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Which Car Body Style Is Right For You?

Different Types of Cars

It’s not always easy to pick the body style that works best for you when buying a new car. Your heart can often be tugged in one direction by style, while your more practical side considers concepts like cargo space and overall utility to be important.

Each vehicle body style has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it pays to do your research before making a final decision.


Sedans are the bread and butter of the automotive industry. These four-door designs are distinguished by their trunks, which are separate from the passenger compartment. Not all sedans look alike — there are designs with brief trunk lids, while others offer cavernous openings — but they all offer a balance of interior space, cargo storage and ease-of-access due to the presence of the four doors.

Coupes and Convertiblesconvertible

The coupe has become a somewhat controversial body style in recent years as automakers stretch the definition of it. Traditionally, a coupe has been a two-door design with a sloping roof, which offers better passenger room for forward occupants as compared to those riding in the back. If you take the roof off a coupe, it then becomes a convertible, which can reduce trunk space if it’s a hard top design, as it’s then stored behind the passenger compartment.

It can be a hassle to have to tip the front seat forward to crawl into the rear of a coupe, and trunk space is typically more limited even if there’s no top to store. Some coupes and convertibles don’t have a back seat at all, making them less practical for family use. A few recent four-door designs have claimed the title of coupe by incorporating the sloped roof for styling reasons, making it harder to tell what, exactly, a coupe truly represents in a modern context.


It’s pretty easy to define the wagon body style: Think of a sedan with a long roof that’s been extended over the trunk. From a practicality standpoint it’s hard to beat a wagon, as the enormous cargo area (as compared to their sedan counterparts) lets you haul a lot of stuff without sacrificing the utility of the rear seat.


Hatchbacks are essentially a compromise between sedans, coupes and wagons aimed at offering good utility on a smaller platform. Available in two-door and four-door variants, hatchbacks also extend the cargo area but do so with a sloping, rather than flat roof, in order to keep dimensions more compact. This body style (as with wagons) often features a rear seat that can be folded forward in order to further expand the amount of room for storing and transporting your gear inside the vehicle.

There are advantages and disadvantages to all body styles, so which one is right for you?

Check out all the body and chassis parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on what body style is right for you, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Benjamin Hunting View All

Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time.  I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.

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