Truck Classes Demystified

truck classification

Guide to Commercial Truck Classification

Commercial truck vehicle classification is a way to define truck size using a measurement called Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. You may see the acronym GVWR being used in reference to this term.

This is how vehicle manufacturers define the trucks they make against government guidelines.

(It is also a way to determine which is the correct truck backup safety system to use.)

The GVWR number is the maximum truck weight, plus the weight of its maximum cargo. So what it weighs when it is fully loaded. That includes the truck itself, the fuel it can carry, plus cargo, passengers, and even the trailer tongue.

Trailer classification is used for three things: 

  1. To regulate safety.
  2. Commercial designations.
  3. Used when a truck owner registers their vehicle. 

Vehicle categories begin with Class 1 and increment in full numbers to Class 8. Classes 1, 2 and 3 relate to cars and light trucks. They also include minivans, cargo vans, SUVs, and pickup trucks. Class 4, 5, and 6 relate to medium-sized trucks and include both commercial and larger, non-commercial vehicles. Class 7 and 8 relate to heavy-duty trucks. These classes include large commercial trucks that require a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to operate. 

Here is a deep dive into the truck class distinctions:  

Small Trucks - Class 1, 2, 3 Vehicles

Vehicles in Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 include non-commercial cars, like sedans, as well as SUVs, and panel vans as well as small pickup trucks. 

Class 1 Trucks 

The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of a Class 1 truck is 0 to 6000 lbs (0-2722 kg). From a truck perspective, a light-duty truck would fit into this class.

Types of vehicles/trucks in Class 1 would be:

  • Full-Size Pickup
  • Mini Pickup / Light Duty Pickup
  • Minivan
  • SUV
  • Utility van
  • Panel van

That would include the following make/models of Class 1 trucks:

  • Chevrolet Colorado
  • GMC Canyon
  • Ford Ranger
  • Nissan Frontier
  • Toyota Tacoma
  • Honda Ridgeline FWD

Class 1 trucks

Class 2 Trucks 

The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of a Class 2 truck is 6,001 to 10,000 pounds. Light-duty trucks such as minivans, step vans, full-size pickups would be found in this class. 

Types of Class 2 trucks include:

  • Crew-sized pickup
  • Full-sized pickup
  • Mini Bus
  • Minivan
  • Step Van

Makes and models of Class 2 trucks include: 

  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 
  • GMC Sierra 1500
  • Ford F-150 
  • Ford F-250
  • Ram 1500 
  • Honda Ridgeline AWD 
  • Dodge Dakota
  • Nissan Titan 
  • Toyota Tundra 

 Class 2 Trucks

Class 3 Trucks

The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of a Class 2 truck is 10,001 to 14,000 pounds. These include larger, light-duty trucks such as minibusses and city delivery trucks.

Types of Class 3 trucks include:

  • City delivery truck
  • Mini-bus
  • Walk-in Vans

Brands and makes of Class 3 vehicles include: 

  • GMC Sierra 3500 
  • Chevrolet Silverado 3500
  • Ford F-350 
  • Ford F-450 pick-up
  • Isuzu NPR 
  • Ram 3500

 Class 3 trucks

Medium-Sized Trucks - Class 4, 5, 6 Vehicles

Class 4, Class 5, and Class 6 trucks are medium-sized trucks. Most of the medium-class vehicles are manufactured and operated for commercial purposes. 

Class 4 Trucks

The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) for Class 4 trucks ranges between 14,001 and 16,000 pounds.

Types of trucks in Class 4:

  • City Delivery Truck
  • Conventional van
  • Landscape Utility Truck/Van
  • Large Walk-in Truck/Van

In Class 4 you’ll find these makes:

  • Isuzu NPR-HD
  • Chevrolet Silverado
  • GMC Sierra 4500
  • Ford F-450 (chassis cab)
  • Ram 4500
  • Ford E-450 passenger van
  • F-450 super duty pickup

 Box trucks also fit into this truck classification, as do large walk-in and city delivery trucks.

Class 4 trucks

Class 5 Trucks

The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) for Class 5 trucks range from 16,001 to 19,500 pounds. Trucks in this class are used mainly for commercial purposes, such as delivery trucks and cherry pickers. However, non-commercial cars can still be found in this class.

