The average vehicle weighs around 4000 pounds – two tons. This takes into consideration most passenger vehicles available on the market and includes trucks and SUVs.
Cars, as they are more specifically defined, usually weigh less. The largest cars on the market usually exceed this average weight, but many of the most popular models fall well short of this weight.
The average car weighs closer to 3300 pounds. Many subcompact and compact cars fall below this weight while many midsize and full-size cars exceed this weight. Even then, it can be difficult to establish a hard average car weight because of several different factors.
Different Kinds of Weight
Just as there are two main ways to measure a vehicle’s length – total overall length and wheelbase – there are also several different ways a car’s weight can be measured.
Curb weight is defined by the weight of a car as it sits with everything that comes with the car included. This is the baseline measurement by most sources that shows how heavy a car is.
Despite being the most straightforward measurement of a car’s weight, it can also vary by trim level. Because curb weight includes the features equipped to the car, there will be a difference between a car with few standard features and a fully-loaded model, even if they are the same car.
A good example of this is the Dodge Charger. Already a large, full-size car, a base model Dodge Charger SXT, equipped with a V6 engine, has a curb weight of just under 4000 pounds.
The Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, equipped with one of the largest-displacement V8 engines on the market today, has a curb weight of over 4500 pounds. The difference in over 500 pounds is made up largely by the Hellcat’s larger engine, larger tires, and its supercharger, an extra component the base SXT does not have.
Smaller features differences can also contribute to more weight as well. Even though the Charger is a good example of different curb weights between trim levels, most base level cars weigh less than the same car equipped to a higher trim level.
Gross Vehicle Weight
Gross vehicle weight is a car’s curb weight plus anything extra like passengers and cargo. This measurement of weight is largely irrelevant as it relates to cars since it can vary so much depending on what or who a car is transporting that day.
Gross vehicle weight is much more important for those who drive commercial trucks and larger vehicles as bridges and roads can have weight limitations and they must keep track of what they are hauling for record-keeping purposes.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
Gross vehicle weight rating is the total amount of weight – including curb weight – your vehicle can safely transport. Again, with cars, this weight measurement is often not even considered since most people buy pickup trucks to haul cargo and vans to transport large numbers of people.
Gross vehicle weight rating is still important for any car owner to know since cars can still usually haul lesser amounts of people and cargo than other types of vehicles.
While a pickup truck may be able to transport 5000 pounds of extra items beyond its curb weight, a small car may only be able to transport 1000 pounds of extra passengers and cargo. Gross vehicle weight rating can be found on a small metal plate within the driver-side doorjamb of most cars.
What are the Factors that Affect Weight?
There are five main factors that affect how much a car weighs: size, technology and features, trim level, materials, and purpose.
The most obvious factor in weight is the overall size of the vehicle. Though it is not always the case, a large car will most likely be heavier than a small car.
Comparing a car like a Honda Fit to something like a Genesis G90 is an obvious way to show how a large car is typically heavier than a small car. The Honda Fit has a curb weight of around 2600 pounds and a wheelbase of under 100 inches compared to the G90’s curb weight of 4700 pounds and a 124.4-inch wheelbase.
Generally, curb weight rises incrementally based on the car segment in which a given car falls – Subcompact cars are usually lighter than compact cars, which are usually lighter than midsize cars, and so on.
Technology and Features
It may not be surprising that a fully-loaded car might weigh more than a similar one with almost no features, but it may be surprising as to how much the latest technology and equipped options incrementally add to the overall curb weight of a car.
Prime culprits include any type of electric motor, touchscreens and navigation systems, advanced safety systems and their components, and all-wheel-drive systems as opposed to front or rear-wheel-drive layouts. Cars with more of these features weigh more than cars without them.
The newest pieces of technology fitted to a car do not always correlate to the added weight in cars, but many of the things that have evolved from the advancement of technology can be linked to an overall increase in cars’ weight over the years.
A good example of this is the airbag. Airbags have been around for a while now, but as wonderful as they are in keeping occupants safe, airbag systems take up space that old cars without airbags did not sacrifice. Cars with side curtain airbags also have bulkier pillars to accommodate the space that these take up, thus adding more weight to a car.
Trim levels were created to cater to consumers who want a certain make and model of car but who also want various levels of features depending on their needs.
Base models of cars usually come with the least, most basic equipment options on any given car. As a result, base trim level cars are usually the lightest possible version of that car available.
Top trim level cars – those considered to be fully loaded – may have several or all the features discussed previously, each one contributing the car’s curb weight.
