What’s the Average Weight of a Car?

Vehicle weight matters. It not only affects fuel economy, but also safety — and by association, it could possibly affect your car insurance rates.

Jess Ullrich
Written byJess Ullrich
Jess Ullrich
Jess UllrichInsurance Writer
  • 10+ years writing insurance and personal finance topics

  • Former associate finance editor for Investopedia

Jess is a subject matter expert in insurance, banking, and other personal finance topics. Her byline has appeared in numerous top web media, including Investopedia.

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Courtney Mikulski
Courtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
  • 3+ years producing insurance and personal finance content

  • Main architect of the Insurify Quality Score

Courtney’s deep personal finance knowledge extends beyond insurance to credit cards, consumer lending, and banking. She thrives on creating actionable content.

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Updated April 18, 2024

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The average weight of a 2022 model-year vehicle in the U.S. is 4,329 pounds, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).[1] Your car’s weight will vary based on your vehicle type, but weight can affect its fuel economy and passenger safety.

Since vehicle safety factors into the cost of your insurance premiums, it’s important to consider a vehicle’s weight while shopping for a new auto insurance policy or car. Here’s what to know about vehicle weights, how to determine what your car weighs, and why it matters.

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*Quotes generated for Insurify users within the last 10 days. Last updated on April 18, 2024

Rates shown are real-time Insurify user quotes from 100+ insurance companies and Quadrant Information Services data. Insurify’s algorithm excludes anomalous quotes and anonymizes personal details, then displays refined quotes by price, date, and insurer popularity up to 10 days ago from April 18, 2024. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer’s unique driver profile.

How much does the average car weigh?

While 2022 cars weigh 4,329 on average, vehicle body style significantly affects vehicle weight. For example, a large SUV typically weighs more than a small car.

Here’s a look at how vehicle type affects weight:

Body StyleApproximate Curb Weight in Pounds
Subcompact car
(Example: Nissan Versa)
2,600

Small car

(Example: Hyundai Elantra)

2,800

Full-size car

(Example: Nissan Maxima)

3,700

Subcompact SUV

(Example: Honda HR-V)

3,250
Small SUV
(Example: Hyundai Tucson)
3,500

Midsize SUV

(Example: Kia Telluride)

4,300

Large SUV

(Example: Chevrolet Suburban)

5,700

Types of vehicle weight

Vehicle weight is defined in multiple ways. As you compare new cars online, you might see “curb weight” and “gross vehicle weight” in a car’s specs. Or you might see your vehicle’s payload weight in its owner’s manual.

Here are common measures of vehicle weight and what they mean:

  • Gross vehicle weight: This is the maximum combined weight of your vehicle, its passengers, and cargo. Generally, you can find your vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating on a sticker inside your driver-side door jamb.[2]

  • Curb weight: This is your vehicle’s weight with a full tank of gas and standard equipment but without any passengers or cargo.[3]

  • Gross combined weight: This is the maximum combined weight of a vehicle, its passengers, a trailer, and cargo.[4]

  • Gross axle weight: This is the maximum weight a vehicle’s axle can hold.[5]

  • Payload weight: This is the maximum weight of passengers and cargo your vehicle can support. Exceeding your vehicle’s payload could damage your car and cause expensive repair costs.[6]

Learn More: What is Comprehensive Insurance?

Why vehicle weight matters

While your vehicle’s weight may seem like a fun fact, in reality, it’s important information that affects your car’s fuel economy and safety. Here’s why your vehicle’s weight matters.

Vehicle weight and fuel economy

Several factors influence your vehicle’s overall fuel economy, and weight is one of them. In general, heavier vehicles tend to have lower fuel economy than lighter vehicles.[7] This means you’re likely to pay more at the pump if you drive a large SUV versus a small sedan. But your car’s fuel economy will also depend on its age, how well you maintain it, and more.

Vehicle weight and safety

Vehicle weight and size also play a role in vehicle safety. For example, larger vehicles tend to fare better in multi-vehicle crashes than smaller cars, even if the small vehicles have overall high Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) ratings.[8] The larger vehicle’s frame could offer more protection to passengers, as there’s more of it to crumple in a crash. 

Heaviest and lightest vehicles

The lightest vehicles on the market today fall into the “sedan/wagon” category, with an average weight of around 3,500 pounds, according to EPA data.[1] Examples of lightweight vehicles include the Nissan Maxima, Toyota Camry, and Honda Civic.

By contrast, pickup trucks tend to be the heaviest vehicles, weighing in at approximately 5,250 pounds on average. Some popular pickups include the Ford F150, Dodge Ram, and Toyota Tundra.

