GVWR Classes, GVW Classes, Definitions and FAQs
Here are some common questions we get on GVWR classifications and definitions. We hope you consider this useful information on GVWR classes, weight classifications and definitions of a light, medium or heavy duty truck. Hedges & Company has been working with GVWR data for two decades. Scroll down for a GVWR table.
Q: What’s the difference between GVW classes and GVWR classes? What does GVWR stand for on a vehicle?
A: GVW is Gross Vehicle Weight and GVWR is Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. Technically, there aren’t any GVW classes. If someone refers to GVW classes they probably mean GVWR weight classes.
Gross Vehicle Weight or GVW is the total weight of a vehicle and its payload at a specific point in time. GVW tends to be used more often to refer to trailer loads. “GVWR” refers to a vehicle’s maximum weight rating as defined by the vehicle manufacturer. On this page we’re primarily referring to GVWR weight classes, not vehicle GVW.
Q: What’s the “light-duty vehicle” definition or “heavy-duty vehicle” definition?
A: GVWR classes range from blank for the smallest vehicles (like passenger cars), or they’re in a GVWR class that ranges from 1 to 3 (light-duty), to 4 to 6 (medium-duty*) up to 7 and 8 (heavy-duty*). Many times when you see US vehicle registration statistics the numbers refer to light-duty vehicles only, including GVWR rating up to Class 3.
Q: What is GVW on a car registration?
A: You probably actually mean “what is GVWR on a car registration.” The GVWR rating for a vehicle is usually shown on a sticker on the inside of the door.
GVWR is the maximum weight allowed for a fully-loaded vehicle, including passengers and cargo.
Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) is the actual weight of a fully-loaded vehicle including all vehicle cargo, fluids like oil and gas, passengers, and any optional equipment. It’s basically what a vehicle weighs as if measured on a scale.
Q: What does GVWR mean? What is GVW and what does GVW mean?
A: GVWR is Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, a vehicle’s maximum weight rating as determined by the OEM. Generally if you take a vehicle’s GVWR and subtract curb weight you’re left with the maximum allowable payload including the weight of passengers and fuel. GVW stands for Gross Vehicle Weight.
Vehicles are classified by their Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) although sometimes people confuse it with GVW for Gross Vehicle Weight, but that is technically incorrect, they’re two different things. See the next question for more detail.
Q: What are GVWR Classes?
A: This is a table of GVW/GVWR classes in the US which includes descriptions and weights. There is a standard defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), J2807_202002, that defines how vehicle GVWR for vehicles under 14,000 pounds are measured (up through class 3 on this table).
|GVWR Class||GVWR Category and definition||Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) Description||vehicle Examples|
|(blank)||Light-duty vehicle||Passenger cars||Common passenger cars; no SUVs or CUVs|
|1||Light-duty vehicle||Medium-size pickup trucks, mini vans, SUVs and CUVs under 6,000 lbs. (2,722 kg)||Common “quarter ton” pickups, SUVs and crossover CUVs; GMC Canyon, Chevy Colorado, Ford Maverick|
|2||Light-duty vehicle||Mini vans, full-size pickups, step vans or cargo vans 6,001lbs. to 10,000 lbs. (2,722–4,536 kg)||Common “half ton” pickups including Ram 1500, Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado|
|3||Light-duty vehicle or medium-duty vehicle*||Heavy-duty “3/4 ton” pickups, box trucks, walk-in commercial vans 10,001 lbs. to 14,000 lbs. (4,536–6,350 kg)||Ram 3500, Ford F-250, Ford F-350, GMC Sierra 3500|
|4||Medium-duty vehicle||GVWR Class 4 trucks include large walk-in commercial vans, larger box trucks, city delivery trucks 14,001 lbs. to 16,000 lbs. (6,351–7,257 kg)||Ford E-450 van, Ford F-450 and Ram 4500 are GVWR Class 4 trucks|
|5||Medium-duty vehicle||GVWR Class 5 vehicles include the largest city delivery trucks, largest walk-in commercial vans with double rear axles, bucket utility “cherry picker” trucks 16,000 lbs. to 19,500 lbs. (7,258–8,845 kg)||Ford F-550, GMC 5500 and Ram 5500 are all GVWR Class 5 trucks|
|6||Medium-duty vehicle||GVWR Class 6 trucks include school buses, single-axle straight trucks, stake bed trucks, beverage trucks 19,501 lbs. to 26,000 lbs. (8,846–11,793 kg)||Thomas Bilt Buses, Blue Bird Vision bus are GVWR Class 6 trucks|
|7||Heavy-duty vehicle||GVWR Class 7 trucks include city transit buses, smaller semi truck cabs, moving vans, garbage trucks 26,001 lbs. to 33,000 lbs. (11,794–14,969 kg)||GMC C7500 and Freightliner M2 box truck are examples of GVWR Class 7 trucks|
|8||Heavy-duty vehicle||GVWR Class 8 vehicles include the largest dump trucks, largest semi cabs, semi truck sleeper cabs, cement trucks 33,001 lbs. (14,969 kg) and heavier||Freightliner Cascadia, International LT Series, Mack Anthem are GVWR Class 8 trucks|
You’ll often see a reference to “cars and light trucks,” which is different than medium- and heavy-duty trucks.
