Truck classification

Last updated

Truck classifications are typically based upon the maximum loaded weight of the truck, typically using the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and sometimes also the gross trailer weight rating (GTWR), and can vary among jurisdictions.


United States

In the United States, commercial truck classification is determined based on the vehicle's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). The classes range from 1–8. [1] [2] Trucks are also classified more broadly by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which groups classes 1–2 as light duty, 3–6 as medium duty, and 7–8 as heavy duty; a commercial driver's license (CDL) is generally required to operate heavy duty trucks. [1] [3] [4] The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a separate system of emissions classifications for trucks. [1] [5] The United States Census Bureau also assigned classifications in its now-discontinued Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey (VIUS) (formerly Truck Inventory and Use Survey (TIUS)). [6]

Table of US GVWR classifications

US truck classDuty classificationWeight limit [1] [7] Examples
Class 1Light duty0–6,000 pounds (0–2,722 kg) Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon, Ford Ranger, Honda Ridgeline FWD [8] , Jeep Gladiator, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma
Class 2aLight duty6,001–8,500 pounds (2,722–3,856 kg) Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 1500, Ford F-150, Honda Ridgeline AWD [8] [9] [10] , Ram 1500, Nissan Titan, Toyota Tundra
Class 2bLight duty8,501–10,000 pounds (3,856–4,536 kg) Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 2500, Ford F-250, Nissan Titan XD, Ram 2500 [8] [9] [10]
Class 3Medium duty10,001–14,000 pounds (4,536–6,350 kg) Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 3500, Ford F-350, Ford F-450 (pickup only), Ram 3500

Isuzu NPR [11]

Class 4Medium duty14,001–16,000 pounds (6,351–7,257 kg)Chevrolet Silverado 4500HD/International CV, Ford F-450 (chassis cab only), Ram 4500 [8]

Isuzu NPR-HD, [11]

Class 5Medium duty16,001–19,500 pounds (7,258–8,845 kg) Chevrolet Silverado 5500HD/International CV, Ford F-550, Ram 5500

Isuzu NRR, [11] Freightliner Business Class M2 106, Kenworth T170, Peterbilt 325

Class 6Medium duty19,501–26,000 pounds (8,846–11,793 kg)Chevrolet Silverado 6500HD/International CV, Ford F-650, Freightliner Business Class M2 106, International MV [12] , Kenworth T270, Peterbilt 330
Class 7Heavy duty26,001–33,000 pounds (11,794–14,969 kg) Autocar ACMD, [13] Freightliner Business Class M2 106, Ford F-750 [14] , Hino 338, International MV, Kenworth K370, Kenworth T370 and T440/470, Mack MD, Peterbilt 220 and 337/348
Class 8Heavy duty33,001 pounds (14,969 kg) and above Autocar ACX and DC; Volvo Truck VNL; Freightliner Cascadia, Business Class M2 112, 118SD, and EconicSD; Ford F-750; Hino XL8; International LT, HV, and RH; Kenworth T680, T880, and W990; Mack Anthem, Granite, Tesla Semi, Nikola TRE, Pinnacle, and TerraPro; Peterbilt 389, [15] 579, and 520; Western Star 4800, 4900 and 5700; Pierce, E-One, Spartan, Ferrara, KME custom fire apparatus.

Notes on weight classes

"Ton" rating

When light-duty trucks were first produced in the United States, they were rated by their payload capacity in tons: 12 (1000 pounds), 34 (1500 pounds) and 1-ton (2000 pounds). Ford had introduced the "One-Tonner" in 1938 to their line of trucks. [16] The "Three-quarter-tonner" appeared in the Ford truck lineup in 1939. [16] Over time, payload capacities for most domestic pickup trucks have increased while the ton titles have stayed the same. The 1948 Ford F-1 had a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 4700 pounds. [17] The truck was marketed with a "Nominal Tonnage Rating: Half-Ton." [17] The actual cargo capacity had increased to 1450 pounds. [17] Ford adopted this promotional nomenclature in 1948 to assist buyers, sellers, and users. [16] The now-imprecise ton rating has continued since the post World War II era to compare standard sizes, rather than actual capacities. [18] [19] In 1975, a change in U.S. emission laws required any vehicle under 6000 pounds GVWR to burn unleaded fuel. U.S. pickup truck manufacturers responded with a "heavy half" pickup of over 6000 pounds GVWR. [16] The F-150 had a capacity of over 2000 pounds, compared to 1500 pounds for the F-100. [20]

This has led to categorizing trucks similarly, even if their payload capacities are different. The Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 1500, Ford F-150, Nissan Titan, Ram 1500, and Toyota Tundra are called "half-ton" pickups (12-ton). The Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 2500, Ford F-250, and Ram 2500 are called "three-quarter-ton" pickups. The Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 3500, Ford F-350, and Ram 3500 are known as "one ton" pickups. [19]

Similar schemes exist for vans and SUVs (e.g. a 1-ton Dodge Van or a 12-ton GMC Suburban), medium duty trucks (e.g. the 112-ton Ford F-450) and some military vehicles, like the ubiquitous deuce-and-a-half.

