Road test: Freightliner Coronado gets the Harley Davidson treatment

By: Matt Wood


HD 1 Freightliner built two custom Coronado 114s for Harley Davidson Australia. HD 1
HD 2 With barely any weight behind it the 114 rumbled along with ease. HD 2
HD 3 Some leather and custom stitching gives the Coronado interior a lift. HD 3
HD 4 With only a bogie trailer behind it only half of these cogs were needed. HD 4
HD 5 The 34-inch bunk is surprisingly spacious when combined with the mid-roof cab. HD 5
HD 6 The Coronado 114 is arguably the best looking model in the Freightliner range. HD 6
HD 7 The set-forward steer axle keeps bridge engineers happy and maximises the truck’s footprint. HD 7
HD 8 In the US both Ford and International have released Harley Davidson edition vehicles. HD 8

Freightliner has decked out two Coronado trucks with plenty of bling and flames. What’s not to like?

 

One thing I’ve never really succeeded in doing very well is coming across as a bad arse. It doesn’t matter how much black I wear, leather jacket, stomping boots, nobody ever buys it.

Anytime I have tried it I just ended up with elderly ladies offering me a cup of tea or a bowl of soup.

So I thought maybe the Harley Davidson brand might help. After all, what’s more bad arse than a big shiny thumping V-twin gargling through a set of Vance and Hines pipes?

Trouble is I’m not a very good motorcycle rider. So rather than growling menacingly through traffic and glaring at tourists, I would be more likely to end up with a taxi number plate between my teeth. Or a bus on my head. None of which is very bad arse at all. In fact I reckon it may be a little painful.

So I thought I’d try something that I can in fact drive: one of two Harley Davidson themed Freightliner Coronado’s built by Freightliner Australia.

 

HD_6

The Coronado 114 is arguably the best looking model in the Freightliner range.

 

I rocked up to Daimler’s Huntingwood New South Wales dealership to find the big black beast waiting for me outside.

The two Coronado 114s were built to transport Harley Davidson’s exhibition and merchandise trailers around the country. Black with bling and flames, what’s not to like? And I figured it may just make me look bad, or at least slightly mischievous.

Those with a slightly longer attention span than me may be wondering what 114 stands for. It refers to the Freightliner’s 114 inch bumper to back of cab (BBC) measurement. It’s a snub-nosed set-forward steer-axle platform that tucks into the 26 metre B-double envelope but is also handy for truck and dog and pocket B-double applications.

The set forward steer makes the footprint of the whole combination longer and stops people like bridge engineers getting cranky. In short, the weight of the combination is spread out further.

 

HD_3

Some leather and custom stitching gives the Freightliner Coronado interior a lift.

 

But this one is black and shiny and has flames and extra lights on it. I’m ashamed to admit that sometimes that’s all it takes to get my attention. 

The Coronado lends itself nicely to a bit of bling. The big chrome grille, bonnet mounted air intakes and functionally funky hood ornament/bonnet handle give the truck a traditional American look.

On climbing inside I was greeted with custom leather seats complete with stitched Harley logos and a dirty great logo across the back of the sleeper. Custom door panels rounded off the interior treatment.

Freightliner has tried hard to differentiate the interior of the Coronado from that of the Argosy and Century class. Unfortunately aside from some white gauges it’s still a little white bread. I’ve always reckoned that the Coronado could do with a slightly more individual driver environment. But tough guys shouldn’t care about such things anyway.

 

HD_1

Freightliner built two custom Coronado 114 trucks for Harley Davidson Australia.

 

The DD15 under the hood fired into life, I then let all of the air out of the driver’s seat to go for that low riding look. The only problem with this is that though it may look tough, you can’t see where you are going. So I had to pump it back up again.

With barely any weight behind it the 114 rumbled around Sydney’s industrial west with ease. A couple of cogs in bottom ‘box was all that was needed to shuffle the Harley rig into top ‘box and out onto the highway.

I practiced menacing looks with my reflection on the windscreen, but I just looked as if I had a wind problem so I dropped that idea.

On the road with one or two trailers, the 114 is my pick of the Freightliner stable. The twin steering box set up of the Coronado does a nice job of cushioning any kick through the wheel, yet still conveys some road feel.

 

 HD_5

The 34-inch bunk is surprisingly spacious when combined with the mid-roof cab.

 

I headed to Uncle Leo’s road house near the old crossroads. I figured that maybe at least someone there would appreciate just how tough I looked. I was doing OK for a bit until I made the mistake of ordering a skinny latte.

If there was a piano playing in the corner it would’ve stopped. One bloke eating a road kill and eggs brekkie looked my way disparagingly and shook his head. I’d blown it.

Shamefaced, I climbed into my pretty black beast and let it have its head on the highway for a bit before returning it to its owners.

I’d failed. The Coronado is a great handling prime mover and easy to drive. I just couldn’t get the bad arse thing to happen. I even had a bus load of school kids wave happily at me as they drove by. Maybe I need to stop wearing pastel colours.   

 

 

You can read the full review in the February issue of Owner//Driver.

 

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