Cars do not have a GVWR rating, the class is simply excluded or blank. Light trucks are GVWR classes 1 through 2 or 3*, which includes SUVs, some CUVs, and all the quarter-ton, half-ton and three-quarter ton pickup trucks that you see every day. Medium-duty trucks are GVWR classes 3* or 4 through 6 which includes large commercial delivery trucks, large vans, walk-in trucks like UPS or FedEx vans, up to large beverage trucks and school buses. Heavy-duty trucks are GVWR classes 7 and 8, which includes the largest trucks including the largest tow trucks, fire engines, cement trucks and semi trucks.
*See “What is the definition of a “medium-duty vehicle?” for more explanation on “medium-duty.”
Q: *What is the definition of a “medium-duty vehicle?”
A: This can be confusing! There is no consistent classification of “medium-duty.” At times the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and other government agencies classified light-duty as 10,000 lbs. and under, which includes GVWR class 2 and below. At other times, FHWA and other agencies have classified light-duty at 14,000 lbs. and under, which includes GVWR class 3 and below.
For just two examples of this inconsistency within the US government, see this page from AFDC categorizing class 3 as medium-duty and this page from FHWA categorizing class 4 and 5 as light-duty.
Freightliner, who knows a thing or two about trucks, defines medium-duty as GVWR Classes 6 and 7. FUSO, who also knows a thing or two about trucks, defines medium-duty trucks as GVWR Classes 3 to 5. FUSO also defines Class 3 to Class 5 medium-duty as “about 13,200 pounds” up to 17,995 pounds, instead of the 10,000 pounds to 19,500 pounds as shown in the table above.
Most of the time GVWR Classes 1, 2 and 3 are considered light-duty vehicles, while Classes 4, 5 and 6 are considered medium-duty vehicles. Classes 7 and 8 are almost always considered to be heavy-duty (sorry, Freightliner).
Q: How are hybrid or electric vehicles classified?
A: VIO data classifies these vehicles as one of three types. Hybrids can be either gasoline/electric hybrids, where the batteries are recharged when the gasoline engine is running, or they can be plug-in hybrids. Gasoline/electric hybrids are abbreviated “HEV” for hybrid electric vehicle. Plug-in hybrids are abbreviated “PHEV” and rely more on battery power than HEVs. Vehicles that are fully electric and rely solely on batteries are abbreviated “BEV” for battery electric vehicle. “Electric vehicles” refers to PHEVs and BEVs combined into one group. There are also mild hybrids known as MHEV.
Q: How are vehicles classified, besides GVWR?
A: Here are the vehicle categories commonly used with a brief description of what they are.
•Make— Vehicle manufacturer or brand.
•Model — Vehicle model.
•Model Year — VIN year, the model year of the vehicle. This is not necessarily the year the vehicle was manufactured or the year the vehicle was registered. For example, it’s possible that a 2013 Chevy was manufactured in 2012, and it’s even possible that it sat on a dealer’s lot until 2014, when it was sold. New vehicle data reports when vehicles are registered so for example, if you purchased data showing new registrations by month, you would see how many of those 2013 Chevys were registered in each month in 2012, 2013 or 2014.
•Series — Corresponds to trim or a more specific description of the model. Example: If “Model” is “Silverado,” then “Series” can be “1500,” “2500,” or “3500.” Also “Series” can identify if, for example, a Jetta is a TDI, Hybrid or SE.
•Fuel — Fuel type can be determined as: Gasoline, both gas and electric, conversion, diesel, electric, flex fuel, methanol, natural gas, propane.
•Doors — Number of doors on the vehicle.
•Vehicle Type — Denotes whether the vehicle is a passenger car or a truck.
•Cylinders — Number of cylinders the vehicle’s engine possesses.
•Vehicle Segment — Luxury or non luxury segment the vehicle belongs to. Includes a wide range of descriptions that separate into categories based on body style, intended use and other factors.
•GVWR — Gross Vehicle Weight Rating class. Can limit to light vehicles only (GVWR Classes 0-3) or include medium- and heavy-duty as well (4-8).
•MSRP — Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price.
•Body Style — Identifies trucks, SUVs, cab & chassis, motorhomes, sedan, convertible, coupe, hatchback, etc.
•Engine — Engine size by liter such as 3.1, 3.8, 5.0, etc.
•Geography — Depending on the geography and breakdown of the file you request this can contain a state, county, or ZIP code.
•Ownership/Registration Type — Shows whether the vehicle is registered as a personal, commercial, government, leased, etc.
•Count — Number of vehicles possessing these attributes listed in a specified geography.
Q: How many cars are registered in the US?
A: There are now about 289 million light-duty vehicles in operation (VIO) in the US in 2021. The average car in the US is just over 12 years old. Below is a table that shows the number of registered vehicles in US, also known as Vehicles in Operation/VIO data, since 2006. This table covers light-duty vehicles.
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