New trucks from Kenworth don’t come around very often, but this week has seen the release and first drive of two all new models from Kenworth. Diesel got a first look and a first drive around the AARC testing track at Anglesea in Victoria.
The two new models are the T410 and the T360, effectively replacing the current T409 and the T359. These are the latest updates to the Kenworth range as the 2.1 metre wide standard cabin design works its way across the offering from Kenworth.
The first in the sequence was the introduction of the T610, which came out two years ago and has been accepted as a viable model. In fact, the T610 and the T610 SAR has been approaching 50 per cent of the Paccar assembly plant in Bayswater’s production in recent times.
The new models are part of a general realignment of the model range in the Kenworth world. The T610 trucks are now those fitted with 15 litre engines from Cummins and the T410 range are trucks fitted with the 13 litre engine from Paccar, the MX13.
In the past, models like the T409SAR was often sold fitted with a 15 litre X15 engine, but this is no longer the case. If you want a fifteen litre engine, you go the T610 or any of the other T6 models still available, plus, of course, the T909. The T410 will only be available with a Paccar 13 litre.
In superseding the T359, the T360 just takes the vocational workhorse of the last few years to another level. This what Kenworth do best, come up with a model, run with it for a few years and then refine it and refine it until it is ideally suited for an application.
This is the case for the T360, which has developed from the original T350 from earlier this century. The truck was originally designed to fit into the tight dimensional rules around heavy rigid trucks, where a short bumper to back of cab (BBC) and a set forward axle enable operators to maximise load space or body space whilst retaining high GCM allowances.
One of the more successful adaptations of this design has been the 8×4 and 10×4 versions of this model. In the T360 we see the truck become a flexible platform for twin steer rigid operation utilising the nine litre Cummins ISL with a choice of transmissions in behind.
How do they drive?
On first impression these trucks deliver on everything Kenworth were looking to take the brand forward. Using the single basic cabin introduces a cost saving for the company, while providing a better working environment for the driver. These new trucks are characterised by the availability of safety systems and excellent all round visibility for the driver.
The sometimes cramped feel in some Kenworth product has gone, with these wider cabs with much more glass fitted in the windows. The cabin interior layout is now much simpler and more rational, plus consistency across the range means a driver getting out of a small T360 and climbing into a top power T610 will be confronted with an almost identical layout.
All of the trucks tested drive well and felt very much fit-for-purpose. The concentration on the MX13 engine seems to be justified by the reconfiguring of the the engine to run at 12 volts and its much improved integration in the driveline, especially when coupled with another innovation in the Australian market, the Paccar 12 speed AMT transmission.
This new AMT is in fact, an adaptation, made by Eaton, of the transmission makers 12 speed AMT sold widely on the US market. It has been calibrated to the Paccar engine’s performance characteristics. The smoothness and swiftness of the ratio changes, coupled with a particularly torquey little performer in the MX13 make for a very smooth and effortless drive.