Peterbilt vs Kenworth
Since their explosion onto the scene by the early 1920s and late 1930s, both Kenworth and Peterbilt semi-trucks have earned a popular reputation among drivers as some of the most robust and comfortable rides available. Other manufacturers might have gotten there just a bit earlier or deliver better budget options, but these two PACCAR divisions remain at the front of a spirited debate around premium build quality and minimal downtime almost a full century later.
For the sake of simplicity, we’ll be setting aside most of the logistic details that really tend to make these decisions for folks. “The best deal nearby, that you can afford to run and service while still making money,” is always the best truck for you. No matter what you drive or who you buy it from, at the end of the day what really matters is getting the job done and getting where you’re going safely.
Freightliner’s dominance in the American market is slowly slipping, and with more new drivers in the business every day that battle is only getting more heated. Now, to be fair, here at Raney’s Truck parts we don’t exactly like to play favorites. Instead, we’ll let some of their most popular features, (and their most vocal advocates,) speak for themselves! Most of this information comes from anecdotes and the personal experiences of the people who shop with us here at Raney's Truck Parts.
That said, we’re always looking for more first-hand details— nobody knows trucks better than truckers after all. If you think we’ve missed a great point, if you’ve got a story that’ll change how the world looks at T660s forever, or if you just think we’re off our rockers and want to set the record straight, don’t hesitate to get in touch; maybe you’ll be featured in the next community blog post!
Is Kenworth Really Better Than Peterbilt?
While they both come from the same manufacturer and have reliable in-house axle, engine, and transmission designs, there's a popular notion that Kenworth trucks are the "Harley Davidsons" or the "Rolls Royce" of big rigs, with the W900 and its variants ranking consistently as the 2nd most expensive popular option on the market, behind only the Mercedes-Benz Actros in 2021. (Unless you're a Malaysian sultan anyway, but we're not counting million-dollar Mack trucks!) They're packed with plush, attractive details that give the cab a luxurious feeling.
Peterbilt is likewise considered a premium option compared to Freightliner or Volvo, but one that focuses more on practical comforts for the driver and durable components that motivate a very healthy resale market. Even older Peterbilt models can have the potential to sell for more than you paid if they're extremely well maintained. That's not to say that they're magically worth more after a few years down the road. Kenworth models resell for a consistently higher sum, but most folks we've asked at our store seem to believe the turnaround, value retention, and market perception is slightly better for used or older Peterbilt models in general.
So, this begs the question, what do you really get for that extra $15,000 when you pay the higher sticker price for a Kenworth? Outside of premium looks and accessories, Kenworth drivers cite lower operating costs, better fuel economy, less downtime, and a higher gross resale value as making the initial investment worth the surcharge. Over time, they argue, these factors add up to make the decision a budget no-brainer.
Speaking practically, there's just not enough variation under the hood to make a general call between the two. (We'd hope so, since they're both rolling off PACCAR lines and offer pretty much the same setups!) When it comes to the design, though, they follow two slightly different philosophies. Most Kenworth models are actually a foot or two more narrow, and slightly more aerodynamic as a result, than their Peterbilt counterparts. This can make a huge difference when it comes to navigating tight corners or driving in the city, and it's nice to be able to reach your passenger window from the driver's seat. Of course, you might miss that extra space if most of your routes take you through rural areas where clearance isn't as much of a concern, or if you run in a team or through climates that keep you in your cab for long stretches of time due to the weather.
The last point we'll address is the supply of aftermarket parts and chrome accessories. While both makes see a tremendous amount of customization at truck shows or through owner-operators looking to coin a signature look, the fact that Peterbilt models are initially somewhat more affordable means a wider range of compatible parts and accessories tend to be produced for their newer models. Of course, there's plenty of ways to have your W900 or 389 looking incredible either way, but when it comes to choice, Peterbilt models are particularly spoiled for it!
Regardless of what you decide, we hope you'll find a truck that'll keep you rolling and making money for years ahead; but if you happen to want a few replacement parts or a sweet new chrome trim, we've got everything you'll need to have your favorite model looking and driving better than brand new.
Give us a call at 1-888-888-7990 or check out our selection for both Peterbilt and Kenworth models at the links below!