Vehicle size class

Vehicle size classes are a way of classifying cars. The common North American parlance is word-based, while English-speaking European writers also use words to describe car sizes. In parts of Asia, segment letters are sometimes used.

North America

United States

The United States government defined size of Federal Regulations, Title 40—Protection of Environment, Section 600.315-82 Classes of comparable automobiles. Passenger car classes are defined based on interior volume index or seating capacity, except the ones classified as special vehicle. A two seater is classified as a car with no more than two designated seating positions. Others as follows:[1]

Vehicle size classes by U.S. Fuel Economy Guide for sedans
Class Interior combined passenger and cargo volume index in cubic feet (liters)
Minicompact < 85 (2407)
Subcompact 85–99.9 (2407–2831)
Compact 100–109.9 (2832–3114)
Mid-Size 110–119.9 (3115–3397)
Large ≥ 120 (3398)
Vehicle size classes by U.S. Fuel Economy Guide for station wagons
Class Interior volume index in cubic feet (liters)
Small < 130 (3681)
Midsize 130–160 (3681–4531)
Large ≥ 160 (4531)

Nonpassenger automobiles are defined as small pickup trucks, standard pickup trucks, vans, and special purpose vehicles. Pickup trucks is separated from car line based on gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). For pickup truck car lines with more than one GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating), the GVWR of the pickup truck car line is the arithmetic average of all distinct GVWR's less than or equal to 8,500 pounds available for that car line.

Class GVWR in pounds (kg)
Small < 4500 (2041)
Standard 4500–8500 (2041–3856)

Special purpose vehicle is defined as automobile with GVWR less than or equal to 8,500 pounds which possess special features that are more appropriately classified separately from typical automobiles or which do not meet the definitions of above mentioned classes.

Interior volume index is calculated differently for different vehicle classes:

All dimensions and volumes shall be determined from the base vehicles of each body style in each car line, and do not include optional equipment.

Front seat volume is calculated as product of:

Rear seat volume is calculated for vehicles within a rear seat equipped with rear seat belts (as required by DOT), as product of:

For passenger automobiles with no rear seat or with a rear seat but no rear seat belts, the area to the rear of the front seat shall be included in the determination of usable luggage capacity.

Cargo volume index is calculated as follows:


Cars are divided into six classes based on interior volume. An interior volume index is calculated from the combined passenger and trunk or cargo space. Pickup trucks, special purpose vehicles and vans are segmented in their own respective classes.

Class Interior size in litres (cubic feet)
Two-seater (Undefined)
Subcompact car Under 2830 (99.9)
Compact car 2830–3115 (99.9–110)
Mid-size car 3115–3400 (110–120)
Full-size car Over 3400 (120)

The above definitions of vehicle classes are not defined in Canadian regulations, but by Fuel Consumption Guide published by Natural Resources Canada.

Other vehicle classes are listed in On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations (SOR/2003-2), officially published in Canada Gazette Part 2, Vol. 137 No. 1:

Class GVWR in kg (pounds) Curb weight in kg (pounds) Frontal area in m² (square feet)
Light light-duty truck 2722 (6000) or under 2722 (6000) or under Max 4.2 (45.2)
Light-duty truck 3856 (8500) or under 2722 (6000) or under Max 4.2 (45.2)
Heavy light-duty truck Over 2722–3856 (6000–8500) 2722 (6000) or under Max 4.2 (45.2)
Heavy-duty vehicle Over 3856 (8500) Over 2722 (6000) Over 4.2 (45.2)
Medium-duty passenger vehicle Same as heavy-duty vehicle Under 4536 (10000) Same as heavy-duty vehicle

In case of light-duty trucks, all three conditions must be met, otherwise it is classified as heavy-duty vehicle. In addition, light duty must also be:

Medium-duty passenger vehicle is classified as a heavy-duty vehicle that is designed primarily for the transportation of persons but does not include any vehicle that:

Motorcycle is classified as an on-road vehicle with a headlight, taillight and stoplight that has two or three wheels and a curb weight of 793 kg or less, but does not include a vehicle that has an engine displacement of less than 50 cc, or that, with an 80 kg (176 pound) driver:


Vehicle segments in Europe do not have formal characterization or regulations. Models segments tend to be based on comparison to well-known brand models. For example, a car such as the Volkswagen Golf might be described as being in the Ford Focus size class, or vice versa. The VW Polo is smaller, so it belongs one segment below the Golf, while the bigger Passat is one segment above.

