Car Body Styles Guide: Different Types Of Cars

Learn about all the different car body styles and type of car models in this ultimate guide here. We've got all the different types of car models covered!

Everyone has their preferences regarding food, politics, and, of course, cars.

Different types of cars vary in size, passenger capacity, trunk space, looks, handling, power, fuel efficiency, and more.

Cars are usually classified by body style, but other types of classifications exist which depend on a variety of factors such as level of luxury, purpose, size, and more.

Many manufacturers use these styles very freely for the car model to sound better or “cooler.”

For instance, some car manufacturers refer to their models as “coupes,” even though they have four doors, while a coupe most commonly and traditionally only has two doors.

In this guide, we will go through various car body styles, what they offer, their differences, examples of different car models, and who they are for.

For example, what is the difference between an SUV and a crossover?

That’s exactly what this guide will cover and more. Let’s get started!

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As the name suggests, microcars belong to the smallest segment of cars.

These are perfect if you live in a city where parking can be tough to find, and the mobility of the car comes in handy.

Usually, their fuel economy is excellent, and the maintenance cost is as well. Due to their size, there is not much cargo space (if any), but it is a perfect daily transportation tool for an urban environment.

All the benefits are achieved due to its size and the size of the engine, which are usually very small.

Renault Twizzy and Smart Fortwo are examples of microcars. The latter may also be classified as a city car.

Microcars are not common in the United States, and most models are not even available in the U.S. market as the roads and cities are not as congested as some Asian or European cities.

You guessed it! A city car is a perfect choice to get around in the city on a daily basis.

These cars are small, compact, cheap, and easy to drive, similar to microcars. As previously stated, the line between a city car and a microcar can be indistinguishable.

They share many things with the microcar, with the difference usually being in size and cargo space. 

If you love the mobility and the ease of a microcar but can’t let go of the sound of a V8, all you have to do is ask some Aston Martin engineers to put a V8 in their Cygnet model.

This was already done for a customer; it was surely not cheap, and how they found space for a V8 is beyond our mind.

Other, more commonly available city cars include Chevrolet Spark and Mini Cooper.

Hatchbacks usually come in a 3-door or 5-door configuration. The uneven number of doors is due to the rear of the car, the “hatchback.”

It is called this as you can access the cabin through the rear, making it technically a third, or fifth door, depending on the model.

The cargo area is easily accessible as most of the rear opens, making it easy to put any things you may have.

Hatchbacks are usually somewhere in the middle when it comes to passenger and cargo compliance.

They are generally great to have as an all-around car in which you can have several passengers with just enough cargo space. Many city cars are hatchbacks, but there are also much bigger hatchbacks.

Examples include Volkswagen Golf and Nissan Leaf.

Perhaps the most controversial car body style is the coupe, also written as coupé and pronounced with or without an accent on the “e.”

The controversy does not end at how it is pronounced, but also what exactly a coupe is.

Generally, with some exceptions, a coupe is a car that has two doors with a sloping rear roofline.

They have a sporty look to them, and many car manufacturers push the limits of what a coupe is, as it sounds exotic.

Coupes are usually more fun to drive as they usually handle better, are more aerodynamic, and, therefore, more aesthetically pleasing.

The driver and the front passenger are the focus in a coupe, both in terms of interior space but also other factors such as bigger doors, and hence more practical for getting in and out of the car.

Of course, these characteristics may only be applied in a general sense, as there are exceptions.

Examples of coupes include Subaru BRZ and Chevrolet Camaro.

Convertible, roadster, cabriolet, spyder, drop top, many names that have one thing in common; the roof is detachable or can be hidden by different mechanisms.

The roof can be made either from textile material, called a soft top, or from metal or plastic, called a hard top.

Hardtops are generally heavier and use more complicated mechanisms but provide better sound insulation.

Soft tops, on the other hand, are tougher to maintain and clean as it consists of a different material than the rest of the car.

In the end, a convertible is to be driven without the roof, and the exact type does not matter to a great extent but can be a factor in buying a convertible.

There are different types of mechanisms; some are removed by the press of a button, while others must be removed manually.

The different terms of a convertible mentioned at the beginning have little to no significance today as the terms are used very freely by car manufacturers.

There are, however, some distinct convertibles, such as Targa tops and T-tops.

