Hands On with the International CXT
Even with a $90,000 starting price tag, the 9-foot-tall International CXT pickup is ready for customizing. The company showed off a pair of hopped-up trucks at the 2004 SEMA Show in the hopes of securing customers and interesting aftermarket companies in developing additional upgrades. But more important to us, they had another truck outside giving rides, and we jumped in the passenger’s seat for a quick tour around the show grounds.
The trucks in the International booth had custom interiors, including plush seating and high-dollar entertainment systems, and one had a hunting exterior motif. Company officials are promoting the truck as being a both a workhorse and play toy for extreme customers.
“The CXT is a truck for businesses that want to promote themselves as much as perform,” said Rob Swim, a strategy director at International. “It is as much a statement of success as it is performance.”
As a vehicle to help promote businesses, the CXT should appeal to construction-related companies involved in landscaping, hardware, materials, lumber and stone. Auto-body shops may also see value in driving around in one, especially if they can adapt a tow rig or flatbed. Real estate agents will probably stay with their Hummers. The type of customer who can really use the CXT will be those who tow heavy loads, such as a large boats, spacious RVs and multi-horse trailers. Tow rating on the all-wheel-drive truck is 40,000 pounds.
Our ride started in front in the Las Vegas Convention Center, and we were joined by Nick Matich, vice president and general manager of the severe service truck group, and Andrea Lewis of the company’s public relations firm. The CXT starts out as a standard International Class 7 chassis cab but is fitted with an 8-foot dualie bed, extending the length to 258 inches. For those who are thinking of tossing a cooler into the bed, the rails are 58 inches off the ground. Climbing into the cab takes three steps up to reach the comfortable air-suspended seat. The interior is clean, organized, carpeted and trimmed in wood. There’s an extraordinary amount of leg room both front and rear, and the rear bench seat can fold down into a bed.
The ride is not typical of a typical 1-ton truck. There is more impact harshness on bumps, especially from the rear. The cab is also air suspended, but the leaf-spring suspension is designed to support a 14,500-pound truck and up to 10,000 pounds in payload. An air suspension is really needed if this truck is to be used as personal transport for company executives and potential customers of a business. Although we weren’t in the driver’s seat, maneuvering the truck appeared rather straight-forward. The Allison 5-speed automatic transmission shifted effortlessly, and there was plenty of torque from the 220-horsepower I6 diesel engine. Officials say the truck will get about 8-to-10 mpg, and with a 70-gallon fuel tank, cruising range could go as high as 700 miles. Top speed is limited to 84 mph.
Drawing attention to itself is the CXT’s forte, and International can build a truck with flames, flat-screen television monitors, satellite radio, leather seating and rear-view camera. There’s also an optional tilt bed.
Officials say more than 120 CXTs were ordered in the first four months following its debut, and annual sales of 300 to 500 are expected.