Types of Class 5 trucks include:

  • Bucket Truck
  • City Delivery Truck
  • Large Walk-in Truck/Van or Courier Truck

Examples of Class 5 trucks include: 

  • Isuzu NRR
  • Peterbilt 325
  • Chevrolet Silverado 5500 (non-commercial) 
  • GMC Sierra 5500 (non-commercial) 
  • Ford F-550 (non-commercial) 

 Class 5 trucks

Class 6 Trucks

The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) for Class 6 trucks range from 19, 501 to 26, 000 pounds. These include medium trucks used for commercial purposes, such as beverage trucks and school buses. It is in this class driver where you begin to see the need for a Commercial Driver’s License. This license applies to trucks weighing 26,000 pounds or more.

Types of trucks in Class 6 include: 

  • Beverage truck
  • Rack truck
  • School bus
  • Single axle van
  • Stake body truck

Examples of trucks in this class include: 

  • Chevrolet Kodiak C6500
  • Ford F-650 
  • Peterbilt 330 
  • International Durastar 


Class 6 trucks

Heavy-Duty Trucks - Class 7 and 8

Classes 7 and 8 consist of heavy-duty, commercial trucks. A Commercial Driver’s License is required for all drivers operating these types of vehicles. 

Class 7 Trucks

The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) for Class 7 trucks range from 26, 001 to 33, 000 pounds. In this category, you will find city vehicles, such as garbage trucks, public transit buses, and furniture trucks; and other commercial vehicles.

Types of Class 7 trucks include:

  • City Transit Bus
  • Furniture Truck
  • High Profile Semi Truck
  • Medium Semi Truck
  • Garbage truck
  • Tow Truck
  • Home Fuel Truck 

Examples of trucks in this class include: 

  • Autocar ACMD 
  • GMC C7500
  • Peterbilt 220 
  • Ford F-750 

 Class 7 trucks

Class 8 Trucks

The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) for Class 8 trucks is any truck over 33, 0001 pounds. This class is where you find very large trucks, such as cement trucks and dump trucks. Vehicles in this class are sometimes referred to as “severe duty” trucks, as they are often larger and more heavy-duty than trucks found in previous classes.

Types of Class 8 trucks include:

  • Cement Mixer Truck
  • Dump Truck
  • Fire Truck
  • Fuel Truck
  • Heavy Semi-truck
  • Refrigerated Van
  • Semi Sleeper Truck
  • Tour Bus

Examples of Class 8 vehicles include: 

  • Autocar ACX 
  • International WorkStar 
  • Freightliner Cascadia 
  • Kenworth T660
  • Peterbilt 579 

 Class 8 Trucks

Why is knowing your truck class important? 

Knowledge of vehicle classification allows for owners and drivers to understand the safety requirements and regulations for the vehicle they are driving. For example, vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds require a Commercial Driver’s License to operate. Therefore, this license would be required for some vehicles found in Class 6 and all vehicles found in Class 7 and 8. 

Regulation Compliance

This also allows the government to better ensure that vehicles comply with the law. For example, in 2018 the US government made it a requirement for trucks weighing 10,000 pounds or less to have a rearview camera and/or sensor. This requirement was already put in place for larger and longer trucks before this change. This means that vehicles ranging in all classes must fulfill this requirement to meet the safety regulations. Before 2018, this was a requirement for larger and longer trucks.

Essentially, understanding truck classification encourages safety and accountability both on and off of the road. 

TPC Automation Helps with Backup Safety Compliance:  

At TPC Automation, we understand the importance of safety and accountability. That is why we offer audible and visual alert systems to help keep your truck fleet in compliance with government rules. Our systems are heavy-duty, durable, and well-priced. You can also cater and customize the systems to suit your needs or vehicle class.  

To learn more about these systems, make sure to visit our web store: https://store.tpcvehiclesafety.com/ or contact us at (562) 946-8459 to order yours today. 

What's Next?

Choose a Truck Backup Safety System by Truck Class: Click here.

Download Truck Class Chart

Need a truck classification chart? Click to download the image below In JPEG or PDF format. It's free!

truck classification - JPEG