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You want a sport-utility vehicle that says power? Luxury? Whose sheer size
and pavement-rumbling engine send others scurrying to the slow lane?
Well, you're probably not going to buy one of these because, after all, only
300 of the seven-ton monsters have been sold and they cost a cool $115,000.
But for the sheer ability to make folks gawk or cringe, now there's
something for big-truck fans to consider beyond the Hummer.
It's a new, monster breed of SUV -- the International 7300 CXT, brought to
you by the folks who once made farm equipment -- and this rig makes the
hulking Hummer, the current king of the roads, look like a ladybug.
Everything else, too, for that matter.
"It's huge. Man, my truck looks like a toy," said David Anderson of
Bloomington, who pulled up alongside the CXT in his Ford F-350 pickup at a
Twin Cities gas station recently.
Basically a semitrailer truck with a pickup bed on the back, the CXT is
billed as an "extreme SUV" and the "world's largest production pickup."
In a nation fascinated by supersized trucks and TV shows that "pimp-up"
rides with custom interiors and spinning rims, the CXT is poised to become
the ultimate road-hog status symbol for celebrities, pro athletes and anyone
with money (and fuel) to burn.
"You're not going to sell thousands of these. What this is, is a unique
opportunity for people who want to express themselves through their
vehicle," said Scott Dawson, owner of Astleford International, whose two
Twin Cities dealerships sell the CXT. "If you drive this, you want to make a
About 300 CXTs have been sold nationwide since International began marketing
the truck in September.
That dwarfed initial sales projections of 80 trucks for the first year.
Current owners include actor Ashton Kutcher, country singer Toby Keith and
an athlete or two.
So far, Dawson hasn't sold any in Minnesota, but that could change soon.
After driving a demo CXT around the Twin Cities for the past month and
advertising on sports talk radio, Dawson said, he has about a dozen people
seriously interested. One, a professional fisherman from the region, may
soon pick up the keys to the behemoth.
In Minnesota, a regular driver's license is enough for anyone climbing
behind the wheel. The CXT's gross vehicle weight rating falls one pound
below the 26,000-pound threshold beyond which Minnesota law requires a
But drivers will need to make a few adjustments because the CXT is a pickup
truck in name only. In actuality, it looks and sometimes rides more like the
dump trucks and other heavy equipment International normally makes.
Sure, it may come with the amenities found on a Ford Explorer or Dodge
Durango: four-wheel drive, leather seats, automatic transmission, keyless
entry and kicked-up stereo.
But its six tires are hip-high. It's 21½ feet long. It tows 27,000 pounds
and doesn't fit in a standard garage, parking space or fast-food
drive-through. It gets 8 to 10 miles per gallon, according to company
'It's so different'
It's also got a crew cab that seats five, hissing air brakes and a big-rig
style vertical, chrome exhaust pipe. Then there's the booming horn, rivaling
anything a Peterbilt belts out.
"People love that," Dawson said as he drove the CXT late last month through
As if on cue, the window rolled down on a train passing by. The conductor
leaned out, giving a hearty thumbs-up as his engine chugged through the
crossing. With the CXT's towering 9-foot-tall cab, its passengers are at the
conductor's eye level, and higher than your typical stop sign.
It's a bit like driving a building, and it makes for a unique driving
experience. There's nothing about this truck that's not supersized -- from
the huge steering wheel to the entire lane width it fills. The air brakes
also require some getting used to, requiring a light touch and more lead
time, something that led the State Patrol to recommend training for CXT
drivers before they get behind the wheel.
But the perspective from the driver's seat is something else. You look down
at just about everything on the road. Combine that with 7 tons of metal
thrumming underneath and there's a sudden injection of chest-thumping
machismo into any CXT driver -- whether it's a muscular dude or middle-aged
No one on the road is going to mess with you. And people get out of your
The CXT does not slip in quietly when it arrives at its destination. Kids
point and grin. Adults do double takes.
"What is that? A Hummer? A semi? Or what?" said DeLynn Pfannenstein of
Farmington, who spotted the CXT cruising near the airport. "It's just an
Others whip out camera phones.
"I gotta show my family. It's so different. So big," Jon Martinneau said as
he pointed and snapped in the parking lot of a Bloomington business.
Then there are those guys simply overcome with emotion at the sight of the
megatruck. It's almost as if the CXT reels them in at gas stations,
restaurants and anywhere it's parked.
"Sweet," Anderson said in an awestruck near-whisper last month as he slowly
walked around the CXT in Bloomington.
Dawson, a third-generation owner of Astleford International, said not
everyone buying CXTs simply wants to drive a big truck.
For contractors or landscapers, he said, the CXT could be a boon to haul
heavy equipment. Commercial boat haulers and those who haul horses
cross-country could also put the truck's power and its feather-touch air
brakes to good use.
David Armstrong of Prior Lake said he can't imagine why he would ever truly
need a CXT's power.
"It's overkill," he said. "But it's still very cool."
Jill Burcum is at