By Tim Barton
Photography by Paul Hartley and the author
The universe of vehicles is huge. There's a car or truck for every imaginable demographic and every possible application. Some industry pundits may conclude that new demographic segments are an invention of manufacturers on the lookout for just one more chance to create the perfect hybrid. You may recall the advent of the crew cab decades ago, which seemed to stretch the definition of pickup to its limits. An obliging public quickly made the crew cab a staple of the truck market.
And while the crew cab grew into itself and evolved into super crews and crews with dualies, development took it up and out from the typical pickup. International's hulking new pickup, affably described by some as a "pickup on steroids," cuts through the clutter. We recently had a chance to drive International's Big Red in the Arizona desert. Just as automakers define their markets to suit their customers, commercial-truck manufacturers define their vehicles to suit their utility-minded operators by offering different gross- vehicle-weight classes.
In this case, with a gross-axle-weight rating of 10,000 pounds in front and 17,000 in back, this truck is a Class 7 vehicle by GVWR standards. (One caveat: Its GVWR means the driver must have a Class B commercial driver's license, a requirement that kicks in at 26,001 pounds.) By federal standards, Class 8 vehicles have GVWRs of at least 33,001.
Nevertheless, this truck is set apart from other Class 7 vehicles by its looks. Its beastliness lies in the fact that it's styled as a pickup that has, like the Amazing Hulk, become enraged. The typical Class 7 looks like a smallish work truck or a Baby 8, a diminutive truck styled to have the appearance of its beefier big brother.
This fact alone sets the truck apart from its contemporaries, even those whose attributes cut across class lines. Unlike many vehicles, this truck doesn't compromise. It's an amalgam of pickup styling and big-rig capability. Its stance is that of a full-size truck pumped and buffed to Olympian proportions. It's designed to carry big loads on big roads or on rough terrain.