What Is the Best Semi-Truck Brand? Find the Answer Here [Updated November, 2023]

If you recall the theory of evolution, it states that only those who can best adapt to the changing environment will survive. Strange as it sounds, the dynamic nature of the semi-truck market demonstrates the same. There are some manufacturers that always grab a good opportunity when they see one and are not afraid of change. Mack, Peterbilt, Freightliner, International and Volvo. What is the best semi truck brand? All these popular brands have managed to stick around the semi-truck market for pretty damn long thanks to their flexible policies and ability to keep up with market trends.


Contents:

  1. How to Choose the Best Semi Truck?
  2. Best Semi-Truck Brands
  3. Best Semi-Truck for Owner Operator
  4. Conclusion

How to Choose the Best Semi Truck?

To answer the question, “What is the best semi truck brand?” you should consider your driving routes, the engine power of your tractor, its average fuel consumption and your budget. An owner operator typically knows what their requirements are.

Big rigs differ in more than just cabin design. When making a choice, it is not enough to look at the price and technical feature score — you need to consider the operating costs, and the availability of service and spare parts. It is wise to buy a brand that has a well-developed service network in the region where you operate.

Truck Age

A new truck will cost more than a used one, but it comes with strong advantages. These include access to the manufacturer's warranty, upgraded technology and a lower emission level.

If you are inclined to get a used truck, you should do your homework. Although a new truck can lose up to 40% of its value within the first year of driving, just remember that a vintage model should be treated with caution. It may look cool, but maintenance could prove a challenge.

So, it makes sense to check the engine, the fuel tank, the exterior and interior for damage.

How to Choose the Best Semi Truck: Truck Age

Technical Requirements of Your Routes and Freight

The most reliable semi trucks are those whose specifications match the technical requirements of your routes and freight. Pay attention to the engine torque and horsepower ratings if you mostly deliver heavy loads or often drive through mountainous areas.

Your Plan to Maintain a Cash Flow While Making Payments on the Investment

Finding out about the best semi truck brands is just the first stage of the purchasing process.

For many owner operators, buying a semi-truck requires serious and long-lasting investments that can result in a so-called “cash gap”.

As you know, in the trucking industry, payments can be delayed, and heavy operational costs could overwhelm even a stable company. Any business can experience the problems in these realities.

The best financial solution is invoice factoring, when you sell your unpaid invoices to a factoring company and get the money immediately. There are currently plenty of players in the market offering this type of service, one of which is HMD Financial.

By doing this you can invest in buying semi-trucks or whatever you need to. The factoring company will collect payments from your debtors when the time is right.

How to Choose the Best Semi Truck: Cash Flow

Best Semi-Truck Brands

It is difficult to choose one among the best semi truck brands, especially if it is your first purchase. Peterbilt, Mack, Volvo, International and Freightliner — these brands are known to every freight carrier. Let’s look at each of the “great five” a little closer.

Peterbilt

The brand is known for some of the most reliable semi trucks. Peterbilt is a subsidiary of PACCAR, the third largest heavy truck manufacturer in the world. Today, Peterbilt ranks second in the US with a 14.8% market share. The brand offers its devotees high quality, safety, increased comfort and technologically advanced features.

Peterbilt trucks have aluminum bodies, resistant to corrosion for up to thirty years, and are equipped with a long hood, a massive bumper and mufflers. While Peterbilt makes the best looking trucks on the road, there is no denying the manufacturer’s engineering prowess.

Best Semi-Truck Brands

Peterbilt is obsessed with customization to match every model to the specific requirements of the routes and freight. Most Peterbilt semi-trucks are capable of running on alternate fuels. In 2020, the company entered the EV market with the all-electric Peterbilt 579 EV.

HMD remains committed to the Peterbilt brand and is confident in these most fuel efficient semi trucks. About 90% of the company’s fleet is Peterbilt 579, designed for aerodynamics, and the legendary Peterbilt 567 trucks. What attracts our drivers the most is that these models have a combo sleeper, removable rider seat, and both automatic and manual control.

One of the brand’s principal strengths is a wide network of repair shops across the US, so you can get service any time.

Best Semi-Truck Brands: Peterbilt

Mack

Mack is one of the oldest brands of semi-trucks. Their story began in 1900 and there was a time when the glory of Mack trucks thundered all over the US.

Today’s American truckers are not very fond of Mack tractors. By 2021, the brand occupied just 8.4% of the total market share.

This is due to the fact that their motors are considered unreliable in “long-range combat”. Since when did American-made engines start to overheat after 600,000 miles of driving? Now, think about the indestructible Cummins or Caterpillar million-milers installed inside Peterbilt semis.

In terms of torque, especially on long California climbs with their “Turn Off A/C to Avoid Overheating” signs, Mack engines are anything but excellent.

Best Semi-Truck Brands: Mack

Volvo

Every car driver is familiar with the Volvo brand name, but not so many of us know that Volvo makes semi-trucks. This is because it is not as popular in the US as its competitors like Freightliner or Peterbilt. Still, some American owner operators use Volvo semi-trucks to haul loads.

