Isuzu Commercial Truck, Utilimaster collaborate on Reach van

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Updated Mar 9, 2011

Isuzu Commercial Truck of America and Utilimaster on Tuesday, March 8, unveiled the Reach commercial van at the National Truck Equipment Association’s 2011 Work Truck Show in Indianapolis. The company also announced that production of gasoline-powered Isuzu N-Series trucks will begin April 18 at the Spartan Motors facility in Charlotte, Mich.

The Reach – with a body designed by Utilimaster atop an Isuzu NPR Eco-Max chassis and powered by Isuzu’s 3.0-liter diesel engine – is designed to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emissions regulations while providing added fuel economy and offering the functionality of a custom-built work truck along with the styling and ergonomics of a cargo van.

The Reach will be available through the Isuzu nationwide network of 284 dealers, with production scheduled to begin this summer. “The Reach is the ideal walk-in van for today’s market because its Isuzu powertrain offers incredible fuel efficiency and proven durability, and its frame, suspension, steering and braking systems are true commercial grade, not just beefed passenger van components,” says Shaun Skinner, executive vice president and general manager of Isuzu Commercial Truck of America.

John Marshall, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Utilimaster, says his company worked extensively to design a body that offers added interior height and width along with multiple design options to maximize utility and driver productivity. “We believe the Reach will truly revolutionize the commercial van market,” Marshall says.

The Isuzu stripped chassis’s engine has been relocated to minimize engine protrusion into the cab, facilitating driver movement in and out of the front seat for improved productivity. Likewise, the driver seat position and numerous component locations have been revised to accommodate the walk-in van body. Powering the Reach is Isuzu’s biodiesel-compatible 4JJ1-TC 3.0-liter turbocharged engine generating 150 hp, mated to an Aisin medium-duty six-speed automatic transmission with double overdrive, lock-up torque converter and power take-off (PTO) function.

The Reach’s 4JJ1-TC engine employs selective catalytic reduction technology and is compliant with both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board. The Reach will be offered in two wheelbases – 134 and 151 inches – and three body lengths – 10, 12 and 14 feet. The cargo area can offer 450, 540 or 630 cubic feet of storage, depending on wheelbase and body length selected.

Utilimaster’s streamlined aerodynamic shape helps improve fuel efficiency while it reduces interior noise. Meanwhile, driver safety and productivity are enhanced by such features as an optional sliding front door, a wide aisle, interior height to help accommodate taller drivers, an optional available integrated backup camera, an optional keyless auto-opening bulkhead door and maintenance items designed for easy access. Features that maximize the utility and practicality of the Reach’s body include flat vertical side walls, available sliding cab doors and multiple rear-door options.

In addition, a choice of integrated vocational modules will give buyers the opportunity to turn the cargo area into a space virtually customized to their needs. To achieve maximum durability of the Reach’s body, engineers have employed impact-resistant urethane rear and lower exterior panels, rear spring bumper and energy-absorbing side bumpers, and a one-piece molded roof to eliminate leaks. All body panels have been designed for quick removal and replacement so that if repairs are necessary, the vehicle can be restored to its original condition quickly and easily.

Gasoline-powered NPR (12,000-pound GVWR) and NPR-HD (14,500-pound GVWR) trucks will be available in single cab models with wheelbases of 109, 132.5, 150 and 176 inches, and in crew cab configurations with 150- and 176-inch wheelbases. The vehicles, which are expected to arrive at Isuzu dealerships beginning in early May, will complement the diesel-powered Isuzu N-Series trucks already available.

N-Gas models will be powered by a General Motors Vortec 6.0-liter V8 engine that produces 297 hp at 4,300 rpm and generates 372 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. In addition, a version of the engine compatible with compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) will be available. Both versions of the gasoline powerplant will be mated to a GM powertrain six-speed automatic transmission with double overdrive. Previous N-Series gasoline models offered only a four-speed automatic.

“We are very excited to reintroduce our line of gasoline-powered N-Series trucks to the marketplace with a new 6-speed transmission that improves fuel economy and performance” Skinner says. “With these new models – and the introduction of the all-new Reach commercial van – we are proud that our dealers will once again offer the broadest range of low-cab-forward solutions in the industry.”

Gasoline-powered N-Series trucks had been assembled by GM at its plant in Janesville, Wis., until the plant ceased operations in 2009. In March 2010, Isuzu Commercial Truck of America announced that an agreement had been reached with GM for the supply of transmissions and gasoline engines to be used for gas-powered Isuzu NPR and NPR-HD trucks in both single cab and crew cab models, and that these vehicles would be reintroduced for the 2012 model year. The company announced that Spartan Motors had been selected to assemble the trucks in April 2010.