Kenworth reveals T680 Next Gen

Kenworth drew inspiration from racecars, iPhones and fine-crafted watches when designing its T680 Next Gen.

That according to chief engineer Joe Adams, who revealed the upgrades during an online launch Feb. 11. The T680 was launched in 2012 and frequently updated for improved aerodynamics and fuel economy. The Next Gen model brings another possible 6% gain in fuel economy thanks to aero enhancements and a narrower front end.

(Photo: Kenworth)

The fairings have been redesigned and foldable side extenders close the trailer gap, while still offering drivers access to the back of the cab. Battery access has been improved as well, thanks to an inspection panel built into the newly designed steps, which give a more stair-like entry.

New, heated LED headlamps are an option, and Kenworth integrated a turn signal strip into the fender to offer other motorists better visibility when the truck is turning. The narrower front end required a redesigned cooling system and engineers focused on under-truck airflow management to better direct air under the truck while also protecting the cooling system.

The interior was rethought as well, and now comes with new colors offering greater contrast. A new Diamond package color, madrona, introduces coppery stitching and emblems on the leather seats, offering a higher-end automotive look. New fabrics have been added to areas such as the seats and door pads.

(Photo: Kenworth)

Also new is a 15-inch, highly-customizable vibrant driver display. Drivers can access a Favorites menu to set up gauge positioning as they like. Active driver safety systems such as lane keep assist and Wingman Fusion are integrated into the display.

Zach Slayton, leader of the software development team, said Kenworth spent two years and millions of dollars designing the interface. Research included more than 100 driver interviews, and engineers worked, slept and lived in the trucks to experience what pro drivers do. The cockpit experience is rounded out with a new smart wheel, giving control to features such as cruise control and the sound system.

“The Kenworth T680 Next Generation has great innovations, new technologies and outstanding fuel efficiency, but this truck is all about the drivers,” said Laura Bloch, Kenworth assistant general manager for sales and marketing. “We built this truck around them and for them. The T680 Next Gen provides drivers with the convenient, next generation SmartWheel, new customizable 15-inch Digital Display, excellent forward lighting down the road, additional advanced driver assistance systems, and, of course, a premium and extremely comfortable cab and sleeper.”

(Photo: Kenworth)

“It’s striking,” added Jonathan Duncan, Kenworth’s design director. “When you look at the Kenworth T680 Next Generation, the first thing you notice are the headlights and the new hood and grille that set up the truck’s expression and feel. It really is a cool-looking vehicle.”

The original T680 will continue to be offered for a period of time as the T680 Next Gen is rolled out.

(Photo: Kenworth)
James Menzies

James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 18 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • It need a sun visor, just doesn’t look right without one. I know they don’t put one onfor fuel mileage reasons. Still doesn’t look right

  • Hi I own a original SAR a T950 a T908 and a T909. And the only thing that looks cool on your new truck is the colour blue. I don’t know why you would bring something out like that when you already have tried that with the T 600 and it was a failure and what I can see this will be a failure as well.

    • Can we all say they went back to the T-600 original look,Very noticeable.
      Ummm. Where did you get your info that the T600 was a failure. You obviously don’t know the total sales of the T600. One of the best selling models on all levels vocational etc.

  • I drive a 2018 T680 currently. My company is now phasing all of the Kenworths out of the fleet because they have been maintenance nightmares. I have only been in mine for 5 months now. In that time I have gotten a total of 12 breakdown days, been towed, had it literally shutdown on me while I was on the interstate going 65 mph twice, and had to get a loaner for 3 weeks while the def system was completely replaced due to a recall. Sadly, I begged to be in a Kenworth because it is easier on my knees and hip to get into due to the way the steps are slightly angled around the tanks instead of straight up. The interior is much roomier than my other trucks. It is a smoother ride and the weight is much better to drive through weather with because it’s mostly metal not mostly plastic and fiberglass. I’m a disabled veteran and it is just easier on me physically, when it runs. I read the article in hopes I’d see that any of the issues we have been having were addressed. They were not. My company is going with International to replace our Kenworths. The bulk of our fleet is freightliner. This makes me sad. Kenworths used to be the kings of the roads. The best built trucks. What happened?

  • Removing the accident “avoidance” system would be the best upgrade of all. Very possibly the most dangerous piece of technology ever put on trucks, ESPECIALLY in the winter. When the sensor on the bumper gets snow/ice/salt covered it reads as a vehicle directly in front of the truck and will hit the brakes. That is the most terrifying moment in a truckers life. Remove them, or give an override option, but don’t allow it to control the braking of the truck, EVER.

  • Give me one to test drive for one year free…and I will give you my rating on it…
    These trucks are beast on wheels…I love them …

  • Hello, I am a truck driver of over 35 yrs, although I have never had the pleasure of driving a Kenworth ( my favorite truck ) but have drove Peterbilts. I was told the two trucks use the same navigation system. The one I had in my 2019 truck couldn’t find hardly any addresses, very disappointed as I run a lot in the Quebec province. I hope Kenworth has made improvement with this. The one on my phone worked better.

  • Good article, good looking truck. I would like to see a more in-depth write up on this vehicle when you have the opportunity to delve into it deeper.

  • Why are cb radios mounted so high as do they ever think of a short driver as have to air seat up as don’t see why manufacturers can’t see that as dissapointed where cb radio is as have to tarp strap it on dash to bad for safety someone can’t see that thnks

  • Nice minor update… but from experience, I have a hard time reading LCD displays in pure daylight especially with sunglasses.

  • But getting a designer to help spec out a 990 is next to impossible.
    Now getting a salesman that knows absolutely nothing about what your going to be hauling, as if it that’s any of PACCAR’s business, but is more then happy to help spec out a tractor the way they want it.
    It’s kind nda like, who’s who?
    Is the salesman going to be driving it?
    Paying for.it?
    Makes ya wanna buy a MACK!

  • Two months ago my company ordered a next gen T680 for my wife and I. My understanding is that it will be built later this month and we will take delivery the first week of April. We are excited to see what we have bought, especially check out the new features.

  • Kenworth has no comfortability but volvo has one.
    Volvo has better fuel mileage
    Don’t test those truck in usa.. better to test them in Canada or not to buy any Def trucks.. glider always better