Test drive: Mack’s new driver-centric Granite

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Mack’s Granite, the best-selling conventional straight-truck in the U.S., is getting a light refresh. For the coming model year, the worksite workhorse is taking a a driver-friendly slant with an all-new interior and LED headlights.

Mack used feedback from thousands of drivers on their preferences, which the company used to drive the design of a redesigned cockpit that includes a new gauge cluster and a dash layout that improves visibility and readability putting frequently used controls at the driver’s fingertips.

From Allentown, Pa., to Atlanta, Ga., is a long way to drive a dump truck toting around just south of 20,000 pounds of gravel, but Grantie’s new driver-centric interior made my segment of that haul more comfortable than you’d expect. The black American Racing wheels and sparking chrome added to the truck gave the experience little cool factor, which didn’t hurt either.

Switches are repositioned higher on the dash, while the transmission shift pad for the truck’s 14-speed mDrive HD automated manual is now 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.

Img 4921HVAC 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, and can be easily removed for cleaning. Multiple 12-volt and USB charging ports are available throughout the dash. A new non-slip pad on top of the dash features two USB charging ports.

A racecar-inspired flat-bottom steering wheel – a first for the trucking industry – improves driver comfort and makes entering and exiting the vehicle easier. The new steering wheel, which can be equipped with illuminated cruise control, Bluetooth and audio system buttons, also gives the driver a better view of the dash. It also allows the driver to raise the seat or move the seat further forward without the wheel scrubbing their thighs or belly.

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 MP7’s (425 hp, up to 1,560 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.

A Pre-Trip Assistant guides drivers through inspection points and includes a single-person exterior light inspection mode. This is a handy feature, especially when it comes to inspecting brake lights and there’s 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.

When you say “Mack Truck,” most people envision a Granite. The brand is built on the idea of ruggedness and the Granite is the punch-to-the-gut of Mack’s truck lineup. With a new, ergonomic, automotive-inspired interior, Mack adds some finesse without sacrificing Granite’s legacy of toughness and reliability. Overall, it makes for a comfortable – and tough – package.