At the Work Truck Show, Isuzu announced that it has reached an agreement with General Motors for the supply of the GM gas engine and transmission used for Isuzu's gas-powered NPR, NPR HD and gas Crew Cab cabover models. 

It is the same engine as previous offerings (6.0L V-8, 325 hp and 360 lb.-ft. of torque) with a few new features such as a six-speed automatic transmission, which will be standard on the 2012 model year. Production for the gas-powered N-Series trucks will resume early in the second quarter of 2011 as a 2012 model year. Orders for the 2011 model year N-Series are open. 

Also new is the Isuzu Eco-Max model, a fuel-sipping version of its 12,000-lb. GVW NPR low cab forward. The new Class 3 2011 model year truck is powered by Isuzu's next-generation 4JJ1-TC diesel engine, which has operated globally in Isuzu's N-Series models for the last five years. The 4J engine family is the highest volume engine produced by Isuzu, though it's a first for the U.S. market. 

The 4-cylinder, 3-liter diesel delivers 150 horsepower and 282 lbs.-ft torque. It may be small, but it's a workhorse: tests indicate this engine will get 310,000 miles before needing an overhaul. Isuzu says it climbs hills better than its predecessor and it weighs 170 lbs. less, allowing for greater payload-all while offering up to 20 percent improved fuel economy. 

Isuzu's 2011 model N-series diesel engines use selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to achieve the 2010 EPA emission standards. The 7.4 gallon urea tank will last for 10-12 fill ups, or about 3,000 miles. Isuzu's warning system is such that when you get low on DEF you'll hear a chime. When you're almost dry you have three engine restarts (or "key cycles") before it shuts off on you-but your drivers aren't stupid enough to let it go for that long. 

There has been a constriction of dealers that sold Isuzu commercial product, owing to last year's industry shakeup and with GM exiting the medium-duty market. Thus GM no longer sells Isuzu's N Series rebadged as the W Series. Brian Tabel, retail marketing manager for Isuzu Commercial Truck of America, said Isuzu is approaching some GM dealers that had handled medium-duty business to sell the N Series. Isuzu commercial truck dealerships now number 285. 

GM Reveals GMC Sierra HD

GM is firing back at Ford and Chrysler in the great pickup war with its 2011 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra HD lineup. At the Work Truck Show GM revealed the GMC Sierra Denali HD, the first time the Denali luxury trim level is offered in a GM ¾- and 1-ton pickup. 

A digression: Owing to healthy competition between the Detroit 3 in what they do best, the heavy-duty pickup class now has greater capabilities and better fuel economy than ever before. And prices have held steady. In that competition, especially with trucks, manufacturers use the phrase "best in class" and "segment leading" a lot-perhaps better termed "segment misleading." Manufacturers will tout the best payload in class, but that's only on one model out of 10. The competition will counter with "five out of 10 models beat [rival] in payload capacity." Also beware that "segment leading" might only last for a few months-until the competition's latest model generation comes out. At that point it's no longer segment leading, but the printed marketing collateral remains. 

That one-upmanship game is for bragging rights, which are important I suppose. But in the real world of a work vehicle it's less of an issue-especially when we're talking differences of 50 lbs of payload (out of 6,000 lbs) or 20 lb-ft of torque. What's more important are improvements generation to generation, and also whether that extra torque or payload actually translates into better performance or a safer ride. And that's much more subjective. 

At any rate, wherever they fit compared to the competition, GM's lineup of new HD pickups is impressive. Some highlights: 

  • New Duramax 6.6L turbo diesel rated at 397 hp and 765 lb.-ft. of torque
  • Diesel engine is B20 capable, fuel efficiency improvements of 11 percent
  • Max towing capability of 20,000 lbs. and max payload of 6,335 lbs.
  • All-new frames, all-new independent front suspension
  • Control features such as "smart" exhaust brake feature, hill start assist, trailer sway control, integrated trailer brake control, automatic grade braking and intelligent brake assist
  • Available mobile WiFi, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, XM Satellite Radio and of course, OnStar 9.0

Bring on the war.

Originally posted on Business Fleet

About the author
Chris Brown

Chris Brown

Associate Publisher

As associate publisher of Automotive Fleet, Auto Rental News, and Fleet Forward, Chris Brown covers all aspects of fleets, transportation, and mobility.

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