Class 8

The Class 8 truck gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is a vehicle with a GVWR exceeding 33000 lb(14969 kg). [1] [21] These include tractor trailer tractors, single-unit dump trucks of a GVWR over 33,000 lb, as well as non-commercial chassis fire trucks; such trucks typically have 3 or more axles. The typical 5-axle tractor-trailer combination, also called a "semi" or "18-wheeler", is a Class 8 vehicle. Standard trailers vary in length from 8' containers to 57' van trailers, with the most common length being the 53' trailer. Specialized trailers for oversized loads can be considerably longer. Commercial operation of a Class 8 vehicle in the United States requires either a Class-B CDL for non-combination vehicles, or a Class-A CDL for combination vehicles (tractor-trailers).


Vehicle classifications vary among provinces in Canada, due to "differences in size and weight regulations, economic activity, physical environment, and other issues". [22] :3 While several provinces use their own classification schemes for traffic monitoring, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan have adopted the 13-class system from the United States' Federal Highway Administration—sometimes with modifications, or in Ontario's case, for limited purposes. [22] :3–4[ needs update ] British Columbia and Ontario also distinguish between short- and long-combination trucks. [22] :3–4[ needs update ] In accident reporting, eight jurisdictions subdivide trucks by GVWR into light and heavy classes at approximately 4500 kg (9921 lb). [22] :6

European Union and United Kingdom

Vehicle categories on a European driving licence include (among others) B for general motor vehicles, C for large goods vehicles, D for large passenger vehicles (buses), and are limited by the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating and number of passenger seats.

The general categories are further divided as follows:

  1. appending the number 1 to the licence class C or D denotes the "light" versions of said class (e.g., Minibus, or medium truck).
  2. appending the letter E allows for trailers of larger Gross Trailer Weight Rating (GTWR) than permitted by the standard licence category.

For the "trailer" categories, a separate driving test is generally required (e.g., "C", and "CE" require separate tests).

The classifications used on the International Driving Permit are similar to the European model.

The licence categories that deal with trucks are B and C:

List of truck types

Truck (Lorry) See List of truck types

See also

Related Research Articles

Semi-trailer truck Combination of a tractor unit and one or more semi-trailers to carry freight

A semi-trailer truck, also known as a semitruck, is the combination of a tractor unit and one or more semi-trailers to carry freight. A semi-trailer attaches to the tractor with a type of hitch called a fifth wheel.

Truck Commercial or utilitarian motor vehicle

A truck or lorry is a motor vehicle designed to transport cargo, carry specialized payloads, or perform other utilitarian work. Trucks vary greatly in size, power, and configuration, but the vast majority feature body-on-frame construction, with a cabin that is independent of the payload portion of the vehicle. Smaller varieties may be mechanically similar to some automobiles. Commercial trucks can be very large and powerful and may be configured to be mounted with specialized equipment, such as in the case of refuse trucks, fire trucks, concrete mixers, and suction excavators. In American English, a commercial vehicle without a trailer or other articulation is formally a "straight truck" while one designed specifically to pull a trailer is not a truck but a "tractor".

Light truck or light-duty truck is a US classification for vehicles with a gross vehicle weight up to 8,500 pounds (3,860 kg) and a payload capacity up to 4,000 pounds. Similar goods vehicle classes in the European Union, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are termed light commercial vehicles and are limited to a gross vehicle weight of up to 3,500 kg.

Chevrolet Express Motor vehicle

The Chevrolet Express is a range of full-size vans from General Motors. They are also rebadged and sold as the GMC Savana. The successor of the Chevrolet Van, a single generation of the model line has been sold since the 1996 model year. The model line is sold in three major versions, including a passenger van, cargo van, and a cutaway van chassis; the latter vehicle is a chassis cab variant developed for commercial-grade applications, including ambulances, buses, and small trucks. Marketed primarily in North America, the model line competes with the Ford Transit and Ford E-Series, Mercedes-Benz/Freightliner Sprinter, and the Ram ProMaster.

Ford Excursion Motor vehicle

The Ford Excursion is a heavy duty, full-sized SUV that was produced by Ford. The longest and heaviest SUV ever to enter mass production, the Excursion was marketed as a direct competitor of the 2500-series (¾-ton) Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon XL. Introduced on September 30, 1999 for the 2000 model year, a single generation was produced through the 2005 model year.

