Running Mates

Kenworth’s latest cabover, the K220, is very likely to retain the mantle of King of the Highway.

There is usually an elevated level of anticipation when a truck manufacturer unveils a new model.

When it’s Kenworth’s iconic cabover, the entire industry takes notice.

The K220 is the replacement for the K200 series which has been a brilliant performer for the local manufacturer for the past 12 years, and the new model incorporates a number of significant as well as subtle enhancements and marks the next step in the evolution of the cabover Kenworth.

Beginning in late 2018 and under the overall direction of PACCAR Australia Director of Product Planning Ross Cureton and Chief Engineer Noelle Parlier (who soon returns to the United States), the engineering team, which included Design Engineer Kim Bennett, enthusiastically embarked on the quest to take full advantage of the K Series’ short bumper-to-back-of-cab metric and set-forward front axle to optimise payloads without sacrificing the Kenworth reputation for reliability.

The project was driven by high levels of customer and driver input.

“We consider this to be a pivotal part of our development program. Only then can we ensure that we’re giving operators exactly what they need,” says Ross Cureton.

“Although the K200 has benefited from many years of refinement, customers were able to give us several areas for product improvement,” says Noelle Parlier. “It became apparent that our focus should be applied to providing greater driver comfort and technology integration for a more productive ownership experience.”

The most significant exterior change is the new wind cheating roof profile.

Shaped with the aid of computational fluid dynamics, the new roof design improves aerodynamic efficiency by four per cent which will translate in most circumstances to a fuel efficiency improvement of around two per cent.

Moving forward the ‘forehead’ of the cab has also benefitted the headroom of the interior and provides space for additional storage.

Noticeable is the absence of the trademark vista windows of the K200. Kenworth engineers were influenced by the success of this change on the T610, which allows for improved sleeper cab insulation and a more easily maintained cabin temperature. The new climate-controlled HVAC system is similar to the one developed for the Kenworth T610 and benefits from the lower positioning of the dash vents, providing the ideal amount of temperature-controlled airflow without blowing it directly into the driver’s face.

The airflow can be up to 60 per cent more than in the K200 and provides significantly improved performance to provide interior comfort in any weather.

Some of the other exterior changes include new LED headlamps with integrated indicators and daytime running lights. The K220’s new grille combines with a more efficient engine fan to deliver optimised cooling system performance and efficiency.

The K220 is available in 1.7m day cab, a 2.3m aerodynamic roof sleeper, a 2.3m flat roof sleeper and 2.8m aerodynamic roof sleeper versions.

For the driver, the pedals have been moved forward to provide additional leg room. Comfort is further enhanced by an increase in the forward and aft movements of the ISRI seat.

Driver distraction is minimised by a new and improved SmartWheel and stalk mounted controls. This provides fingertip control of an expanded range of vehicle functions and settings.

Kenworth K220s at Mount Cotton launch day.

The new 8-inch Audio Visual Navigation (AVN) unit provides an easy access display with intuitive controls for truck navigation, the audio system, and smartphone mirroring.

The AVN can be intelligently integrated with up to six external cameras giving drivers full visibility of what is happening around the vehicle. To further help drivers remain focused on the road, the AVN is integrated with the steering wheel controls and the driver’s phone can be stored safely on either the induction charging pad, or in one of the convenient storage pockets in the new dash.

The main instrument panel is now a 15-inch high-definition electronic screen, with analogue gauges for air pressure and driveline temperatures located on a panel positioned to the left of the driver which manages to maintain a level of heritage appearance in combination with the latest high-tech approach to delivering information.

The main instrument panel displays information including early intervention warnings for the driver and, at the start of each shift the K220 will perform a comprehensive Systems Check and also provide an end of shift detailed trip and vehicle summary including statistics such as average fuel economy, idle time, and cruise control usage as well as any potential mechanical issues.

The K220 essentially monitors itself and can deliver immediate warnings should anything amiss be detected.

There is a function which provides coaching advice to the driver to maximise performance and efficiency. The digital display is able to be customised and is controlled by buttons on the new generation SmartWheel.

The K220 comes standard with PACCAR’s propriety telematics system which manages driver and truck performance as well as location in order to get the best performance of both.

Switches are arrayed in a logical sequence and can be quickly customised as each has its own IP address and retains its function even when relocated to another socket on the dash.

The K220’s confluence of contemporary and heritage features carries through to the plush upholstery in the traditional studded pattern in trim colours which have been updated and brought in line with the modern options available in the Kenworth 2.1m wide cab range.

Both the 2.3m and 2.8m sleeper cabs offer a comprehensive suite of sleeper storage and bunk options. The overall result is a driver environment which is more comfortable, safer and intuitive which will improve overall efficiency. The steering has been revised and provides a positive feel without any sense of remoteness.

Other than the electronics, what impresses most about the cab is its improved level of quietness. A conversation can be carried out with the passenger at normal speaking voice level without getting lost in intrusive noise caused by wind or from the driveline.

Kenworth employed state of the art computerised noise assessing equipment to assist in the design of the cab with the aim to reduce interior noise levels.

The K220 will be available with Cummins X15 Euro V and Euro VI engines and can be ordered with the venerable manual RoadRanger transmission for those who prefer to make their own choices about gear changes, or with the all-new 18-speed Endurant XD Pro automated manual transmission which has been designed from the outset as an AMT rather than a retro-engineered manual.

The Endurant is lighter, smoother shifting and has been engineered to reduce fuel costs and to provide lower maintenance requirements. Wiring associated with the transmission is encapsulated to prevent ingress of dirt and moisture and should deliver trouble free performance for the lifetime of the truck.

The Endurant transmission is controlled by a wand located within fingers’ reach of the right hand side of the steering wheel, which also operates the engine brake which has two stages – the first operating three of the engine’s cylinders, with all six available at the second click to provide additional retardation.

The third position has a spring loaded detent and facilitates maximum engine braking by down shifting the transmission through lower gears without any risk of over revving.

Contributing to improved safety for drivers and other road users, the K220 has the largest range of active and passive safety options ever offered by Kenworth Australia, including Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Side Object Detection, Collision Mitigation and Autonomous Emergency Braking which are integrated with the radar unit located in the centre of the front bumper (FUPS) which also works in conjunction with a camera mounted at the centre of the top of the two piece windscreen.

The current demand in Australia for new trucks, especially Kenworths, will mean that full production will commence in April 2023 and the K220 will be built alongside the incumbent K200 for up to 12 months.

“The K220 celebrates Australian ingenuity to engineer a uniquely Australian product to optimise the capability of both owners and drivers to prosper in what is surely the world’s toughest but most productive transport industry,” says the current Director Sales and Marketing, Brad May, who will be shortly taking up the role of Chief Engineer at PACCAR Australia.

Exterior changes include new LED headlamps with integrated indicators and daytime running lights.