Who Makes the Best Class 8 "Semi" Truck These Days?

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5,301
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Random thought, I'm out and about and see lots of class 8's at work towing the load on the highways and by ways. Like the theme music lyrics of the 70's show Movin' On, "That white line is the life line of the nation and ..." So I thought I'd ask, who makes the best class 8 road tractor these days: Peterbilt, Kenworth, Mack, Freightliner, or ?? P.S. I got the Revell model kit (or was it Monogram?...) of the green and white Kenworth rig from that TV show for Christmas one year, I would've been about 10 or 11. Built it in one week flat, authentic green paint color courtesy of Testor plastic model paint.
 
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42,584
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Ontario, Canada
Not class 8's, as we run ~35,000lb GVWR straight-frames, but we just got our first Kenworth T-370 and it is a much, MUCH nicer truck than the Freightliner trucks we also own. Plan is to migrate all of them to Kenworth going forward. You'll find Pete/Kenny are pretty similar, as they are both owned by Paccar. We've operated a ton of International trucks too, and when we did a comparison of the major brands, the Kenworth (or Pete) was a clearly better truck if you don't mind the narrower cab. Every aspect of construction seems better thought out and materials selection is better as well.
 
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21,078
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Apple Valley, California
Peterbilt and KW. I absolutely hate freightliners and internationals with a passion. I drove a mack 20+ years ago and it was pretty good. I have not seen or driven a mack here on the left coast since then so I can't comment on the new ones.
 
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3,196
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Northern Ontario, Canada
I used to spec and lease Class 8 tractors until a couple of years ago. Hard to beat the Volvo VNL 460 sleepers with the D13 and iShift automated transmission for power, fuel economy and driver acceptance. Migrated 150 drivers from International Pro-stars ISX 15 with 450 - 500 hp 1650 ft. lb. torque manual transmissions to the Volvo with 425 hp, 1650 ft. lbs. Using a Volvo day cab, did a 12 hour overnight trip with a "vocal in a good way" driver hauling a 140,000 pound LCV (Tractors and 2 x 53' trailers) Not having to worry about missing a shift on a 6% grade at the end of the trip was the final convincing argument - and he was a convert. "The barn" of drivers soon followed suit. The D13 Volvo's consistently did 10% better on fuel than the Pro-stars with Cummins
 
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missouri
Is that the Volvo with the turbo compounding (turbo supplies power to the crankshaft). The grill on those internationals. what drugs were they using? I want to avoid them. Rod
 
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4,148
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N.C.
I haven't driven a class 8 truck in 4 years but IMO the Kenworth W900, is the undisputed "King of the road"! Also IMO the W900 is the best looking class 8 truck ever built. KW recently came out with the W990 which I know nothing about. The Peterbilt 379 though discontinued is a distant second IMO. Mack was/is the king of construction site/off road trucks but most drivers hated them for OTR trucks. I drove Volvo's for the last few years before retiring and the Volvo's are nice and well appointed, but not in the same class as the KW or Pete. There's a reason every other class 8 truck on the road is a Freightliner. They're built to a price point for large truck load carriers who buy hundreds of them at a time. J.B. Hunt, Swift, England, Schneider etc won't risk new hires bumping, banging, rolling top of the line trucks. Most owner operators buy the higher end trucks and keep them maintained because their trucks are their bread and butter and they live in them a big part of the time. I liked the " Movin On " TV show with Will and Sonny but back in the day drivers made jokes about them knowing everybody in every town and truck stop they ever visited, and how they always had plenty of time to drink coffee and fraternize with everybody they met.
 
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"That white line is the life line of the nation, and men like Will and Sonny make it move..." LoL. Loved that show as a kid !!!
 
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2,643
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Lakeside, CA
Been driving truck most of my life. The best one I ever drove was a Peterbilt. Never driven a Volvo but have heard tons of good things about them.
 
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21,078
Location
Apple Valley, California
Only Volvo I drove was a mixer. It had the 20k front axle and balloon front tires which made for an extremely bouncy ride empty. As far as automatics I'm still one of those guys that does not see a place for them on an otr truck. A trash truck is a good choice for an automatic. But out on the road I like to shift my own. But I'm also one of the few left that can drive a 2 stick and drink a soda at the same time. An 8,9,10,13,15 or 18 is gravy.
 
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2,503
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wv
I had 14 trucks before I sold out. If i had to buy one today as an owner operator it would probably be a W900L with a Paccar Engine. If i had a Bull Hauler it would probably be a Pete 379 with a 550 kitty turnt up. If i had a Dump Truck it would be a pre def W900 long nose glider with a C15 at around 750HP
 
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3,196
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Northern Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted by ragtoplvr
Is that the Volvo with the turbo compounding (turbo supplies power to the crankshaft). The grill on those internationals. what drugs were they using? I want to avoid them. Rod
Pre-compounding , they were 2013-14 models.
 
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4,616
Location
Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted by Chris142
But I'm also one of the few left that can drive a 2 stick and drink a soda at the same time. An 8,9,10,13,15 or 18 is gravy.
That is impressive....My grandfather owned a trucking company & preferred Peterbilt 359's with CAT 3408 & 5x4's, Felt like I needed 3 hands! I was never a truck driver though, Just had to help out around the yard & shop.
 
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271
Location
Northeast Georgia
I have driven nearly all manufacturers that are used in the US except for a Western Star. From a driver's standpoint, you'll be hard pressed to beat the overall ride quality, turning radius, and fuel economy of a newer Volvo. I've had a 2013, 2015 and currently in a 2018 VNL day cab with a 425HP/1750 ft lbs D13. I pull a fuel tanker and it's loaded to the max 80K lbs every time its loaded. 80% of my loads are in the mountains and the iShift auto is spot-on for it's shift points. From a mechanic's standpoint...they're one of the most hated trucks they see. Parts almost always have to be ordered. No room to do anything. It's packed tight under the hood. BUT...I can say....the disc brakes they're using on these trucks now are impressive. They work better than conventional drums that trucks have always used...and they last forever. I got this truck with just 600 miles on it 2 years ago. It's got 242,500 on it now and still has the original brakes on all 3 axles of the truck.
 
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2,503
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wv
Originally Posted by GoldDot40
I have driven nearly all manufacturers that are used in the US except for a Western Star. From a driver's standpoint, you'll be hard pressed to beat the overall ride quality, turning radius, and fuel economy of a newer Volvo. I've had a 2013, 2015 and currently in a 2018 VNL day cab with a 425HP/1750 ft lbs D13. I pull a fuel tanker and it's loaded to the max 80K lbs every time its loaded. 80% of my loads are in the mountains and the iShift auto is spot-on for it's shift points. From a mechanic's standpoint...they're one of the most hated trucks they see. Parts almost always have to be ordered. No room to do anything. It's packed tight under the hood. BUT...I can say....the disc brakes they're using on these trucks now are impressive. They work better than conventional drums that trucks have always used...and they last forever. I got this truck with just 600 miles on it 2 years ago. It's got 242,500 on it now and still has the original brakes on all 3 axles of the truck.
Do these trucks have engine brakes? I live in coal country and while all of the coal trucks, logging trucks, dump trucks seem to have endless jake brakes... i never hear any of the freight or tanker haulers using engine brakes on the same roads hauling the same weights. On the subject of Volvo.. i know a few MACK owners (dump trucks)...that were loyal MACK owners for generations until Volvo switched everything up under the hood. I havent kept up with it but im sure MACK suffered the transition. I see less and less MACKs on the roads.
 
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271
Location
Northeast Georgia
Originally Posted by krismoriah72
Originally Posted by GoldDot40
I have driven nearly all manufacturers that are used in the US except for a Western Star. From a driver's standpoint, you'll be hard pressed to beat the overall ride quality, turning radius, and fuel economy of a newer Volvo. I've had a 2013, 2015 and currently in a 2018 VNL day cab with a 425HP/1750 ft lbs D13. I pull a fuel tanker and it's loaded to the max 80K lbs every time its loaded. 80% of my loads are in the mountains and the iShift auto is spot-on for it's shift points. From a mechanic's standpoint...they're one of the most hated trucks they see. Parts almost always have to be ordered. No room to do anything. It's packed tight under the hood. BUT...I can say....the disc brakes they're using on these trucks now are impressive. They work better than conventional drums that trucks have always used...and they last forever. I got this truck with just 600 miles on it 2 years ago. It's got 242,500 on it now and still has the original brakes on all 3 axles of the truck.
Do these trucks have engine brakes? I live in coal country and while all of the coal trucks, logging trucks, dump trucks seem to have endless jake brakes... i never hear any of the freight or tanker haulers using engine brakes on the same roads hauling the same weights. On the subject of Volvo.. i know a few MACK owners (dump trucks)...that were loyal MACK owners for generations until Volvo switched everything up under the hood. I havent kept up with it but im sure MACK suffered the transition. I see less and less MACKs on the roads.
Yep. The engine brake has 4 settings from light to heavy effect...then an automatic mode for when you have cruise control enabled. The main thing I don't like...and it's not exclusive to Volvo...is all the "nanny" features like distance alert, auto braking and lane departure warning. It's irritating.
 
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271
Location
Northeast Georgia
Originally Posted by blair
I'm not a truck driver, but volvo's are made assembles in my hometown by a bunch of drunks and druggies. Probably the same everywhere
As good as they are...imagine how much better they could possibly be if the workers were all straight and sober...
 
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1,402
Location
MT
I've driven them all extensively, and swear by Paccar products, with a slight nod to Kenworth over Peterbilt. Inter-Trash-Tionals are the worst! Some have good powertrains, but the trucks themselves are a bucket of bolts; pretty much the truck equivalent of throwaway cars like Geo Metros. I'm honestly surprised International has stayed in business so long. Newer Macks are owned by, and now essentially rebranded Volvos. Freightliners from a comfort standpoint are nice, and they're cheap to own and operate, which is why you see them most commonly used by the mega carriers, but then again they don't typically hold up to extreme use very well. For real, rock and roll hauling, nothing beats a Kenworth, especially the T800 or W900. My company has a small fleet of T800 daycabs and they get rode hard and put away wet every single day. With 70% of what we do being off road driving on some of the roughest terrain imaginable. Most other trucks would snap in half under the brutal conditions these things are put through. They're completely multipurpose, off road or OTR, a T800 has you covered! For being such a rugged truck, and equipped with Kenworth's 8 bag suspension, they ride really well all things considered and have excellent highway manners when you get off the dirt.
 
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