How much does the average car weigh? 2024

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The average weight of passenger and commercial vehicles has varied over time. The pickup truck, which is America’s best-selling vehicle style, has bulked up considerably since the mid-1970s, with an average weight increase of 30% from 1975 to 2021. Other vehicle styles, like sedans, slimmed down during that time.

Vehicle weights have an impact on safety, fuel economy, repair costs, insurance premiums and more. Due to their build, heavier vehicles tend to be safer in serious road accidents. Insurance premiums for different body types reflect the safety of larger vehicles and the frequency of theft and heavy damages for smaller cars. In recent years, however, the share of traffic fatalities among sport utility vehicle (SUV) occupants has been on the rise, whereas the share of traffic fatalities among occupants of smaller cars has decreased.

Key insights

The average weight of a vehicle in 2022 was 4,094 pounds, an almost 5% decrease from 2021’s record 4,289 pounds.

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From 1975 to 2021, sedan/wagon and car SUV-style vehicles decreased in weight by 12% and 5%, respectively. Conversely, over this same period, the weight of pickup trucks increased the most among any vehicle type, up from about 4,000 pounds to over 5,000 pounds.

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The likelihood of a smaller vehicle’s occupants dying in a car crash generally increases as the vehicle’s weight decreases. But annual crash fatalities among occupants of smaller, lighter cars nonetheless declined by over 33% from 2000 to 2021.

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In 2023, mid-size pickup trucks had the lowest full coverage annual insurance premium of any vehicle type, at an average of $1,679. Medium sedans were the most expensive type of vehicle to insure, at $1,922 for full coverage annually.

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General car weight statistics

Low vehicle sales volume during the COVID-19 pandemic led to record average vehicle weights in 2021. To make up for the downward trend in sales volume, automakers decided to focus on producing vehicles that have high profit margins. Two of these high-margin vehicle types are SUVs and pickup trucks, which are also heavy vehicles.

Vehicle weights appear to have normalized somewhat as the pandemic’s influence on consumer behavior has waned. In 2022, the average weight of a vehicle decreased to 4,094 pounds from 4,289 pounds the previous year. Currently, the average small car is about 2,600 pounds, and the average large car is about 4,400 pounds.

A vehicle’s weight can vary significantly depending on its type, make, model, number of occupants, amount of cargo and whether or not it has any trailers or other attachments. According to J.D. Power, the increase in modern car weights can be attributed to a combination of two main factors. Federal safety regulations — like the requirement that cars feature air bags and anti-lock brakes — increase vehicle weights, as do consumer demands for luxury features and convenient technology, like heated seats and Bluetooth connectivity.

In order to provide enough energy to power these outfitted cars, automakers had to build bigger engines, which have also contributed to the weight increase. Newer vehicle makes and models are, however, being built with lighter materials, like aluminum, which reduces vehicle weights. Additionally, new government regulations are focusing on reducing carbon emissions and increasing fuel efficiency, pushing automakers to innovate toward more lightweight vehicles.

Average vehicle weight by year, in pounds

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2022.

Types of vehicle weight measurements

Many different weights may be listed for a given vehicle, among them:

  • Curb weight is the weight of an unloaded vehicle with no occupants, equipment or cargo.
  • Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) includes all occupants, cargo and equipment when measuring the weight of a vehicle.
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is the maximum weight that a vehicle can carry, and it varies by state. Exceeding a GVWR could cause damage to a vehicle.
  • Payload is GVW plus the weight of any attached trailer or towed vehicle.
  • Gross Combination Weight (GCW) is the weight of a truck combined with its trailer or semi-trailer.
  • Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) is the maximum weight that can be loaded onto a truck, including its trailer and cargo.
  • Gross axle weight is the weight each axle carries.

Average weight by vehicle type

Weight classes and categories are created by the Federal Highway Administration and are the vehicle weight standards used by federal bodies and the auto industry alike.

Federal Highway Administration vehicle weight class (in pounds)

Source: U.S. Department of Energy, 2012.
  • From the mid-1970s until the early 1980s, the average car weight dropped by 860 pounds. This was attributed to higher gas prices and the implementation of stricter fuel economy standards during this time period.
  • Since the mid-1980s, vehicle weight has been slowly trending up. The only vehicle categories that saw overall decreases in weight from 1975 to 2021 were sedan/wagon and car SUV-style vehicles, at 12% and 5% decreases, respectively.
  • The average weight of pickup trucks increased more than the average weight of any other vehicle type from 1975 to 2021, growing from 4,000 pounds to over 5,000 pounds during that time, for an overall weight increase of 30%.
  • Smart cars are among the lightest vehicles currently available, typically weighing in at around 1,500 pounds curb weight.

Average vehicle weight by body style 

Source: Mechanic Base, 2023.

Average weight of commercial vehicles by type

Tractor-trailers and semi-trucks account for some of the heaviest commercial vehicles on the road. The federal maximum GCW for semi-trucks and tractor-trailers is 80,000 pounds (40 tons) with a full load.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration states that a commercial vehicle has a GVWR or GVW of at least 10,001 pounds and aligns with one of the following characteristics:

  • It’s designed to transport more than eight passengers (driver included) for compensation.
  • It’s designed to transport more than 15 passengers (driver included), but not for compensation.
  • It transports federally regulated hazardous materials.

