How are pickup trucks classified?
The U.S. government classifies trucks based on the combined weight of the vehicle and its maximum payload–also called the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). The heavy-duty category is reserved for dump trucks and tractor trailers. Therefore most pickup trucks you can buy belong in the light or medium duty categories–regardless of how automakers advertise them.
A light pickup with a high payload capacity would be in a higher truck category, alongside a heavy truck with a low payload capacity. In addition, a truck’s towing capacity does not affect its classification.
Most trucks advertised as compact and midsize fall into the light-duty Class 1 with a GVWR between 0 and 6,000 pounds. Most pickup trucks advertised as full-size, light duty (often called half-ton trucks) fall into light duty Class 2a. This class includes vehicles with a GVWR between 6,001 pounds and 8,500 pounds.
Which trucks fit into the half-ton class?
Half-ton is actually an advertising term that likely first imitated military parlance to sell trucks to veterans after WWII. But the trucks commonly referred to as half-ton (full-size, light duty pickups such as the F-150 and 1500 series) all fit into the government’s light duty Class 2a.
The light duty truck Class 2a includes every pickup with a GVWR above 6,000 pounds and below 8,501 pounds. All the automakers’ “heavy-duty” pickup trucks, such as the Ford Super Duty or GM and Ram’s 2500 series, have a GVWR above 8,500 pounds.
The trucks in Class 2a include the Chevrolet Silverado 1500/GMC Sierra 1500, Ford’s F-150, the Ram 1500, the Toyota Tundra, and the Nissan Titan. But there is one very surprising truck in this category: with a GVWR of 6,019 pounds, the Honda Ridgeline is technically a member of Class 2a, alongside all the half-ton pickup trucks–according to Edmunds.
Is the Honda Ridgeline AWD a half-ton pickup truck?
Because “half-ton truck” is slang or an advertising term, the Honda Ridgeline is not really a half-ton truck: Honda doesn’t advertise it as such, and few drivers refer to it this way. That said, the AWD configuration of the Ridgeline has a high enough GVWR to put it in the same class as the half-ton pickup trucks.
Even though the AWD Ridgeline’s GVWR bumps it into Class 2a by 19 pounds, it is still a far cry from half-ton pickup trucks. Depending on how it is configured, the F-150’s maximum GVWR is 7,150 pounds. The GMC Sierra 1500’s top end is 7,200. The Tundra’s GVWR goes up to 7,375. The Ram 1500’s tops out at 7,800.
These half-ton trucks feature sturdy body-on-frame construction. This makes them heavier than unibody compact trucks–such as the Ridgeline–but also affords them higher payload capacities. The Ridgeline is an excellent tool for certain jobs. But drivers are not even considering the Ridgeline for most half-ton truck tasks.
Next, find out how a Ford Maverick can out-haul an F-150 or watch the Honda Ridgeline tested off road in the video below: