Do you know your truck classes? - Photo: Work Truck

Do you know your truck classes?

Photo: Work Truck

Vehicles in a commercial fleet come in various shapes and sizes to accommodate different needs and purposes.

Each vehicle falls into a specific class that determines its weight range and primary use, from compact pickup trucks and vans to semi-trucks.

These classes, ranging from light-duty Class 1 to heavy-duty Class 8, categorize vehicles based on their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR).

Understanding the distinctions between these classes can help select the appropriate vehicle for specific tasks:

Let's explore the work truck classes’ weight ranges and diverse applications.

Navigating Light-Duty Truck Classes

Light-duty work trucks — Class 1 to Class 3 — encompass vehicles with lower weight ranges.

  • Class 1 trucks and vans: GVWR ranging from 0 to 6,000 pounds.
  • Class 2 trucks and vans can go up to 10,000 pounds.
  • Class 3 trucks have a GVWR between 10,001 and 14,000 pounds.

These light-duty trucks are commonly used for various tasks and industries.

Breaking Down Light-Duty Trucks & Vans

Class 1 trucks, which include compact pickups and utility vehicles, are popular among individuals and small businesses, such as repair services and plumbing.

Examples include:

Class 2 trucks, or full-size pickups, are versatile vehicles used by individuals, construction crews, landscaping businesses, and small contractors. They offer increased towing and hauling capacities, making them suitable for moderately heavy loads.

Examples include:

Class 3 trucks, often called heavy-duty pickups, find applications in commercial sectors such as construction, agriculture, and landscaping.

With their enhanced payload and towing capabilities, these trucks can handle more substantial loads, making them ideal for transporting construction materials, equipment, and larger trailers.

Examples include:

Most truck brands, like Ford and Ram, have the class number as the first digit in the model’s name, so it’s easy to tell which class the truck belongs to.

Light-duty trucks and vans are the backbone of various industries, providing reliable transportation and versatility for many tasks. 

Trucks weighing over 10,001 pounds may require a Department of Transportation (DOT) number.

Payload Definitions for Pickup Trucks

Informal categorizations such as ½-ton, 3/4-ton, and 1-ton are commonly used to classify pickup trucks based on their payload capacities. These indicate the maximum cargo and passenger weight they can accommodate.

It is important to note that payload includes items carried in the truck bed, combined weight of occupants, belongings, and trailer tongue weight.

Here is the breakdown:

  • ½-Ton — Class 1 and 2 trucks fall into this category with 1,000-pound payloads.
  • 3/4-Ton — Class 2 and 3 trucks fall into this category with 1,500-pound payloads.
  • 1-Ton — Class 3 and 4 trucks fall into this category with 2,000-pound payloads.
Weight ranges for vehicle classes. - Photo: Work Truck

Weight ranges for vehicle classes.

Photo: Work Truck

Unveiling Medium-Duty Truck Classes

Medium-duty trucks — Class 4 to Class 6 — bridge the gap between light-duty and heavy-duty trucks regarding weight ranges and capabilities.

These trucks are designed to handle more substantial loads and are commonly employed in various commercial applications. 

Dissecting Medium-Duty GVWR

Class 4 trucks typically have a GVWR between 14,001 and 16,000 pounds.

They are often used for delivery services, small-scale construction projects, landscaping, and municipal services.

These trucks offer increased payload capacities, allowing for transporting heavier goods and materials.

Examples include:

Class 5 trucks have a GVWR between 16,001 and 19,500 pounds.

They find extensive use in construction, towing, moving services, and emergency response industries.

 With their robust construction and enhanced power, Class 5 trucks can handle heavier loads and tow larger trailers.

Examples include:

  • Peterbilt 325.
  • Chevrolet Silverado 5500HD.
  • GMC Sierra 5500HD.
  • Kenworth T170.

Class 6 trucks, also known as medium-duty work trucks, have a GVWR ranging from 19,501 to 26,000 pounds.

They are widely utilized in local delivery, utility services, and construction industries.

These trucks offer substantial payload capacities and have specialized bodies or equipment to suit specific work requirements.

Examples include:

  • Chevrolet Silverado 6500HD.
  • Ford F-650.
  • Ram 6500.
  • Kenworth T280.

Medium-duty trucks play a crucial role in the transportation and logistics sectors, providing reliable and efficient solutions for businesses with a balance between payload capacity and maneuverability.

Their versatility makes them suitable for various applications, contributing to the smooth operation of industries across various sectors.

Walk-In Vans: The Perfect Delivery Vehicle

Walk-in vans, or step vans, fall into the medium-duty class. They’re a type of commercial vehicle that is specifically designed for delivery and distribution purposes.

They are characterized by their boxy shape, flat front end, and high roof, allowing easy entry and movement inside the vehicle.

Examples include:

  • Ford Transit.
  • Chevrolet Express.
  • Freightliner MT45.
  • Utilimaster Reach.

Exploring Heavy-Duty Truck Classes

Heavy-duty trucks — Class 7 and Class 8 — are the powerhouses of the transportation industry.

These trucks are designed to handle the most demanding tasks and carry significant payloads across long distances.

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They are commonly utilized in commercial sectors that require large hauling capabilities.

Any driving operating a vehicle over 26,001 pounds needs a valid Class A driver's license.

The Powerhouses of Heavy-Duty Trucks

Class 7 trucks typically have a GVWR between 26,001 and 33,000 pounds (11,794 to 14,969 kilograms). These trucks are often employed in industries such as local and regional delivery, construction, waste management, and utility services.

Examples include:

  • Mack MD.
  • Kenworth K370.
  • Chevrolet Silverado 7500HD.
  • Ford F-750.

Class 8 has a GVWR exceeding 33,000 pounds.

As the largest and most powerful commercial vehicles on the road, they’re primarily used for long-haul transportation such as freight hauling, intermodal operations, and heavy-duty construction projects.

Class 8 trucks feature hardy engines, advanced suspension systems, and extensive towing capacities, enabling them to transport massive loads over extended distances.

Examples include:

  • Volvo Truck VNL.
  • Peterbilt 389.
  • Hino XL8.
  • Freightliner Cascadia.

The heavy-duty truck class plays a vital role in the global economy by facilitating the movement of goods and materials across vast distances.

From the logistics and shipping sectors to construction and infrastructure development, heavy-duty trucks are the backbone of various industries, enabling efficient and timely transportation of goods and materials.

About the author
Hillary Weiss

Hillary Weiss

Senior Editor

Hillary Weiss is a former senior editor at Bobit. She has a decade of digital publishing experience and a passion for all things related to fleets.

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