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12 Different Car Body Types Explained

12 Different Car Body Types Explained

There are hundreds of car bodies, including Hatchback, Minivan, CUV, Couple, Supercar, Kammback, Cabriolet, Sedan, Campervan, Microcar, SUV, and Roadster, to name a few. They differ in size, weight, and aesthetics, and they have been engineered with a specific purpose.

In this article, we will explain the main attributes of the most popular car body types.

Hatchback Car Body Type

2020 Volkswagen Golf hatchback

A 2020 Volkswagen Golf hatchback.

Hatchback cars are well-known for their superior storage capacity, which can be accessed with an upward swinging door at the vehicle’s rear. The back seats are usually able to fold down to accommodate more storage space. This design philosophy has been applied to superminis, small family cars, and sports cars.

The swinging door is counted as an additional door, so a hatchback with two passenger doors is known as a three-door hatchback, while a hatchback with four passenger doors is called a five-door hatchback.

The hatchback design dates back to the 1930s with the Citroen 11 CV Commerciale. However, the term “hatchback” didn’t appear until the 1970s when cars became popular, economical machines for transportation. Some popular hatchbacks today include the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, and Mercedes A-class.

Minivan Car Body Type

Minivans are the kings of transporting people, equipment, or things. Despite having “mini” in their name, they have a one-box or two-box design and usually come equipped with a higher roof, a flat floor, and a sliding rear door to allow for easier packing access. They are an extremely popular vehicle choice in the U.S. for families.

Furthermore, similar to the design of a hatchback, the minivan also has a door at the rear which opens upwards and provides a substantial amount of cargo space, even more than that of a hatchback. They also have a third-row seat that can fold completely flat and into the floor, and some even have second-row fold-in seats.

The body design places the engine at the front of the minivan and offers front-wheel drive nearly exclusively, although you can find them in all-wheel drive in some rare cases. It allows for more even flooring on the passenger side. Minivans share design and engineering similarities with SUV/CUV models to save costs on production.

CUV Car Body Type

2020 Toyota RAV4 Crossover

2020 Toyota RAV4 is an example of a crossover utility vehicle or CUV.

The Cross Over Vehicle (CUV) is similar to its Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) sibling, but it has a unibody design. The unibody design has all the other car components attached to the frame, like a human skeleton. Despite its aesthetics, the design inspiration originated from passenger vehicles rather than pickup trucks.

They typically have excellent interior comfortability, better fuel economy, lower manufacturing costs, and the ability to tow off-road. It may have an all-wheel drive, but its lack of a four-wheel-drive may be a point of contention for consumers. CUV cars are a mixture of a passenger car and a station wagon body on top of it.

They are well-known for being durable and reliable enough to drive in harsh climates such as rainy or snowy weather. Its sturdiness can be attributed to its independent suspension that has been built into the whole car and provides a much smoother and more enjoyable ride, especially for longer distances.

Coupe Car Body Type

2020 Ford Mustang GT500

The 2020 Ford Mustang GT500 is an example of a coupe body type.

Coupes are similar to Sedans in that they have a fixed-roof and a three-box body design, although they are a little smaller and aesthetically sportier. They can have either one or two rows of seats, and their rear roofline usually slopes backward. Different Coupe designs brought about the development of varying Coupe models.

Some variants include the Berlinetta, Hardtop Coupe, Business Coupe, Club Coupe, and Opera Coupe. The Berlinetta is a compact, sporty two-door vehicle with two seats or two big seats in the front and two small ones at the back. The hardtop Coupe is also a two-seater but without a pillar between the front and rear side windows.

The Business Coupe had two doors with no rear seats and was particularly favored among traveling salesman carrying wares. Club Coupes had two doors but larger rear-passenger seats, while Opera Coupes had two doors designed to frequent the opera and have easy access to getting out and in from the rear seats.

Supercar Car Body Type

Ford GT supercar

The Ford GT supercar.

Supercar bodies have been specifically designed to enhance the practical aspects of a car, such as the handling, acceleration, top speed, and intensity of driving. Despite aesthetics or power, the term “supercar” is usually applied to the amount of thrill you receive from driving the vehicle; top speed is not a strict supercar requisite.

Most supercar bodies come equipped with two seats and a fixed roof because they were intended for irregular use by two adults. However, a supercar with four seats is not unheard of. All-wheel-drive for supercars have become increasingly popular since the 1990s because it allows for a more significant boost of power and faster top speeds.

Supercars usually have their engines in front of the middle of the vehicle. Front-engines include the Mazda MX-5 and Caterham 7. Middle-engine supercars include the Ford GT and Toyota MR2. Furthermore, they usually come with rear-wheel drive, while front-wheel-drive is somewhat rare to find on modern supercars.

Kammback Car Body Type

A Kammback finds its popularity in cars like the Toyota Prius, although the coolest by far is the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe. The design philosophy was first introduced because there was a dire need for vehicles to improve their aerodynamics. It slopes downward at the rear and then quickly cuts vertically downward.

The body’s design was named after the German aerodynamicist Wunibald Kamm in the 1930s. The design was intended to minimize wind resistance, thereby reducing fuel consumption and improving a car’s stability when traveling at higher speeds. In fact, this development allowed Ford to be victorious over Ferrari at the Le Mans.

