After months of isolation due to COVID-19, driving a new tractor-trailer in Central Texas was a welcome relief, even if the scenery wasn't the most picturesque. Peterbilt's Model 579 marked a fresh start for the OEM with an aerodynamic departure from tradition and a driver-focused interior developed with input from driver and fleet focus groups.
Peterbilt continued to improve the Model 579 with the addition of the UltraLoft sleeper cab and the "Epiq" aerodynamic package, which boosted fuel efficiency up to 10%. However, the latest Model 579 is more than a few cosmetic changes. Peterbilt is calling it the "New Model 579" for its significant redesign and improvement, the first since its introduction nine years ago.
Jacob White, the Peterbilt Product Marketing Director, who led the development of the New Model 579, joined the writer on a day of test-driving the truck on the desolate roads outside of Denton.
What's New About the Peterbilt Model 579 in 2022?
One of the key improvements made to the New Model 579 is its sleek and aerodynamic front end. To achieve improved airflow and visibility, the radiator had to be lowered, which resulted in a 15% tightening of the truck's chassis. In addition, the truck features new, acoustically adjusted engine mounts that support highway travel at 1,500 rpm, providing a smoother ride and a cab interior that is 10% quieter than the preceding Model 579.
According to Peterbilt's Product Marketing Director, Jacob White, the New Model 579 is the most cutting-edge vehicle the company has ever produced. It boasts brand-new amenities and technology, as well as a range of aerodynamic improvements and enhanced comfort and productivity features within the cab and sleeper.
Innovative Design and Aerodynamic Performance
Upon first glance, the New Model 579 catches the eye with its sleek and streamlined front design. Peterbilt Product Marketing Director Jacob White attributes this to the model's five-year development cycle, evident in its new lightweight resin hood made of Metton. According to White, this new hood is thinner and more damage-resistant than its predecessors. The signature Peterbilt "bird" emblem sits proudly atop the stainless-steel radiator, which has also undergone improvements.
While the front-end design subtly nods to vintage Peterbilt styles with its side accents, slim fenders, and sculpted "valleys," it also incorporates modern features, such as optional LED headlights and a three-piece bumper design. White explains that the front radar cover for collision prevention systems is smoothly included in the bumper from the start, while fog lights are integrated to work with the high-beam lamps.
Cornering lights, another new feature based on driver feedback throughout the design process, highlight both front bumpers while turning at night. White emphasizes that this attention to detail in the front-end design is just the beginning of the New Model 579's cutting-edge features.
Inside the cab, the driver is greeted with enhanced comfort and productivity elements, such as new air vents, sound insulation, and optimized storage solutions. The UltraLoft sleeper cab, first introduced in 2018, provides ample headroom and space for drivers who spend extended periods on the road.
Overall, the New Model 579 represents a significant leap forward for Peterbilt, incorporating both aesthetic and functional improvements based on extensive driver and fleet focus group feedback.
Improved Rear-View Mirrors
When approaching the New Model 579 for the first time, the streamlined front design immediately catches your eye. According to White, the five-year development cycle of the new model is evident. The most prominent component is the new lightweight resin material hood, called Metton, which is more damage-resistant and thinner than the hood on the preceding 579 models. The trademark Peterbilt "bird" insignia is prominently displayed at the top of the robust stainless-steel radiator. The side accents, low, slim fenders, and sculpted "valleys" near the truck body subtly evoke vintage Peterbilt designs.
The front-end appearance is significantly improved with new, cutting-edge (optional) LED headlights, a three-piece bumper design, and some thoughtful fog lamps. The front radar cover for collision prevention systems has been smoothly included in the bumper from the beginning, and the fog lights are entirely integrated to work with the high-beam lamps. Cornering lights, one of many new features based on considerable driver feedback throughout the design process, highlight both front bumpers while turning at night.
Improved rear-view mirrors are also noticeable. The New Model 579 will have two mirror choices: the most recent Advanced Aero Mirror option and the upcoming Peterbilt Digital Vision System, a rear-view camera system that will be an option starting this autumn, were both installed on the test vehicle.
Sturdier Than Ever Before
A sturdy single-beam support arm links the Advanced Aero Mirrors to new, aerodynamically enhanced A-pillars that include routings for the camera system, giving them an efficient and sophisticated appearance that is intended to speed up airflow over and around them. However, the cameras included at the base of the mirror assembly, facing backwards and downwards, are what really captures people's attention.
Continuing to examine the vehicle, you can't help but notice the new tandem axle fairings, ultra-low front air dam, flexible lower-body skirting, close-out structures, and easy-fold-out, no-tool chassis fairing. Combined, these new aerodynamic features enhance the New Model 579's fuel efficiency by an impressive 7% compared to earlier 579 models – an improvement White justly calls "massive."
When you take a step back and look at everything, you can't help but feel that the New Model 579 was more sculpted than it was created. The overall design is broad-shouldered but streamlined, and there is no mistaking that this vehicle is modern and sleek. Yet, it is also unmistakably a Peterbilt, with enough classic style elements to appeal to truck enthusiasts who appreciate long noses, and it wears this identity proudly.
Feel Integrated: At Rest and While Traveling
After entering the cab of the New Model 579, skeptics may be convinced of its revolutionary nature. The cab is where one can truly appreciate the innovative design of this version of the Model 579 and its historical significance for Peterbilt.
Upon entering the cab, the displays for the rear-view cameras installed on the aerodynamic A-pillars immediately catch your attention. To test the sturdiness of the cab, you may purposely slam the driver-side door harder than usual. However, the door latches shut quietly, as expected from a Peterbilt, and the rear-view camera displays remain steady, further emphasizing the quality of the vehicle.
What Makes It Great
Another notable feature of the New Model 579 was the adaptive cruise control, which proved to be incredibly useful in navigating through varying speed limits and heavy traffic. In Texas, as with many other Southern states, speed limits can change abruptly and without warning, but with this feature, maintaining a safe and legal speed was a breeze. Even when faced with slower traffic or drivers cutting in front, the adaptive cruise control worked seamlessly to adjust the truck's speed accordingly.
After spending some time behind the wheel of the New Model 579 UltraLoft, I am convinced that this is a game-changing vehicle. The integration of safety and technological systems is remarkable, and it's clear that Peterbilt designed this truck with drivers in mind. Even after driving for hours, the truck felt comfortable and secure, making for a productive and enjoyable experience. Overall, the New Model 579 UltraLoft is an impressive achievement and a testament to Peterbilt's commitment to innovation and excellence.
In conclusion, the Peterbilt Model 579 UltraLoft is a game-changer in the world of trucking. Its innovative design and cutting-edge features make it a benchmark for 2022 and beyond. From its sleek and aerodynamic front end to its improved rear-view mirrors, the New Model 579 is a testament to Peterbilt's commitment to excellence and driver-focused design. The integration of safety and technological systems is remarkable, and the truck's improved fuel efficiency is a significant achievement.
The New Model 579 UltraLoft is a perfect example of a vehicle that was molded rather than created, with attention to detail evident in every aspect of its design. This truck is a joy to drive, even on long hauls, and it represents a significant leap forward for Peterbilt. If you're in the market for a new truck, the Peterbilt Model 579 UltraLoft is definitely worth considering.