Large goods vehicle

A large goods vehicle (LGV), or heavy goods vehicle (HGV), in the European Union (EU) is any truck with a gross combination mass (GCM) of over 3,500 kg (7,716 lb). Sub-category N2 is used for vehicles between 3,500 kg and 12,000 kg (26,455 lb) and N3 for all goods vehicles over 12,000 kg as defined in Directive 2001/116/EC. The term medium goods vehicle is used within parts of the UK government to refer to goods vehicles of between 3,500 and 7,500 kg which according to the EU are also "large goods vehicles".

Vehicle size classes are series of ratings assigned to different segments of automotive vehicles for the purposes of vehicle emissions control and fuel economy calculation. Various methods are used to classify vehicles; in North America, passenger vehicles are classified by total interior capacity while trucks are classified by gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). Vehicle segments in the European Union use linear measurements to describe size. Asian vehicle classifications are a combination of dimensions and engine displacement.

Commercial drivers license License to operate large or heavy vehicles

A commercial driver's license (CDL) is a driver's license required to operate large, heavy, or placarded hazardous material vehicles in commerce, including trucks, buses, and trailers.

Ford Super Duty Heavy-duty line of pickup trucks by Ford

The Ford Super Duty is a series of trucks manufactured by the Ford Motor Company since the 1999 model year. Slotted above the consumer-oriented Ford F-150, the Super Duty trucks are an expansion of the Ford F-Series range, from the F-250 to the F-550. Rather than adapting lighter-duty trucks for heavier use, Super Duty trucks have been designed as a dedicated variant of the Ford F-Series, including pickup trucks and chassis cab vehicles; the Ford F-450 is the largest pickup truck offered for sale in North America.

International XT Motor vehicle

The International Extreme Truck Series is a range of pickup trucks produced by Navistar International from 2004 to 2008. The first vehicle marketed by International to consumers since the discontinuation of the Scout in 1980, the XT trucks marked the return of International to pickup truck production since the discontinuation of the 100-series pickups in 1975. Two vehicles were based on the International medium-duty truck range, while another was derived from a military tactical vehicle produced by Navistar.

Chevrolet Kodiak Motor vehicle

The Chevrolet Kodiak and GMC TopKick are a range of medium duty trucks that were produced by the Chevrolet and GMC divisions of General Motors from 1980 to 2009. Introduced as a variant of the medium-duty C/K truck line, three generations were produced. Slotted between the C/K trucks and the GMC Brigadier Class 8 conventional, the Kodiak/TopKick were developed as a basis for vocationally-oriented trucks, including cargo haulers, dump trucks, and similar vehicles; on later generations, both cutaway and cowled-chassis variants were produced for bus use.

Commercial vehicle Vehicle designed to transport persons or goods for compensation

A commercial vehicle is any type of motor vehicle used for transporting goods or paying passengers.

Trucking industry in the United States American industry

The trucking industry serves the American economy by transporting large quantities of raw materials, works in process, and finished goods over land—typically from manufacturing plants to retail distribution centers. Trucks are also used in the construction industry, two of which require dump trucks and portable concrete mixers to move the large amounts of rocks, dirt, concrete, and other building materials used in construction. Trucks in America are responsible for the majority of freight movement over land and are tools in the manufacturing, transportation, and warehousing industries.

Ford L series Motor vehicle

The Ford L-series is a range of heavy-duty trucks that were assembled and marketed by Ford between 1970 and 1998. Ford had been producing their "Heavy Duty" trucks since 1948 and their "Super Duty" lineup since 1958 marketed by various GVW ratings. Truck weight classifications 1-8 were a new concept brought about by the DOT National Highway Administration. The first dedicated Class 8 truck produced by the company, the L-series range replaced the F-series "Super Duty" and N-series. Produced as both straight trucks and semitractors, the Ford L-series encompassed a wide range of models through the Class 6-8 GVWR ratings in medium-duty, severe-service, and vocational applications. The line would become one of the most popular series of trucks Ford ever produced.

Dana 60

The Dana/Spicer Model 60 is an automotive axle manufactured by Dana Holding Corporation and used in OEM pickup and limited passenger car applications by Chevrolet, Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, Ford and Land Rover. There are front and rear versions of the Dana 60. It can be readily identified by its straight axle tubes, 10 bolt asymmetrical cover, and a "60" cast into the housing. Gross axle weight ratings are often lowered by the vehicle manufacturer for safety and tire reasons. They are also lowered to reduce loads on other powertrain components such as transmissions and transfer cases. Dana 60 Axles are also increasingly swapped into many custom offroad applications to accommodate larger tires and deep compound gearing with locking differentials.