Volvo trucks come from the same company that makes Mack trucks, and uses its own powertrains (in the D series). That is why they have the same weaknesses as the latter, including insufficient engine torque that is so important on steep roads. Recently, Volvo started to use Cummins engines in some models, which could improve things.

Volvo’s heavy-duty trucks occupy 10.2% of the American market.

Best Semi-Truck Brands: Volvo

International

One of the most popular and best-selling semi-truck brands, with an 11% share of the market in the US, is International. Superb aerodynamics, good performance and exceptional fuel efficiency have made Lonestar- and LT-series trucks some of the most desirable road companions.

There is one aspect worth paying attention to.

Almost all top semi-truck brands use Eaton Fuller or Rockwell axles in their transmission systems, because these two have shown themselves to be the most reliable around. The manufacturer of International trucks fits them with axles made in-house. Many drivers claim the quality is lower compared to the previous two and prefer to drive a Peterbilt or Freightliner, rather than an International. Others say that the transmission is reliable, and if properly handled, it will not cause trouble to the owner.

Best Semi-Truck Brands: International

Freightliner

Freightliner is the number one by semi-truck sales, occupying 37.7% of the US market, although they have been slowly losing market share due to growing popularity of Peterbilt. Established in 1942, Freightliner offers a full range of heavy-duty semi-trucks complete with Detroit powertrains.

Recently, Freightliner invested in fully electric vehicles and is now conquering the market with its eCascadia electric semi-trucks.

Things that have made Freightliner the best semi-truck for owner-operators include comfortable cabin design, good maneuverability, great fuel efficiency and powerful engines that deliver up to 600 horsepower. Another strong point compared to other brands is cab noise reduction.

Thanks to the above advantages and low prices, many transport companies still prefer Freightliners, which is the reason why maintenance and repair of a Freightliner can be a hassle with long wait times.

Best Semi-Truck Brands: Freightliner

Best Semi-Truck for Owner Operator

The first step to start business as an owner operator is to find the best semi truck for your fleet. You need to decide what kind of cargo you plan to carry and the main routes, as well as calculate the required budget.

An important factor that often drives the purchasing decision is the price. Owner operators should think more broadly. When choosing the best semi truck for owner operator, it is necessary to pay attention to safety, life span, reliability, fuel efficiency and design. The table below contains a summary of these features for the top semi-truck brands.

  Peterbilt Mack Volvo International Freightliner
Safety Employs the latest safety features, such as front disc brakes and electronic stability control Equipped with a safety system that integrates a camera, radar sensors and brakes Equipped with an adaptive high beam system, cameras and a collision warning system with emergency braking Ensures driver visibility, high brake performance, speed control, collision mitigation and impact protection Comes standard with anti-lock braking systems and engine brakes
Life span With proper care, expected to work well for over 1,000,000 miles or 20 years On the average, a driver can get 500,000 miles out of a motor before rebuild 750,000–1,000,000 miles with proper care and regular maintenance 15+ years with proper maintenance Commonly run for 700,000 miles or more, depending on usage and maintenance
Reliability Peterbilt is hard to beat in this category Reliable performance across a range of applications Volvo trucks are known for their optimum quality International trucks share a reputation for being some of the highest-quality semi-trucks along with Peterbilt Has good torque and the ability to haul large loads easily and safely
Fuel efficiency The new 579 model boasts a 7% fuel economy improvement over prior-generation models Mack boasts cutting fuel costs by 5% In some instances, greater than 8.5 mpg at speeds of 55-85 miles per hour, depending on the truck weight and terrain of the route New models are capable of an up to 11% improvement compared with the previous generation Known to be aerodynamically efficient, Freightliners help you save money with fuel efficiency
Design Peterbilts are classic American semi-trucks with an iconic long nose, and no other brand has beaten their style so far The appearance of Mack tractors has lost its attractiveness. The last eye-catching model was the Super-Liner, made in 1977 Volvos are generally lighter and smaller in size than their competitors Offers a complete lineup of trucks, including the updated front-end design LT series

Specializes in creating semi-trucks with the latest in innovative design

Conclusion

When it comes to choosing a semi-truck, there is no doubt that two things to consider are what you will be using the truck for and how efficient it can be for its purpose. If you want the most powerful semi trucks for your heavy cargo and long-distance travel, you can trust Peterbilt as HMD does.

Best Semi-Truck for Owner Operator

About 90% of the HMD fleet consist of modern Peterbilt semi-trucks that can be safely driven at a cruise speed of 70 mph, and have high roofs and combo sleepers. According to a recent anonymous survey, all HMD drivers enjoy getting behind the wheel.

We constantly expand our truck fleet, and we are pleased to invite new truck drivers to join our team.

Are you a truck driver contemplating whether OTR (Over-the-Road) or regional trucking is the right career path for you? Understanding the differences between these two options is crucial for making an informed decision that aligns with your lifestyle and goals. Explore our comprehensive article on "OTR vs Regional Trucking" to unlock the knowledge you need to navigate the road ahead.

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