Classification of Car Sizes by the EPA ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Classification of Car Sizes by the EPA

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Classification of Car Sizes by the EPA

A recent question posed by one of my readers in the post on how to choose a hybrid about the classification of the Prius led me to the following information. I thought it might be of interest to more of you, so I'm making it into its own post.

The EPA classifies cars and trucks based on either the interior space (measured in cubic feet) including the passenger and cargo area volume or the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (measured in pounds).

Which leads them to the following table of classifications.

CARS (based on interior passenger and cargo volume) TRUCKS (based on body style and load-bearing capacity)
Small Under 4,500 lbs.
MiniCompact Under 85 cu. ft.
Standard 4,500 to 8,500 lbs.
SubCompact 85 to 99 cu. ft. VANS Under 8,500 lbs.
Compact 100 to 109 cu. ft. Passenger
Midsize 110 to 119 cu. ft. Cargo
Large 120 or more cu. ft. MINIVANS Under 8,500 lbs.
Under 8,500 lbs.
Small Under 130 cu. ft. SPECIAL PURPOSE VEH.
Under 8,500 lbs.
Midsize 130 to 159 cu. ft. HEAVY-DUTY VEH.
Over 8,500 lbs.
Large 160 or more cu. ft.

Note that Vans, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) weighing more than 8,500 pounds gross vehicle weight are classified as heavy-duty vehicles.

The reader was asking specifically about the Prius. The EPA classifies the Toyota Prius as a midsize vehicle, but Edmunds classifies it as a compact. That's because there's no regulation on how reviewers classify cars. I was using the classification from Edmunds, which naturally led to some confusion. Forbes classifies cars as the EPA does on most cars, but sometimes bases its classification on the "measurement of the distance between the front and rear wheels (wheelbase) to define its size" because "there are some cars that are huge on the outside and small on the inside."

By the way, the Prius has internal volume of 96.2 cu. ft. with cargo volume of 14.4 cu. ft. putting it slightly over the edge into the midsize range based on the EPA rating.

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