Test Drive: Driving the FTR, Isuzu's Biggest Truck
Around the world, Isuzu Motors sells a range of commercial trucks, ranging from light- to heavy-duty models. In North America, however, the Japanese OEM focused for many years exclusively on providing midrange Class 3 to 5 medium-duty trucks.
But in 2017, that dynamic changed when the company launched its Class 6 FTR model — a 25,950-pound GVWR cabover optimized for urban and regional applications — in the U.S. And on a clear day in mid-November, I got to climb up into the cab and take a shining new FTR out on the road to see for myself how Isuzu is approaching the heavier end of the medium-duty market here.
For starters, the FTR is by no means a departure from Isuzu’s long-standing and highly successful formula for short-wheelbase cabover trucks.
At first approach, the FTR appears massive compared to other Isuzu models I’ve driven in the past. But, scale aside, the truck also seems intimately familiar. All the design cues I’ve come to expect from Isuzu are present, from the panoramic front windshield, outstanding agility in tight surroundings, simple and intuitive switches, knobs and controls, crisp, easy-to-read instrumentation and gauges, and work-focused cab interior ergonomics.
More to the point, the FTR retains Isuzu’s proven low-cab-forward design developed for city driving, which boasts a combination of maneuverability and visibility. My demo model featured the standard, four-cylinder, Isuzu 5.2L 4HK1-TC turbocharged diesel engine. Mated to a North American-exclusive Allison automatic transmission, the powertrain puts out 215 hp and 520 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,600 rpm. The truck was fitted with an 18-foot Morgan refrigerated body and a Thermo King T680R-50 reefer unit, making the truck suitable for urban and short-haul refrigerated food transport.