The Kammback body type is also known as the “teardrop” design. The body’s shape creates a similar shape at the back of the vehicle when it’s in motion, like a speedboat zipping through the water. Thus, no additional air enters the vehicle’s pathway, creating a smooth tunnel and maintaining higher speeds.

Cabriolet/Convertible Car Body Type

Corvette C8 Convertible

A Chevrolet Corvette C8 Convertible on display.

“Cabriolet” or “Convertible” refers to a car body type where the roof can be pulled up or left down for the sun and rain. It can be driven with or without the roof, and most of them come with two doors. These body types often require significant engineering medications to counteract the loss of balance from not having a roof.

In most cases, the body of a cabriolet is made of solid steel or aluminum, while the roof itself can be made from cloth, metal, and durable plastics or fabrics. From the 1970s, demand for cabriolet bodies has reduced significantly due to longer travel distances. It was further compounded by air conditioners and sunroofs.

These vehicles are also equipped with wind blockers or wind minimizers that, according to engineers, reduce the noise from wind by 11 – 12 decibels. Two doors are the design choice for convertibles, even though they have two seats in front and a single extended seat at the back for three people.

Sedan Car Body Type

Hyundai Sonata sedan

The Hyundai Sonata is one of the most popular sedans in America.

Sedans are exceptionally popular cars in the U.S. today, and for a good reason. They have a four-door and three-box body design and a closed body (which has a fixed roof). They make for great family vehicles because they can comfortably seat four to five people between two rows of seats.

Since it has a closed-body design, the engine, cargo, and passengers are intended to be in different vehicle sections. The engines are at the front while the cargo area is at the back. Other variations of Sedan exist, such as the Liftback Sedan, where instead of having a trunk, the entirety of the back lifts up.

An example of a modern Sedan is the 2018 Toyota Camry Sedan. The name originated from the 1630s when a British chair invention called the “Sedan Chair” or “Sedan” was created. Others believe it derives from the Italian word “sedere,” which means “to sit.”

Campervan Car Body Type

The campervan is a vehicle that aims to provide luxurious transport and sleeping accommodation, and they aren’t exclusive. Because they are part of the van family, they are known as a “pop-up” roof or a fixed roof for camping purposes. The term “recreational vehicle” (R.V.) is similar to a motorhome rather than a campervan.

The body has been designed to accommodate dual-voltage lighting, a portal toilet, heating, and a shower via its dedicated battery, which is separate from the van’s battery. They usually come in four-wheel-drive, and roofs are great for traveling off-road. Campervans come of varying sizes to fit the needs of many travelers.

Some variations include the A-Class and High Top. A-class campervans have a chassis of 7.5 tonnes and are heavier, come with windmills that generate electricity for living purposes. High Top vans weigh between 2.8 to 4.5 tonnes, and it’s possible to move tables and chairs freely. Toilet cubicles and a shower are also added features.

Micro Car Body Type

Smart EQ Fortwo

A Smart Fortwo EQ electric car at the Paris Motor Show.

The microcar body is the smallest of all the car bodies, with three or four wheels and an engine of around 700 ccs. Because the majority of microcars had three wheels, it meant that they qualified for lower taxes and were licensed as motorcycles. In fact, their engines were initially designed to be used in motorcycles and not cars.

Microcars weigh on average 770 pounds and come equipped with two doors, and are commonly known to have front-wheel-drive. Examples of microcars include bubble cars, cyclecars, voiturettes, and Kei cars. Interestingly, the popular T.V. show “Mr.Bean” showcases him driving his favorite little microcar around town.

The bubble car got its name from the shape formed by the top of its body. In 1959, the introduction of the Mini caused a steady decline in the demand for microcars. The Mini provided more interior space that was much more affordable to produce, and the power and overall performance were a lot more preferred by consumers.

SUV Car Body Type

If you think “SUV” looks oddly similar to “CUV,” you’re correct. An SUV was created by fitting the body of a truck. Because it shares characteristics with a truck, the SUV is four-wheel-drive, too. They are ideal body types for off-road travel or surfaces that are uneven.

In addition, this also means that it has a solid rear axle underneath, much as a truck would, and makes them much heavier than regular vehicles. However, this also grants it superior towing strength when you find yourself in emergency situations. They make use of a separate body-on-frame design due to it being related to the sturdiness of a truck.

Its tall body improves its safety capabilities by avoiding hazards closer to the ground. However, its heavyweight coupled with its tall body creates an unevenly distributed center of mass, making it prone to rolling during an accident. It is also the case for its roof that is more likely to collapse onto passengers than other vehicles.

Roadster/Spider/Spyder Car Body Type

The roadster’s body type has been designed with sporty aesthetics in mind. Roadsters usually have no roof and only two seats. However, the demand for weather protection has brought about the addition of roadster convertibles. In addition, by popular demand, manufacturers also included windows that retracted into the doors.

Roadster engines and drive shafts are not entirely in the middle, and this allows the driver to sit lower and helps the vehicle reach higher speeds. Modern roadsters include the Porsche 718 Boxster, with classic roadsters like the Cadillac V-16 being extremely expensive.