International next-gen HX has more comfort, strength

November 20, 2020

Tom Berg

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2021 International HX
Next-gen International HX series trucks and tractors have larger steel cabs and composite hoods. The set-forward axle HX520 (shown) has 120-inches from front bumper to back of cab and is standard with Cummins’ X15 diesel. Set-back axle HX620 has 119-inch BBC and comes with International’s A26 diesel while the X15 is optional. Sleepers in 53- and 76-inch lengths are available. Both versions are wired with Diamond Logic electrical systems with programmable switches that can operate lift axles, body controls and accessories. (Photo courtesy International Trucks)

The HX, International Truck’s vocational model, is going into next-generation form with new composite hoods and a larger steel cab featuring interior refinements. International executives say the revised HX, for heavy extreme, is designed around drivers and aimed primarily at the construction market. They also say their overall intent is to improve their share of vocational-truck sales.

The new HX series is the first product released under the company’s Navistar 4.0 strategy and its Project Compass initiative, which focuses on flexible, modular design to meet customer needs and deliver what they say is the best support and service in the industry.

“The new HX series represents our most comfortable, durable, technologically integrated and driver-focused severe service truck ever,” said Mark Stasell, vice president of vocational truck business for Navistar, the brand’s corporate parent. “It is the physical representation of our Navistar 4.0 strategy – putting the customer at the center of everything we do.”

The new series is available in a set-forward steer-axle HX520 and a set-back axle HX620, in tractor and straight-truck versions, and with 53- and 76-inch sleeper options. They’ll use International’s A26 and Cummins’ X15 diesels, and can be had with manual, automated and automatic transmissions. Both vehicles are now available for order, with production slated to start in mid-January and deliveries starting one to two months afterward. The new model will replace the current HX, which has been in the lineup since 2016.

Extreme duty cab

The new HX’s steel cab comes from the LT highway tractor but is reinforced in areas of high stress to take the rigors of on- and off-road travel. Certain parts are fashioned of high-strength steel, and “that’s how we save weight,” David Hillman, vocational segment manager, said during a virtual news conference on Nov.16. All steel is galvanized, and the structure is e-coated with a chrome-zinc phosphate material to guard against corrosion, and then painted in several steps. The inside floor can be ordered with a Line-X coating to shrug off salt, moisture and other contaminants dragged in on drivers’ boots. Line-X does the same thing for pickup beds, for which the material was developed. The new HX cab comes with a 10-year warranty against perforation from corrosion.

Restyled hoods for the axle-forward and axle-back versions are made of DCPD, for dicyclopentadiene, a composite material said to be stronger than fiberglass to better resist cracking over the life of the truck. Hoods are made in three pieces for economical repairs and replacements after minor collisions, and they slope down for superior forward visibility. Both hoods got new character lines and the axle-forward’s hood was purposely styled to look like the long-nose 9900i, International’s on-highway model that was withdrawn several years ago, Hillman said. Bumper-to-back of cab dimensions are 120 inches for the axle-forward model and 119 inches for the axle-back.

The new International HX Series also comes with functional dual external air cleaners, both for styling and for increased filtration capacity which is critical when running in dusty environments. All marker lights are LEDs, which provide superior nighttime visibility and safety while reducing the frequency of repair. The new model is easily customizable with optional stainless steel visors, bright-finish mirrors, and additional stainless steel options.

Inside, the focus was on the driver, Hillman said, and the extreme-duty cab improves safety, comfort and productivity. Overall cab size has been increased. Compared to the current model, the cab has a more effective HVAC system for comfort and larger power windows for improved visibility. The expanded cab also comes laid out Elite and Diamond Elite trim packages. Diamond Elite includes a new line of premium heated and ventilated seats, allowing drivers to stay focused and comfortable, Hillman said. Integrated driver assist features from Bendix also help improve a driver’s awareness and safety.

“The cab interior is the driver’s command center, so every inch needs to be attuned to their needs,” Stasell said. “Designed directly from driver feedback, the new HX Series is built to be the most driver-oriented vehicle in your fleet.”

Extra-strong frames of the new International HX

For improved maneuverability on streets and job sites, the new HX is available with dual steering gears and advanced anti-lock braking systems that result in superior turning, traction and control. The HX series continues to offer high-strength 12½- by half-inch single-rail frame rails delivering 3.5 million resisting-bending moment, or RBM, to withstand very heavy loads. Double-channel frames are also available with RBM ratings of more than 4 million RBM. Frames and cross members are huck-bolted for permanent resistance to loosening and undue wear. Frame-rail tops and back-of-cab areas are kept clear for easy body mounting. A wide range of factory-installed lift axles are available, as is a front tow pin rated up to 150,000 pounds.

The axle-back HX620 is standard with the 12.4-liter International A26 diesel, with ratings of up to 500 horsepower and 1,750 lb-ft. of torque. Cummins’ 14.9-liter X15, with up to 605 horsepower and 2,050 lb-ft., is optional. The axle-forward HX520 is standard with the Cummins X15.

Eaton Fuller manual transmissions, Eaton Ultrashift automated manual transmissions and Allison 4000 series automatics are available. Automated and automatic transmissions are operated with International Truck’s stalk shifter. which saves space and allows drivers to keep their eyes on the road and job. Hendrickson’s HaulMaxx HMX-EX rubber-block rear suspension is a featured product. Front axles rated at up to 22,000 pounds and rear tandems and tridems with up to 78,000 pounds capacity are available.

Diamond Logic electrical

The new HX will come with Diamond Logic electrical systems for integrated and programmable operation of lights and accessories. Body controls can be controlled by in-dash switches instead of add-on, floor-mounted boxes, Hillman said. The new HX series will be supported through OnCommand Connection, the company’s real-time remote diagnostics system, offering a comprehensive portfolio of connected vehicle services.

Fleet customers and individual owners will be able to access the “health” of their trucks for easy management of maintenance and repair. This system allows International Truck and its service network to predict parts needs, so dealers have inventory on shelves where and when needed. International 360 allows seamless communication with the International service network for maintenance and repair of all makes and models. LL

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Tom Berg

Tom Berg worked his way through college by driving trucks. Since 1978, he’s been writing about trucks and trucking. He holds a Class A commercial driver’s license and drives trucks as part of story research. While semi-retired, Berg still writes about semis as a contributing editor at Land Line.