How Much Horsepower Does A Semi-Truck Have?



When talking about the horsepower of a semi-truck, you must take numerous things into account. Any vehicle’s qualities vary depending on the company, model, and engine quality. And it is the same in terms of semi-trucks. In this article, we discussed a semi-truck and its horsepower in detail.

What Is A Semi-Truck?

A semi-truck is a vehicle connected to a tractor on the front and consists of a trailer on the back. The term semi in its name is usually considered to tell its status of being a half trailer and half truck. A semi-truck is also referred to as a semi-trailer, semi-trailer truck, eighteen-wheeler, big rig, or tractor-trailer.

It has an engine located in the truck part of the vehicle, which powers the automobile while the trailer essentially ‘trails’ behind it. There are many uses for a semi-truck, the most critical being a weight lifter and carrier. It is used to carry a mass amount of material from food, petrol, produce, machinery, too many more things and deliver it from one place to another.

How Much Horsepower Does A Semi-Truck Have?

The horsepower of a semi-truck depends on the features such as size, engine quality, model, and many more. However, the average horsepower of a semi-truck ranges from 400 to 600. The higher the engine horsepower, the better the performance of any truck.

The engines and horsepower of different semi-trailers are made for different purposes. A semi-truck has the basic use of being a load carrier but has a variety of other purposes as well. Some semi-trailers are used as motorhomes for families, while others are used by businesses to transport goods. The more horsepower, the more weight it can carry. A semi-truck with 600 horsepower (the maximum) can carry approximately 80,000 pounds.

The Engine Of A Semi-Truck

The engine of a semi-truck or a semi-trailer is vastly different than that of a normal vehicle. These engines are larger and considerably more powerful and therefore require more gas and attention than an engine found in a sedan or an SUV.

Compared to a passenger car, the engine of an eighteen-wheeler is six times larger with more than 12 gears compared to 4 or a maximum of five gears found in a smaller car. As the size of the engine is massive, it, therefore, requires more fuel and can hold more than 15 gallons of oil and about 125-300 gallons of gas at once in contrast to 4-6 gallons in a normal car.

What Is Horsepower?

A horsepower is a unit used to quantify power or the speed at which work is completed. This usually refers to a vehicle’s engine output. An engine with more horsepower is more powerful than an engine with a lower number. A semi-truck has up to six times the horsepower of a typical car and, therefore, six times more powerful engine.

In mathematics, a horsepower is a unit of work used to determine the force and energy required to move an object while also measuring the displacement in the direction of the applied force. A simpler unit horsepower is 33,000 pound-feet per minute or 4562 kilograms per minute.

What Is Torque?

Torque is another way to assess the engine of a semi-truck and its ability to carry weights efficiently. The torque, in simpler terms, is a toque, a centrifugal or circular force created by the engine’s crankshaft in a vehicle. The total force depends on the air which flows through the motor, and subsequently, the motor plays an essential part in it.

The more torsional force a vehicle can produce, the better the truck’s motor. This means that it has greater efficiency when compared to a truck with less torque. The efficiency of any automobile measures the fuel consumption and the load it can carry. A semi-truck with greater torque is better than a semi-truck with lesser torque. The ranges of torque of semi-trailers are 1000-2000 lbs-ft.

Horsepower Vs. Torque

While horsepower and torque are equally important when deciding about any semi-truck, there is a slight difference between the two. The horsepower is the measure of work done or the energy required to do the specific work. In comparison, torque measures the speed at which a task is completed. 

The more horsepower, the more efficiency a vehicle will provide, and the more torque, the more the vehicle’s ability. Horsepower will show you how quickly an automobile will move forward. Meanwhile, the torque is how much weight it can hold while doing any task (such as moving forward in the case of cars).

Both play an essential role while choosing a semi-truck and, therefore, a key component that can be compared among different models of semi-trailers. A model with higher horsepower will attain more speed, while a model with higher torque will be able to carry more load. Therefore, when searching for the one that fits your needs, you will have to analyze your requirements in-depth.

The Role Of Horsepower And Torque In A Semi-Truck

While horsepower and torque have different uses, they are key components for any vehicle. They represent the engine of a semi-truck and what it can do. Both horsepower and torque are intricately connected and, therefore, cannot exist without one another. The semi-trailer engine design tells us about these numbers or vice versa. 

