What’s the difference between MD and HD trucks?

2019 Chevy Silverado HD pulls a very large trailer up a curving highway.

With pickup trucks being such a popular vehicle these days, the variations thereof have expanded to include ones optimized for seemingly every imaginable job. For those that need beastlier pickups for big jobs, medium duty and heavy-duty trucks have become the go-to option.

But the nomenclature used can get confusing. One would assume heavy duty trucks to be ideal for the biggest, “heaviest” jobs, with medium slotting in-between their heavy and light-weight counterparts. But this is not always the case.

What is actually the difference between medium- and heavy-duty trucks?

Medium Duty Vs. Heavy Duty Pickups

Medium duty trucks are actually often heavier than a typical “heavy duty” pickup truck. This is because heavy-duty is often used to refer to ¾ and 1-ton pick-ups like the 2020 Chevy Silverado 2500 and 3500. However, on an official truck “duty” rating scale, these trucks both fall under “Light Duty.”

A Medium Duty Chevrolet truck, often mistakenly classed as an HD, a 2019 Chevy Silverado 6500, parked at a worksite.How is truck “duty” determined?

Commercial trucks are classified using a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) scale. GVWR is the maximum rated weight of a vehicle and its cargo, including passengers. Based on their GVWR, trucks are sorted on a scale of one through eight.

On the GVWR scale, Light Duty trucks are those classed at 1 through 3. A Chevy Silverado 3500 is a class three truck, so it falls under Light Duty. Still, this truck is often called a Chevy Silverado HD, or a heavy-duty pickup. Such is where the confusion comes in.

Trucks with a GVWR rating of 14,001 to 26,000 pounds are classed as 4 through 6, and thus fall under Medium Duty. The Chevy Silverado MD trucks that we offer here at Carl Black Orlando are truly Medium Duty on the commercial truck scale. Thus, the members of our MD Chevy truck inventory are heavier than those in our HD Chevy truck inventory. Far-out, right?

Finally, actual Heavy Duty trucks are those that fall under class 7 and 8 on the GVWR scale. This means that their weight falls in the range of 26,001 to 33,000 and beyond. A Class B license is required, at minimum, to drive a class 7 and 8 vehicle.