Running with a bulldog: Road testing the Mack Pinnacle mDRIVE
Below is an excerpt from a road test review written by Scott Garvey, Grainews Machinery Editor.
“This year our annual week of equipment reviews, which takes place on the grounds of the Ag in Motion farm show every July, gave us a chance to follow one of those bulldogs down the road for a couple of days. Our intent was to find out what Mack’s 12-speed mDRIVE automatic-manual transmission — which was introduced about five years ago — is like to drive and how a truck equipped with one might fit into a farm fleet.
Saskatoon’s Redhead Equipment loaned us a new Mack 2018 Pinnacle model, which has a set-forward front axle riding on 24.5-inch rubber. The tandem-drive truck was equipped with a 20-foot Neustar grain box.
Brad Oliver, Redhead’s sales manager, says the mDRIVE is by far the brand’s most popular transmission, and it is the most frequently ordered type by customers spec-ing out farm trucks, because of its operator-friendly nature. The Pinnacle is most often the model of choice for farm trucks as well, because it offers at least six inches more ground clearance than the Anthem model, which has a setback front axle to allow for the improved front-end aerodynamics prized by long-haul highway trucks. The 24.5-inch tires, rather than the more common 22.5, add another 1.5 inches of clearance. So the Pinnacle is well suited for off-road work like hauling through farm fields or working on construction sites.
Underneath the hood, our Pinnacle had a 415 horsepower Mack diesel providing power, which the mDRIVE transmission routed through to the tandem drive axles. The mDRIVE transmission allows for both manual and automatic operation, both of which are controlled through push-button operation. And in automatic mode, the truck’s computer does most of the thinking for a driver. Just push “D” and apply some throttle, making it ideal for inexperienced farm workers who haven’t shifted 13- or 18-speed manual transmissions. Mastering those requires a little practice; the mDRIVE doesn’t require any more effort or skill than using the automatic transmission in a pickup truck…”
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