Kenworth Launches Next Generation T680 Truck

Improved aerodynamics help to improve fuel efficiency of the new T680 while a new digital display optimizes the driver experience.

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Kenworth Truck Company

Kenworth Truck Co. announced on Feb. 11 the launch of its new Kenworth T680 Next Generation on-highway truck. It includes various technology advancements, including a 15-in. (38.1 cm) Digital Display, Next Gen SmartWheel®, fully LED headlamps, under-the-vehicle airflow management, additional advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and a sleek high-tech design that balances aerodynamics and serviceability.

Kenworth focused much of its design efforts on developing a highly effective aerodynamic package to reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency. “We exceeded the superior fuel efficiency of the current T680, through aerodynamic advancements and design innovations. As a result, the Kenworth T680 Next Generation is the most aerodynamic truck in company history,” said Joe Adams, Kenworth Chief Engineer, in the company's press release announcing the launch of the new truck.

Fully LED headlamps provide a bright light to ensure visibility in all weather conditions.Fully LED headlamps provide a bright light to ensure visibility in all weather conditions.Kenworth Truck Company

Aerodynamic enhancements

A new aero bumper and hood, turning vanes, durable lower fairing extensions, chassis fairings, wheel well closeouts, 28-in. (71.1 cm) side extenders, tandem drive axle fairings, and wheel covers all keep the airflow closer to the cab and reduce drag-causing turbulence. These design elements, along with the truck's powertrain, enable an estimated 6% overall fuel economy improvement for a T680 Next Gen 76-in. (193 cm) sleeper over a comparably spec’d T680 with an EPA 2017 PACCAR MX-13 engine, noted Adams.

The restyled, aerodynamic bumper features the same approach angle and ground clearance as the classic Kenworth T680. It has an improved profile which directs air past wheel openings to help enhance aerodynamic flow. An air dam design guides and controls airflow under the truck's chassis while providing protective coverage under its cooling module. 

Meanwhile, the hood of the T680 Next Gen features a sleeker look with air intake system design and a hood air vent for further aerodynamic benefits. A narrower grille and high-visibility side turn indicators aid with the more stylish appearance of the truck, says Kenworth. The hood is available in two sizes, 125-in. (317.5 cm) BBC (standard) or 119-in. (302.3 cm) BBC (MX), with fairings or a split fender set up.

The newly shaped hood fits over a more narrow and compact cooling module. "This enabled us to make the grille 8 in. (20.3 cm) narrower than the previous version," said Jonathan Duncan, Kenworth’s Design Director. "It also permitted a more generous radii around the edges, which allows air to stay better attached as it goes alongside the hood. The bumper also has more generous radii on the corners providing the same benefit."

Further fuel economy benefits are provided by the improved chassis packaging which enables a shorter wheelbase and reduced trailer gap of between 38 and 42 in. (96.5 and 106.68 cm) Sleeper side extenders open to allow frame access with the tighter trailer gap. A lighter weight front axle and lower ply tires can also be spec'd on the truck. 

Other aerodynamic features include an A-pillar turning vane that reduces the size of the air wake next to the side windows, plus tandem drive axle fairings that smooth air from the chassis.        

To ensure it achieved efficiency gains, Kenworth says it invested in aerodynamic simulations to develop each individual component of the T680 Next Gen as part of the total system, while verifying results through wind tunnel testing.

The T680 Next Gen truck comes standard with the EPA 2021 PACCAR MX-13 12.9-L engine and PACCAR Powertrain which helps the truck to achieve its overall fuel economy gains. Kenworth says the PACCAR MX-13 engine features enhanced durability, reduced complexity, performance upgrades, increased downspeeding capability and more effi­cient combustion. This results in more power, longevity, uptime, ease of service and driver satisfaction. The PACCAR MX-13 engine guarantees a smooth-operating, high-performance power­train, optimized for a seamless integration with the PACCAR 12-speed transmission and PACCAR 40K axles.

Airflow around and under the vehicle was improved through design changes to the hood and grille.Airflow around and under the vehicle was improved through design changes to the hood and grille.Kenworth Truck Company

Upgrades to cab interior aid driver comfort

Kenworth made several design enhancements to the operator cab, as well, to optimize comfort and safety for drivers. The features Kenworth's Diamond VIT interior featuring rich interior finishes, including the option of a leather-wrapped steering wheel. T680 Next Gen trucks with 76-in. high-roof sleepers can be spec’d with the optional Kenworth Cargo Shelf, a 5.5-in. (14 cm)  storage shelf with multiple secure tie down points. Two LED lights on the shelf’s underside provide lower bunk lighting.

