Thanks to the fine people
at Kenworth Truck Co., I was given the opportunity to drive a 2006 Model
T300, provided by Ron Champion at MHC-Kenworth in Fort Worth, Texas. I got
behind the wheel on a swelteringly hot day in Dallas, and put the vehicle
through its paces along congested city streets, crowded highways and
wide-open interstates. And I must say, the
premium medium-duty truck impressed me with its roominess, comfort, service
features and driveability.
As is my practice before taking any truck out, I
performed a pre-trip inspection. The hood, which was rather easy to pull
open after releasing the paddle-type latches, tilts a full 90 degrees for
greater access to the engine compartment. All of the fluid level checks and
fills are located together in one easy-to-reach place on the driver’s
side and can be efficiently checked and maintained, simplifying the
It was reassuring to discover an anti-blow-down
locking mechanism that keeps the hood opened and prevents unintentional
I noticed that the engine sits high in the frame and
is totally ahead of the cab for complete access. As a side benefit, I
figured this positioning would help keep the cab quieter — and I was
The batteries are also readily accessible, located
within the driver’s side steps in a special compartment.
Checking underneath the truck, I saw that the
T300’s frame is made of two parallel continuous straight steel rails
with clean top flanges from back-of-cab to end-of-frame. This makes for
easier body and equipment installation. Air and electrical lines are neatly
mounted high in the frame channel to be away from dirt, water, road
Wiring is color-coded, labeled and numbered, making
for faster circuit tracing and troubleshooting. The fuse panel is
dash-mounted and easy to access.
The 2006 T300 has a number of exterior enhancements,
including a wire mesh grille with polished stainless steel center trim and
standard complex reflector headlamps that provide a 50 percent increase in
Climbing in and out of the cab was effortless, helped
by the cab’s lower profile, step arrangement (the first step is only
about 21 inches off the ground), well-placed grab handles, traction-grip
steps and wide-opening bulkhead-type doors. With all the ins and outs of
beverage delivery that tend to fatigue a driver, this is a big plus.
Another nice feature is that the steps are mounted to the chassis so they
are particularly sturdy.
Cab ingress and egress is more difficult for a helper
on the truck I drove. I found entry and exit through the passenger door
awkward. However, this could be solved by spec’ing the optional
inside grab handle.
Like all Kenworth Trucks, the T300 is solidly built.
The cab is constructed of aluminum and fiberglass to better resist
corrosion. Huck-bolts are used, rather than rivets, to make the cab
stronger, tighter and more durable.
And talk about tight. Unless I cracked a window first,
it was difficult to shut the door. The cab is air-tight, and that helps
make for a quite environment.
The mirrors are cowl-mounted rather than attached to
the doors. As such, the mirrors stay better adjusted because they are
unaffected by door closings, and I continued to see rearward as I opened
Settling in behind the wheel, I had excellent
visibility afforded by a large wraparound one-piece windshield, 20-degree
sloped hood with sleek, integrated rounded fenders (which helps optimize
airflow for reduced drag and increased fuel economy), standard DayLite door
windows and a peep window in the passenger door.
The cab sports a stylish, fully trimmed and
well-appointed interior with ample room, helped by no footroom intrusion. I
found it a driver-friendly environment and ergonomically designed. The
truck I drove had the optional tilt steering wheel so I could position the
wheel to my exact liking.
Controls and switches are conveniently close at hand,
well marked and comfortably visible. The dashboard has a wraparound
instrument panel with large, easy-to-read gauges and a warning light
module. I found this module difficult to read, especially in bright
sunlight, as the lights were not bright enough for me.
The truck had the standard fully trimmed durable vinyl interior. I discovered firsthand that it is easy
to clean. The coffee that spilled on top and down the passenger side of the
dashboard wiped up nicely and left no trace, I’m happy to report.
The Kenworth T300 was a
delight to drive because it handles well and is responsive. It provides a
nice ride without a lot of bounce, even with no load. Maneuverability is
superb, due in part to the steering gear being located ahead of the front
axle and a 50-degree wheel cut.
The 7.2-liter Caterpillar C7 ACERT diesel engine,
backed by an Eaton Fuller UltraShift six-speed transmission, provided
enough pep for all traffic and road conditions. The engine’s HEUI
fuel system decreases engine noise and helps lower emissions. For greater
performance and reliability, the C7 has electronic controls with features
typically found only on heavy-duty engines.
The UltraShift six-speed transmission has no clutch
pedal or shifting because it is fully automated. The transmission’s
electronics make each shift at the proper engine speed for faster,
smoother, easier shifting that you can feel. There are button controls on
the dashboard that allow the driver to hold a gear or manually select the
appropriate gear for road conditions. The gear display shows what gear the
transmission is in.
Being a long-time “gear jammer,” letting
the computer control the shifts took some getting used to. I can’t
tell you how many times I instinctively went to grab the non-existent
shifter and push in the absent clutch.
Once I got used to the UltraShift, though, I found it
made driving simpler and less stressful. Since I didn’t have to worry
about when to shift I could better concentrate on driving. Think about the
benefits of an automatic for your less proficient drivers.
Automatic transmissions can boost productivity for
beverage delivery and pick-up applications because they provide quicker
acceleration and no power interruption, allowing a driver to cover more
ground in a day with less effort. Compared to the more complicated manual
transmissions, automatics have reduced scheduled maintenance requirements,
can extend component life and can help increase fuel economy.
I would suggest that the Kenworth T300 is more than
just a vehicle. It is a business solution package. Its driveability and
performance can serve as a driver recruitment tool. The truck’s
design makes it more dependable, durable and efficient. The
ease-of-serviceability features will help service technicians more quickly
complete maintenance, service and repairs. That, in turn, will help reduce
service costs and downtime. The overall result: lower truck lifecycle costs for an improved bottom
2006 Model Kenworth T300 Medium Duty
straight truck with 24-foot supreme van body
Wheelbase: 260 inches
Cab to Axle: 192 inches
Axle to Back of Cab: 68
Engine: Caterpillar C7
ACERT diesel; 250 hp at 2,200 rpm
HAS210 20,000-pounds with shocks
Frame: 10-5/8 inches by
Tires: Bridgestone R250F
Wheels: Accuride 28408RPW
22.5x8.25 steel painted
Interior: Pinnacle Vinyl
Seats: Kenworth Air
single-gear TRW TAS65
Fuel Tank: 50-gallon,
The T300 is available in Class 6 and 7 configurations
as a straight truck or tractor in a variety of wheelbases with single
or tandem axles, air or hydraulic brakes and gross vehicle weight
ratings from 25,000 to 54,600 pounds. Optional corner windows are
available to aid in backing up and negotiating tight spots.
Beverage Industry’s October issue features a cover story on our 2019 Executive of the Year, Jim Koch of the Boston Beer Co. This issue also features a category focus on bottled water and the innovations that abound in flavored, functional and sparkling waters. The issue also includes an ingredient spotlight on the beloved chocolate ingredient as well as voice-picking solutions aimed at streamlining beverage warehouses. As usual, we rounded up the latest trends in products, packaging and ingredients.
Check back throughout the month for additional content.