Machine learning for classification has been used widely in engineering design, for example, feasible domain recognition and hidden pattern discovery. Training an accurate machine learning model requires a large dataset; however, high computational or experimental costs are major issues in obtaining a large dataset for real-world problems. One possible solution is to generate a large pseudo dataset with surrogate models, which is established with a smaller set of real training data. However, it is not well understood whether the pseudo dataset can benefit the classification model by providing more information or deteriorates the machine learning performance due to the prediction errors and uncertainties introduced by the surrogate model. This paper presents a preliminary investigation towards this research question. A classification-and-regressiontree model is employed to recognize the design subspaces to support design decision-making. It is implemented on the geometric design of a vehicle energy-absorbing structure based on finite element simulations. Based on a small set of real-world data obtained by simulations, a surrogate model based on Gaussian process regression is employed to generate pseudo datasets for training. The results showed that the tree-based method could help recognize feasible design domains efficiently. Furthermore, the additional information provided by the surrogate model enhances the accuracy of classification. One important conclusion is that the accuracy of the surrogate model determines the quality of the pseudo dataset and hence, the improvements in the machine learning model.