Is there a more ‘American’ vehicle than a truck? Those huge load-luggers that we see on the roads of the USA every day, taking essential goods from one side of the continent to the other and driven be the Truckers, heroes of the road! It’s a much-romanticised job as t’s hard work, lonely and tiring, but truckers are essential to the well-being of the USA.
As are the trucks themselves, which are built to last and withstand the rigours of the job and to travel many thousands of miles during their lifetime. Yet, there are different types of truck, each with their own classifications. We’re going to go through them one by one and tell you all you need to know about how trucks are classified. There’s also a great resource here listing types of heavy truck parts if you want to get into more detail, so let’s get this show on the road!
Let’s start with light trucks, a type of vehicle you’ll encounter every day. These are trucks you might use as your daily driver – the Ford F150 comes into this bracket – and there are three classes of light truck: Class 1, and Classes 2a and 2b. Truck classifications are mainly down to the maximum weight that can be carried by the vehicles.
Class 1 trucks include the popular Chevrolet Colorado and its GMC variant the Canyon. Also in this class are Honda’s Ridgeline and the Toyota Tacoma, the Nissan Frontier and the Jeep Gladiator. Each of these complies with Class 1 weights in having a maximum load of less than 6000lbs (2722kg).
The bigger light trucks go into Class 2a, which includes those over 6000lbs but with a maximum load weight of under 8500lbs (3856kg). Models include the Ford F150, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and the All-wheel drive version of the Honda Ridgeline, as well as models from Lexus, Nissan and the RAM 1500.
If your truck has a maximum weight of more than 8500lbs but less than 10,000lbs (4536kg) it goes into Class 2b, which is for Light/Medium trucks. Familiar models are the Ford F250, the 2500 variant of the Silverado, Nissan’s Titan XD and the RAM 2500.
The above are all popular vehicles for trade users that can also be used to take a family around town. Next, we move on to medium trucks.
You can probably guess that Medium Trucks go into Class 3, and there are also Classes 4,5 and 6 covering this type of vehicle. Class 3 is for trucks with a maximum weight of in excess of 10,000lbs but under 14,000lbs (6350kg).
These include the Silverado 3500, the Ford F350, Isuzu NPR and RAM 3500. The Ford F450 also fits this class when in pick-up only form.
Class 4 takes the weight up to 16,000lbs (7257kg) and the list of models involves those in Class 3 but the next step – the full Ford F450, for example, and the 4500 Silverado model. The RAM 4500 and Isuzu’s NPR in HD spec also fit here.
The RAM 5500, Silverado 5500 and Isuzu NRR are all Class 5 vehicles, as is the Ford F550, with a weight limit from 16,001lbs up to 19,500lbs. This class also sees the first of the ‘big truck’ brands with the Freightliner Business Class M2 106, the Kenworth T170 and the Peterbilt 325 included.
The final Medium Truck class, Class 6, takes the maximum load up to 26,000lbs (11,763kg) and includes the most powerful versions of the Silverado – the 6500HD – as well as the Ford F650, International MV, Peterbilt 330 and Kenworth 270.
Now we move on to the kings of the road, the Heavy Truck classes.
Heavy trucks are the exciting ones, the behemoths of the vehicle world, and they cover two classes – Class 7 and 8. Moving from Class 6 to Class 7 we leave the world of automobile manufacturers behind – bar one, which is Ford. From now, it’s all specialist truck makers and there are some famous names here.
For example, among the Class 7 Heavy Trucks you’ll find models from Freightliner, Mack, Autocar, Kenworth, International and Peterbilt. These can have a maximum load weight of up to 33,000lbs (14,969kg).
Class 8 is for the true monsters, those that carry in excess of 33,000lbs. This includes the trucks known as ‘Semis’ or ’18-wheelers’ and include the Freightliner Cascadia, Peterbilt 389, 579 and 520, the Mack Anthem, Granite and others, and many more of the biggest trucks ever built.
These truly might beasts are simply amazing to see and do a great job in keeping the US supplied with essential goods, traversing the continent often in convoys, a famous and unique sight to US roads. What more can we say
about trucks and trucking? Let’s put a conclusion to this article.
Icons of the Road
The trucking industry is a worldwide phenomenon, but it is especially important to the economy and to commerce in the United States. It is a growing industry for many reasons, but having said that there is a shortage of drivers worldwide thanks to it being a job that involves long hours on the road – often alone – and travel to and from some of the more inhospitable places in some instances. Interestingly, more women are becoming truck drivers than ever before.
Nevertheless, the trucking industry in the USA was worth almost $800billion in 2019. This alone highlights the sheer importance of heavy road transport in getting goods to their destination across the USA. With an ever-growing economy demanding more available transport road freight is the most direct and popular way of achieving the aims of distributors, and keeping stores and businesses supplied.
Each of the above classifications of truck plays a part – some long distance, others on domestic or for personal use – in this in its own way, and some of the trucks we mention are true icons of the road. Let’s hear it for the great American truck manufacturers who design, build and supply these quite magnificent machines.