PHOENIX – For the first time in nearly 30 years, Kenworth Trucks is releasing an all-new line of work trucks that will be available sometime in the third quarter of 2021.
The company debuted their trucks to media during a preview event in downtown Phoenix last week. Of the five new trucks, the T180 is perhaps most notable for landscapers. It’s a Class 5 truck that can come with a 16-foot stake bed, which could help moving materials or equipment for crews out in the field. It can come equipped with a three-person bench seat and offers a 2.1-meter cab (eight inches wider than previous trucks) for more user comfort.
“The biggest thing was cab space,” said Kevin Baney, Kenworth’s general manager. “That was probably the top feedback from customers was just providing additional room.”
The company also revealed four other trucks: the T280 (a water tank and box van models were both available), T380 and T480. Kenworth has not yet determined prices for any of the models.
Five years ago, Kenworth started talking with customers about what they could do to redesign the trucks. Ultimately, they conducted roughly 500 interviews with clients during the design process, some of which were commercial landscapers. They frequently received feedback on comfortability and the three-person bench seat. Plus, they added additional storage spots in the cab to let drivers leave phones, wallets, keys and more in the truck without those items rattling around, and a new climate control system that’s easy to navigate.
“We’ve always leveraged our customer councils (but) medium duty is a little bit different – it’s more about the driver,” Baney said. “We pulled in a ton of drivers, and all of the different applications represented by these trucks, we had to go get their requirements.”
Comfortability wasn’t the only factor considered when designing the new models: They’re equipped with a PACCAR TX-8 automatic transmission and, for the T180 specifically, a PX-7 engine that generates up to 325 horsepower. The T180 and T280 come with tire sizes ranging from 19.5 to 22.5 inches and rear axle ratings of 11,500 to 21,000 pounds. Those two models also come with a low roof as the standard option but can come with a raised roof instead. Frame lengths are determined by the customer order and what they specify in their needs, whether it needs to become a dump truck, snow plow or something else entirely.
“Medium duty customers, a lot of them put bodies on the back of the trucks, so we worked very closely with the body builders and got a lot of feedback from them as well while we were designing the vehicle,” said JT Mansurov, Kenworth’s medium duty marketing manager. “When the customer orders the vehicle, they already know which body they put on the truck, so they already give us that information and the plant builds it according to spec to make sure that body fits properly.”
Additionally, Baney said visibility and safety were frequently discussed when designing the new trucks. The front windshield on all five models is larger than before, increasing visibility by up to 17%. The new Kenworth Digital Display is also a seven-inch high-definition display that’s standard on all five trucks. It displays the speedometer, tachometer, oil pressure and coolant temperature, though it can also display various pieces of information like gauges or trip information.
With the right specifications, the display also analyzes speed limit signs and determines how fast the vehicle directly ahead of the truck is going. If the driver inches too close, the display lights up with clear warning signs, and if the driver drifts into another lane, the vehicle makes sounds that mimic rumble strips.
To learn more about the T180 or the other trucks in the new Kenworth lineup, click here.