Test drive: Mack’s refreshed, driver-focused Pinnacle

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Updated Jun 23, 2020

Mack Trucks Pinnacle Model Semi-TruckThe debut of Mack’s new Anthem tractor in August meant some fairly significant changes for the company’s Pinnacle model.

For the coming year, Pinnacle axle forward models will get all-new interiors and LED headlights, along with a new grille that mirrors the look of Anthem.

Mack surveyed thousands of drivers about their preferences, and used that feedback to drive the development of a redesigned cockpit that includes a new gauge cluster and a dash layout that improves visibility and readability by putting frequently used controls at the driver’s fingertips.

Pinnacle axle back models are being replaced by the Anthem tractor so, in the years ahead, Pinnacle axle forward models will simply be referred to as Pinnacle.

From Allentown, Pa., to Atlanta, Ga., is a long drive but during a recent test drive, Pinnacle’s new driver-centric interior made segments of that haul fairly comfortable. Switches are repositioned higher on the dash, while the transmission shift pad for the truck’s 12-speed mDrive automated manual was also within easier reach. The dash panel has room for up to 18 easy-to-read switches, which feature laser etched labeling that won’t rub off, even after repeated use over the life of the truck.

HVAC controls now include Automatic Temperature Control that maintains the temperature set by the driver. A new lower center console includes cup holders and storage bins which can be easily removed for cleaning. Multiple 12-volt and USB charging ports are available throughout the dash and a new non-slip pad on top of the dash features two USB charging ports.

Interior of Mack Pinnacle Semi-TruckA race car-inspired flat-bottom steering wheel – a first for the trucking industry – improves driver comfort and makes entering and exiting the vehicle easier. It also allows the driver to raise the seat or move the seat further forward without the wheel scrubbing their thighs or belly.

Additionally, the new steering wheel, which can be equipped with illuminated cruise control, Bluetooth and audio system buttons, gives the driver a better view of the dash.

Behind the steering wheel on an updated right-hand steering column stalk are the controls for Mack’s Co-Pilot 5-inch display. The full-color screen helps the driver monitor operating information like the MP8’s (505 hp and up to 1,860 lb. ft. torque) temperature, oil temperature, trip odometers, aftertreatment status and tire pressures. Once you get the feel for all the information that is available, scrolling through the options is fairly simple.

On the left-mounted stalk are the controls for the truck’s lights. New LED headlamps are 66 percent brighter, almost doubling low-beam lumens while providing a wider, whiter light with lower electrical draw and longer service life.

A Pre-Trip Assistant guides drivers through inspection points and includes a single-person exterior light inspection mode. This was a handy feature, especially when it came to inspecting brake lights with no one available to help.

A new information and entertainment option featuring a 7-inch touchscreen display is available, providing finger-tip access to Apple Car Play, satellite radio, weather band radio and TomTom truck navigation. The display is also compatible with third-party back-up camera systems.

My 70-inch standup sleeper had ample headroom from the driver seat to the back wall of the bunk. The integrated Mack powertrain – mDrive, MP8 and Mack axles – doesn’t get any changes for 2018 but still offers great power and efficiency.

The Pinnacle is the quintessential on-highway Mack Truck, a brand built on the idea of ruggedness. With a new ergonomic interior, Mack adds some finesse to the truck without sacrificing Pinnacle’s legacy of toughness and reliability. Overall, the new automotive-inspired Pinnacle makes for a comfortable – and tough – package.

Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at [email protected]