Not your older brother’s cabover

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In the mid-2000s, Kenworth dusted off a familiar old nugget: Its medium-duty cabover plans. 

Again.

The trucks were essentially Euro models outfitted to run North American roads. Again. With trucks hardly designed to meet their needs, buyers responded in kind. The trucks sold slowly and, in some cases, barely. Again.

Kenworth’s cabover cycle came in fits and spurts, and each time the plan was the same: Take a Euro cabover and North Americanize it. Again.

Until 2011.

In the fall of 2011, the maker of the “World’s Best Trucks” announced plans to roll out the K270 and K370 – yet another attempt to crack into the medium duty cabover market. Insert eye roll here, right?

Wrong.

The newest generation of work truck cabovers were different where it mattered most: Fundamental design. 

The truck wasn’t a re-gifted Euro. It was purpose built for the North American market. The Euro cab sits on a North American chassis similar to Kenworth’s conventional midrange T270 and T370. As the truck was rolling off the assembly line in May of this year, there was some familiarity with an already popular NA chassis at the core.

Another makeover for this generation cabover is the support its received from Kenworth’s management team down to the dealer level. Doug Powell, Kenworth’s medium-duty marketing manager, says there’s been a concerted effort to teach dealers and key sales staff about how K-Series trucks can fit in the market, and how a properly spec’ed K-Series cabover can actually be a better fit for the customer. 

No more parking the truck on the lot and using the van body for a billboard. These guys are on the street, pushing the product along side their heavy-duty, bigger brothers and sisters. 

Having driven both the K270 (van body) and K370 (stakebed), I can tell you first hand, the handling and ride on these trucks are impressive. Both units’ PX-6 engine gave the light truck plenty of horsepower, and a surprisingly quiet cab. The Allison 2100RDS five speed automated transmission was smooth and matched perfectly with the engine. 

With a purpose-built product and sales support from top to bottom, Kenworth may have finally gotten something they’ve long chased over previous generations: A seat at the medium duty cabover table.