44 Tonne Long Haul Tractor Units

With tractor units, there is no ‘one size fits all’ so we would need to look at the categories of operations that a tractor unit might be used for.

We should also consider the best ‘new’ tractor unit and the best ‘used’. For example, there are hardly any DAF XG+ tractor units on the UK’s road as we speak, so cannot be labelled as the best used truck as there are simply not that many (of any) for sale.

A tractor unit that is best suited for 44 tonne container work would be the worst for urban operation, so let’s consider each group separately.

It’s worth mentioning that, unlike in years gone by, no truck manufacturer makes a ‘bad’ tractor unit anymore. It is therefore unlikely that a newbie would go out and buy something that is the laughingstock of the lorry park.

Best 44 tonne 6×2 Tractor Unit

Buying New

As far as the choice of new truck is concerned, it would be difficult to ignore the new generation of DAF tractor units. All too often, truck manufacturers give their revised model ranges the label of ‘New Generation’ when they are really just a re-work. This is not he case for DAF, as this is the first new cab for their top-of-the-line tractor units since the 95 series was launched back in 1988!

Why the new XF/XG/XG+ range from DAF are unique at the time of writing is that they use the only cab that has been designed to take advantage of revised legislation regarding the dimensions of the cabs. Put simply they are HUGE inside.

If it was all down to cab size, there would be no contest, however, there is some extremely stiff competition from the Scania S Series and Volvo’s FH Globetrotter XL. In terms of fuel economy, Scania would usually be more or less on top and Volvo are making plenty of noise about their I0Save technology, but it is still early days for the new DAF lineup.

We agree with the International Truck of the Year’s jury from 2022 – For futureproofing and modern look and space, we believe that the XG+ is the truck to aim for if buying a new long haul tractor unit for the UK.

DAF XG+ on the road
The New Generation DAF XG⁺ has been awarded ‘Best UK Long Haul Tractor Unit’

Winner UK’s Best New Long Haul Tractor Unit -UK 2023: DAF XG+

Buying Used

To narrow down the age profile of the used market, most prime movers come up for sale for their second life at around 4 to 5 years, so we shall look at the market for Euro 6 tractor units available in the UK (post 2013 to 2018). This does mean that the S Series that was revealed mid-August 2016 falls into the search, however, the Iveco S-Way was only launched in 2019 and COVID got in the way of it actually arriving in the UK until late 2020 with numbers not appearing until 2021.

With that in mind, here’s the shortlist:

All 44-tonne Long Distance Trucks Registered by 2018 in the UK
  • DAF XF (Previous Generation) 161 180
  • Scania R Series 159 176 (S = 22)
  • Volvo FH 86 138
  • Mercedes Actros 156 65
  • Iveco Stralis 28 39
  • MAN TGX 53 61
  • Renault Range T 10 15

All the major truck manufacturers are represented in this shortlist.

There are many criteria to judge a used 44 tonne tractor unit. Reliability of the model, price, parts availability, selection of available trucks – and that’s before we get to the aesthetics, fuel economy, interior space and, of course, PRICE.

Which Truck has Won Awards?

Let’s look at the favourites from when they were launched new. In 2012 the International Truck of the Year award went to the Mercedes Actros – this was the current looking model that hit the UK in 2013 so definitely should be included here. 2013 saw the Iveco Stralis taking the honours, the Volvo FH16 in 2014 and Renault Range T in 2015 The Scania S Series took the crown in 2017 and the updated DAF XF in 2018. Notably, the only manufacturer missing from the list is MAN (however, they did win later, in 2021 with the TGX).

So, the results of the truck of the year awards are not desperately helpful for the prospective used tractor unit purchaser.

Brand Snobbery

We know that the heart can rule the head in many purchasing decisions and tractor units are no exception. Ask drivers in the lorry park what their preferred truck would be, and the answer would usually be a Swedish truck – either a Scania or a Volvo. This is a significant factor in the pricing of these trucks in the used truck market. This does not make them better trucks, just more desirable.

Availability of Models

If there is a huge choice of used examples all over the country, this either means that the trucks are no good, or that they were highly popular when new. For Example, there are more than ten times the number of used Scania R Series tractor units advertised for sale on Truckpages than Renault Range T tractor units. Despite the Range T being a solid (and well-priced) choice of truck when new, not that many have been sold. This means that fishing in a small pool of used trucks makes it harder to find a well looked after example in the right colour that is relatively local. Does this rarity also mean that parts are more difficult to come by?

The Iveco Stralis finds itself in a similar situation, although typically has two to three times as many examples available for sale compared to the Range T. The Actros and TGX are much more common but still only make up 50% of the used tractor unit parc of any of DAF, Volvo or Scania.

The Verdict?

Despite the higher prices (think of the resale) in our opinion, the best Long Haul Tractor unit for UK operation is the Scania R Series.

Scania R Series Lineup
The new Scania R-Series is extremely modern-looking

Winner UK’s Best Used Long Haul Tractor Unit -UK 2023: Scania R Series

Where Can I Find Used Tractor Units?

On Truckpages.co.uk of course. Use the dedicated tractor unit search to filter the listings by age, axle configuration, cab type and much more.

Read Part 2 -Best Tractor Units for High Payload Bulk Transport

Read Part 3 – The Best Tractor Units for UK Operation Part 3

Read Part 4 – The UK’s Best Tractor Units for Owner Drivers