‘Gears, Guitars & Grub’ Mack Anthem tour (Part II)

September 26, 2018

Tyson Fisher


Mack Trucks had six Anthem truck with three different engine specs on the road last week to test the fuel efficiency. Starting in Greensboro, N.C., the Mack convoy made a 1,000-mile trip to New Orleans. Land Line Staff Writer Tyson Fisher was in one those trucks. Below is his travel log for the last half of the trip dubbed “Gears, Guitars and Grub.” For Part I, click here.

Day 2: Wednesday, Sept. 19

2 p.m. – I left you all with a cliffhanger in Part I. So what was the mpg for the truck that had the highest fuel efficiency in Day 1? An astounding 10.5 mpg! This is where I reiterate that experience is everything. The guy behind the wheel was not a Mack rep. Rather, it was Jim Park, equipment editor at Today’s Trucking and Heavy Duty Trucking and former trucker. Most of the Mack reps have had a CDL for only a few years and mostly just for stuff like this. Jim has real-world experience. Makes all the difference in the world.

5 p.m. – Here’s something you don’t see every day at a hotel you are staying in: a duck march. While filming the below video, someone asked if I was filming a documentary. Lesson learned on Day 1 (see Part I), I just nodded and said yes this time.

6:15 p.m. – If you have never been to Memphis, go to Beale Street. Yes, it’s a tourist thing to do, but for good reason. Today is Wednesday in mid-September. I point that out, because Beale Street looks like freakin’ Mardi Gras tonight. Insanity, but in a good, fun way.

Side note: Born and raised in Kansas City, I was eager to see what this Memphis BBQ is all about. If you like the taste of ash from ribs that are charred to blackness comparable to space, then Memphis BBQ is for you. Sorry, not sorry. The steak, however, was better than any I have had in K.C. though.

Day 3: Thursday, Sept. 20

7:30 a.m. – Roll call! Time to leave for New Orleans!

This time, I’m in truck No. 5, which is being pushed by a MP8HE-445SE engine with Mack Energy Recovery Technology and the Mack HE+ package. This is the middle ground truck. Same engine but more horsepower than the most fuel-efficient trucks (Nos. 3 and 4). We’re expecting mid-8 mpgs on this truck.

9:30 a.m. – Something was bound to happen on the final leg of this trip considering how smoothly things have gone so far. After all, this is real world scenario test drive where anything can happen, just like everyday trucking. Thanks to Murphy’s Law, truck No. 2 was forced to pull over after the dreaded check engine light came on. Without knowing details right now, there appears to be an issue with the fuel system. Sadly, we left that truck for dead. We’re on a time-sensitive mission!


Noon – Arrive at our pit stop at Tri-State Truck Center in Jackson, Miss. As we walk in there, there’s a beautiful old school International truck at the entrance. Even though this is a Mack event, I had to take a picture. Kind of felt like checking out a beautiful woman while I’m out with my wife.

4:30 p.m. – Of course, it pours down raining the second we arrive at our final destination in New Orleans. The hotel I’m staying at gave me a metal thing to open my room door. An actual key, not a card. It costs $250 to replace! That is too much pressure for me.

9 p.m. – For the sake of brevity, let’s skip to Bourbon Street. Wow! Another funny story, as I’m walking down the street complaining about how a pack of cigarettes in New Orleans cost $10 (twice as much as K.C.), two guys in front of me are laughing. They are laughing at me. Turns out, they are from Australia, where cigarettes cost (and I kid you not) $30 a pack! Yes, $30 USD. They also replace branding on packs with images of people basically dying of lung cancer. They don’t mess around in Australia.

The point of this trip was to put Mack Anthem trucks’ fuel efficiency to the test in a “real word” situation. It is not totally the same as the life of a trucker. For one, we were ELD exempt and not racing against the clock. We had Mack dealerships for parking, so that was not an issue either.

With that said, driving 1,000 miles will give you a good idea about how well these Anthems perform. We started the trip with six trucks, but ended with five. Remember that truck with check engine light? It was in fact a fuel system issue, and Mack had to end the trip for that truck. Ironically, Jim (the guy consistently getting better fuel mileage) was behind the wheel.

Before we get to the final numbers, let’s review the three types of trucks.

Red Tractors 1 and 2:

  • Mack MP8-445C MaxiCruise engines
  • Full aerodynamic package (included in all three types)

White Tractors 3 and 4:

  • MP8HE-415SE engines with Mack Energy Recovery Technology
  • Mack HE+ package.
  • Mack 6×2 with liftable pusher axle

Blue Tractors 5 and 6:

  • Mack MP8HE-445SE engines with Mack Energy Recovery Technology
  • Mack HE+ package.

For full specs, click here.

The MP8HE engines with Energy Recovery Technology convert wasted energy into crankshaft power and drives at lower RPM cruise speeds. Meaning, trucks Nos. 3-6 should outperform the first two trucks. The white tractors should outperform the blue tractors, since the lower horsepower engine and 6×2 configuration puts less demand on the vehicle. Let’s see the final results:

DAY 1:

Truck # Miles Traveled MPG
1 301 7.9
2 301 8.1
3 313 8.5
4 313 9.8
5 301 8.9
6 302 8.1

DAY 2:

Truck # Miles Traveled MPG
1 242 8.5
2 242 8.3
3 243 9.0
4 243 10.4
5 242 8.7
6 243 8.6

DAY 3:

Truck # Miles Traveled MPG
1 388.2 7.8
2 n/a n/a
3 388.3 8.4
4 390.1 9.8
5 389.3 8.5
6 388.6 8.3


Truck # Miles Traveled MPG Avg. Speed
1 931.4 8.0 57
2 588.6 8.0 49.5
3 945.0 8.5 52.5
4 946.8 9.8 51.5
5 932.0 8.5 54.0
6 932.5 8.2 50.0

Keep in mind that depending on the day, some of these trucks were not driven by career truckers. Second, each leg had different terrain, with the first leg taking us through the mountainous region of the North Carolina-Tennessee border. As you’ll notice, truck No. 2 has weird numbers. That’s because it only made it halfway through.

Overall, the trucks performed very well. During one trip, I sat back in the 70-inch sleeper to write Part I of this series. Surprisingly, I did this with very little difficulty as the ride was relatively smooth.

If you’re interested in the Mack Anthem, head over to MackTrucks.com.