AUSSIE ANGLES - T410’s winning edge

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Every premiership winning football team has at least one multipurpose utility player on their side. Kenworth’s new T410 certainly ticks the box as the company’s all-rounder.

One of the key successes to the Sydney Roosters consistent winning is their utility player, Mitchell Aubusson, moulding seamlessly into any position without upsetting the line-up. It is a rare and acquired skill, and one head coach Trent Robinson knows only too well. He can trust Mitchell to easily play at least eight of the 13 positions on the field. Much like Mitchel Aubusson, Kenworth’s T410 is a model that can easily fit a wide range of applications. To find out first-hand just how well the new Kenworth T410 will fit into the team, we went to the trucking heartland of central NSW for a real-world road test. Inland Truck Centre’s Chris McDevitt was waiting at Wagga Wagga Airport. On the way to the dealership he explained the key features of the T410 and said he’d had a large number of customers view and test the demonstrator. Customer acceptance had been extremely favourable. Our route for the road test was a 600km trek north up to Gilbert and Roach’s Hexham dealership. This journey had a diverse collection of road conditions, from gentle rolling rural country roads, following freeways, and city congestion along Pennant Hills Road.

Whether it was good planning or merely the luck of the draw, we’d managed to leave Wagga Wagga shortly before midday. This afforded the opportunity for a few photos stops along the way before hitting Sydney’s notorious Pennant Hills Road right in the middle of peak hour. Given that a large majority of this model will end up working in a metropolitan application, a real-world experience in rush hour traffic was certainly fitting.

Photos: Somewhere in there is a PACCAR MX-13.

Where does the T410 earn its multipurpose utility player reputation? In terms of market placement it’s a midfielder, but it can slot nicely into heavier duty applications as well as vocational roles, so it’s an extremely versatile truck. For instance, it can be specced as a day cab with a short 4500mm wheelbase, small fuel tanks, the new lightweight PACCAR 12-speed, and tare in just under 8-tonne. Couple this to a lightweight triaxle trailer and payloads close to 30 tonne can be realised with mass management. A perfect combo for metro/intrastate operations where maximum productivity is measured in cents/tonne/km. The specification choice for this model is comprehensive and includes a selection of interiors, sleeper, engine power, transmission, final drive, and axle configurations. The T410’s PACCAR MX13 engine was rated at 381kW (510hp) and was coupled to the new lightweight PACCAR 12-speed AMT which delivered the power to the Dana DS/RDH40P final drives with a 3.90:1 ratio. The vehicle had the optional fuel haul kit. The PACCAR 12-speed is rated up to 50-tonne GVM; for higher GVM applications, such as B-double, the Eaton 18-speed or UltraShift is required. This vehicle came with the full safety suite, including adaptive cruise with brakes, keeping the truck a safe distance from the vehicle in front.

The column-mounted gear shifter is new to the Kenworth product, sitting where the traditional trailer brake lever used to be. The trailer brake is now operated by a small ‘duckbill’ switch mounted on the dash near the left side of the steering column. The column-mounted gear lever is a multifunction tool for both gear functionality and engine brake operation. It works similarly for either the PACCAR 12-speed or Eaton UltraShift transmissions. For vehicles specced with a manual transmission, this lever only controls the engine brake. Initiating downshifts is done by simply tapping the lever down, and an upshift by lifting the gear lever upwards; these can be done while in auto mode. When I wanted to hold a gear, I simply pushed the button on the end of the gear lever stalk to engage manual mode. Tap it once more to return to auto mode. The engine brake functionality is easy to use; simply by pulling the lever towards the driver the engine brake engages. It’s a three-stage engine brake with the third stage called ‘MAX’ mode, prompting a down change in the transmission to get the engine revs up into the maximum retardation area.

Photo: The PACCAR 12-AMT column-mount shifter, the first in a Kenworth T410 dash.

One handy feature on the transmission is ‘Urge to Move’, which activates as soon as the brake pedal is released, giving a passenger-car-like feel as the vehicle automatically moves forward. ‘Creep Mode’ is another feature that enables the vehicle to be driven at low speeds with enhanced control. To engage ‘Low’ mode, it’s simply a matter of engaging the engine brake then pushing the gear change lever downward and holding it for a few seconds. A small ‘L’ appeared on the outside of the gear change indicator on the dash and the vehicle commenced downchanging rapidly. This is a great way to wash off a lot of speed in a hurry without the need to touch the service brakes.

Power wise the MX13 has a big heart producing 2500Nm (1850lb/ft) torque from 1000rpm through to 1400rpm, while still punching out 2170Nm (1600lb/ft) at 1650rpm. The smarts in the engine talk seamlessly to the transmission in what is called optimised gear selection. The transmission selects the appropriate starting gear and makes optimised shift decisions, skip shifting when appropriate, based on grade, vehicle weight, engine torque, and throttle position. In auto mode, the gear shifts are quick, smooth, effortless, and predominantly encourage the engine to operate in the economical green band on the tachometer.

Photo: Note the virtual gauges.

The rolling undulating highway provided the perfect opportunity to try out the fuel saving ‘Neutral Coast’ feature. It’s a feature that many transport companies are now demanding. The feature activates when the vehicle is in cruise control and rolling down a gentle incline; the transmission disengages a gear and the vehicle’s weight maintains the speed, enabling the engine’s revs to drop to idle. The feature is deactivated when the vehicle’s speed exceeds the droop settings or the brake or accelerator is pressed. There is no interaction required from the driver other than to ensure that cruise control is set for Neutral Coast to activate. When another vehicle pulls in front of the truck, Fusion Wingman intervenes and disengages the Neutral Coast feature. Visibility wise the T410 has an almost cabover vista out over the short bonnet. The interior of the cabin is like the T610 reviewed earlier. There is room in the low line sleeper for a comfortable night’s sleep. The multifunction driver display on the dash can deliver driver information tips and provide a driver score based on how the vehicle is being driven. The system coaches improvements by showing drivers how to best optimise the truck’s performance by coasting longer.

Photo: Fuel consumption. The numbers don’t lie.

I’d been told that the higher the driver’s score the better fuel economy would be; needless to say, I was happy to achieve an overall driver score of 92 percent for the trip. The overall fuel economy for the journey was 2.58kml (38.7l/100km) which makes the PACCAR MX-powered T410 one of the more economical trucks to operate in the mid- to heavy-duty market segment. Do the numbers stack up favourably for the new T410? It certainly ticks the light tare box and the PACCAR MX13 engine is a mature engine with reliability and economy. Add in the new smarts like Neutral Coast and there’s another tick. It’s this last tick that is probably the most important: the economy. As I climbed down from the T410 in Hexham that evening I reflected on the drive. The T410 is a multipurpose utility truck and affords the versatility that can potentially pay huge dividends. A vehicle that can easily fit into a multitude of applications and perform each one equally well. It’s a truck well worth consideration.