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Test drive: Kenworth's W990 equipped with new 18-speed AMT

Paccar’s new TX-18 and TX-18 Pro automated manual transmissions got me thinking about the first time, roughly six years ago, that I drove an AMT which as I look back on it now was sort of like my first middle school dance.

While giddy about that seventh grade dance, it just wasn’t as smooth as I had thought it to be at the time, mostly because the wisdom gleaned through additional experiences would eventually prove otherwise.

Such is the case with Paccar’s new TX-18 and TX-18 Pro. Both transmissions show just how far AMTs have come, the most noticeable growth spurt being how smooth software-controlled shifting has become in a big rig—in this case, the Kenworth W990. 

During a ride and drive event Friday at Paccar's Technical Center in Mount Vernon, Washington, I got a chance to try out both the standard TX-18 in Kenworth’s W990 equipped with a 52-inch low roof sleeper and the TX-18 Pro in a heavy-haul day cab. First up was the TX-18 Pro. 

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