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Difference between car and light truck?

what determines the difference between a car, SUV, and light truck? why is my HHR a truck with higher license and insurance costs? My chevy dealer says it has to do with the EPA and GM regarding mileage mix of all models and other factors.

Nothing rational here. The PT Cruiser is one, too, the manufacturers make the most of the CAFE regs to maximize the mpgs.

what are the CAFE regs?

CAFE = Corporate Average Fuel Economy, there are different requirements for light truck vs car.

The only reason it’s a light truck is because Chevy wants to maximize its fuel economy average for its trucks.

Not! A lot of it has to do with emissions levels. “Trucks” have MUCH lower standards. If you are building a high-production low fuel mileage vehicle, and you can cook the books so it sells as a truck, you can build the vehicle at lower cost by complying with truck regs instead of passenger car regs…

The EPA calls it a SUV. Did you license it as a truck or a car? I’d prefer to license it as a car because the mileage is good enough to avoid the gas guzzler tax (all trucks avoid the guzzler tax). As for insurance, I imagine that the cost is based on HHRs and not on a class of vehicle. Look at the cost of the Chevy Cobalt for comparison. The HHR is built on the Cobalt platform. The HHR is basically a Cobalt wagon.

As far as licensing is concerned, the state it is registered in controls how it may be registered. Every HHR I have rented (Arizona, Virginia, other southern states) all were registered as passenger cars. In Missouri, the DMV will ask you what the primary use of the vehicle is, and that determines how it is registered (primary passenger carrying = passenger car registration; primary cargo carrier = truck registration).

Depending on your state, you may be able to change the class of license at renewal time, by asking the DMV clerk and clearly defining the primary use of the vehicle.

thanks all. i’m in Texas. The dealer registered it.

The state I live in now doesn’t distinguish between trucks and cars, but back when I lived in Washington State, it was similar to what jayhawkroy describes, where you register the car based on its primary use. I believe it cost more to register a truck, but on the other hand you needed the truck plates to park in loading zones. I had a buddy who did some deliveries for work and had “truck” plates on his tiny Honda CRX.

One other thought is that the HHR is avaliable in the “panel van” version which doesn’t have any back windows or seats. I wonder if they’re accidentally putting it in the computer as one of those.

I thot a light truck had a bed on the back of it!!! Not anymore hu?

There are federal Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) regulations defining exactly what differentiates the variaous vehicle classes for compliance with fed regulations. States also have specific designating characteristics for purposes of registration, licensing, taxation, etc. They may or may not be similar to the fed requirements. Insurance companies are free to establish their own categories which may or may not be based upon fed or state definitins…and may even vary from state to state for the same company, depending on state regulation variations.

And then there’s my personal definitions. Anything without a full frame and a rear differetial is not a truck. Anything that you have to step up into is not a car. An SUV is anything higher and less atable than a car, and generally looks much more useful for utility than it actually is. A minivan is any vehicle designed to seat seven or more. If the driver’s eyes are above my roof and it isn’t a truck, it’s an SUV or minivan.

I have a 2007 HHR LT and here in New Jersey it counts as a car, specifically a wagon. I’m not sure what determined it to be that way, all I had to provide was my VIN. It must be state-to-state like others are saying. I’d check with your insurance company to at least see about lowering your rates.