Semi-trucks are heavy-duty vehicles that are used to haul cargo safely on long routes that can take from a few hours to several weeks.
It is a truck or a tractor that has an engine capable of towing a cargo-carrying semitrailer.
The semitrailer is usually attached to the tractor and can’t move on its own. A semi-truck with a semi-trailer attached is also known as a tractor-trailer or an 18 wheeler.
There many semi truck models out there and choosing the right one can be a hard decision. So which are the best semi trucks for truck drivers?
First, there is no one-fit truck fit for all truckers. The best model will depend on your individual need. This is why it’s important to also understand how to choose the right option for you.
Here is our review of the top 7 options and a buying guide on how to choose one.
7 Best Semi Trucks for Truckers
After spending over 24 hours researching, we settled on the following options.
- Freightliner Cascadia
This is one of the most aesthetically pleasing semi brands. It features a 605 horsepower engine that produces a maximum torque of 2050 pounds.
This huge rig has a smart exterior design that helps to increase its uptime, and improve vehicle servicing.
According to smarttrucking, Freightliner Cascadia is the market leader with a 37% market share in the semi truck markets.
They sell over 190k (yeah – one hundred and ninety thousand) trucks every year!
This is mostly because of its design that reduces the cab, a major win for the drivers, and a great fuel efficiency that makes it aerodynamic.
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This is an American company started in 1939 and specializes in the manufacture of heavy and medium-duty trucks.
The company is a Paccar subsidiary, the mother company of another great brand Kenworth.
Peterbilt is popular for its reliable, efficient, and rugged trucks. The company has a 13% market share of the semis market in the United States.
Kenworth is another brand that has built a solid reputation in the United States in the manufacture of heavy and medium duty class 8 trucks.
The company uses technologies and great design to improve safety, satisfaction, and efficiency. One of the benefits of the Kenworth trucks is that they are built in consultation with experienced truckers.
Paccar the company behind Kenworth has an extensive dealership and great customer service. They also build their vehicles with sturdy materials and intelligent designs.
The trucks are well insulated and properly routed to protect the lines from chafing.
They are built with great navigational technology providing you with a smoother and stress-free road experience. But the main downside of the trucks is that they aren’t fuel-efficient.
- Volvo VNL 860
One of the semis brands from Europe is Volvo. The Swedish company boasts of designing one of the most fuel-efficient models in the VNL 860.
This can be seen in the exterior of the truck in an aerodynamic and fuel-efficient version. While this brand isn’t as popular as the U.S-based brands, their trucks are top-notch.
Among the heavy-truck manufacturers in the United States, Volvo comes fifth. The company is also behind the Mack trucks and has a great support network in the United States and Canada.
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- Mercedes-Benz Actros
One of the trucks that have an international appeal is the Mercedes Benz Actros. According to the company’s website, the Actros model has a well-optimized design that is supposed to minimize wind resistance.
The trucks are available in three engines: OM460, and OM473. These engines have a horsepower of 360, 460, and 625 hp.
- International Lonestar
Lonestar is one of the oldest manufacturers in the United States as it has been in existence since 1902. The company has a market share of about 11% in the U.S for whatever models you may have.
The Lonestar boasts of a gorgeous crosshatch grill design. Apart from its good looks, it has a Cummins X15 engine with 400 to 600 hp and a torque of 1450 to 2050, combining great power with performance.
- Mack Trucks Inc.
Founded in 1900, Mack Truck Inc. started as a manufacturer of trolleys, buses, and buses. The company started making trucks in 1907 and that’s when it started using the current name.
It’s a subsidiary of AB Volvo. The company manufacture semi-trucks that are sturdy and durable with heavy-duty suspension and large wheels.
Types of semi-truck styles
There are several semi-truck styles. These include:
- Flat roof sleeper
A truck sleeper or sleeper cab is a semi-truck with a compartment that is attached to the cabin where the driver can sleep and rest.
It has a kind of bunk as well as side storage compartments. This truck comes with a flat roof and little headspace.
- Raised roof sleeper
This is a semi-truck that has compartments attached to a cabin where the truck driver can sleep and rest.
It often comes with a storage compartment. TV, and bed. This truck has a slightly rounded and higher roof, creating more space and headroom.
- Raised roof
The raised roof sleeper has a semi-tractor design with an attached cabin where the truck driver can sleep and rest. This type of semi-truck has the highest roof creating better space for drivers and adding to their comfort.
- Day cab
This kind of semi-truck has been designed to go for day trips. It doesn’t come with a sleeping compartment. The day cab has the role of hooking up and hauling big loads on the shorter trips at the same time.
How to choose the right semi truck
There are several factors you should consider before selecting a semi-truck. These include:
- The kind of terrain where you will be driving the truck is a key consideration. For instance, if your trucker will be driving it in a flat area, you may not need one with the extra gear that would be useful when driving downhill and around corners.
- If you will be hauling bigger cargo, choose a bigger semi trucker.
- If the truck will be cruising through areas with extreme weather, you will need one with the necessary weather adaptations like weather stripping.
- A semi with a horsepower of between 400 and 600 is considered average. A bigger engine will not only last longer but it doesn’t have to work as hard as the smaller engines.
- Route length. Some semi trucks are usually made for local deliveries where others are made for hauling cargo across different states or countries.
- Fuel efficiency. The bigger trucks have a lower mileage but are more suited for transporting bigger cargo. Therefore, you will need to get a good balance between good mileage and storage capacity.
- Resale value. If you plan to sell your semi after the end of its lifespan, you will want a design that can work across different industries.
- The cargo you can carry will depend on the number of axles and where they are placed. A truck with more axles will carry more weight but will be more expensive in terms of price tag, maintenance fees, and highway tolls. Trucks with spaced axles can carry heavy loads but the truck will be shorter. This can reduce cargo space.
- The type of tires will affect the durability ratings, handling styles, and the amount of power necessary for big rigs with heavy loads.
- Trucks with small radiators don’t cost much. But they also don’t have the cooling power necessary for big rigs with some heavy loads.
In the United States, Peterbilts, Kenworths, and Freightliners have a loyal following. This is mostly because of their clean designs and truck bodies that are built to last.
Their trucks stay on the road longer and can therefore save owners lots of money. However, in Europe and other parts of the world International and Volvo are very popular.
Ultimately, the choice that you will make will depend on your personal preference, driving needs, and price. But you can use this guide to help you make a good buying decision/