How Heavy are Heavy Duty Trucks?

It’s fair to say that in the USA we have a long-standing love affair with trucks. These mammoths of the roads are both brutal and beautiful with their shining chrome and wonderful embellishments. As American as it gets, the heavy-duty truck is the king of the road, working tirelessly to keep the supply chains open and the country alive.
An army of truckers, it’s a way of life rather than a job, driving their cabs across the land day after day covering hundreds of thousands of miles a year. They do it because they love it, and it takes a certain type of dedication to do the job of a heavy-duty truck driver. There’s nothing more iconic than a convoy of these massive trucks on one of the roads that were built for them.

So, how heavy are heavy duty trucks? It’s not a question with one single answer as there are different types and classes of them. Let’s start by looking at the types, and how they are defined.

Types of Truck


Most items are delivered by a smaller truck. However, heavy trucks with an enclosed option often prove better due to their detachable trailer and separate cab. Read here more about this topic.

When we think of trucks, we think of the traditional massive Peterbilt, Freightliner, Mack and other makes that are constantly running back and forth across the continent. These are the big trucks, the ones that do the hard work, but there are many other types that are in use on our roads.

When you get something delivered to your home or business it will come by a smaller truck. This will be the one big enough to carry what you ordered yet small enough to use in a town or city. It will have a chassis that holds both the truck body and the cab, sometimes as an all-in-one fixture. But that’s not the sort of truck we are talking about here.
We want to look at heavy ones, those that come with a detachable trailer and separate cab. Often known as semi-trucks or articulated, they have a cab that can be driven on its own to collect trailers as and when, and they are the mainstay of the freight world. They are given a classification by the relevant authorities in the USA, and the classes of truck are what we will talk about next. Meanwhile, for info on heavy duty trucks for Honda trucks click here and you’ll see what it’s all about.

Classes of Heavy Trucks


There are 8 classes of commercial ones on the roads in the USA. They are classified by their Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). The GVWR is the maximum weight of the vehicle including the driver, load and the vehicle itself. The following list shows the different classes, and their weight classification:

  • Class 1 – GVWR ranges from 0 to 6,000 pounds (0 to 2,722 kg)
  • Class 2 – GVWR ranges from 6,001 to 10,000 pounds (2,722 to 4,536 kg)
  • Class 3 – GVWR ranges from 10,001 to 14,000 pounds (4,536 to 6,350 kg)
  • Class 4 – GVWR ranges from 14,001 to 16,000 pounds (6,351 to 7,257 kg)
  • Class 5 – GVWR ranges from 16,001 to 19,500 pounds (7,258 to 8,845 kg)
  • Class 6 – GVWR ranges from 19,501 to 26,000 pounds (8,846 to 11,793 kg)
  • Class 7 – GVWR ranges from 26,001 to 33,000 pounds (11,794 to 14,969 kg)
  • Class 8 – GVWR is anything above 33,000 pounds (14,969 kg)

As we’re looking for the heavy-duty trucks, let’s talk through what the different classes may include.
Class 1 and 2 are light trucks, these being the likes of your Ford Ranger and F150, Nissan Frontier and vehicles of that ilk. There is a Class 2a which is the crossover between light and medium trucks where you will find models such as the Ford F250, RAM 2500 and Nissan Titan XD. These ones are often used as family vehicles as well as for work.
Class 3 through to Class 6 are classed as medium trucks. Variously you may include the more powerful Chevy Silverado models, the Ford F350 and F450, and the bigger engine RAM trucks. Classes 5 and 6 bring in the first of the big boys in the form of the Kenworth T170, Freightliner Business Class models, and the Peterbilt 325 and 330 models.

So that leaves us with Class 7 and 8, which are the trucks we’re looking for: the heavy trucks. Among these the most popular one is the Freightliner Cascadia, which is perhaps the very epitome of what a heavy truck looks like. Along with others in the class such as the Mack Anthem, the bigger Peterbilt models and the heavy boys from Kenilworth and International, this is what American heavy trucks are all about.

When you compare US trucks with those in other countries you will find the weights are vastly different. Perhaps only Australia – which similarly uses road freight over great distances – are there comparable ones in use on a regular basis. Compare the above to the different classes of trucks in the UK for example, where much lesser miles are covered, and you’ll see what we mean.

Trucks and The Future


A lot has been written about the future of road transport, and when it comes to trucks and energy efficiency it is clear there is a lot of work to be done. Heavy duty trucks are thirsty on fuel, and although the engines are as efficient as possible there is a lot of gas used by the many thousands of trucks in use in the USA and across the world.

The future may look electric for cars but for trucks that cover long distances that doesn’t appear to be an option, Research and development into future truck technology is ongoing and will undoubtedly yield some impressive options, but for now we must continue as we are with the heavy truck fleet doing their job for the people of the USA.
We hope that we have answered the question about the weight of a heavy-duty one so that next time you see one, you can remember that it is possibly carrying in excess of 33,000lb total weight!

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