Examples of convertibles include BMW Z4 and Corvette C8.

A sports car may encompass almost all the previous car body styles.

The fundamental aspect of a sports car is its performance in terms of handling and power, but an emphasis is also put on the looks that contain aerodynamic parts such as a spoiler.

The top speed, acceleration, and other factors do not necessarily imply if the car is a sports car or not. Many classic sports cars have inferior performance to today’s “regular” cars.

Just like any other car body style, a sports car may be hard to define precisely, but in general, they are coupes with a sleek design, handles well, and has great performance.

It should be noted that sports cars that have even greater performance may be called supercars, exotic cars, and, in some instances, hypercar.

Examples of sports cars include the Porsche 911 and Mercedes-Benz AMG GT.

This was probably the type of car you were drawing as a kid. A four-door car with plenty of space and an enclosed trunk.

A sedan is a great choice if you are looking for an all-around car.

Due to its immense popularity, many varieties, sizes, and designs exist, and the same goes for the price range.

Because of the same reasons, there is not a strict definition of what a sedan is, but in most cases, it will have two rows of seats, a good amount of cargo space, and a three-box design.

Examples of sedans include Honda Accord and Nissan Altima.

While being very popular in Europe, the station wagon is not a big hit for the average American.

Station wagons are similar to sedans but differ in cargo volume. Simply put, a station wagon is a mix of a hatchback (due to the tailgate) and a sedan.

Most station wagons have a sedan counterpart, so you can choose your car based on functionality without sacrificing much.

The station wagon is great for those who want the pros of a sedan but require more space in the trunk.

Examples of station wagons include Subaru Outback and Audi A6 Allroad.

The sport utility vehicle, more commonly referred to as SUV, has experienced a great boom in recent years.

SUVs offer a greater ride height, are generally larger, and in that sense, can carry more baggage as well as passengers.

They are generally safer for their occupants but may be more dangerous for pedestrians in the case of an accident, compared with sedans, for example.

It is a great choice if you have a bigger family or you need a greater tower capability, as an SUV is based on a light truck chassis.

With the big and bulky design, SUVs are less fuel-efficient than other smaller car body styles and are more expensive than their sedan counterpart.

If you drive or plan to drive an SUV, you can improve fuel efficiency in many ways.

Examples of SUVs include Mercedes-Benz G-Class and GMC Yukon.

Many people may confuse a crossover for an SUV, which is not surprising as they do not differ much.

The difference lies in the frame of the car. A crossover is built on a unibody chassis, which is a traditional car chassis, while an SUV is built on a truck chassis.

What does that mean for you as a potential consumer?

There are a few aspects that come to mind in these two different chassis types.

A crossover will have more car-like behavior with better handling and fuel economy. On the other hand, an SUV is more rugged, with greater towing and off-road capability.

To learn more, read our guide about different types of chassis (frames) and the potential damage they can cause to your car.

Examples of crossovers include Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4.

The minivan is perfect for big families or groups of people traveling together.

It can carry many passengers, usually around six or seven.

Due to its large size, the seats can be folded, giving considerable cargo space when needed.

It will not handle as well as a sedan or park as easily as a city car, but it does its job extraordinarily well – carrying a great number of passengers with comfort and ease.

Examples of minivans include Chrysler Pacifica and Kia Sedona.

It is very hard to mistake a pickup truck for something else.

It offers a car body style for both passengers and cargo while also being capable of doing heavy-duty work.

Initially, pickup trucks were made and bought for their great utility potential, but today they are so much more than that.

Many pickups offer two rows of seats with a variable focus on the passengers depending on the car model in question.

Just as some pickups are more focused on passengers, others are more focused on the cargo bed and the utility it provides.

Whatever the focus, the pickup truck has many good uses and is a popular choice for many Americans.

How Many Different Cars Are There?

What Is A Rebuilt Title

As there is no precise definition of what each car model is, there is not a known number of car types.

Adding to that, many cars belong to several categories. For example, a sports car is usually also a coupe.

In other words, many cars belong to several different categories, with the most general ones listed in this article.

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Bajro Muric

Bajro is an ASE-certified master technician and car enthusiast with a love for writing and teaching. He writes about anything regarding cars, from common problems and fixes to racing.