After the key is turned, horsepower and torque are generated. The crankshaft, transmission, and driveshafts rotate due to fuel and air in the combustion chambers, which starts the energy conversion process. Each truck will have a different design structure than the other, and therefore there will be variations in horsepower and torque of different trucks.

Semi-Trucks With High Horsepowers

Numerous companies manufacture semi-trucks with different engines and horsepower for different models. Some of the well-known semi-trucks and their horsepower are;

Freightliner Cascadia 2022

The 2022 freightliner cascadia uses a powerful 14.8 L DD15 Gen 5 engine that provides this semi-truck with 505 horsepower and 1850 lb-ft of torque.

The Mack Anthem

The 2022 mack anthem is known to provide 505 horsepower and 1860 lb-ft torque with 13 liters MP 8 engine use.

Kenworth T680

They are equipped with a 10.8 L PACCAR MX-11 engine that powers the 2022 Kenworth T680 semi-truck, generating up to 445 HP and 1700 lb-ft of torque. 

Volvo VNL 760

The 13L Volvo D13TC engine powers the new Volvo VNL 760 semi-truck enabling it to generate up to 500 HP and 1850 lb-ft of torque.

What Are Some Of The Engines Used In Semi-Trucks?



18-wheelers and semi-trucks both feature diesel engines. Diesel engines have an advantage over gasoline engines because they create more torque and horsepower, enabling trucks to tow heavy loads. The typical semi-truck diesel engine has 6 cylinders, weighs about 3000 pounds, and may generate up to 600 horsepower and 1850 lb-ft of torque.

The typical semi-truck travels between 750,000 and 1,000,000 miles during its lifetime, or about 100,000 miles yearly. Therefore the engines are the main component of any vehicle, including semi-trailers. Many notable companies produce highly efficient engines with competent horsepower and torque ranges. Some of these companies include;


The Freightliner produces engines inspired by the designs of Mercedes Benz’s European models. They provide a range of powers with a maximum of 600 horsepower and 2050 lb-ft of torque.


PACCAR engines are known to be fuel-efficient engines that take less fuel but provide amazing results. They are typically used in Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks and provide a maximum of 500 hp and 1850 lb-ft of torque.


In addition to a capable Cummins for Class 8 trucks, Navistar offers a selection of powerful engines for Class 5 and Class 6 trucks for lighter load applications. One of the most widely used heavy-duty engines, the Cummins ISX, generates 400 to 600 horsepower and up to 2,050 lb-ft of torque.


Volvo offers 13L and 16L engines with around 600 and 2,050 horsepower and torque, respectively. The most common option, and one that you can find in many of their trucks, is the 13L engine.

What Are Some Of The Most Powerful Semi-Trucks?

Many semi-trucks and semi-trailers are available for purchase, each with different positive and negative features. However, one of the most powerful semi-trucks is the Volvo FH16, with many amazing qualities like fuel efficiency and performance.

The Volvo FH16 is a beauty with muscles that includes all the possible advantages you need in a semitrailer. The Globetrotter and Globetrotter XL are sleeping cabins you can find in this tractor. The set can withstand maximum mass loads of 100 tonnes. It is a truck made for transporting things that are heavy and difficult, which requires a lot of power.

It contains a D16G engine which has 3 options for power rating:

  • 540 horsepower (2650 Newton-meters)
  • 600 horsepower (2800 Newton meters)
  • 700 horsepower (3150 Newton meters)

The Volvo version, with the most powerful engine, will provide you with 3003 horsepower and a forward force equal to 3 Bugatti Veyrons. It contains 6 lined-up cylinders with a total filling capacity of 16.1 liters. They are fed by a single turbo with an intercooler or heat exchanger.

SCR (selective catalytic reduction) is used in this strong engine to help it comply with Euro V emission rules and produce low nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx). Within seconds, you can reach the maximum amount of torque which is beneficial for efficient work. The timing is located at the back of the engine. Additionally, it contains an overhead rocker shaft, electronically controlled injection, a single cylinder head, and 4 valves in each cylinder.


A semi-truck’s horsepower signifies how operable the vehicle ID. It indicates the amount of force created for every second. The semi-truck utilizes the built-up force to accelerate. Therefore greater horsepower leads to more rapid acceleration. 

The horsepower required is mainly determined by the speed and weight of the semi-truck you have. How much horsepower you need on your truck depends entirely on your needs and convenience. With this article, you should be able to understand everything you need to know about it!

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