Keep in Mind

These figures simply serve as a guide. As you compare vehicles, you may find that subcompact sedans are significantly lighter than 3,500 pounds, while large SUVs are heavier than 5,250 pounds.

Pros and cons of lighter vehicles

Pros
  • May be less expensive than larger cars or SUVs

  • Higher fuel economy

  • Easier to maneuver

Cons
  • May not fare as well in a crash

  • Less interior room and cargo space

  • May have lower-power engines

Pros and cons of heavier vehicles

Pros
  • May be safer than lighter vehicles in a crash

  • More space for passengers and cargo

  • Can have higher-power engines

Cons
  • Tend to be more expensive than lighter vehicles

  • Lower fuel economy

  • May be harder to park and drive

Check Out: Parked Car Insurance: What You Should Know

How to find your vehicle’s weight

If you don’t already know your vehicle’s weight, you have multiple ways to find it, including: 

  • Driver-side door label: You can generally find your gross vehicle weight rating on a label inside your driver-side door jamb.

  • Owner’s manual: Your vehicle owner’s manual may also provide your vehicle’s total payload.

  • Manufacturer: Your vehicle manufacturer should provide your car’s gross vehicle weight rating, curb weight, gross combined weight, gross axle weight, and payload.

  • Car scale: You may be able to find a car or truck scale at a truckstop or weigh station.

  • VIN decoder: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) lets you look up your VIN number to access information about your vehicle’s manufacturer and specs.

  • Online search: A quick online search for your vehicle’s specs will also offer some insight into its curb weight, gross vehicle weight rating, and more.

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Vehicle weight FAQs

If you’re still wondering about vehicle weight, here are some common questions and answers about this topic. 

  • What is payload in vehicle weight?

    In vehicle weight, payload is the total weight of passengers and cargo that your car can support safely. Your vehicle’s payload is usually listed in its owner’s manual. 

  • Are heavier cars safer?

    Heavier, larger cars may be safer in multi-vehicle crashes than smaller cars, according to IIHS data.[8] The larger the vehicle, the larger the available frame to be crushed by impact, thus helping to protect its passengers. 

  • Are lighter cars more fuel efficient?

    Lighter cars tend to be more fuel efficient than heavier cars. Cargo weight can also affect overall fuel economy. Adding 100 pounds of cargo to your car can reduce its fuel economy by 1%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.[9]

  • How much do SUVs weigh?

    The weight of your SUV will depend on the make and model you choose. Certain subcompact SUVs, like Honda HR-Vs, may weigh around 3,250 pounds, while a larger SUV, like a Chevy Suburban, could weigh as much as 5,700 pounds or more.

  • How much does a single-passenger car weigh?

    Two-seater cars are usually sports cars, and they can vary in weight considerably. The Mazda Miata, for instance, has a curb weight of 2,341 pounds, while the Audi R8 weighs 3,571 pounds.

    By contrast, the average weight of a subcompact car is around 2,600 pounds, though overall weight will vary by vehicle make and model. For example, the Nissan Versa and Kia Rio are both considered subcompact cars, but the Kia Rio weighs slightly more than the base model Versa.

  • What’s the ideal weight for a car?

    The ideal weight for a car is subjective and will depend on your personal preferences for your vehicle. For instance, some people may prefer a lighter car with higher fuel economy for a long daily commute.

    Others may appreciate the generous cargo space and passenger seating of a larger vehicle. Average vehicle weight is around 4,329 pounds, based on a recent EPA report, but the ideal weight depends on your individual needs.[1]

Sources

  1. Environmental Protection Agency. "The 2022 EPA Automotive Trends Report."
  2. Ford. "How Do I Find the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)?."
  3. Ford. "What is the curb weight of my vehicle?."
  4. Ford. "Load Carrying - What Is the Gross Combined Weight Rating."
  5. Ford. "Load Carrying - What Is the Gross Axle Weight Rating."
  6. Ford. "What is the payload capacity of my Ford?."
  7. Environmental Protection Agency. "Highlights of the Automotive Trends Report."
  8. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "Vehicle size and weight."
  9. U.S. Department of Energy. "Gas Mileage Tips."
Jess Ullrich
Jess UllrichInsurance Writer

Jess is a personal finance writer who's been creating financial and business content for over a decade. Her work is published on Investopedia, MoneyWise, NextAdvisor, The HuffPost, and more. Prior to freelancing full-time, Jess was an editor at Investopedia, The Balance, and FinanceBuzz. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Courtney Mikulski
Edited byCourtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
Courtney Mikulski
Courtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
  • 3+ years producing insurance and personal finance content

  • Main architect of the Insurify Quality Score

Courtney’s deep personal finance knowledge extends beyond insurance to credit cards, consumer lending, and banking. She thrives on creating actionable content.

Featured in

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