10 Popular Types of Car Body Styles
My friends often ask me about the difference between a sedan and a coupe, a hatchback and a wagon, and so on. It's such a common question that I decided to write an article on this topic. If you own a car or are planning on purchasing one, or if you simply have a passion for cars, you'll want to know about the different car types aside from makes and models. Read on to find out about the most popular body styles.
10 Common Car Body Styles
- Convertible (Cabriolet) and Semi-Convertible (Cabrio Coach)
- Crossover (CUV)
- Landaulet (Landaulette)
- Limousine (Limo)
- Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV)
- Wagon (Station Wagon)
1. Convertible (Cabriolet)
Convertibles, also known as cabriolets, can be converted from an enclosed car to an open-air vehicle. Earlier versions of convertibles were fitted with manually detachable roofs, but modern convertibles are fitted with fully automatic hydraulic or electrical actuators. These modern roofs automatically fold away into the trunk of the car. Soft roofs are usually made of soft textile, vinyl or canvas, whereas hard roofs are made of steel, plastic, carbon fibre or some other tough plastic.
You can have a great driving experience with modern convertibles. The Ferrari California, Volvo C70 and BMW M3 are some of the best-known convertibles in the world.
Semi-Convertible (Cabrio Coach)
A semi-convertible is also known as a 'cabrio coach'. These are basically small cars with large, retractable sunroofs which are made up of high-quality textiles. Cabrio coaches were very popular in Germany in the 1930s. These cars are a little less expensive than full convertibles due to their single body frames.
A few earlier versions of this class were the Mercedes-Benz Panton, Fiat 500 and Nash Rambler. Popular modern cabrios include the BMW 318ti, Volkswagen Polo, Suzuki Vitara, Nissan Figaro and Jeep Liberty.
Coupe-style cars have 2 long doors and either 2 or 4 seats. The front part of the vehicle looks longer, and it has a compact rear area. Coupes are mainly the 2-door variant of sedans and are often fitted with high-performing engines for use in car sports. Often, the body will be enclosed with a hard roof, but a few convertible coupes have also been introduced to the market. The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren is one of the best examples of a convertible coupe.
3. Crossover (CUV)
Crossover utility vehicles combine the features of hatchbacks and station wagons with those of SUVs. In recent years, crossovers have been trending in popularity. They have some features inherited from SUVs, like high point seating, high ground clearance, 4-wheel drive (optional) and a tall interior. On the other hand, they also have some characteristics of hatchbacks or wagons, like great handling, good fuel efficiency, a passenger vehicle's platform and 2-box design.
If you have to go for a long drive with friends as well as cargo, then crossover-style cars are the best option for you. The Fiat Palio, Ford EcoSport and Audi Q are some of the best-known crossovers available on the market.
As the name suggests, hatchback cars come with a back-door entry as a third or fifth door, which is shared by both cargo and passengers. Hatchback cars mainly include 2-box designs with 3 pillars, but in some cases, they may have a fourth pillar at the rear.
The Ford Fiesta is a good example of a modern hatchback car. It is very similar to a station wagon, but it is differentiated by its pillar structure and its curved back with very small windows.
5. Landaulet (Landaulette)
Landaulet cars are mainly used for professional purposes. They come with a convertible rear passenger section, and either an open or covered front section. These cars look like luxurious sedans while enclosed, but they are longer than sedans.
The Maybach 62S Landaulet is my favourite model in this category—you must see this masterpiece of a car!
Limousines, or 'limos', are very luxurious sedans with long, enclosed bodies. Previously, this term was used for cars with an enclosed passenger area and an open-topped driver’s seat, where the front of the roof elongated to provide shade for the driver. But things have changed a lot since then; now limos are fully covered from the outside, and they have highly luxurious compartments inside. Still, the compartment for the driver remains separate.
The Rolls Royce Phantom, Audi Q7 Limousine and Mercedes limos look great from inside as well as outside.
The term 'roadster' was previously used to refer to a 2-seat open car with very low weather protection, meaning they had no roof or, occasionally, a convertible roof. But these days, roadsters are 2-seat convertible sports cars. So you could say that roadsters are a variant of Spyder cars, with their emphasis on sporty handling and appearance.
8. Sedan (Saloon)
Sedans are comfortable and lovable cars, and they are also the most common body style. These are commonly 4-door cars with 4+ seats. They are fully covered with a fixed rooftop and have full height all the way to the rear windows. Sedans are also known as 'saloons' in British English.
Sedans have various classes and variants; they mostly have a 3-box enclosed design, which simply refers to the 3 separate compartments containing the engine, the passengers and the cargo. The centre compartment contains two rows for passengers with adequate space for comfortable sitting.
9. SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle)
Sport utility vehicles are large cars that are fitted on a small, truck-like chassis. SUVs are especially designed for off-road drives and are commonly fitted with 4 doors. These cars have high ground clearance, comparatively large tyres, extreme power, high load-carrying ability and plenty of room for seating. Some SUVs come with 4-wheel drive, whereas some with only 2-wheel drive.
SUVs have many variants and types depending on their various uses. A few SUVs are fitted with luxurious interiors, which makes them very attractive and comfortable. The Range Rover Evoque, Nissan Murano and Toyota Fortuner are the best examples of modern SUVs.
10. Wagon (Station Wagon)
Wagons are a variant of sedan-style cars and are quite similar to hatchbacks. The main difference is that they have an extra gate available on the rear side. This gate can either be a liftgate or a tailgate. The roof is extended a little towards the back, and it's shared by passengers, cargo or both. Wagons are mainly 2-box cars, with 3 or 4 pillars.
So what makes wagons different from hatchbacks?
- Wagons have roofs which extend to the rear end of the car at its full height and large windows on the rear cargo side.
- Hatchbacks have curved roofs at the rear end and no windows, or very small ones, on the cargo side.
While wagons and hatchbacks are both 2-box designs, wagons have a 4th pillar toward the rear. Hatchbacks have only 3 pillars, like sedans and coupes. Take a look at a wagon like the Volkswagen Passat and compare it with a hatchback to see the difference clearly.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article about the 10 most popular types of cars. You can give your feedback in the comment section below. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! I hope you have a great time driving your favourite type of car.