Watch: Freightliner enhancing its M2, SD models

Freightliner’s M2 debuted in 2002 as a replacement for the FL series and the SD followed in 2014.

Next year, both models will receive improvements when Freightliner launches its new Plus series, including the M2 106 Plus, M2 112 Plus, 108SD Plus and 114SD Plus.

In the video above CCJ Editor-in-chief Jason Cannon gives a brief overview and driving impression of the renewed models and gets expert details directly from Freightliner.

content of this video

00:00 Introduction of the Freightliner Plus Series

00:38 Features that haven’t changed

01:41 External changes

02:21 Interior changes

07:34 Final thoughts

video transcript

Jason Cannon
Hello folks. I’m CCJ Editor-in-Chief Jason Cannon and right here behind me is Freightliner’s new M2 106 Plus. The Plus Series is Freightliner’s reconfigured medium duty professional truck offering, consisting of the M2 models and the SD models. These trucks were largely reinvented from the inside out. Externally you will not find many changes. The changes that are there are rather subtle. Most of the major updates happen inside. But before I give you some impressions of my day here with these models, I’ll hand over a few details to the experts at Freightliner right away.

Gregor Treinen
One of the most important things our customers need to know, one of the things we communicate is that the best just got even better. So there are certain things that we haven’t changed. Many of the things that have made the M2 and SD line of products so successful over the past several decades. So it’s visibility, right? The 2,500 square inch windshield, the sloping hood. You’ll see when you get back into the M2, for those of you who haven’t driven one in a while, it’s like driving a big pickup.

Think legendary maneuverability, right? The 55 degree wheel cut, critical to our P&D, for food and beverage applications. Steel reinforced aluminum cab, hence cab durability, the henrob rivets. Cab building, the cab configurations we offer, right? So you get the day taxi. We have this 26 inch extended cab. We have a 48 inch crew cab which you will also see at the track. Our frame rails are free behind the cab, the guidance and trimming which we updated a few years ago. So while the Plus series represents a big change, there has been an evolution over time. So improving routing clipping was an important part of that a few years ago.

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One of the first things people will notice about the M2 Plus series is the updated grill. We’ve taken a lot of styling cues from our Cascadia line of products on the road and incorporated them into this design here on the M2 Plus. We have many customers in the market who will be running a range of Cascadias for their roadside business. So box vans for their delivery business on the last mile. And I really love having these similarities between the two product lines. We also updated the air intake cover. Again, just to give the small impression that this is an M2 Plus product.

Aaron Scates
We are in the cabin of the 114SD Plus, this is the new interior. This one has the interior of the Rugged Edition. This is our sort of hybrid interior between the Pro Series and the Elite. So you’ll find that there are some things like the leather steering wheel from the Elite package, but also vinyl finishes on the headliner and rear bulkhead, making it easier to clean. We have all new door panels including new composite materials. We moved the window switches, mirror controls and door locks to the door panel itself. And this is a switch control with an IP67 rating, so it is protected from dust and water ingress. So if the window is open, you don’t have to worry about it. But we built this optional map pocket into the door panel. This is shaped for your hand and can support a weight of 300 pounds.

On a vehicle like this, where you have a higher ride height and larger tires, you lift yourself off the ground and getting in and out is greatly aided by that. So this basically becomes a grab handle to get in and out of. We’ve also moved the speakers around for the radio, for the audible notifications, for things like Sideguard Assist. We moved those from the dash down into the door panels. And when you drive this truck, you really notice that the audio is a huge improvement over the current M2 SD models. This is good for the door panel. We have rubber grips here. Door handles can also act as grab handles. Big change here on the steering column. So now we have a continuously adjustable steering column that is also telescopic. Not only can you move it out of the way to get in and out, you can really position it where you want it, regardless of your driving preference.

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On earlier models there was a sort of detented position. And that really just gives you a lot of flexibility. Big news here with the new electrical architecture. Of course, here we have our instrument cluster with the 5-inch display. You get things like diagnostics, alerts, safety system feedback, controls, interlock feedback and things like that. And all of this can also be controlled via these buttons on the steering wheel. This allows you to switch between the different maps. For example, pressing the PTO switch on the B panel takes you immediately to a screen for PTO where you can cycle through your different speed choices. You can also make custom speed selections and then use these controls here to cycle through the different screens depending on what’s set for the vehicle. So you also have the volume up, down. This is also what selects incremental speeds for the PTO, things like that.

On the right side you have phone controls, cruise control, speed settings and then some light controls as well. So the whole idea here is that we take a lot of those basic operator controls, remove them from the dash and put them within easy reach for the operator to keep their hands on the wheels and the road. Just to increase security. Also a big change in terms of flexibility, we mentioned the QuickFit Upfit system which has programmable electrical modules. They’re here behind me on the back wall. And that’s the bracket that these connectors are typically mounted to. With this system in the M2 SD Plus on the B panel, you could theoretically configure this for 32 programmable and vehicle level switches. So you would have some kind of vehicle functions and programmable switches. You can get eight packs of four on the B panel.

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Additionally, if you decide against a CB or overhead radio, you can get panels in each of these compartments and an additional 24 switches on top. So a plethora of optional switch content above and below, just by quantity and preference. Note that the dashboard materials have only been improved. The fit and finish are really improved. This is especially noticeable when driving. We have this great phone holder up here on the dash as well as a tray. You can configure this for a RAM mount to install optional devices such as screens and other control panels. This one also has the optional RAM mount at the top of the cab.

This one doesn’t have turn assist, but you can see the cutout here in the A-pillar on the right that if it had turn assist, it would basically flash a light to alert you to a pedestrian. an object or vehicle in your blind spot on the right. And if you try to change lanes or turn in that direction, you’ll switch from yellow to red and you’ll also get an audible alert. So it just increases the operator’s awareness of your surroundings.

Jason Cannon
Freightliner has made it very clear that in this redesign process they have attempted to bridge the gap between light pickup trucks and heavy duty trucks with the SD Plus and M2 Plus. And they really did. And it’s really in the little things, like the driver’s seat moving a bit further under the steering wheel, the infinitely telescoping wheel, it really does feel like you could step right out of a passenger car, light pickup, and hop right into a commercial vehicle . Honestly, if it’s more comfortable to drive, it’s just safer. The technology of this truck is really unusual in the medium-heavy range. It’s becoming more common, but you just don’t see much of it at the moment. Anything you can do to make driving easier, makes driving safer. I think you hit a home run and Freightliner certainly did with the reinvention, if you want to call it that, of its SD Plus and M2 Plus.

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