I had a chance to travel to the Paccar Technical Center in Mount Vernon, WA, to get a behind-the-scenes look and drive of Kenworth's newest medium duty cab-over-engine (COE) models: the K270 and the K370.
This latest iteration, introduced earlier this year, is designed expressly for the North American market and is built on a North American chassis very similar to Kenworth's conventional medium duty trucks: the T270 and the T370.
The previous K270s and K370s were adapted from European models.
I put the new cabovers through their paces on the Center's high-speed and durability tracks, plus ran city streets and highways.
The stylish new Kenworth COE models have a 55-degree wheel cut that enables a tight turning circle for a tighter turning radius and greater maneuverability for operating in congested urban environments.
The bumper-to-back-of-cab (BBC) dimension is only 63.4" compared to a 106" BBC on medium duty conventionals, providing plenty of room for van bodies up to 28'.
I found the K270 and K370 afforded great visibility with the 2,500-sq in wraparound windshield and extra-large side windows. That's a great plus as research shows 90 percent of a driver's reaction depends on vision alone.
The fully trimmed interior, with its improved fit and finish, was very quiet. The interior measures 82.5" wide with plenty of headroom.
The comfortable seating includes Kenworth's fully adjustable air cushion driver's seat and spacious two-person bench with lockable storage under the seat. There is also ample storage overhead, on the doors and on the back wall.
Standard features include Kenworth's SmartWheel with adjustable steering column, power heated mirrors and windows, cruise control, AM/FM/CD radio, cup holder, coat hooks and a very efficient HVAC system.
The curved dashboard presents gauges and switches in a logical layout that is easy to view and reach. A new master display module consolidates critical information, including speed, engine rpm, oil level, fuel consumption, trip data, fault codes, outside air temperature and more.
Daily maintenance checks can be fast and efficient. The front panel opens for instant access to the air filter restriction gauge, coolant, washer fluid, refrigerant and engine oil dipstick.
The K270 and the K370 each come standard with the Paccar 6.7L PX-6 diesel engine rated up to 250 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque paired with an Allison 5-speed automatic transmission.
Both were a delight to drive. Even loaded, there was plenty of power, acceleration and torque in a configuration that is effortless to drive.
To be sure, these COEs ride nothing like those cabovers from years ago. The rough ride and noise is no more.