This is a table listing several different methods of car classification.

Not Well Defined / VernacularDefined by Law or RegulationExamples
Market Segment (American English)Market Segment (British English)Market Segment (Australian English)[2]US EPA Size Class[3]Euro NCAP Structural Category[4]Euro NCAP Class (1997 - 2009)Euro Market Segment[5]
MicrocarMicrocar, Bubble carN/AN/AQuadricycleA-segment mini carsBond Bug, Isetta, Mega City, Renault Twizy, REVAi/G-Wiz
Subcompact car
Economy Car
City car Microcar MinicompactPassenger carSuperminiCitroën C1, Fiat 500, Hyundai Eon, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Renault Twingo, Smart Fortwo
SuperminiLight CarSubcompactB-segment small carsFord Fiesta, Kia Rio, Opel Corsa, Peugeot 208, Volkswagen Polo
Compact carSmall family carSmall CarCompactSmall family carC-segment medium cars DS DS4, Honda Civic, Mazda3, Peugeot 308, Renault Mégane, Toyota Corolla
Mid-size carLarge family carMedium CarMid-sizeLarge family carD-segment large carsChevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Peugeot 508, Subaru Legacy, Volkswagen Passat
Entry-level luxury carCompact executive carMedium Car above $60,000N/AAcura ILX, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi A4, Lexus ES, Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Full-size carExecutive carLarge CarLargeExecutiveE-segment executive cars Chevrolet Impala, Ford Taurus, Mazda Xedos 9, Hyundai Grandeur, Holden Commodore, first and second generation Škoda Superb, Toyota Avalon
Mid-size luxury carLarge Car above $70,000N/A Audi A6, Cadillac CTS, Chrysler 300, Tesla Model S, Acura TLX
Full-size luxury carLuxury carUpper Large Car above $100,000N/AF-segment luxury cars BMW 7 Series, Lincoln Town Car, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Porsche Panamera, Audi A8
Grand tourerGrand tourerSports CarN/AS-segment sports coupésAston Martin DB9, Bentley Continental GT, Ferrari FF, Jaguar XK, Maserati GranTurismo
SupercarSupercarN/ABugatti Veyron, LaFerrari, Lamborghini Aventador, Pagani Zonda, Porsche 918 Spyder
ConvertibleConvertibleN/ABMW 6 Series, Chevrolet Camaro, Mercedes CLK, Volvo C70, Volkswagen Eos
RoadsterRoadsterTwo-seaterRoadster sports BMW Z4, Lotus Elise, Mazda MX-5, Porsche Boxster, Mercedes-Benz SLK
Mini MPVN/AMinivanMPVSmall MPVM-segment multi purpose cars Citroen C3 Picasso, Ford B-Max, Opel Meriva, Renault Kangoo
MPVCompact MPVPeople Mover Chevrolet Orlando, Ford C-Max, Opel Zafira, Renault Scenic, Volkswagen Touran
MinivanLarge MPVLarge MPV Chrysler Town and Country, Kia Carnival, Citroën C4 Grand Picasso, Renault Espace, Toyota Sienna
Cargo vanVanVanCargo van Chevrolet Express 1500 Cargo, Fiat Ducato/Ram ProMaster, Ford Transit, Renault Master, Volkswagen Transporter
Passenger vanMinibusPeople MoverPassenger vanChevrolet Express 1500 Passenger, Ford E350 Wagon, Mercedes-Benz Viano
Mini SUVMini 4x4Small SUVSmall Sport Utility VehicleOff-roaderSmall Off-Road 4x4J-segment sport utility cars (including off-road vehicles)Daihatsu Terios, Ford Ecosport, Jeep Renegade, Peugeot 2008, Suzuki Jimny
Compact SUVCompact SUVMedium SUVAudi Q5, Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Jeep Cherokee, Kia Sportage
Mid-size SUVLarge 4x4Large SUVStandard Sport Utility VehicleLarge Off-Road 4x4Audi Q7, Ford Expedition, Hyundai Santa Fe, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Volkswagen Touareg, Volvo XC90
Full-size SUV Upper Large SUVRange Rover, Cadillac Escalade, Toyota Land Cruiser
Mini pickup truckPick-upPick-upSmall Pickup TruckPickupPick-up Chevrolet Montana, Fiat Strada, Renault Duster Oroch, Volkswagen Saveiro
Mid-size pickup truck Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado, Mitsubishi Triton/L200, Nissan Navara, Toyota Hilux
Full-size pickup truckStandard pickup truck Dodge Ram, Ford F-150, GMC Sierra, Nissan Titan, Toyota Tundra
Heavy Duty pickup truck Chevrolet Silverado HD, Ram Heavy Duty, Ford Super Duty
Special purpose vehicleLimousineSpecial purpose vehicleLincoln MKT Livery

