Like us humans, vehicles come in all shapes and sizes. If you don’t self-identify as a car person (pro tip: if you aren’t sure, then you don’t), you may get a little lost in the nuanced differences between common body types. As usual, we are here for you! Check out the list below and make an informed purchase the next time you shop for a car.


In case you’ve been living under a rock, SUV is short for Sports Utility Vehicle. But since people don’t generally use these cars for sports or utility, it helps to think about the SUV as a mix between a passenger car and an off-roading vehicle. SUVs typically have five or seven seats. With the growth in popularity of SUVs, some brands have broken the category down further by deeming some vehicles small, medium, or large SUVs.


The traditional (boring?) but reliable (and occasionally sexy) sedan is a passenger vehicle that has separate sections for the engine, passengers and the cargo space. This set-up is commonly referred to as a three-box design, meaning that three boxes could be draw over the three main sections of a sedan. Sedans also have four doors and always seat five people, although there is some debate about whether a two-door car can qualify as a sedan. Fun fact: the name “sedan” comes from the Latin word “sedere,” which means to sit.


When we say truck around here, we mean pickup trucks–light duty vehicles where the passenger section is closed, but the cargo space is open. No, your SUV is NOT a truck. The open cargo space of a truck is typically called a truck bed. It is an immutable fact that truck beds are awesome. You can put pretty much anything you want in there except your annoying siblings.


You know what a convertible is, right? Ultimately what makes a convertible a convertible is the ability for the driver to use the vehicle with or without the roof in tact. This means that drivers can literally feel the wind in their hair while driving, although many newfangled convertibles are designed to minimize the tangles. Fall–or as we like to call it around here, “convertible season”–is just around the corner. Have you found your convertible yet?


OK, now it gets tricky. A coupe is similar to a sedan, but what makes it a coupe is only having two doors versus a sedan’s four doors–again, not everyone agrees with this. Generally speaking, a coupe has less interior space than a sedan. Coupes have two main passenger seats in the front and sometimes also feature two smaller “back seats.” This isn’t in any of the literature, but coupes should be fast because….well, just because.


Hatchbacks are like sedans, but not. The rear door of the vehicle opens upward (the “hatchback”), allowing a driver to access the interior or the cargo space. Wait, you might say, “sedans have a trunk that opens upwards.” Yes, you are correct. The distinguishing element is minimal, but next to each other, hatchbacks and sedans do have different appearances. Sometimes you just know it when you see it. Hatchbacks are like that. Look, we don’t make the rules here.

Sports Car

Zoom zoom. Sports cars are sleek, fast, and designed for performance. As a general rule, among car types, sports cars have the highest top speed, best acceleration, and the tighest handling. Sports cars are easily recognizable on the road to car enthusiasts…and cops (mind the speed limit).


Vans are a great option for large families or groups. These vehicles seat seven to eight passengers, on average, and come with impressive cargo space. Minivans are great for personal vehicles. Vans can also be used as commercial or work vehicles due to the passenger seats and storage space.

Now that you know the main characteristics of each vehicle body type, you’re ready to start car shopping. Submit a Request at and join the community of OneRequesters who are anonymously shopping for their next car.