Commercial vehicles – All You Need To Know About Truck Sizes & Classification
In the US commercial trucks are categorized into eight different classes that are mainly based on their weight. The weight classifications are normally determined using the maximum operating weight of the truck (using the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, GVWR).
Truck classification does not depend on how good the suspension is, or any other features trucks can have, it is based only on the weight. The class of truck will determine how it is regulated on things like safety and registration.
The eight classes can be grouped more broadly into, light, medium and heavy trucks. In addition to their different weights, the Environmental Protection Agency also has separate categorization for truck emissions. For commercial vehicles that exceed 26,000 pounds, drivers need to possess a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
The US Department of Transportation classifies trucks into eight classes by the GVWR. The Gross Vehicle Weight is essentially the maximum possible weight the truck can operate with, including its own weight. So, it can be thought of as the maximum safe operating weight of the vehicle. The GVWR includes the weight of the passengers, its own weight, a full tank of fuel and other cargo.
Light Duty trucks
Light-duty trucks include truck classes 1, 2a and 2b. The GVWR for light-duty trucks range from 0-10,000 pounds.
• Class 1- The lowest class of trucks have a GVWR range 0 to 6,000 lbs or 0 to 2,722 kg.
Examples of truck models in this class include Nissan Frontier, Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma.
• Class 2a- Class 2a has a GVWR range from 6,000 to 8,500 lbs or 2,722 to 3,856 kg.
Examples of Class 2 truck models include Nissan Titan, Toyota Tundra and Ram 1500.
• Class 2b – Class 2b vehicles range in GVWR from 8,500 to 10,000 lbs or 3,856 to 4,536 kg.
Examples of Class 2b truck models include Ram 2500.
Class 2b is sometimes classified under ‘light/medium’ as well.
Medium Duty trucks
Medium duty trucks include classes 3-6. The GVWR for this category ranges from 10,000-26,000 lbs.
• Class 3- Class 3 trucks have a GVWR range from 10,000 to 14,000 lbs or 4,536 to 6,350 kg.
• Class 4- The GVWR range for Class 4 ranges from 14,000 to 16,000 lbs or 6,351 to 7,257 kg.
• Class 5- Class 5 trucks have a GVWR range from 16,001 to 19,500 lbs or 7,258 to 8,845 kg.
• Class 6- Trucks under Class 6 have a GVWR rating from 19,500 to 26,000 lbs or 8,846 to 11,793 kg. You need a CDL to operate trucks above 26,000 lbs.
Heavy Duty trucks
Heavy-duty trucks include classes 7 and 8 which exceed a GVWR of 26,000. Drivers need a Commercial Driver’s License to operate these vehicles.
• Class 7- Class 7 trucks have a GVWR rating from 26,000 to 33,000 lbs to 11,794 to 14,969 kg. Class 8- Class 8 trucks have a GVWR that exceeds 33,000 lbs or 14,969 kg.
Single-unit dump trucks exceeding 33,000 lbs and cement trucks are also considered Class 8 trucks.