Freightliner Century Class

By: Dave Cox, Photography by: Dave Cox


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Dave Cox re-visits a Freightliner Century Class 2004 to see whether the seven year old truck has still got what it takes

  • Classic American dash
  • Good access to the cab
  • Easy and comfortable to drive
  • Great stability from leaf springs
  • Stalk gear lever easy to use

With the rapid change of computerised electronics and gadgets over the years, it will be interesting to see how this seven-year-old truck, which has covered in excess of 750,000km, will cope in today's climate.

Being a conventional (bonneted) truck sets the Freightliner up for great access. The steps set into the side skirts are long, which helps make gaining a solid footing easy. A grab handle is on the left door pillar.

The driver's seat is a genuine Freightliner seat with a few less adjustments compared to some, but still very comfortable and provides a good driving position. There is a fully adjustable telescopic steering wheel, which was a little worse for wear after drivers using it as a grab handle.

The dash could be summed up as classic American, with a semi wrap-around style with clearly marked gauges. The wood grain finish and silver bezels around the gauges make for a fairly stylish look, and there is a gauge for every occasion, as opposed to the new scroll-through screen menu readouts seen on some of the new European models.

Storage is ample, with a centre console, overhead cubbyholes, door pockets and glove compartment.

Mirrors are positioned well and allow for clear, unobstructed views. These are electric and heated, with adjustable left and right from the driver's door panel.

Performance and handling

This Century Class Freightliner has a C 15 CAT motor rated at 475hp and is fitted with the automated 18-speed Road Ranger gearbox. The change lever (gear lever) is situated on a stalk arrangement that protrudes from the right-hand side of the steering column and can be used to change gear manually like a paddle application. Flick the paddle towards you and the gears change up; with a flick away from you the gears change down.

I headed for Auckland with the gear selection in the manual mode, and after five or six kilometres found this truck easy and comfortable to drive.

The Century Class glided along SH27 with great stability as opposed to some vehicles. The suspension stability comes by way of leaf springs on the front with four-bag air suspension on the rear.

Cruising into a couple of 35k and 50k corners at 44-tonne with a five-axle B-train in tow, the Freightliner still felt very comfortable and responsive, with great feel through the steering wheel to the driver. The Jacobs retarder on the C 15 Cat performed as it should and certainly washed off some speed when required.

The Freightliner Century Class 2004 is still an excellent truck, and it actually gives its 2010 competitors a real curry up, which is pretty damn good.

See used Freightliner trucks for sale.

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