With several manufacturers producing premium Class 8 trucks, the question must be asked, which one is the best value for money?
Between Mack, Freightliner, Peterbilt and Kenworth, there are many Class 8 trucks on the market. Most drivers and industry fleets will find themselves aligned with a specific Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), but what draws them to each? Let’s break down some of the top manufacturers and what makes them particularly appealing to value-seeking buyers.
Owned by PACCAR and with over 90 years of experience in the industry, Kenworth, although biased, considers himself “the best in the world”. However, thousands of owner-operators have named Kenworth the manufacturer of the ideal vehicle for owner-operators. Kenworth is known for making premium models that appeal to those seeking a sleek and refined look. These Class 8 trucks not only stand out for their attractive exterior, but also for the latest computer technology, which allows them to stay one step ahead of trucks from other manufacturers.
The latest navigation technologies installed in Kenworth trucks are able to use Google apps and use a smartphone-like interface, making it easy to learn and adapt. Discussing Kenworth’s modern technology updates, the Truck Freighter blog states, “You’ll feel like you’re in a futuristic truck in this model (T680) and other Kenworth models as well.”
One of the reasons truckers must love these Kenworth trucks so much is that they are partly designed by a team of experienced truckers themselves, who make decisions on upcoming models based on their practicality.
With its long nose and clean lines, Kenworth has achieved a classic and timeless design. However, there are also a number of things that could make people in the heavy truck market less attracted to Kenworth. For example, there are a number of truck models with better aerodynamics than Kenworth generally has to offer. In addition, its trucks are generally much heavier than others, which affects many functions of the truck, including fuel efficiency.
According to Transport Topics, Kenworth ranked third in new truck sales in the United States in 2018, with nearly 38,000 sales. Overall, Kenworth models are popular primarily for their design and style rather than efficiency, and therefore appeal to owner-operators more than companies with large fleets.
Another owner-operator favorite, also owned by PACCAR, is Peterbilt. This manufacturer has been making Class 8 trucks for almost 80 years and offers trucks with the most alternative fuel options on the market. For an industry that strives for fuel efficiency, safety and design, Peterbilt has built its trucks with the consumer in mind. Peterbilt has become a favorite among owner-operators as well as large fleets due to its intricate styling, innovative safety precautions and, ultimately, fuel efficiency.
“Peterbilts does the job, does it well, and they do it well,” reported Smarttrucking.com, which also reported that Peterbilt makes the most popular trucks in the industry.
“Most classes 8 [trucks] will do the job too…. it is a given. But a “Pete” offers more than just getting the job done. It also offers class and style. A Pete stands out in the crowd.
Peterbilt builds its models with the intention of taking fuel economy to the next level. Peterbilt models also offer hybrid electric motors, which are not available from most other commercial truck manufacturers.
Conversely, many users have complained about the ability of Peterbilts to carry large loads. Peterbilt only makes a few heavy models and they are mainly used as dump trucks. This makes Peterbilt more attractive to the owner-operator than to larger fleets looking to haul heavy cargo.
Another thing that Peterbilt paid special attention to is the lifespan of its models. Although they are more expensive than trucks made by other OEMs, Peterbilt says its models generally last much longer than trucks made by its competitors. Another major advantage of an aluminum body is that it is lighter, which ultimately contributes to the fuel efficiency of the model. If a trucking company or owner-operator is looking for the lightest possible model, Peterbilt is definitely the way to go.
Finally, unlike models from many other manufacturers, Peterbilt trucks have exceptional resale value, according to the Commercial Carrier Journal. This is not just because of their timeless style, but because these machines were designed to last much longer than most other trucks. One of the best-known Class 8 trucks in history is the Peterbilt Classic 359 model, which was first produced in 1967 and discontinued in 1987. Used Classic 359s are still sold to this day and many truckers rave about their love for this model.
Peterbilt’s 2018 sales rank just behind Kenworth at number four with around 35,000 trucks sold in the United States, according to Transport Topics.
While Kenworth offers premium design and Peterbilt is known for its wide range of alternative fuel models as well as unique fuel efficiency, Freightliner manufactures the widest range of work grades. All road, medium and heavy duty work can be done with models manufactured by Freightliner. In addition to their wide variety of capacities, Freightliners offer a wide variety of cabin sizes.
According to smarttrucking.com, Freightliner wins the award for its overall fuel efficiency, design and price. Attractive in particular to large fleets, Freightliner models have a lot to offer. A Freightliner cab is designed with special attention to aerodynamic efficiency so that engine power is used in the most efficient way.
Freightliner is the maker of the famous Freightliner Cascadia – the most popular truck on the highway, according to smarttrucking.com. This manufacturer has the highest annual sales for good reason. Smarttrucking.com names the Freightliner Cascadia “Best Truck in the Industry”.
Truckers generally love Freightliner because of the attention to cabin space and noise. Since 2016, Freightliner has reduced cabin noise by 50%. A reduction in cabin noise, while seemingly a small detail, makes a huge difference to drivers. Less noise has a positive impact on the level of stress and fatigue of the driver at the wheel and in the bunk.
With its energy efficiency and a wide variety of work categories, Freightliner has succeeded in appealing to both large fleets and owner-operators.
Ranked first in Class 8 sales in 2018, Freightliner sold nearly 100,000 trucks last year, according to transporttopics.com.
Known for many reasons, most notably as the truck that hauls NASCAR vehicles, Volvo’s Class 8 truck maker Mack is the most recognized manufacturer in the trucking industry.
“There’s really nothing that Mack trucks weren’t made to do… If there was one word to describe Mack, it would be ‘practical’,” Truckfreighter.com wrote.
While many recognize Mack for his power and range of capabilities, Mack is also known to offer several features that keep the operator safe. Mack models offer a “watchdog” feature that alerts the operator to any faulty code and provides the necessary diagnostics for any errors. This is a very important feature as it provides driver safety, peace of mind and ultimately avoids trip delays. Similar to Freightliner, Mack also offers reduced cabin noise from its sound deadening walls.
In 2018, Mack sold 40,000 trucks in the United States, ranking it second in Class 8 sales in 2018 according to transporttopics.com, and as the fuel efficiency of its models improves, these numbers are increasing.
Johnathan Randall, Mack Trucks senior vice president of sales and marketing for North America, said: “Customers continue to place great importance on improving fuel efficiency, especially now as we see fuel prices rising steadily.
With over 100 years of truck manufacturing experience, Mack is generally preferred by older truck drivers, but has reason to maintain a positive reputation in the industry. Truckfreighter.com said: “If you are looking for all-round quality, modern technology and powertrain function, Mack is always the best.