New Kenworth T680 10-speed Automatic The Good And The Bad

Topic 16325 | Page 1

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Farmerbob1's Comment
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I had been driving a 2015 Freightliner Cascadia eight speed manual for six months since I went solo, but wanted to try an automatic.

Sooo... I asked about it, and there was a 2016 Kenworth T680 10-speed Automatic available.

I decided to try it.

The bad:

Sleeper storage space is horrible compared to the Freightliner. It's even bad compared to the T680's my two trainers had.

Accessible storage in the cab, reachable from the driver's seat, is absolutely miserable compared to the Freightliner.

The arrangement of the cupholders is disgusting. The two cupholders are on the far side of the automatic shift lever. This means that when I put my cupholder mount for my smartphone in either cupholder spot, I cannot use the other, due to the shift lever or the smartphone mount blocking the empty cupholder. Fortunately, the odds-and-ends hole on the drivers side of the shift lever is just big enough that I can jam a 20oz soda bottle in it.

There is only one light switch for the sleeper, not the four that the Freightliner had. All or nothing.

When I sleep, I have to put my CPAP machine on the 5-gallon bucket I keep in the sleeper, because the sleeper controls are on the opposite side from the desk, and the shelf near the sleeper controls is only wide enough to be a step, not a storage place. When I am not sleeping, I have to disconnect and store the CPAP machine, as there is nowhere to permanently store it where it can be used, and doesn't risk being damaged.

The damn truck lurches like a drunken sailor when trying to back with a heavy load, meaning I have to be super careful when backing.

Acceleration from a stop is very slow when loaded. The automatic shifts low gears much slower than I can float them.

The Good:

The desk is much bigger than the Cascadia's desk. I can actually put my laptop on it, AND have room for a drink, and a mouse too!

Despite slow loaded acceleration, city driving is much less stressful. I can pay more attention to what is around me, and less attention to shifting.

The fuel mileage isn't something that impacts me directly as a company driver, but I'll comment on it anyway, because it is one of very few things I like about the truck. I drove 850 miles from Dallas, TX to Ft. Collins, CO with 43,000 in the box. Then deadheaded 420 miles to Liberal, KS and have driven 800 more miles to Potts Camp, MS with 42000 in the box. My MPG for all 2070 miles? 9.3 MPG.

.....

The takeaway? There's nothing critically bad about the new truck, but I'm still going to try to pick up a Freightliner Automatic in 90 days when I get back to the yard. And before I switch trucks again, I am going to make sure it has intelligently designed storage space, unlike this T680 Automatic.

Deadhead:

To drive with an empty trailer. After delivering your load you will deadhead to a shipper to pick up your next load.

CPAP:

Constant Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

Sambo's Comment
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We have mostly pro stars and volvo here. We do have some cascadias and a few Pete's.

I've looked in all of them, and personally, from an aesthetics point of view, I like the interior and exterior of the pro star the best. Lots of room and a nice big bunk.

I think next would be the volvo. Bunky is not as big but has a fair amount of storage.

The Cascadia would be next on the list. While I can't quite remember the interior exactly, I remember thinking It was kind of bland and didn't seem like it had much to it. Again, cant remember exactly.

The one that surprised me was the new Pete. We had a brand new one sitting get on a yard and I jumped up in it and took a look around. While.i think the Pete is a good looking truck inside and out, and I like the fact that you can fold the top bunk into a half bunk, it just seemed like it didn't have much storage at all. Dunno, maybe I need to look again.

As far as the trannys, I drove one of the pro stars autos the other day, and it was strange. Like you said, seemed like the gear changes were way too slow. Just takes getting used to I guess

Rick S.'s Comment
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Probably the most common complaint I've heard about the auto's, is when it comes to backing under a box. Something about the way the clutches engage/disengage when "creeping", that causes the lurching and banging when coupling to a trailer.

What was the difference between your trainers T680's and the one you have?

Were they LEASE OPS? I wouldn't be surprised if the lease trucks were "O/O Configured" - where they layout and accessories are a little more high end. Though it would be surprising for a company to order trucks in different configurations, since they usually order in bulk. A lot of the companies that are using the KW's have been doing the higher end config to "entice" new hires. They are probably the more "thought out" interior, feature-wise. KW took a lot of feedback from actual drivers, in the original design of the 680's. I've only "test driven" one bobtail at a local dealer, so I don't really have much of an opinion of how they run under a load.

OTOH - for as much complaining as you'll hear about freightshakers, the Cascadia is a much better interior design than the Classic or Columbia.

