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Expert Review

DAF XF review

One of the bestselling trucks in the UK, the DAF XF tractor unit is the benchmark by which all other trucks are measured.

The Auto Trader expert verdict:

4.2

Doubles as a mass-market fleet truck and flagship, it is supported by a strong and expansive dealer network.

Reasons to buy:

  • tickAffordable
  • tickDecent dealer network
  • tickReliable

At a glance:

Engines

In 1997 after a decade of production the 95 became the 95XF. Out went the 11.6-litre lump and in came a new Euro-2 12.6-litre straight-six with 380, 430 and 480hp, as well as a Cummins 14.0-litre 530hp engine as the big option. For Euro-3 the 12.6-litre dropped the 380hp and added a 530hp, which replaced the Cummins engine altogether. Around 2000 it became the XF95, and in 2005 DAF Trucks introduced its Euro-4 12.9-litre engines using selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and rebranded it as XF105. Power options were 410, 460 and 510hp, which would seamlessly segue into Euro-5. For Euro-6, new engines were unveiled in 2012 combining exhaust gas recirculation and SCR; DAF introduced the MX-11 10.8-litre at 440hp as the smallest output, replacing the MX-13 12.9-litre 410hp, to go with the MX-13 460 and 510hp. This was rejigged in 2017 with extra power and torque were added; the MX-11 became a 460hp, while the MX-13 added a 430hp to the new-look 480 and 530hp (the same horsepower as in 1997), along with a multi-torque concept that delivered an extra 100-to-150Nm in top gear.
Expert rating: 4/5

Transmission

Throughout XFs time DAF Trucks has predominately used the ZF gearbox packaged as AS-Tronic. Initially as an eight and 16-speed manual and then as a 12-speed automated transmission. In 2014 DAF Trucks switched to ZF’s newest gearbox, TraXon. It offers a choice of 12 and 16-speed automated boxes as standard and has introduced an array of fuel saving measures. These include EcoRoll and software settings set for long haul, liquid transport, EcoCombi and off-road applications, and the forward-looking predictive cruise control.
Expert rating: 4/5

Cabs

Using the same 95 cab shell DAF retained the Space and Super Space cabs from the outset for the new 95XF. The interior was revised, and exterior given an uplift in keeping with the approaching millennium. The XF105 broke cover in 2005 with restyled exterior, including a more streamlined roof for the Space cab and Super Space cab. For the first tranche of Euro-6 the front grille, panels and bumper were updated, for the second wave in 2017 the roof was redesigned for spot-lights.
Expert rating: 3/5

Comfort and storage

The working environment for the driver has steadily improved since the overhaul in 2005. Lowering the engine tunnel by 150mm created more headroom for the driver. With the most recent update in 2017, the interior has a revamped dashboard and a new top-of-the-range interior known as Exclusive Line, it uses brown (also known as cognac) for selected parts of the dashboard, door panels for the XF and leather seats, and it also comes with a leather steering wheel. For drivers looking to get the most from their working day, the Driver Information Panel includes a tachograph countdown that shows remaining minutes for both driving and resting times. The engine tunnel sits at 150mm offering an overall height up to 2.10metres in the centre of the cab. The cockpit design of the dashboard means the central part eats into the standing space in front of the bunks. Storage remains a strong feature in the Super Space cab with plenty of space under the bunk and in the lockers above the windscreen.
Expert rating: 4/5

Safety

From the 2017 revamp, DAF Trucks offer an array of safety features. These include the adaptive cruise control that automatically adjusts road speed to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead, forward collision warning generates an alarm and visual alert on the instrument panel urging the driver to act to prevent a collision, and advanced emergency baking system to slow the truck down in an emergency. It has electronic vehicle stability control to prevent jack-knifing and overturning, and energy-absorbing cab suspension and reinforced cab structure with pre-programmed front and rear crumple zones to provide vehicle safety and passenger protection.
Expert rating: 4/5

Handling

Across the XF range handling is exemplary. Smooth and consistent, with a mid-steer axle it sweeps beautifully into the bends that litter Britain’s A-roads, and it also has poise on the straight motorway sections too. Most hauliers running at 44 tonnes gross vehicle weight go for the XF480 driveline, which delivers 476hp and has the multi-torque function that helps make it a pleasure to drive. From first to 11th gear its 2,350Nm peak torque that jumps to 2,500Nm in top gear. This is combined with low rear-axle ratio to deliver ‘down speeding’, which is a consistent road speed with lower revs to help lower fuel consumption. The 480 will cruise at 1,050rpm on the motorway and lug down to 950rpm before changing gear. The upgrade in transmission and software makes it more responsive to the driver’s needs but it there is still a gap to its Swedish rivals.
Expert rating: 4/5

Running costs

Over the years DAF Trucks has successfully reduced its kerbweight making it very competitive and a firm favourite with the bulk transport operators who want extra payload. Anecdotal feedback about fuel economy suggests XF performs well with diminishing loads or lightweight work, where it can utilise the ‘down speeding’ philosophy. With heavier work where more higher revs are needed XF produces poorer fuel returns. Interestingly, XF operators employing the fuel saving software, specifying predictive cruise control system and eco-roll, report better fuel returns than those hauliers who go with the traditional cruise control system. A strong dealer network needs keep the running costs down for older XFs with operators benefiting from keenly prices genuine parts through their local service centres.
Expert rating: 4/5

Price and residuals

Popular with customers and priced competitively upfront the XF also enjoys decent residuals, usually only third to the Swedish brands. These trucks always sell thanks to a reputation for a decent cab and being reliable. There is a little financial uplift between a 2014-registered XF 460 or 510 6x2 with a Super Space cab, if both are in good condition and similar mileage. If there is an Achilles heel its twofold; the lack of a big powerhouse engine to differentiate part of the line-up, and the popularity of the XF occasionally steps on the toes of markets usually ideal for the smaller, lighter and cheaper CF.
Expert rating: 5/5

Warranties and dealer networks

Across the British Isles and Northern Ireland there are 138 service points, split between private enterprise and the wholly-owned network. This is the largest network of dealers by any one manufacturer. For new XF, DAF Trucks UK offers two-years full vehicle warranty and a third-year on the driveline. This is also one of the better warranty packages on the market. Since 1997 there have been 19 vehicle recalls issued by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.
Expert rating: 5/5

Why buy?

The reputation enjoyed by the XF is that of a safe pair of hands. It is a good reliable truck, suitable for any type of operation and with the biggest dealer network in the UK for service and aftermarket. While it lacks a ‘big engine’, operators are happy with the cab options, the choice of driveline and its performance across many sectors of the industry that go to make it one of the bestselling tractor units on the British market.
Expert rating: 5/5

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