Family Addition

Steve Sturgess | July 01, 2012

While it may appear a little funky when looking at the windshield top corner and the side window line, the extra tall windshield brings light into the cab and enables a view of overhead traffic lights without the usual gymnastics involved in peering under the windshield header. The panoramic one-piece windshield is the only configuration available.

The aerodynamic wind-tunnel design was achieved in partnership with Magna International, claimed to be the biggest and most diverse supplier of interior and exterior components for the automotive industry. The T680’s aerodynamic shape benefits from a sculpted full-height roof, an optimized bumper and hood, full-height side extenders, cab/sleeper-to-fairings closeout panels, chassis fairings extenders and flush-mounted lighting. Kenworth says it all adds up to a significant 10 percent enhancement in aerodynamics over existing models, including the T660.

The T680 was engineered with 65 percent more storage capacity than the T660 with a 50 percent larger windshield and 40 percent less interior noise. Significantly, the door openings are 30 percent larger to make the 680 easier to get into.

The hood is wider and lower than the T660’s, with new headlights. These are dual halogen (standard) with optional HID Xenon lamps, which Kenworth says creates the industry’s best forward lighting. The hood is in three parts for easy, less costly repair. The bumper is split for similar reasons.

Along with good side and rear visibility, the forward view is enhanced with a steeply sloping hood and carefully angled “A” pillars for minimum intrusion into the field of view. As is Kenworth’s way, mirrors are cowl-mounted (Peterbilt’s, by contrast, mount to the doors in its traditional fashion).


On the inside, everything has been done to make practical use of the additional cab width on the new model. The driving position faces a new instrument cluster where gauges that previously had migrated across the dash are now reconsolidated and clearly displayed within the arc of the steering wheel.

Newly designed switches that can be used both as rocker or as toggles spread in Kenworth fashion across the right-hand mildly swept side dash. The steering position is adjustable and the pedals have been redesigned for optimum angles.

“Based on our expandable cab data, we started with the ‘driver’s space,’ creating the ideal position for the pedal package, the optimal seating position and steering wheel location,” says Wally Peltola, Kenworth design director. “The air-assisted hydraulic clutch we designed requires only half the pressure of a traditional clutch, plus less travel, so it’s very easy to engage. It allows a woman in the 5th percentile of size, as well as a male in the 95th percentile, to maintain easy clutch control. That is a major leap forward in accommodating drivers.”

Within the main dash panel is the Driver Performance Center, an all-new, full-color, high-resolution, 5-inch display screen that shows current truck information, diagnostic data and pop-up alerts. It will also display recommendations to help the driver improve vehicle performance.

With the automatic temperature control for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, the driver — or passenger — can simply set the desired temperature and the system will maintain it. A one-touch feature provides maximum defrost.

The Kenworth proprietary seats are actually manufactured and supplied along with other interior modules by Magna. They offer an advanced air suspension system that automatically adjusts to various driver weights. An adjustable shock provides a full range of seat comfort for driver-specific preferences. An optional passenger 180-degree swivel seat allows the occupant to face into the sleeper. This option, which is designed into the space rather than the usual lets-add-a-swivel-seat option, combines with the rotating table to create an industry-leading work and living environment.


The sleeper has been totally redesigned. A unique passenger-side table can swivel back to the bunk. Its rugged work top has been designed to sustain a 450-pound load.

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