Product Evaluation: International CF Series

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International CF standard specifications
Wheelbases: 113-185 in.
Engine: International VT 275, 4.5-liter V6 diesel, 200 hp @ 2700 rpm, 440 lb-ft torque @1800 rpm
Transmission: Ford 5-speed overdrive automatic with lockup torque converter, tow/haul mode and optional PTO gear
Driveline: Dana Spicer
Front axle: Dana Spicer I-beam
Rear axle: Dana Spicer, 4.88 or 5.38 ratios
Brakes: Hydraulic, TRW, 4-wheel disc, 3-channel Bosch ABS
Wheels: Steel or aluminum, 19.5 in.
Tires: Goodyear, Michelin, 225/70R19.5
Fuel tank: 40-gal., between frame rails, opt. 35-gal. side tank(s)

The new CF series is a product of the Blue Diamond joint venture between International and Ford, and it also will be sold with “blue oval” badging. While the packaging is similar to that of Japanese competitors like Isuzu and Mitsubishi Fuso, it’s a North American product, built in International’s plant in Escobedo, Mexico.

It’s International’s hope that North American componentry and dealer support will allay captive parts and service concerns that, it says, have been expressed by owners of LCFs from overseas. International adds that the LCF market is poised for growth, and you can bet that the company has its sights set on a big piece of the action.

The nature of the beast
The CF comes in two flavors: the CF 500, with a GVWR of 16,000 pounds; and the CF 600, grossing out at 17,999 or 19,500 pounds. Both have wheelbases of 113-185 inches and can accommodate a wide variety of bodies and equipment, including those for pickup and delivery, beverage, utility, towing and recovery, landscaping and construction applications.

Both versions sit on a 34-inch-wide Huck-bolted frame, and both are powered by the International VT 275, 4.5-liter V6 diesel, with an electrohydraulic Generation 2 fuel injection system and dual, sequential turbos. The package puts out 200 hp @ 2700 rpm and 440 lb-ft of torque @1800 rpm.

The only transmission is a Ford 5-speed overdrive automatic with lockup torque converter, a tow/haul mode and an optional PTO gear. Power is put to the wheels via a Dana Spicer rear axle with a 4.88 or 5.38 ratio, and brakes are hydraulic 4-wheel discs with 3-channel ABS and “drum-in-hat” wheel-end parking brakes.

Driving’s the thing
High maneuverability in congested areas always has been the primary forte of LCFs, and the CF did not disappoint evaluators, who found that it was possible to make a one-shot U-turn on a relatively narrow back road. “The turning circle is incredible,” said one. “This is a great city truck.”

The evaluation team also praised the interior room and comfort, and the ability to find an ideal driving position, thanks in large part to the standard, tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Entry and egress can be tricky, “But it’s no more difficult than with any other LCF I’ve driven,” said one evaluator. Another evaluator had praise for ease of entry and egress, especially appreciating the textured grab handles inside the cab, shielded from the weather.

On the road, evaluators found that the CF “has plenty of power” and gave high marks to the brakes, which they found to be “very responsive