Kenworth’s bold and unapologetic limited-edition “large car” doesn’t disappoint. Photos: Jim Park

Kenworth’s bold and unapologetic limited-edition “large car” doesn’t disappoint. Photos: Jim Park

Kenworth’s Icon 900 is a special edition W900L created to celebrate the 25th anniversary of a truly iconic truck. It has a few unique features and special badging to set it distinctly apart from other trucks. Since silver is the precious metal favored at 25th anniversary celebrations, Kenworth chose to deck the truck out in the next best thing — chrome, stainless steel and polished aluminum. It features a one-of-a-kind chrome hood badge, rather than the typical red badge. You can’t miss the big polished stainless air cleaner canisters or the sun visor (politically incorrect in the world of all aero, all the time), but isn’t that half the reason for wanting one of these things? Other distinguishing features include stainless steel fender guards, upgraded headlights and headlamp covers, as well as stainless under-door, sleeper and grille closeout panels.

All the exterior lighting is LED, with the taillights and fender-mounted turn signals emitting a cool-looking glow around the edges when they are on.

The design concept comes from a partnership with Jonathan Ward of Icon 4X4, who helped craft the exterior trim and interior color schemes.

Inside, the Icon 900 is everything you’d expect from Kenworth plus a little bit more. The unbelievably comfortable leather driver and passenger seats feature an embroidered Icon 900 logo on the headrest. The sofa bed in the 86-inch sleeper I drove was leather and color-keyed to match the seats. There’s a little more chrome trim than usual on the inside, including the dash surrounds and door pads. Owners also get a stainless steel plaque on the dash denoting the truck’s limited edition exclusivity.

Power for the Icon 900 is provided exclusively by the Cummins ISX15 in ratings up to 1,850 lb-ft of torque and 600 hp. Transmission options include 10-, 13- and 18-speed Eaton Fuller models in manual or automated. The truck I drove at the editor ride-and-drive event held at Kenworth’s Chillicothe, Ohio, plant in May had an ISX15 rated at 550 hp with 1,850 lb-ft and Eaton 18-speed manual transmission, 13,200-pound Dana front axle, 40,000-pound Meritor rear axles with 3.55:1 gears on Kenworth’s AG400, 40,000-pound suspension and 24.5-inch Michelin tires. It also had air disc brakes at each wheel position.

The short test drive course in Chillicothe was about 45 minutes round trip. I liked the truck so much I went around twice.

There’s just something about looking out over that square-acre of hood, slipping the transmission into gear and feeling the power roll on as the clutch engages. The 280-inch wheelbase adds to the ocean liner feel of the truck, which isn’t bad unless you’re peddling freight in New York’s Upper East Side (but hey, if you can afford a truck like this, you can probably afford to turn those loads down).

I can’t think of a truck that comes close this one in terms of ride and handling. A little S-turn on the course that ran under a railroad bridge had quite a dip, and the pavement was pretty badly broken up, but the truck held the road sure and true. I got not even a hint of protest through the steering wheel.

There’s no view quite like that from the left seat of a Kenworth W900L.

There’s no view quite like that from the left seat of a Kenworth W900L.

If there’s a downside to the W900, it’s the big exterior air cleaners. They make the truck look great, but they get in the way of crossing the 10-mpg barrier, and they are noisy, too. Some would like the sound of the whistling turbo — I do too — but it would get in my nerves after a few hours of stop and go driving with the window rolled down.

Kenworth Director of Marketing Kurt Swihart expects the biggest customer base for the Icon 900 to be owner-operators and fleets looking to reward over-achieving drivers.

I think they will wind up in the hands of a few 50- to 60-year-old successful veteran drivers who are approaching retirement, thinking, “to heck with all this automation and electronic wizardry; I want one last real truck before I hang it up.”

The bold and unapologetic Icon 900 is that truck.