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Cat’s stealthy CT660 cuts loose

Company’s CT Series a fine fit with its equipment lines

A recent test drive was a momentous one – the first time Caterpillar had turned a CT660 loose for an extended run. The route picked for the dual-axle dump filled with a load of pea gravel was a mix of interstate and two-lane highways through the swamps and hills of western Alabama, which provides a good mix of road conditions.

Caterpillar’s CT13 diesel engine, based on Navistar’s MaxxForce 13, provides 475 horsepower to get the CT660 up and moving in a hurry – even with a full load in the dump.Caterpillar’s CT13 diesel engine, based on Navistar’s MaxxForce 13, provides 475 horsepower to get the CT660 up and moving in a hurry – even with a full load in the dump.

Cat wanted to integrate the overall look of its CT Series trucks into that of its construction equipment lines – insofar as that was possible. To that end, the CT660 borrows many styling cues from Cat’s wheel loaders, and the overall effect is a tough yet modern-looking truck. Its highly aerodynamic hood and front fenders with distinct styling cues make it stand out.

Climbing into the Cat, the first thing that jumps out is the brawny interior. Everything in the cab – from the burnished aluminum panels and dash covering to the armrests and gauges – screams “testosterone.”Cat has a lot of experience keeping operators comfortable and productive on loud vibrating pieces of construction machinery, and its engineers leveraged that know-how when they laid these truck cabs out. All instrumentation is exceptionally well-lit, while switch and control placement is logical and ergonomical.

The overall effect is a tough yet modern-looking truck.

From the driver’s seat, views to the front, sides and rear all are outstanding, with the sight angle over the dramatically-sloped front hood clearly designed with safety foremost in mind. Firing up the big 13-liter Cat CT13 engine confirms that the cab is extremely quiet. But beyond engine noise, Cat engineers feel strongly that any unintended noise is a productivity-draining distraction; their efforts to completely eliminate “pop, squeak and rattle” from the cab – even at highway cruising speeds – are to be commended.

Another nice in-cab touch is Cat’s CX31 six-speed automatic transmission. While an Eaton-Fuller manual transmission is available as standard equipment, the CX31 is worth a look. This transmission began life in Cat’s line of off-highway articulated haul trucks slogging through gumbo mud or doing light quarry work. It’s robust enough to manhandle any hill start while engaging and shifting smoothly on the highway. Even better, the CX31 has been programmed for both power and fuel economy; shift points are logical throughout the power curve, and even on hilly backroads, the transmission doesn’t spend a lot of time searching back and forth for the right gear.

With 475 horsepower sitting under the hood, the CT660 gets up and moving in a hurry – even with a full load in the dump. The CT13 diesel, based on the Navistar MaxxForce 13, is exceedingly quiet on the road, with plenty of smooth on-demand torque and power – and fuel economy rated slightly above 6 mpg out of the box. The engine has the raw power required to get a fully-loaded dump out of a muddy rut but still cruise endlessly down a straight stretch of road without skipping a beat.

Another nice surprise is the truck’s well-heeled handling characteristics. Nothing highlights design defects in steering and handling like rolling down a rain-slicked interstate at 65 mph, but the CT660 remained sure-footed. Steering response to control inputs was intuitive and precise, and the truck didn’t wander all over the road – even when blasting through deep, large puddles of standing water.

It was a nice shot of confidence – and in my opinion, confidence that your truck is up to the task at hand is never a bad thing.

Jack Untitled 1JACK ROBERTS is Executive Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. E-mail or call (205) 248-1358.


Model: 2012 660S SBA 6Ă—4 (CF7AA)

Fuel economy: 6.47 mpg @ 55 mph

Engine, diesel: CT13 (EPA 2010), 475 hp @ 1,700 rpm, 1,700 lb.-ft. torque @ 1,000 rpm, 2,100 rpm governed speed, 475 peak hp (max)

Transmission, automatic: Caterpillar CX31, first-generation controls, 6-speed; includes oil level sensor with PTO control

Axle, front, nondriving: Meritor MFS-20-133A, wide track, I-beam type, 20,000-lb. capacity

Axle, rear, tandem: Meritor RT-46-164P single reduction, standard width, 46,000-lb. capacity with lube oil pump, driver-controlled locking differential in forward rear and rear rear axle; 4.89 gear ratio

Suspension, rear, air, tandem: Hendrickson Primaax EX, 55-inch axle spacing, 46,000-lb. capacity, 9-inch ride height



Navistar submits MaxxForce 13 for EPA certification

Navistar has submitted its MaxxForce 13 diesel engine to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for compliance testing, the company told attendees at a Feb. 1 stock analyst meeting. The California Air Resources Board notified Navistar in January that the company’s emissions credits for the MaxxForce 13 would expire Feb. 29.

Navistar told stock analysts it was “confident” its MaxxForce 13 diesel engine will be certified as compliant by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.Navistar told stock analysts it was “confident” its MaxxForce 13 diesel engine will be certified as compliant by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Most diesel engine manufacturers chose to use selective catalytic reduction aftertreatment technology to meet the required emissions levels. Navistar diesel engines use an in-cylinder exhaust gas recirculation technology to reduce exhaust emissions; the company is the only North American engine manufacturer to do so.