Cars can be made up of several different kinds of material depending on the part. Engines can be made of iron, steel, or aluminum.
Body panels can be made of steel, aluminum, plastic, carbon fiber, and even fiberglass.
Interiors can be made up of everything from plastic to leather depending on the piece.
All of these materials carry a different weight.
The purpose of a car can also affect its weight as it factors in many of the aforementioned items. Cars specifically designed to be economical may utilize lighter building materials to save weight and increase fuel-efficiency.
Many sports cars have increasingly utilized carbon fiber in their designs, because it is one of the strongest and lightest materials available, and for sports cars, increased weight means less handling ability.
Car Weights by Make, Model, and Type
When cars are classified into segments, they are done so by their overall interior capacity and cargo space. Neither length nor weight is taken into account, but there is a general pattern of both length and weight increase from one segment to the next.
The smallest segment of cars also contains some of the lightest cars on the market, including the Toyota Yaris at around 2300 pounds, Chevrolet Spark at around 2300 pounds, and the Mitsubishi Mirage at only around 2050 pounds.
The heaviest subcompact cars include the Kia Rio at just over 2700 pounds, Chevrolet Sonic at around 2900 pounds, and the Mini Cooper which can top out around 3000 pounds depending on its configuration.
The Honda Fit and Hyundai Accent fall right around the average weight for the class at about 2500 to 2600 pounds.
The compact car segment manages to spill into subcompact territory with both the Kia Forte and Hyundai Elantra coming in just under 2800 pounds when minimally equipped.
The majority of other compact cars like the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Subaru Impreza, and Volkswagen Jetta average about 2900 to 3000 pounds based on the selected trim level. The heaviest compact cars include the Mazda Mazda3 and Nissan Sentra, both of which weigh just over 3000 pounds.
The most popular car segment takes the next incremental weight step with the Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, and Hyundai Sonata, all weighing in at just over 3100 pounds when minimally equipped.
Many longstanding members of the segment, including the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Kia K5 – formerly the Kia Optima – and Volkswagen Passat fill the 3200 to 3300 range.
Most others in the segment like the Subaru Legacy, Mazda Mazda6, and Ford Fusion exceed 3400 pounds. The Ford Fusion wins the heavyweight battle, though as it can weigh more than 3800 pounds at its heaviest.
Full-size cars are the logical heavyweight winners. The lightest in the group, the Nissan Maxima, weighs around 3550 pounds with the Toyota Avalon being slightly heavier. The Chevrolet Impala wins the average weight award for the group and comes in between 3700 and 3800 pounds.
Both the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger weigh over 3900 pounds. The Charger can top out over 4500 pounds when properly equipped, but the Chrysler 300 has a higher starting weight of just over 4000 pounds.
The two main categories that fall under “other cars” include sports cars and luxury cars.
Even though most luxury cars fall under the midsize or full-size segment, they will often be among the heaviest in their respective classes because of the additional features they carry. The largest luxury cars exceed even the largest full-size cars in both size and weight. Cars like the BMW 7-Series, Audi A8, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class often weigh well over 4500 pounds.
Sports cars can cover multiple size segments and can be scattered when it comes to weight. The Mazda Miata, widely considered to be one of the best pure sports cars, is one of the smallest and lightest cars on the market at around 2400 pounds. The Nissan 370Z is a small sports car, but it weighs over 3200 pounds. Others like the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro can weigh well over 3500 pounds.
Why Does Weight Matter?
Weight is the enemy of two main things: fuel efficiency and handling.
Though technology has allowed for better-designed engines and better overall fuel efficiency despite the added weight of various features through the years, the more weight a car has to push around the more energy needs to be exerted to do so.
This leads to a general decline in fuel efficiency, and it is one reason many SUVs equipped with the same engines as similar cars within a manufacturer’s range return lower fuel economy estimates than the cars whose engines they use.
Likewise, any additional weight can have a drastic effect on a car’s agility. This is why many performance cars are designed to be as light as possible, with the most expensive supercars using high-tech materials to keep weight down. The less weight a car has to carry around a corner or over a bump, the quicker and more nimble it will feel and be.
Cars come in all kinds of different weights depending on their size, purpose and even trim level. Most subcompact and compact cars weigh less than or right at 3000 pounds while most midsize and full-size cars weigh between 3500 and 5000 pounds.
Some midsize cars weigh less than that bringing the general average weight of a car to around 3300 pounds. Even though there are several ways to measure the weight of a car, including curb weight, gross weight, and gross vehicle weight rating, most cars use curb weight to measure their weight more accurately.