Fuso Trucks America American regional subsidiary of Mitsubishi Fuso

Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America, Inc. (MFTA), Logan Township, New Jersey, United States, imports and markets Class 3 through Class 5 medium-duty cabover trucks through more than 200 dealer locations in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Guam. As of 2019, MFTA imports and markets diesel-powered, gas-powered, and electric trucks. According to the company, more than 100,000 Mitsubishi Fuso standard, 4-wheel-drive and crew cab trucks have been sold into the North American market since the company's founding. Applications include beverage, catering, refrigerated and dry cargo delivery, vehicle recovery, towing, pest control, plumbing, light construction and landscaping, overlanding, among others.

International Fleetstar Motor vehicle

The International Fleetstar is a series of trucks that was produced between 1962 and 1977 by International Harvester. Slotted above the Loadstar and below the Paystar and Transtar conventionals introduced after it, the Fleetstar was a heavy-duty truck; it was one of the first designed for vocational use. Using a conventional-cab configuration, the Fleetstar was available as both a straight truck and as a semitractor, with both single and tandem rear axles.

Chevrolet C/K (fourth generation) American truck series

The fourth generation of the C/K series is a range of trucks that was manufactured by General Motors. Marketed by the Chevrolet and GMC brands from the 1988 to the 2002 model years, this generation is the final version of the C/K model line. The C/K nomenclature itself became exclusive to Chevrolet, with the GMC division applying the GMC Sierra nameplate across its entire full-size pickup truck line. Internally codenamed the GMT400 platform, the fourth generation C/K was not given a word moniker. After its production, the model line would informally become known by the public as the "OBS", in reference to its GMT800 successor.

Vehicle weight is a measurement of wheeled motor vehicles; either an actual measured weight of the vehicle under defined conditions or a gross weight rating for its weight carrying capacity.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Vehicle Weight Classes & Categories from the United States Department of Energy
  2. – Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) by Class
  3. FHWA Vehicle Types from the United States Department of Transportation
  4. Truck Classification,, March 28, 2009, retrieved April 9, 2012
  5. Vehicle Weight Classifications from the United States Environmental Protection Agency
  6. "Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey – Discontinued". June 30, 2015. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  7. "Class 3-4-5 Truck Model Roundup". October 22, 2014. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  8. 1 2 3 4 "Appendix: Truck Types and Classes" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 22, 2011. Retrieved March 12, 2018.(archived)
  9. 1 2 "2005 Dodge Dakota Specifications, Fuel Economy & Overview". Truck Trend. February 26, 2007. Retrieved April 9, 2012.
  10. 1 2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Model (GEM) User Guide EPA 420-B-10-039. United States Environmental Protection Agency, October 2010
  11. 1 2 3 "Isuzu N-Series Diesel Trucks". Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  12. GMC TopKick 4500 [ dead link ]
  13. "Purpose-built trucks engineered by the leading OEM dedicated to severe-duty trucks". Autocar Truck. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  14. Rik Hinton, Idaho Transportation Department (December 22, 2011), Idaho Commercial Driver's License Program,, retrieved April 9, 2012
  15. "Model 389 | Peterbilt". Retrieved November 21, 2020.
  16. 1 2 3 4 Wagner, James K.. Ford Trucks Since 1905. United States: Motorbooks International, 1994.
  17. 1 2 3 1948 Ford Light Duty Truck brochure. Ford Motor Company. 1948
  18. Bruzek, Joe - What Does Half-Ton, Three-Quarter-Ton, One-Ton Mean When Talking About Trucks?., September 1, 2016
  19. 1 2 Gonderman, J - What Is a ¾-ton Truck? Motor Trend / Truck Trend. June 2, 2021
  20. '82 Ford F Series Pickups. Ford Motor Company. 1982
  21. "International Class 7 Crew Cab Pickup". Truck Trend. February 26, 2007. Retrieved April 9, 2012.
  22. 1 2 3 4 Clayton, Alan; Montufar, Jeannette; Middleton, Dan; McCauley, Bill (August 27–31, 2000), "Feasibility of a New Vehicle Classification System for Canada" (PDF), North American Travel Monitoring Exhibition and Conference (NATMEC) 2000, archived from the original (PDF) on November 1, 2004, retrieved August 9, 2013, Furthermore, the fleet characteristics vary significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction across the country because of differences in size and weight regulations, economic activity, physical environment, and other issues. This has led to a wide variety of vehicle classification systems used by highway agencies and municipal authorities in their traffic monitoring programs.