Family Addition

Steve Sturgess | July 01, 2012

Making the most of this table feature is a foot-operated swivel option for the passenger seat that brings the seat around to face the table. There it can be used as a pull-up chair for work, eating, or other activities. For relaxing, the seat can be kicked back like a La-Z-Boy. The cabinet stack that supports the table has a microwave space over the table, and a flat screen mount on a swivel that means the TV can be seen from the turned passenger seat or swung back for ideal viewing from the bunk.

On the other side of the truck is the refrigerator space that houses an optional slide-out, top-loading fridge and features a step for easy access to the optional upper bunk, where a tent-style restraint encourages use of the safety system.

All in all, it’s an excellently thought-out space. It includes the regular sleeper area that then swings around the driver seat as far forward as the dash, using fully three-quarters of the cab/sleeper space in the new and exciting mid-width cab.

On The Road

Truckers News was one of only a few magazines given the opportunity to drive the new T680 at its launch during the Mid-America Trucking Show. Our route took us out of the Louisville Expo Center west and south toward Elizabethtown for a couple of hours and back again after a truck swap. On the way out, I drove a day cab T680 with Paccar MX power; on the return, an impressive integrated cab/sleeper with Cummins ISX 485.

The most memorable thing about the new cab was its extremely rigid-feeling construction. There is no booming amplification of road or mechanical noise as sometimes occurs with the flat-panel riveted construction of the narrow cab.

Also immediately apparent is the terrific visibility through the low side glass, the panoramic windshield, the sloping nose that can hardly be seen from the driver’s seat, and the excellent cowl-mounted mirrors that are rigid and vibration free.

On the short-wheelbase day cab, the transitions on bridge approach and departure were definitely felt, but the absence of any exterior or cab noise as these events happened was also noticeable. This new truck is extraordinarily quiet. Of course, the low-noise 12-liter Paccar MX in the day cab truck is in part responsible for this.

The 10-speed manual shifted with the usual Kenworth precision and the truck steered well, staying on line and cutting into curves with the first movement of the steering wheel. The new instrument cluster works well, too, with everything in front of the driver and designed for maximum legibility.

Cummins ISX 15

The switches’ proximity to the driver is according to function. Controls for the fifth-wheel slider, air dump valve and so on are the farthest reach away because they are used infrequently — and you don’t want to be accidently fiddling with them going down the road, anyway.

The navigation panel is the Kenworth NavPlus execution of the PACCAR driver infotainment system. It is multi-functional and includes the addition of virtual round gauges to supplement the nine gauges in the main dash. In all, there are 12 additional gauges available in the NavPlus.

The driving return loop was in the sleeper truck. With its Cummins ISX 485 and 13-speed UltraShift transmission, it was easy, quiet and a joy to drive. Part of this was attributable to the Kenworth air-ride AG130 front suspension. On the downside, this truck was not as precise in the steering as the day cab. This may be a function of the air suspension or just the fact that it was a much longer wheelbase and so has a slower turn-in than the other.

But given the choice, the big sleeper would be everyone’s favorite workplace for its quiet, comfort and spaciousness.

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