Kenworth’s new T680 Next Generation on-highway flagship truck promises better fuel efficiency.


Story by team CV


Fuel efficiency is a factor that is dear to fleets and road transporters the world over. The rising cost of fuel and efforts to find alternate ways of propelling vehicles is enough to underline the fact. And, especially concerning commercial vehicles big and small. As an on-highway flagship HGV, the Kenworth new T680 promises six-per cent better fuel economy by the virtue of its sleek design. Highlighting significant improvement in aerodynamics, driver comfort and ergonomics and technology with features like a 15-inch digital screen dash display, the new truck seeks a fine balance between aerodynamics and performance. Looking beyond the promise of six-per cent better fuel economy by the virtue of its sleek design, the next generation truck includes in its specs a 76-inch sleeper. 

Easier-to-service and replete with components that offer longer life for maximum uptime, the long-haul tractor-head, starting with a narrower hood and grille design that cuts neatly through the air, features A-pillar turning vanes that create less wake next to side windows and smoothens out the airflow around the cab. Also featuring integrated front air dams, redesigned chassis fairings, and optional 28-inch side extenders, the truck boasts of a tandem axle fairings that combine with new wind-slick wheel covers to reduce turbulence around the rear wheels and on to the trailer. A result of an integration of engineering teams, aerodynamic experts and the styling department, the T680 Next Gen truck is a result of the expanding of boundaries of truck design and continuous development involving over 100 truck drivers for their inputs. Powered by a 13-litre EPA 2021 Paccar MX-13 engine that does between 405 hp and 510 hp, the new T680, according to Joe Adams, Kenworth chief engineer, is the most aerodynamic truck in company history. 

Supporting fuel efficiency enhancements with the means of optional side extenders that extend an additional nine-inches – 28-inches in total length, that helps close the tractor/trailer gap and smoothen out the airflow from the top and sides of the tractor onto the trailer to be precise, the new T680 also has the airflow under the chassis addressed. This, said Adams, keeps the airflow closer to the cab and reduces turbulence. Apart from the narrower hood, it is the restyled bumper that contributes to the truck’s ability to cheat the wind. And, without altering the approach angle or the ground clearance. The bumper flowing back under the chassis to guide airflow, the fully LED headlamps of the new T680 provide a crisp bright light. They have a built-in infrared heater to quickly clear ice and snow and include signature daytime running lamps and turn signals. The new LED side turn indicators offer increased visibility to surrounding traffic.

The steps into the cab redesigned too with a more stair-like entry to aid aerodynamics, the new truck profits from innovative technologies such as a 15-inch digital display, Next Gen SmartWheel and other advanced driver assistance systems. The 15-inch digital display, standard on the Next Generation T680, is the largest standard factory display available in any North American truck to date. Its design is easily adjustable to enable drivers to match their preferences, while also automatically displaying critical content. Drivers, mentioned a Kenworth source, can control the digital display with intuitive controls on the new standard Kenworth SmartWheel. The SmartWheel also puts cruise control and radio functions at the driver’s fingertips. The new digital instrumentation system, at the other end, allows seamless viewing selection between two minimised views, basic view, maximised view and even a driver customisable favourites’ view.

The digital display also offers advantages when the truck is parked. When the driver presses the exterior light self-test switch for example, the truck runs a full system check with the presentation of a quick analysis and summary of multiple systems status on the display. When a driver pulls in for the day and shuts the truck off, the screen transitions to a trip summary view. It opted for, it could even provide a driver performance assessment report and coaching advice. A drive summary, which reports statistics on information such as average fuel economy, idle time, cruise control usage, as well as any potential mechanical issues, also presents itself at the end of a work day. Offering a suite of advanced driver assistance systems, and introducing lane keep assist and torque assisted steering as optional for the first time, the new T680 uses camera input to identify when the truck is departing the lane and provides a ‘nudge’ to help keep centered in the lane. This feature requires Bendix Fusion and comes with torque assisted steering, which provides additional torque to the steering column, thereby reducing driver fatigue. The T680 Next Gen truck also includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, collision mitigation and side object detection. 

The cabin being projected as ultimate home away from home, the new T680 could be had with a 80-degree swivel passenger seat. It could be had with a swivel table top too. With good use of noise insulating material and LED interior lighting, the new truck, it is clear, is designed to is designed to optimize performance in the line- haul, in pickup and delivery applications, and in regional haul operations too. Available in day cab, 40-inch, 52-inch and 76-inch-sleeper cab configurations, the next generation Kenworth truck, with its improved chassis packaging, is an indication of how productivity gains in terms of market requirements are changing the face of trucking in North America. 

The T680 legacy flagship

The new T680 truck with significant aerodynamic and other improvements that result in a six-per cent rise in fuel economy and service-ability draws from the already popular and successful T680. A class-eight truck as per the American standards, the new T680 builds on the ‘Advantage’ model enhancement announced in 2014 with the promise of a five-per cent increase in fuel economy. As a flagship offering from Kenworth, the T680 has been a popular heavy-duty tractor-head line-up in the North American market with regular upgrades to stay ahead of the competition. Made available with a special factory-installed aerodynamic package and an optimised powertrain combination of the Paccar MX-13 engine integrated with the Eaton Fuller Advantage 10-speed automated transmission, the T680 Advantage truck in 2014 was very well received. Displayed at the 2013 Mid-America Trucking Show, the truck with its fuel economy benefits resonate turned out to be subject of much attention with fleets and owner operators looking to save money in fuel costs. Termed as a true game changer by Kenworth, the new T680, drawing from a series of improvements enacted to the flagship truck-line over the years, elevates the prospect of an efficient and reliable vehicle to a new level. The aerodynamic enhancement journey of the new T680 could be traced to the efforts that led to the upgrading of T600 in 2008 to T660. As part of the modernisation of its product line-up, Kenworth treated the T600 to a substantial revision to its aerodynamics, terming it as T660 thereafter. Arriving in 2013, the T680 marked the third-generation aerodynamic Kenworth conventional serving as a single replacement for the narrow-body T660 and the wide-body T700. For 2021, Kenworth has also introduced T680E as a truck powered by battery-electric powertrain.


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