aquaro calls the increase a “major accomplishment” for Mitsubishi Fuso (see chart below). A significant factor in increasing the torque numbers was the company’s decision to offer the Aisin MY600 automatic transmission in FE models, he adds. “This transmission makes the most efficient use of the engine’s torque while offering fuel economy on par with a manual transmission and exceptional reliability and durability in vocational applications,” Aquaro says.

And because the Aisin MY600 is a robust design, Aquaro says Mitsubishi Fuso was able to do away with torque control systems commonly found on competitive models. “Torque control systems are used by OEMs when the automatic transmission on a truck can’t handle excess torque generated by the engine,” he explains. “Instead, an electronic control module reduces torque loads when the transmission is in first and second gear. But our Aisin units can easily handle excess torque, which means more pulling power and tractive effort for our trucks.”

All Mitsubishi Fuso Class 3 through 5 frames now feature a “monster” rear stabilizer and cast steel components.

Interior and exterior changes enhance performance and flexibility
A strong work truck starts with a strong frame. To that end, Aquaro says all Class 3 through 5 FE and FG frames are now consistent in chassis stiffness and body-fitting characteristics with Mitsubishi’s Class 6 and 7 models. This includes a “monster” rear stabilizer, reflecting Mitsubishi’s focus on ride and handling and cast – not stamped – steel components for added toughness. These new straight ladder frames have been optimized for easier body fit and installation, as well as increasing vehicle flexibility for owners by allowing a greater variety of body styles to be fitted.

On the outside, an all-new body styling includes compact halogen headlamps, sculpted fender profiles and smooth frontal areas combined with faired character lines around the doors. These features not only give the new trucks a sleek overall profile, but also offer improved aerodynamic performance and reduced wind noise for a noticeably quieter cab.

These new exterior lines also allowed designers to give the new truck models the roomiest cab ever offered on a Mitsubishi cab-over truck. “Frankly, cab space has been a consistent complaint with our previous truck models,” Aquaro admits. “That’s why we now offer a very roomy cab with lots of seat travel. We’ve relocated the parking brakes and offered a completely new dash-mounted shifter for both manual and automatic transmissions. This new shifter feels natural to the driver and allows us to give drivers a completely open floor.”