Average commercial vehicle weights

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

Weights of popular vehicle makes and models

Currently, the heaviest new passenger vehicle on the market is the Ford F-450 Super Duty Crew Cab, weighing 8,600 pounds. The Mitsubishi Mirage is the lightest vehicle on the market (excluding smart cars), weighing 2,018 pounds.

The body style of what were formerly the heaviest vehicles has changed. In 1975, the heaviest vehicles on the road were primarily large cars. Today, the heaviest vehicles on the road are primarily pickups and truck SUVs. Even though newer models of vehicles are being built with lighter materials that increase fuel efficiency, heavier vehicles have historically provided better visibility and crash protection than smaller, lighter vehicles.

American consumers perceive larger cars as being safer cars, and automakers are happy to oblige that consumer perception. In a 2021, car and truck-style SUV production in America reached a record high of 56% of all new vehicles produced. Additionally, the size capacity of larger vehicles allows for more convenience features — including cargo space and seating availability — that appeal to buyers as well.

Heavier models outsold lighter models in 2023, with the top three best-selling models in the U.S. having curb weights at, near or above 5,000 pounds. Only two of the 10 best-selling vehicles weren’t pickup trucks or SUVs that year.

Top 10 best-selling vehicles in the U.S. (2023)

*Figures refer to 2022 or 2023 model years, light-duty truck versions and popular trims.; Sources: GoodCarBadCar and Edmunds, 2024.

A recent drop in the popularity of certain smaller vehicle models may underscore how consumers’ auto preferences change with the economic climate. The Honda Civic, a sedan with a curb weight of 3,004 pounds and a starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $26,450, was an attractive model amidst the financial uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. This appeal kept it among the 10 best-selling vehicles in the U.S. for both 2020 and 2021, but it dropped out of the top 10 in 2022 and 2023 after the economy rebounded and drivers reprioritized size and safety over affordability.

Vehicle weight and fuel economy

The bigger the vehicle, the more fuel it needs to power the engine. Each 100 pounds lost in vehicle weight is equal to a fuel economy increase of 1% to 2%.

  • Many American consumers gravitate toward larger vehicles, like pickups and SUVs. This preference reduces the average fuel economy of vehicles on the road.
  • Electric vehicles are currently the only passenger vehicles that do not produce any tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions, regardless of weight.

Average fuel economy by vehicle type (2021)

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2022.

Vehicle weight and safety

The consumer perception that heavier cars are safer cars is, to a degree, justified. Bigger vehicles, particularly those with long front-end crumple zones, protect occupants from the force of an impact. Over half of all crash fatalities are the result of frontal impact, making a long crumple zone a highly effective safety feature, albeit one that increases a vehicle’s weight.

For some vehicle types, a lower vehicle weight creates a statistically greater crash fatality risk. A weight reduction of 100 pounds among vehicles that weigh less than 3,106 pounds increases crash fatalities involving those vehicles by 1.6%.

But despite the relatively low weight of standard cars, annual crash fatalities among car occupants declined by over 33% from 2000 to 2021. This improvement may be attributable to technological advances like electronic stability control, blind spot detection and collision warning.

Annual crash fatalities among occupants of heavier SUVs, meanwhile, nearly doubled during that same time period. The association of large vehicles with safety may negatively influence SUV drivers’ behavior on the road: A 2017 study conducted in Austria found that SUV drivers are less likely to wear a seatbelt, more likely to manually engage with their phones and more likely to violate traffic lights than drivers of other vehicles.

Annual car accident fatalities by vehicle type in the U.S.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2021.

Impact on car insurance

Larger vehicles tend to be more expensive to replace, which leads to higher insurance premiums. But SUVs and pickups are also less likely to be totaled in an accident than sedans, which counterbalances their high cost of replacement for insurers. Meanwhile, certain types of smaller cars, like luxury vehicles, can be frequent targets for theft, which can also lead to higher premiums.

In 2023, mid-size pickup trucks had the lowest full coverage insurance premium of any vehicle body style, at an average of $1,679 annually. Medium-sized sedans were the most expensive type of vehicle to insure, at $1,922 for full coverage for the year.

Insurance cost by vehicle body style, 2023

Source: American Automobile Association, 2023.


What is a car SUV versus a truck SUV?

A two-wheel-drive SUV that has a GVW of less than 6,000 pounds is generally classified as a car. An SUV that has four-wheel drive or a GVW of more than 6,000 pounds is generally classified as a truck.

Which units of measurement are used for car weight?

Pounds and tons are generally used in the U.S. when measuring a car’s weight. In the U.S., 1 ton is equal to 2,000 pounds.

How can I find out my vehicle’s weight?

You can typically find your vehicle’s curb weight on a reputable site like Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds. You can also refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for weight specifications.


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