A new, 15-in. high-definition, fully Digital Display is included in the truck; it can easily be customized to individual driver preferences and automatically displays critical vehicle information. According to Kenworth, the tachometer and speedometer dominate the layout, and are reminiscent of Kenworth's traditional large central gauges. The color tones are easy on the eyes and allow critical warning information to stand out. Easy-to-read bar graphs glide in from either side as if on transparent planes and feature traditional Diamond-shaped pointers. 

The fully Digital Display was the result of countless hours of driver observation, user testing, iterative prototyping and meticulous design work to create an advanced user experience. Extensive testing was conducted by a team of engineers to ensure an optimal experience for drivers. A new driver cab helps to improve comfort and visibility.A new driver cab helps to improve comfort and visibility.Kenworth Truck Company

"Digital display technology has grown incredibly robust over the years. Since there are no mechanical parts, and a data bus instead of individual wires, this system is considerably more reliable than traditional instrumentation," said Adams.

The Digital Display allows users to choose between two Minimized Views, Basic View, Maximized View and even a driver customizable Favorites View. Drivers can easily scroll up and down this hierarchy using the standard Kenworth Next Gen SmartWheel, which also puts cruise control and radio functions at the driver’s fingertips. 

"We also wanted to offer flexibility allowing drivers to personalize their dash. That drove us towards a fully digital experience. With this screen-based instrumentation system, drivers can select the level of information detail they want to see, while the technology behind it lets us employ automation to show drivers what they need to see when they need to see it," said Laura Bloch, Kenworth Assistant General Manager for Sales and Marketing.

  • Minimized Views - Shows only truck speed, tachometer and standard content in the header and footer area, providing minimal distraction. 
  • Basic View - Adds gauges such as fuel, air, coolant and oil pressure. 
  • Maximized View - Allows all featured truck information to be seen on the display.

No matter what view is chosen, warnings or faults automatically appear on the display when they occur to alert drivers. Up to 38 on-screen gauge functions can be displayed, whereas current trucks show approximately 23. All of this is directly in front of the driver, ensuring visibility of vehicle information and the road ahead. 

Alerts are automatically sent to the Digital Display to warn drivers.Alerts are automatically sent to the Digital Display to warn drivers.Kenworth Truck Company

Kenworth says that in addition to tracking and reporting vehicle information while a truck is in motion, the Digital Display also enhances truck functionality when the truck is parked. When the driver presses the Exterior Light Self-Test switch, for example, the truck runs a full System Check and gives a quick analysis and summary of multiple systems statuses on the Digital Display.

When a driver pulls in for the day and shuts the truck off, the screen transitions to a Trip Summary view, and if equipped, can 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 appears at the day’s end.

Additional features of the T680 Next Gen truck include:

  • Kenworth ADAS: The T680 Next Gen offers a suite of ADAS, and introduces Lane Keeping Assist and Torque Assisted Steering as options for the first time in the Kenworth lineup. Lane Keeping Assist 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, reducing driver fatigue. The T680 Next Gen also includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Collision Mitigation and Side Object Detection. 
  • Bluetooth Microphone: A new Bluetooth microphone located near the CB tray in the header.
  • Kenworth TruckTech+® Remote Diagnostics: The system enhances vehicle diagnostics by providing engine health information for Class 8 Kenworths, to fleet managers and Kenworth dealers. The system diagnoses the issue and provides the recommended solution to the driver and fleet manager. The system is standard on the T680 Next Gen.
  • Lighting: Fully LED headlamps provide a crisp bright light that is another leap in performance for visibility in the trucking industry. A built-in infrared heater quickly clears ice and snow. The headlamps include low beam, high beam, a signature daytime running lamp and turn signals. Newly designed halogen headlamps flow with the hood and integrate daytime running lights and an amber turn signal. A new, LED side turn indicator offers increased visibility to surrounding traffic. The indicator is standard with all hood options. 
  • Seats: The seats offer new cover options of leather, ultrafabrics, fabric and vinyl combination, vinyl only and fabric only. The signature Kenworth Diamond VIT and Vantage motifs are available in tan and gray. Diamond VIT interiors feature madrona-colored door inserts and wood grain accents.
  • Stair-Like Entry: While the team created even more new aerodynamic touches from the cab back, it also redesigned the steps into the cab with a more stair-like entry.    

The Kenworth T680 Next Generation is designed to optimize performance in line haul, pickup and delivery, and regional haul operations. It is available in day cab, 40-in. (101.6 cm), 52-in. (132.1 cm) and 76-in. sleeper configurations.

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