There are many types of vehicles in the auto industry today and many ways to classify them. In fact, there are so many often-overlapping car classes, drivers often don’t know the difference between a hybrid and fuel sipper or a crossover and SUV.
To help, here’s a glossary of the more popular vehicle types.
- Compact – A small car, usually no more than 15 feet long. Cars that are much smaller than that are sometimes further classified as subcompacts.
- Coupe – Generally any car with only two doors, but some four-door cars are considered to be coupes if they have the same low-roof profile and/or lack a “B” pillar between the doors.
- Sedan – A four-door car with a trunk. Because so many cars fit this category, it’s often divided into subcategories, such as mid-size sedans and luxury sedans.
- Hatchback – Similar to a sedan, except the trunk is replaced by a cargo area that connects to the passenger compartment and is accessible via a rear-facing, top-hinged hatch door.
- Wagon – A long hatchback.
- Pickup truck – A light truck with an open cargo bed. May be compact, full-size or heavy-duty.
- Sport utility vehicle – A wagon-style pickup truck in which the bed is replaced by an enclosed cargo area and additional passenger seating.
- Crossover – An SUV that’s built on the frame of a sedan rather than that of a truck. Crossovers are therefore similar to hatchbacks but taller.
- Van – A large, box-shaped vehicle, often with sliding passenger doors and a hatch-style rear door. Vans have a taller interior than crossovers or SUVs.
- Hybrid – A car that has an internal-combustion engine and at least one battery-powered electric motor.
- Plug-in hybrid – A hybrid that can charge its batteries by plugging in to a power outlet.
- Fuel sipper – A car that gets better than 30 mpg combined fuel economy.
- Sports car – A coupe that’s primarily designed for speed and precise handling characteristics.
- Convertible – A sports coupe with a retractable roof.
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