RETRO VISION | Truck Review – Kenworth W990

It’s the “Classic Kenworth for the Connoisseur” as PACCAR unveils the W990

There are some who might say the only truck better than a bonneted Kenworth is a long-bonneted Kenworth, and, if that’s what you are thinking, then take a look at the latest Legend model to head out onto the North American highways.

Debuting at the Las Vegas Speedway, the traditional design of the W990 model immediately makes it a must-have item for any driver who wants something that stands out from the crowd.

“The new Kenworth W990 is a reflection of the Kenworth brand, The World’s Best, which represents the quality, engineering excellence, and both customer and driver focus that goes into every Kenworth we build,” said Mike Dozier, Kenworth general manager and PACCAR vice-president.

“We are passionate about our products, our customers that depend on them, and the drivers that operate them. We know that there are many customers and drivers out there who share our passion. The Kenworth W990 represents the pride, image and freedom of trucking, and captures the spirit of what trucking is all about,” Dozier said.

PowerTorque readers might recall that Mike Dozier spent his time as managing director of PACCAR Australia before handing over the reigns in April 2016 to Andrew Hadjikakou. During his time on Aussie soil Mike was openly enthusiastic about recreating some of the traditional designs such as the Legend series released in Australia. Who knows, maybe his time Down Under influenced him in giving the thumbs up to the W990 project.

The Kenworth W990 makes a powerful statement on the road, and is designed to maximise performance in line haul, pickup and delivery, regional haul, and heavy haul operations. At 3340 mm from bumper to back-of-cab, the W990 dimensions are 38.1 mm longer than the W900L, establishing a bold presence among conventional trucks.

Available in day cab, 1016 mm (40-inch) flat top, and 1320.8 mm and 1930.4 mm (52-76 inch) mid-roof sleeper configurations, the W990 is standard with the proprietary PACCAR Powertrain consisting of the PACCAR MX-13 engine rated up to 375 kW and with 2508 Nm of torque (510 hp and 1850 lb-ft), a 12-speed PACCAR automated transmission and PACCAR 40K tandem rear axles.

The typical American spec for on-highway application is of course considerably down on the power and torque requirements, should the W990 get the go ahead for availability in the Australian market. But with the rapid rate that Kenworth Bayswater can push through design changes to Australianise developments by working with its US counterparts, there’s every reason to think the W990 is a ‘can do’ product rather than a ‘not in my backyard’ alternative.

Built on the 2.1-metre cab platform used in the Kenworth T680 and T880, the Kenworth W990 features driver comfort and amenities that are second to none. Special comfort and style options include the Limited Edition cab and sleeper interior, and the W990 Driver’s Studio package of premium options that create a luxurious home-on-the-road living experience.

The W990 Driver’s Studio offers a 180-degree swivel passenger seat and rotating table for two people, drawer-style refrigerator, and convenient space ideal for a microwave. Entertainment is provided by Kenworth’s premium audio package with 320-watt amp, 10-inch subwoofer and eight speakers; swivel TV mount for up to a 28-inch flat screen TV; and optional EpicVue pre-wire for satellite TV. There’s a full-size wardrobe space for hanging clothes, multiple storage drawers, and large storage space under the lower bunk. The 1800-watt inverter includes a shore power connection and four standard 20-volt sleeper outlets to power a range of electrical devices. Convenient LED lighting provides ample interior light throughout the sleeper.

The W990 is standard with Kenworth TruckTech+® remote diagnostics system. Kenworth NAV+HD seven-inch, colour in-dash display provides access to valuable features such as truck-specific navigation, roadside assistance, vehicle data, hands-free calling, audio controls, blind-spot camera inputs and the Internet.

For the design team at Kenworth, designing a truck that took in the heritage of the company’s iconic W900 model was what Jonathan Duncan called a “once in a lifetime opportunity as a designer”.

As Kenworth’s design director, Duncan led the team that created the new Kenworth W990, starting with a clean slate to formulate ideas that blended tradition with the new.

“First and foremost, we wanted to design a truck that had a significant ‘wow’ factor,” he said. “There is nothing like seeing a long-hood Kenworth driving down the road, signifying image, pride and freedom. The long-hood conventional is the truck that gets noticed and commands attention; it is the truck you see garnering best of show ribbons at truck beauty shows across the country.

“We set out to design a hard-working truck that shares those memories. One that can be seen down the road and makes other truckers stare and nod their heads in appreciation. One that will be proudly displayed at truck shows,” Duncan said.

“The grille is really the face of the new W990,” said Duncan. “Incorporating stainless steel was important. It had to be pure Kenworth and it needed to be instantly recognisable as the top-of-the-line. We maintained the traditional cathedral shape to the grille and the inset surfaces at the top to give it a refined tailored look. That powerful centre spear signifies this is part of the new generation of Kenworth trucks, and the tapered grille spears are there for a classic touch. It’s elegant, beautiful, and full of brawn.

“The design team added a host of other design elements, including hood-side features that complement the stainless-steel air intakes.

“We paid close attention to the shape of the reflection of the side air intakes in that hood side surface. In some colours, it can make the intakes look twice as deep.

“Behind the wheel, the driver’s view over the hood is a huge part of the appeal of the W990. It’s really one of the keys to the success of this design. The powerful wind-split (the raised centre section on the hood top) is designed to accentuate the length of the hood and the dynamic shape reflects the powerful engine underneath. The side air intakes wrap over the top of the hood so that they are visible from the driver’s seat. All of this creates a strong visual impact from behind the wheel.

“The Limited Edition comes in classic midnight black with a glossy Ravenwood trim. The diamond-trim panels on the door pads, and in the sleeper, feature Royal Blue stitching and W990 embroidery. The heated and cooled leather seats have perforated leather that is dyed blue on the backside so that the edges of the perforations are blue.

“That’s a small touch that the driver will notice every time they get into the cab. We also added Royal Blue stitching on the leather Kenworth SmartWheel®, another detail that only the driver will know about and a reminder that they’re behind the wheel of something special.

“We worked together with PACCAR Parts to create aftermarket enhancements, like a special LED lighting package and stainless trim pieces. We feel like the W990 driver is going to want to customise this truck to really be able to call it their own. Personally, I’m really looking forward to seeing what they end up doing with them. I feel like we’ve given them a great place to start”.

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