After more than a century since cars became mainstream, manufacturers have invented several body styles according to customer preferences, each catering to a specific lifestyle, making the choice easier if you know what you’re looking for. Even after all these years, the car market is still evolving with updated Honda Ridgeline and Hyundai Santa Cruz; blurring the line between a crossover and pickup truck. So, here are several factors to consider before you choose a car type.
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Passenger and cargo capacity
First and foremost, the biggest factor to consider is passenger capacity. Depending on how large your family is, there are plenty of choices on the market. Cargo capacity is also equally important if you do longer trips or if your work involves transporting larger items. For starters, singles can easily opt for two-seater coupes models that offer decent cargo capacity or even convertibles. At the other end of the spectrum, large families can opt for three-row SUVs or minivans to transport everyone and their luggage comfortably.
Where the car is being used
Since modern cars come in all shapes and sizes, the location you plan on driving in should also be considered. For urban conditions, smaller options like a hatchback will be ideal, offering good passenger space and practicality.
From cheap hatchbacks to expensive two-door sports cars, the modern car market offers a wide variety of choices depending on budget. So, setting a tight budget first before starting the search for your next car will help you narrow down your search and find the right option. On a similar budget, you can easily find a hatchback, sedan, or even an SUV depending on options and features.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the common car types available, sorting them by size and practicality.
A hatchback is one of the smallest body styles available on the market and as the name suggests, offers a hatch opening for the trunk. Hatchbacks are available with three or five-door configurations including the trunk. Compared to other body styles, a hatchback offers the maximum practicality in the smallest footprint. This makes them ideal for small families or singles. Hatchbacks are also very affordable, using smaller capacity engines for improved efficiency and lower running costs. However, if you prefer more performance, several manufacturers sell hot hatchbacks that come with bigger engines and improved dynamics to make them a lot more fun to drive; especially when you consider the lighter chassis of smaller options. Some hatchbacks can also offer all-wheel-drive and various other options if you’re willing to pay for them.
For several decades now, sedans have become the benchmark car body style, employing a basic three-box design for the engine, passengers, and cargo. Because of their sleek stance, sedans are also aesthetically impressive compared to other body styles. In terms of practicality and space, most sedans manage to carve out a bit more than the comparable hatchback, offering more rear seat and cargo capacity at the expense of a larger footprint. Unlike hatchbacks, the cargo compartment is disconnected from the passengers, although some models offer a hatch opening for easier access. Sedans can also be used in urban conditions since they’re still not as large as some other body styles on this list. Like hatchbacks, several high-performance sedans are also available in the market with all the latest features and bigger engines plonked in. Almost all the luxury and executive offerings also employ the sedan body style for improved dynamics and comfort, making sedans one of the most desirable body styles on the market.
Compared to a sedan and a hatchback, a coupe slots in the middle in terms of dimensions and prioritizes design and aesthetics above all else. Because of its two-door design, a coupe is less practical than a sedan and usually gets a back row of seats that are not spacious enough for adults in most cases. Like sedans, the cargo compartment is disconnected from the passengers because of the three-box design. Coupes are usually associated with high-performance offerings and muscle cars thanks to their low stance and sleek design.
As its name suggests, convertibles get a retractable roof that can be stowed away in the trunk. Almost all modern models get power-folding roofs for convenience. Convertible models are almost exclusively available with two-door designs, closely resembling a standard coupe. However, for all that open-top motoring, convertibles are heavier than a comparable coupe because of the heavy roof folding mechanism and extra floor-board reinforcement. Like coupes, convertibles are not suitable for families and are usually reserved for high-performance and expensive offerings.
A station wagon combines the practicality of an SUV with a sedan, offering improved trunk space with its roof extending all the way back for a hatch opening at the rear. Passenger seating is similar to a standard sedan and is fit for regular families. With station wagons, the passenger and trunk compartments are connected, allowing you to fold the rear seats for even more practicality. Station wagons are an excellent choice if you don’t want a lot of the disadvantages of a typical SUV like muted dynamics and lower efficiency. Like sedans, station wagons are also very engaging to drive and come in high-performance versions.
Before SUVs took over the market, a minivan was the default choice for larger families, offering three rows of spacious seating and sliding rear doors for easier access. As its name suggests, a minivan gets a boxy design, resembling a van at the rear. This gives it a significant amount of trunk space, especially with the seats folded. Minivans also sit higher than hatchbacks and sedans, giving you a commanding view of the road. However, the larger footprint does make it harder in city conditions.
Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs)
Before the sudden market jump for SUVs, they were originally designed for off-road use, aimed at consumers looking for an adventurous lifestyle with four-wheel drive, advanced terrain management, and a practical interior. Because of its appeal, the market has moved on from typical minivans to SUVs for family usage. Since most SUVs get a three-row design, they are almost as practical as minivans, adding to their popularity. Crossovers or crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) also fit in this category because most of them share the design and practicality with an SUV. But, CUVs get a monocoque chassis design that isn’t as capable as a typical body-on-frame SUV when you consider off-road performance. Since most customers use their crossovers on the roads, it’s not a huge concern in most cases.
Unlike the other options on this list, pickup trucks are made to be workhorses; built from the ground up for hauling and towing large loads. Depending on your usage, pickup trucks come with a standard cab, double cab, or crew cab option with varying passenger capacity. Pickup trucks can also double up as family haulers in the crew cab body style, making them a versatile choice. Unlike SUVs and CUVs, almost all pickup trucks get a body-on-frame design to handle all the extra stress and punishment. However, some modern pickup trucks like the Honda Ridgeline and Hyundai Santa Cruz employ a monocoque chassis, blurring the line between an SUV and pickup truck. Overall, if you want a capable option that can tow and haul heavy loads, a pickup truck should be the default choice.