EuroNCAP applies a standard safety test to all new cars, the results are listed in separate categories to allow prospective vehicle purchasers to compare models of a similar size and shape:



Vehicle size categories for passenger vehicles for the China NCAP program as defined by the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC) may appear similar to the European system, but are closer to the Japanese in application.


The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) divides Indian passenger vehicles into the segments A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, A6, B1, B2 and SUV. The classification is done solely based on the length of the vehicle. The details of the segments are below:

Car Segment Length of the car Classification Car model belonging to the segment
A1 Up to 3400mm Ultracompact cars (A) Tata Nano, Mahindra e2o
A2 3401 to 4000mm Sub-four metre (B) Honda Amaze, Maruti Suzuki DZIRE
A3 4001 to 4500mm Entry-level mid-size sedans (B) Toyota Etios, Honda City
A4 4501 to 4700mm Small family cars (C) Toyota Corolla, Škoda Octavia, Chevrolet Cruze
A5 4701 to 5000mm Mid-size (D)
Executive cars (E)
D-segment: Toyota Camry, Škoda Superb
E-segment: Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5 series
A6 More than 5000 mm Grand saloons (F) Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8, BMW 7 series, Jaguar XJ
B1 <4000 mm Small vans Maruti Omni, Tata Venture
B2 >4000 mm Mid-size MPVs/minivans Toyota Innova, Honda Odyssey (not sold in India)
SUV Any SUVs Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe


Sections of this article are translated from Japanese Wikipedia.

Vehicle size classes in Japan are rather simple compared to other regions. The classifications were established under the Japanese Government's Road Vehicle Act of 1951.[6][7] There are just three different classes defined by regulations. The law doesn't have revised classifications for roadsters, minivans, station wagons, SUVs, MPVs, or Crossovers. The dimension regulations are enforced to exact measurements. These standards of classification are enforced on all vehicles within the jurisdiction of Japan, and no special consideration is made for the vehicles' origination of manufacture. The Japanese law regulates all vehicles that do not travel on railroads, or are not powered by physically contacting overhead power lines. The law regulates vehicles that are powered by an autonomous power source.

Motorcycles also have classification definitions based on engine size:

Class I Moped 
Engine size must be at or less than 50 cc, identified by blue text and white extra small license plate.
Class II Moped (B) 
Engine size is between 50–90 cc, identified by blue text and yellow extra small license plate.
Class II Moped (MIG) 
Engine size is between 90–125 cc, identified by blue text and pink extra small license plate (color of plate can vary according to regional requirements)
Motorcycle Light 
Engine size is between 125–250 cc, identified by green text and white small license plate.
Motorcycle Medium 
Engine size is between 250–400 cc, identified by green outline and green text with white small license plate.
Motorcycle Large 
Engine size is over 400 cc, identified by green outline and green text with white small license plate.

All vehicles with an engine displacement over 250 cc are required to undergo an inspection (called "Shaken" in Japan). Vehicle weight tax and mandatory vehicle insurance are usually paid at this time. This is separate from the road tax paid yearly.

See also


External links

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