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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.
USA 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:
|Class||Interior combined passenger and cargo volume index in cubic feet (liters)|
|Minicompact car||< 85 (2407)|
|Subcompact car||85–99.9 (2407–2831)|
|Compact car||100–109.9 (2832–3114)|
|Midsize car||110–119.9 (3115–3397)|
|Large car||≥ 120 (3398)|
|Class||Interior volume index in cubic feet (liters)|
|Small station wagon||< 130 (3681)|
|Midsize station wagon||130–160 (3681–4531)|
|Large station wagon||≥ 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 pound (kg)|
|Small pickup truck||< 4500 (2041)|
|Standard pickup truck||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||Two-seater||Subcompact car||Compact car||Mid-size car||Full-size car|
|Interior size in litres (cubic feet)||undefined||under 2830 (99.9)||2830–3115 (99.9–110)||3115–3400 (110–120)||over 3400 (120)|
|Class||Station wagon||Pickup truck||Special purpose vehicle||Minivan||Large van|
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||light light-duty truck||light-duty truck||heavy light-duty truck||heavy-duty vehicle||medium-duty passenger vehicle|
|GVWR in kg (pounds)||2722 (6000) or under||3856 (8500) or under||over 2722–3856 (6000–8500)||over 3856 (8500)||same as heavy-duty vehicle|
|Curb weight in kg (pounds)||2722 (6000) or under||2722 (6000) or under||2722 (6000) or under||over 2722 (6000)||under 4536 (10000)|
|Frontal area in m² (square feet)||max 4.2 (45.2)||max 4.2 (45.2)||max 4.2 (45.2)||over 4.2 (45.2)||same as heavy-duty vehicle|
In case of light-duty trucks, all 3 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 / Vernacular||Defined by Law or Regulation||Examples|
|Market Segment (American English)||Market Segment (British English)||US EPA Type||US EPA Size Class||Euro NCAP Structural Category||Euro NCAP Class (1997 - 2009)||Euro Market Segment|
|Microcar||Microcar, Bubble car||Car||N/A||—||Quadricycle||A-segment mini cars||Bond Bug, Isetta, Mega City, REVAi/G-Wiz|
|Subcompact car||City car||Minicompact||Passenger car||Supermini||Ford Ka, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Smart Fortwo, Toyota Aygo, Fiat 500|
|Supermini||Subcompact||B-segment small cars||Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio, Opel Corsa, Peugeot 207, Volkswagen Polo|
|Compact car||Small family car||Compact||Small family car||C-segment medium cars||Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Mazda3, Toyota Corolla|
|Mid-size car||Large family car||Mid-size||Large family car||D-segment large cars||Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, IKCO Samand|
|Entry-level luxury car||Compact executive car||N/A||Acura TSX, Alfa Romeo 159, Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class|
|Full-size car||Executive car||Large||Executive||E-segment executive cars||Chevrolet Impala, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus, Hyundai Grandeur, Holden Commodore, Toyota Avalon|
|Mid-size luxury car||N/A||Cadillac CTS, Lexus GS, Lincoln MKZ, Volvo S80|
|Full-size luxury car||Luxury car||N/A||—||F-segment luxury cars||Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Porsche Panamera, Tesla Model S|
|Grand tourer||Grand tourer||N/A||—||S-segment sports coupés||Jensen Interceptor, Ferrari FF, Jaguar XK, Maserati GranTurismo|
|Supercar||Supercar||N/A||—||Bugatti Veyron, LaFerrari, Lamborghini Aventador, Pagani Zonda|
|Convertible||Convertible||N/A||—||BMW 6 Series, Chevrolet Camaro, Mercedes CLK, Volvo C70, Volkswagen Eos|
|Roadster||Roadster||Two-seater||Roadster sports||Audi TT, BMW Z4, Lotus Elise, Mazda MX-5, Porsche Boxster|
|—||Mini MPV||Truck||Minivan||MPV||Small MPV||M-segment multi purpose cars||Citroen C3 Picasso, Ford B-Max, Opel Meriva, Renault Modus, Renault Kangoo|
|MPV||Compact MPV||VW Touran, Ford C-Max, Renault Scenic, Opel Zafira, Chevrolet Orlando|
|Minivan||Large MPV||Large MPV||Chrysler Town and Country, Ford Galaxy, Peugeot 807, Renault Espace, SEAT Alhambra|
|Cargo van||Van||Cargo van||—||Ford Transit Connect, Chevrolet Express 1500 Cargo, Ford E350 Van|
|Passenger van||Minibus||Passenger van||—||Chevrolet Express 1500 Passenger, Ford E350 Wagon|
|Mini SUV||Mini 4x4||Small Sport Utility Vehicle||Off-roader||Small Off-Road 4x4||J-segment sport utility cars (including off-road vehicles)||Daihatsu Terios, Ford Ecosport, Jeep Wrangler, Mitsubishi Pajero iO, Suzuki Jimny|
|Compact SUV||Compact SUV||Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Jeep Liberty, Kia Sportage|
|Mid-size SUV||Large 4x4||Standard Sport Utility Vehicle||Large Off-Road 4x4||Ford Edge, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Volkswagen Touareg, Volvo XC90|
|Full-size SUV||Cadillac Escalade ESV, Chevrolet Suburban, Ford Explorer, Range Rover, Toyota Land Cruiser|
|Mini pickup truck||Pick-up||Small Pickup Truck||Pickup||Pick-up||—||Chevrolet Montana, Fiat Strada, Volkswagen Saveiro|
|Mid-size pickup truck||Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado, Mitsubishi Triton/L200, Nissan Navara|
|Full-size pickup truck||Standard Pickup Truck||Dodge Ram, Ford F-150, GMC Sierra, Nissan Titan, Toyota Tundra|
|Heavy Duty pickup truck||Chevrolet Silverado, Ram Heavy Duty, Ford Super Duty|
|Special purpose vehicle||—||Special purpose vehicle||—||—||—||Lincoln 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/Model type||Car model belonging to the segment|
|A1||Up to 3400mm||Tata Nano|
|A2||3401 to 4000mm||Suzuki Alto, Hyundai i10, Zen|
|A3||4001 to 4500mm||Tata Manza, Logan, Dzire, City|
|A4||4501 to 4700mm||Corolla, Octavia, Optra|
|A5||4701 to 5000mm||Accord, Camry, Sonata|
|A6||More than 5000 mm||Mercedes S class|
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. 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:
All vehicles with an engine displacement over 250cc are required to undergo an inspection (called "Shaken" in Japan). The tax charged for the size and engine displacement of the vehicle is paid when the inspection is successful. This is separate from the road tax paid yearly.