Rick

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

Farmerbob1's Comment
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The main difference between this T680 and the ones I drove with trainers is that both risers are missing the topmost small storage compartment, having a much lower, larger open shelf. The clothes hanging cabinet is only half-height. Some genius decided that no clothes would hang over two feet. My raincoat, and both jackets are jammed in. I cannot see how to remove the shelf, but will look more closely when I get home time.

Those two top small compartments in the sleeper section are pretty important though. Enclosed places to store loose items is important.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

ChickieMonster's Comment
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As far as I can tell, and I have been in my T680 for nearly 6 months, the shelf in the closet does not come out. It's irritating as all get out.

And yes, backing with that automatic can be extremely irritating and difficult. I find myself missing the manual more and more every day.

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
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I'm not looking forward to changing trucks. I hate change and am totally settled in. Gonna feel like starting over

JakeBreak's Comment
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It wasn't too bad for me. I went and used my old truck for a year and then they sold it and gave me a brand new one. It had 230 miles on it when I picked it up out of the yard. It probably helps that my old one and new one were both manual prostars so nothing really changed too much.

Kemo's Comment
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I'm really curious about the slow back up lurching thing. My guy has been really interested in the new automatics because of his knees. When we do grindings - working the clutch can really be hard on the knees or if we are on-site only. Is this only because you don't have a clutch to play with? We have 2 KW T800s and a KW T600, I haven't driven our western star too much but I know with the KWs at least if you are idling backward it can get a lurchy type of feel in it. I am wondering if you can play with the brake in the same way as the clutch to prevent some of the lurching. I kind of doubt it when I think about the mechanic of it but figured I'd ask. Might even make it worst. Also, if you are backing under throttle and not just idling back, does it still lurch?

Phox's Comment
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Been a very very long time since I have posted here (many many months) but every so often I lurk here.

Figured this was a decent topic to chime in on. I drive an Auto Volvo with the ishift (I think that's what it's called).

I don't have any of the lurching problems you guys mention the other trucks having. Except when heavy loaded up a hill it has no problems with acceleration. It shifts really smooth and quiet. Some things I don't like are the location of the shifter... it's attached to the side of the seat and has the manual shift buttons on inside side of it so if I have stuff in my pocket it'll push the up or down shift button on me. I also don't like that it downshifts all the way to 1st when you come to a stop even when light loaded. because then it waste time having to go back up in gears, it'll skip some but not as efficient as the freightliner does with it's auto tranny.

overall I am really happy with my auto. I did manual in cdl school, learned it, still know how to drive manual but loving how much less I have to worry about, especially when winter comes. shift into drive and go!

I will say though the Volvos my company (knight) has are the smaller ones... much smaller than our internationals but I make it work just fine

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Farmerbob1's Comment
member avatar

I'm really curious about the slow back up lurching thing. My guy has been really interested in the new automatics because of his knees. When we do grindings - working the clutch can really be hard on the knees or if we are on-site only. Is this only because you don't have a clutch to play with? We have 2 KW T800s and a KW T600, I haven't driven our western star too much but I know with the KWs at least if you are idling backward it can get a lurchy type of feel in it. I am wondering if you can play with the brake in the same way as the clutch to prevent some of the lurching. I kind of doubt it when I think about the mechanic of it but figured I'd ask. Might even make it worst. Also, if you are backing under throttle and not just idling back, does it still lurch?

I just returned from home time yesterday, so I still have limited backing experience with the truck. I am fairly certain that the lurching issue is something I can learn to control. I have to learn to be able to tell when the reverse gear is engaged, and how to play with it.

The automatic transmission of this truck is really a standard transmission with a shifting robot attached to it. It's normally very smooth. When I backed into the dock this AM to pick up some round baby chickens, I had no difficulty with lurching. I just finished a blind side backing maneuver to park for the night, and again, no lurching.

Granted, I'm being super cautious, and barely goosing the fuel at all. If I have to back up a slope, there might be issues.

One other thing I remembered and have been forcing myself to think about. When shifting through neutral, or coming out of neutral, you MUST have your foot on the brake and the truck motionless before the truck leaves neutral. I can remember being frustrated that the truck was not wanting to switch from forward to reverse gears while trying to worm back into a tight spot in the Coca Cola plant I picked up a load of syrup from.

There is also a feature that holds the truck in place for a couple seconds AFTER leaving neutral, if you are on a slope (antiroll feature.) And at least one of my problems with backing was on a slight slope.

I fully suspect that I'm going to eventually be able to control this truck's backing almost as well as a standard. Almost. No automatic can possibly give you the same fine control over the clutch as a driver can manage for a standard. You will never know exactly when that reverse gear is going to grab, so it means more care will be needed for backing in tight spots, but in time the difference will be negligible, I think (hope.)

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

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