Coupe to Crossover, Which Body Type Is Best For You?

The Pros and Cons Explained For Car Buyers

You see yourself in a sports car but family needs come first. Mom wants a minivan, Dad prefers a station wagon, and the kids think an SUV's cool. Now you're hearing about a new type of vehicle called a "crossover," whatever that means. To help you through this confusion and aid you in making a choice, we've compiled a brief description of the most popular vehicle types.

Sedan

The 4-door sedan's three-box configuration continues to appeal to folks who are more comfortable with familiar forms.

This is especially true in the executive class where longer overall car lengths benefit from the sedan's balanced look. It also appeals to car owners who prefer to have the cargo area completely sealed and out of view in a separate compartment. Smaller cars are less practical as sedans and benefit from hatchback or wagon configurations.

Station Wagon

Long a favorite of drivers who needed more cargo capacity, the wagon has declined in popularity, due to the versatility of minivans and SUVs. Nevertheless, it's a good choice for buyers who prefer sedan-like handling and accommodation. With the rear seat folded flat, the station wagon can handle everything from a sheet of plywood to an antique hutch. With the seat up, it performs like a sedan. The wagon has been making a comeback lately, especially in European models.

Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV)

More utilitarian than sport, the SUV's popularity is due to a number of factors including a "command" seating position, spacious cargo capacity, and the availability of four-wheel-drive.

Highly recommended for those who must drive through snow, mud and sand and, of course, for participants in the off-roading hobby. Some SUVs tend to be gas-guzzlers and have a reputation for rolling over in accident situations.

Hatchback

Arguably the most sensible passenger car yet devised. A sedan with a lifting rear door where the trunk would be, it allows for the carrying of large items when the back seat is not in use.

The smaller the car, the more you need one because of the hatch's ability to look, drive, and feel like a sedan while carrying all sorts of odd-shaped cargo. With lifestyles demanding more versatility, the hatchback concept is enjoying a rise in popularity.

Minivan

It's been said the minivan is the station wagon for today's families; at least large ones. A minivan can transport up to eight passengers in three-row seating and still leave room for cargo. Rear seats that fold flat into the floor create an immense amount of room. Parents like the walk-through space between the front seats. Kids like the way video screens provide on-the-go entertainment. Minivans drive more like a car than an SUV does, and the only people who refuse to be seen in one are image-conscious young men.

Coupe

If you subscribe to the "door for every seat" theory a coupe is not for you. Basically, a coupe is nothing more than a 2-door sedan but its appeal lies in the sporty look. That image will cost you more, though coupes actually cost less to manufacture. Getting in and out of the rear seat is a pain. In spite of all these negatives, coupes remain popular because there's more to driving than just transportation and a coupe says something about its owner.

Four-door coupes are the hot new thing, but are they really coupes?

Convertible

If a coupe is not the most practical conveyance, a convertible is even less so. Rear seats are often more cramped than a coupe's and the trunk is inevitably smaller due to the space needed for a folding top. And you will definitely pay a premium for the privilege. Yet, for all its inconveniences, driving with the top down, especially on a warm spring day, makes the convertible worth every penny. The feeling is glorious, the all-round visibility wonderful. Good for the soul.

Sports Car

In the beginning, they were all sports cars, for you had to be a sport just to drive one of those early automobiles. Later, the sports car became a vehicle built solely for the fun of driving, often quickly, and has remained so to this day.

A true sports car puts handling, steering, braking, and agility first, passenger comfort and convenience second. In most cases, it will have only two seats, as size and weight are the enemies of performance.

Crossover

"Crossover" is just one term manufacturers are coining as they attempt to name a new breed of vehicle that combines the virtues of several categories. Take a sedan, for example, and mix in equal parts of SUV, station wagon, and minivan, and you get a crossover. They come in all sizes and a variety of shapes as designers continue to experiment, but one thing you can be sure of: The crossover/sports-wagon/MPV/APV/monospace vehicle is here to stay. Sorry, there's no prize for inventing a name that actually makes sense.