Volvo’s VNX series moves heavy-haul cargo with class

March 16, 2018

Suzanne Stempinski


Volvo Trucks North America this week proudly introduced the latest updates to its lineup of trucks – the VNX series.

Suzanne Stempinski, Volvo VNX
Land Line‘s Suzanne Stempinski, here with the Volvo VNX she test drove, says the heavy-hauler makes going to work nicer.

Designed for the heavy-haul marketplace, the VNX lineup is designed to go from off-road to on-highway. While the heavy haul niche is fairly small (around 2,500 trucks per year), the needs of those customers are important.

According to Magnus Koeck, vice president of marketing and brand management, “these trucks are designed to run in harsh conditions. We are recognized as a tractor and long-haul company, but all over the world we’re also strong in the heavy-haul and hard-work segments.”

These trucks complement the existing lineup of equipment – with a redesigned hood, an updated bumper, increased ground clearance and improved wheel cuts. These are trucks designed to take a beating in tough off-road conditions and then smoothly transition to on-highway travel to deliver the load.

Pick your VNX configuration

The VNX series available in three cab configurations:

  • The 300 daycab supports local heavy-haul applications.
  • The 400 flat-roof with a 42-inch sleeper is built for occasional overnights.
  • The new VNX 740 features a 70-inch sleeper and all of Volvo’s latest interior amenities and is designed to take heavy hauls over long distances.

Approved gross combination weight ratings range from 125,000 to 160,000 pounds. Ratings of up to 225,000 pounds are available with the right combination of components. Optional steer axles, lift axles, tridem drive axles, and longer fifth-wheel slides help meet a diverse range of weight distribution requirements.

Available in 6×4, 8×4, and 8×6 configurations, the VNX includes a wide variety of components to make sure it’s properly spec’d for the job. Front axle ratings range from 16,000 to 20,000 pounds with parabolic springs. The VNX is available with up to 445 tires to match front axle load capacity. Available rear axles range from 46,000 to 55,000 pounds and the rear heavy-haul suspension ranges up to 52,000 pounds. Dual steering gears provide excellent maneuverability.

Take a look under the hood. Two engines are available. The standard powertrain package for the new Volvo VNX is a Volvo D13 engine with 500 horsepower and 1,850 lb-ft of torque, paired with the 13- or 14-speed Volvo I-Shift with Crawler Gears automated manual transmission.

If bigger horsepower and more torque are what you need, the VNX is also available with up to 605 hp and 2,050 lb-ft of torque, provided by the Cummins X15 Performance Series engine and paired with an Eaton Ultra Shift Plus or manual transmission.

All Volvo VNX models come standard with Volvo’s factory-installed connectivity hardware for access to Remote Diagnostics, which provides proactive diagnostics and monitoring of critical engine, transmission and aftertreatment trouble codes. The same hardware also allows customers to perform software and parameter updates over-the-air with remote programming, designed to improve uptime and vehicle efficiency while reducing downtime costs.

Behind the wheel of a VNX

We had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of some of the new VNX trucks, along with some VHD dump trucks on Volvo’s test tracks in Dublin, Va. My eyes sparkled and my arm shot up like a kid at Christmas when they asked for volunteers to go first. I hopped into a VHD dump truck, buckled up and headed for the off-road course. Grossing 50,000 pounds, I was ready for adventure.

First up – a 27 percent downhill grade. I looked at the edge of the drop and felt a little shiver. Surely we were not going to fall off the hill straight down. Nope. No falling involved. In creeper gear, my feet flat on the floor, the truck crept over the edge, nose pointed straight down and tiptoed down the hill. What a rush.

We meandered up hills and down, through muddy paths and gravel; across flowing water and through washboard conditions. This tough truck took it like a champ. When our lap was completed, all I wanted was to go back out again. But there were other trucks waiting for me.

I wanted to get with the biggest option they had available on site. And here it was. The Volvo VNX740, hooked to a BTrain loaded with granite blocks, grossing 120,000. Black grill, blackout wheels, fierce and strong looking. Under the hood, the Cummins X15 with 605 hp and 2050 lb-ft of torque. No off-road tipping and tilting with this cargo. It was an on-the-track experience.

The two trailers added up to 59 feet, 6 inches. Added to the 266-inch wheelbase tractor, we were around 80 feet from bumper to bumper. While getting started is all about the torque, at this weight, we kept our speed conservative. No need for sudden stops or quick maneuvering. The added length had me mindful of the line I needed to hold in order to safely navigate curves.

The truck is quiet inside. And it has all the amenities of the new VNR and VNL trucks introduced last year – the removable cup holders, safety switches and a panic button in the sleeper, all LED lighting, removable multipart floor mats, sliding seat belt harness (my neck thanks you) and more.

In a truck like this, every day could be a good day at work.

The VNX series trucks are available to order now, with delivery in the second quarter of 2018.

Volvo VNX
The Volvo VNX740, hooked to a BTrain loaded with granite blocks, is ready for Suzanne Stempinski’s test drive.

Suzanne Stempinksi delivers distinctive driver insight to readers. She studied journalism at Northwestern University, married a trucker, and for the next several years added a few million miles of safe driving to her resume. She has contributed to Land Line Magazine since 2000, covering show truck news and her specialty – test drives.