Volvo VNL a sleek and smooth truck with an even smoother ride

By Suzanne Stempinski, Land Line contributing field editor | Thursday, September 28, 2017

The truck you drive should be one that works for you; offering you reliable performance, easy operation, the opportunity to manage your business from the driver’s seat, along with comfort behind the wheel as well as the chance to get rest when you need it. That’s a tall order. Or is it?

I had the chance to get up close and personal with the new Volvo VNL 860 recently. It delivered in a big way.


Sleek aerodynamic styling is a hallmark of the Volvo brand. The hood slope is designed to maximize the airflow up and over the top, minimizing wind resistance. There’s a new body, new front bumper and new sculpted fairings that were designed to include a DEF access door (not just an opening). Air deflectors have been extended to fit under the bottom of the fairings to improve cross-wind aerodynamics.

The lighting is all LED, inside and out. The headlights are the only ones in the industry that have the ability to defrost themselves. There’s a fan motor in the back of these lights, and it stops or reverses flow automatically based on temperature when you’re below freezing.

Inside, the improvements continue. A new steering wheel with 21 buttons on the spokes to keep information access at your fingertips (it drives like a European sports car). There are additional power supply outlets and USB ports on top of the dash, below the dash and in the sleeper. There is plenty of storage everywhere, and with the redesigned modular storage options on all VNL and VNR trucks, you can have your cup holders, tray, container or dog food bowl exactly where you need it most. There are removable floor inserts instead of a one-piece mat so you can clean or change them as needed. Or you can remove them to provide easier access to the engine cover for serviceability.

Walk back to the rear living space. It’s not just a sleeper. There’s a new reclining bunk. You can prop it up and pull a desk out from the wall while you do paperwork or watch a movie. Or climb a ladder to the optional upper bunk.


The high roof VNL 860 offers a 77-inch stand up sleeper with a 42-inch by 80-inch lower bunk with a pocketed coil spring mattress that just might be more comfortable than the bed you left at home. The refrigerator is bigger than a standard dorm size unit and there’s room for a good-sized microwave. The window shades are recessed and close with a click. The skylight window is optional. At your fingertips, controls are now mounted on the back wall of the sleeper. Not only can you adjust temperature and stereo volume – you can lock or unlock the cab doors from the bunk.

Now standard is the Volvo Active Driver Assist, integrated with Bendix Wingman Fusion. There’s a camera in the middle of the truck and radar in the front. It enables the truck to identify slower vehicles and identify what’s ahead of the truck so the driver can be alerted. It combines seamlessly with the collision warning and mitigation system.

There are a lot of thoughtfully designed little things that add up to a big win. But for me, the most notable improvement was the feature I had to climb out of the cab to see. There’s now a front stabilizer bar that gives the truck a ride so smooth I could almost forget about the bumps. You can drive it one-handed (not recommended except to prove the point). No pitch, no sway. Just a big truck headed down the road getting the job done.

This new Volvo VNL offers improved fuel economy over previous models. A turbo compound engine is available. Turbo compounding uses waste heat recovery to raise brake thermal efficiency. That means it can deliver better fuel economy on the highway. Remember when the “sweet spot” for engine rpm was around 1,500? Those days are gone. Today’s engines are aiming closer to 1,000 rpm. For maximum efficiency, look to hit 1,070 rpm at 65 mpg. And watch your money collecting in your pocket instead of waving goodbye at the pump.

The new Volvo VNL is a business savvy, driver friendly machine, capable of making your days and nights behind the wheel profitable and comfortable. If you’re in the market for a new truck, this is a must-see.

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