Currently, Navistar diesel engines emit more grams of nitrogen oxide than their competitors’ engines. But because Navistar exceeded the performance parameters set for earlier emissions reduction regulations, the company was awarded emissions credits by EPA that allow them to do so.

“The bottom line is that Navistar will sell engines in 2012 that are fully certified in all 50 states,” said Jack Allen, president of Navistar’s Engine Group, during the analysts’ meeting in Chicago. “Any issue between Navistar and the EPA will remain between us and the EPA and will not affect Navistar customers.”

Navistar’s DT medium-duty engines, as well as its MaxxForce 11 and MaxxForce 15 engines, were not included in CARB’s notification and will continue to be sold using the company’s existing EPA credits.

Navistar diesel engines use in-cylinder exhaust gas recirculation.

“This is an ongoing process and a continual refinement process of our engines and our emissions technology,” Allen said. “We are confident the MaxxForce 13 will be certified as compliant by the EPA, validating our in-cylinder emissions reduction technology and without any degradation in terms of performance, durability and fuel economy for our customers.” – Jack Roberts



Nissan debuts new compact commercial van

Nissan unveiled its new NV200 compact commercial van to the North American market Feb. 8 at the Chicago Auto Show. The NV200, which has an estimated 1,500-pound payload capacity, currently is sold in more than 40 countries.

Nissan’s NV200 is powered by a 2.0-liter 16-valve dual overhead cam 4-cylinder engine teamed with the company’s Xtronic CVT automatic transmission.Nissan’s NV200 is powered by a 2.0-liter 16-valve dual overhead cam 4-cylinder engine teamed with the company’s Xtronic CVT automatic transmission.

“The U.S. commercial vehicle market is only just moving toward the compact van as a business solution, and we believe the NV200 will become the gold standard in the commercial van market,” said Joe Castelli, vice president for Nissan Commercial Vehicle and Fleet. “We expect this market segment to double in the next few years as fuel prices rise and businesses seek smaller vehicle solutions for more efficient operation in congested urban environments.”

The vehicle’s exterior takes its design cues from existing Nissan truck and van lines and includes an aerodynamic front end and large low-effort dual sliding side doors. It has tall 40/60 split-opening rear doors with dual opening positions of 90 and 180 degrees.

Up front, the NV200 is powered by a 2.0-liter 16-valve dual overhead cam 4-cylinder engine teamed with Nissan’s Xtronic CVT automatic transmission. Other standard features include anti-lock brakes and an electronic brake force distribution system.

The NV200’s 186.2-inch overall length sits on a 115.2-inch wheelbase. The cargo dimension between the wheelhouses allows for loading standard 40-by-48-inch pallets. Standard integrated mounting points allow the installation of racks and shelves without drilling into the sidewalls. Six floor-mounted hooks allow for added cargo securement while in transit. – Jack Roberts



New oil category for 2016?

A new oil category dubbed PC-11, or Proposed Category 11, will be developed to help engine manufacturers meet federal standards for 2014-2018 model-year trucks covering improved fuel economy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Dan Arcy, global OEM technical manager for Shell Oil Solutions, is leading a team of oil industry technicians who will specify tests and standards for the new category, which was requested by the Engine Manufacturers Association.

The new category, the first since CJ-4 was introduced in 2006, actually will include two subcategories or separate oils, said Arcy, who presented information on the program at a Feb. 9 press event in Park City, Utah. One subcategory will preserve heavier oil, while the other will be a thinner oil better adapted to enhancing fuel economy while preserving durability. “One of the levers manufacturers can pull in meeting [engine] requirements is use of low-viscosity fuel-economy types of engine oils,” Arcy said.

Oil industry technicians will spend the next four years specifying standards to be ready for licensing by January 2016. Tests for the new oils will make sure they are durable and resist engine breakdown while increasing fuel efficiency. – Max Kvidera



Volvo Trucks now offers a 455 horsepower rating for its XE13 powertrain package. The new rating provides additional horsepower while still allowing the engine to cruise at 1,150 rpm at 65 mph.

Xtra Lease ordered 9,400 new dry vans and reefers equipped with fuel-saving aerodynamic side skirts to replace older-model trailers.

Kenworth Truck Co. and Paccar Financial’s extended warranty program is available until June 30 for U.S. customers who purchase new Kenworth Class 8 factory trucks that meet eligibility requirements.

FleetPride, an independent aftermarket distributor of heavy-duty truck and trailer parts, acquired the assets of all of Fleet Brake’s U.S. operations.

Mahle Clevite introduced 60 new part numbers for a range of light vehicle and heavy-duty applications, including bearings, cylinder components, filters, gaskets, piston rings and turbochargers.

EcoDual received U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approval to install its natural gas conversion systems on 2004-09 Cummins ISX engines. EcoDual technology is designed to enable existing diesel engines to be converted to operate on up to 85 percent natural gas.

Visitors to the Performance Friction Website at can register through March 31 to win a new 2012 Ford F-150 4X4 Lariat with a PFC Big Brake Kit.