Several months after Kenworth launched the latest step in their iconic K series range, we took two of the luxury extended cabs away for a few days to see how the K220 has improved for the everyday trucker.
Kenworth claim that they have put the driver at the centre of the changes after extensive feedback from K200 customers. So we were happy to check out the results with an overnight run from Newcastle to Melbourne in their largest K220, followed by a couple of day trips in a beautiful dark red K220 that you may recognise from the Brisbane Truck show.
Kenworth’s K series cab over truck has been in production in Australia since 1971 and has been through many updates over its life whilst keeping its iconic style throughout, and the K220 continues with that tradition.
Today, the range varies from the 1.7m day cab, a 2.3m flat roof sleeper to a 2.3m aerodynamic roof sleeper or a 2.8m aerodynamic roof sleeper. Each cabin can come with side extenders, whilst the 2.3m and 2.8m aerodynamic versions are also available with roof fairings. Then inside, there is a wide range of storage and bunk options available.
If you visited the Brisbane Truck show in April this year, the Kenworth K220 in crimson red stood out as a real showstopper and when driving it through the suburbs of Sydney, it certainly makes the general public look too.
So, what has changed?
From the outside, the two biggest changes over the outgoing K200 which was launched back in 2010, are with the redesigned grille and a new roof profile.
The oval grille has now been replaced by a more traditional rectangle shaped grille that looks a lot nicer and in keeping with the rest of the cab design. For the roof, Kenworth has focused on maximising the internal space, so the traditional vista windows are now gone and the roof rises closer to the front edge for more overhead locker space whilst improving the aerodynamics by 4%.
The K220 also gets new LED headlamps with integrated indicators and daytime running lights that can be paired with bright look bezels too.
Climbing into the cab, it is still a uniquely K series experience however it does feel easier than before, which may be due to the bigger footwell. As you sit down and look around the cabin, it’s clear that most of the modernisation has been for the driver with a whole new dash and steering wheel.
Gone is the analogue speedo and tacho, replaced by a new 15-inch digital dash which is similar to the new DAF and Kenworth T680 from the US. It’s much more customisable and you can simply scroll through various display options by using the roller on the new Kenworth SmartWheel.
Complementing the new modern dash is an 8.0-inch display for the AVN (Audio Visual Navigation) unit. The AVN features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, integrated truck-specific sat-nav, digital DAB+ radio as well as the standard AM/FM. The only issue we found was that the angle of the display in the new dash reflects the sunlight from the driver’s window making it hard to read. Our new Samsung phone struggled to connect with it as well, although I’m sure you would be able to sort this if you used the same truck regularly.
The new roof profile gives you a real sense of space inside, with much more headroom allowing for plenty of overhead storage above the screen, along the sides and rear of the cabin for items such as lockers, a microwave and flatscreen tv.
In the grey K220 that we took away for a few days, it came with the 2.8m aerodynamic roof cabin with roof extenders and was fitted with a standard sized inner sprung mattress to allow for floor cabinets behind the seats and a wall mounted one behind the passenger for hanging clothes. This is a great layout for storing everything you may need for weeks away, whilst the floor cabinets also provided benchtop space you could use for eating on or placing items such as a laptop. This layout also offers more floor space to move around.
In the red K220 which had the same 2.8m aerodynamic roof cabin but without the roof extenders, the sleeper was fitted with an extra wide mattress instead of the floor cabinets behind the seats. It still had more storage than we could use, but with a nicer sleeping experience. You could also reach over from the driver’s seat to the under-bunk fridge to grab a drink, rather than having to walk over to it in the grey truck which is great when you are on a quick break.
Both K220 we took were fitted with the Cummins X15 six-cylinder turbo-diesel rated at 550hp and 1850ft-lb of torque in Euro 5 format. Working through Eaton’s RoadRanger 18-speed manual, the trucks worked effortlessly when pulling Vawdrey bdouble trailers with a GCM of 64tons along the highway. Even driving through Sydney in rush hour traffic was a pleasure and would undoubtedly improve over time as the trucks bed in.
The new K220 can also be fitted with Eaton’s new Endurant XD pro 18-speed automated transmission. Currently, 70% of Kenworth K200s come with the RoadRanger, but more K220s are expected to move towards the AMT as the new Endurant is fitted with sophisticated software and improved internals to produce a smarter 18-speed to take the effort out of driving. Something that would certainly assist those looking for drivers that have to run through heavy traffic regularly.
However, one issue we found in heavy traffic was the nearside passenger blind spot. Our red K220 was fitted with the traditional narrow styled chrome mirrors and spy window in the passenger door, whilst the grey truck was missing the spy window but had the larger modern mirrors. Both have advantages and disadvantages over the other, but without a downward facing kerb mirror or blind spot alerts, it was easy to lose a relatively large car down the left hand side.
In terms of safety, the grey K220 had the Bendix Wingman Fusion system, meaning it had multi-lane autonomous braking, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control. It’s a great system and offers a lot of benefits, we would just prefer to have an option to deactivate in heavy traffic, and when running bob tail in the wet.
Sleeping in the K220
After a long day’s drive, setting up the cabin for the night was quick and effortless, with a gearstick that can fold out of the way, pull around curtains that slide easily and plenty of room to get changed in.
The Kenworth is also easy to keep clean and tidy. We like the fact that the K220 isn’t a true flat floor so dirt from your work boots stays in the footwell, an annoying problem with some Europeans. Many Kenworths will be fitted with a cab blower, so with lots of easy to clean surfaces and spots to hide your items, the cabin is easy to keep tidy day and night.
Over the bunk, there is a new driver console for stowing your phone, charging, controlling the cab lighting and a reading light. There are also multiple charging points for you too. The traditional diamond studded trim remains, with six colour schemes on offer.
The Kenworth K220 now has so many options to choose from so it is important take some time to consider what works for you, in terms of efficiency, style, safety and livability for the driver. But we are sure everyone who gets the keys to a new K220 will be instantly impressed, no matter what truck they are coming from.
- Driving and sleeping comfort for the driver.
- Modernised style with the iconic Kenworth feel.
- Space to move around inside with ample storage.
- Near side blind spot
- The angle of the Audio-Visual Navigation unit makes it hard to read in the daylight.
- Cannot deactivate the Bendix Wingman Fusion system.