Breaking Down Different Car Body Styles and Vehicle Types

Breaking Down Different Car Body Styles and Vehicle Types

Breaking Down Different Car Body Styles and Vehicle Types
Reading Time: 4 minutes

When searching for a new car for you and your family, there are a ton of options out there. Just take a look at all the different shapes and sizes of vehicles on the road today. The multitude of choices may seem great initially; however, you may quickly become overwhelmed if you research all the body styles that are available today. 

There’s no need for frustration. In this guide, we’ll give you a complete view of all the body types and vehicle styles that you can purchase right now. Even if you’re not in the market for another car, this will at least allow you to identify the different cars you see on the road.


When most people envision a car, a sedan is generally the first image that comes to mind. A sedan comes with a fixed roof, four doors, and a trunk for carrying anything you may have with you. The sedan is said to have a “three-box design,” referring to the separate areas for the engine, passengers, and cargo. These vehicles also come in a variety of sizes, including subcompact, mid-size, and full. Regardless of the size of the sedan, it’ll likely be spacious enough to accommodate 5 people.  

Best Selling Sedans in Canada: Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Mazda3

Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV)

Sports utility vehicles are essentially sedans with higher ride heights and more space. Their elevated ground clearance also makes them a great choice for drivers who face multiple types of terrain, including ice, dirt, and mud. SUVs have much larger cargo areas than sedans and are also capable of transporting taller items. Additionally, they come in both 5-seater and 7-seater models, making them great choices for large families or friends who enjoy taking long road trips. 

Best Selling SUVs in Canada: Toyota Rav4, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Kona


Coupes are quite easy to identify while on the road. They are almost identical to sedans but feature only two doors instead of four. Some models include rear seats, but they are often too small to carry more than one full-size adult. When researching different coupes, you’ll find that the majority are either super sporty or pure luxury—very few fall in the middle. In the early 2000s, many auto manufacturers released coupe versions of popular sedan models. While this practice is not as prevalent anymore, it is not uncommon to see a few on the road every now and then. For example, Mercedes has stuck to this tradition with their C-Class, E-Class, and S-Class coupes and sedans. 

You may also see the term “coupe” in reference to certain SUVs or four-door sedans. While these options have more than two doors, there are a select few vehicles that are considered coupes because of their low, sleek rooflines, which make them “coupe-like.” However, this naming practice is not very common outside of German luxury vehicles. 

Best Selling Coupes in Canada: Ford Mustang, Audi A5, Dodge Challenger


Hatchbacks are generally boxy, squared-off vehicles that include a flip-up hatch in the rear. This hatch gives drivers access to the cargo area. For decades, European consumers have taken a liking to this body style due to its compact size and short length. It has recently been popularized in larger North American cities where parking is sparse and drivers must wiggle through tight spaces regularly. Car manufacturers offer hatchback versions of sedan models at a much higher frequency than coupes due to the increasing popularity of the body style.

Best Selling Hatchbacks in Canada: Honda Civic Hatchback, Mazda3 Hatchback, Volkswagen Golf


Minivans are the quintessential family vehicle. They are capable of comfortably carrying up to eight passengers and a significant amount of cargo. While labelled “mini,” there is nothing small about these vehicles, and they often feature a tow rating of over 1,400 kg. You can easily identify minivans by their sliding side doors and foldable second- and third-row seating. Many minivans also include immersive entertainment systems, giving rear passengers the ability to keep themselves occupied on the road. 

Best Selling Minivans in Canada: Dodge Grand Caravan, Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey

Station Wagon

Station wagons combine the extended rooflines found in SUVs and the rear hatch door found in hatchbacks into a package that is often described as an elongated sedan. Some models, such as the Subaru Outback, feature elevated ground clearance that makes them suitable for more rugged, off-road driving. Unlike sedans, however, wagons feature a two-box design—one compartment for the engine and another larger area for both passengers and cargo. The extended roofline of the station wagon allows many of them to carry up to 7 or 8 passengers comfortably. Despite their past appeal. you won’t find a multitude of wagons on the new or used car market in Canada today, making certain models extremely rare and coveted amongst car enthusiasts. 

Best Selling Station Wagons in Canada: Volvo V60, Subaru Impreza 5-Door, Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen


Convertibles are easily identifiable by their retractable roof, leaving drivers and passengers in the open air. Most of the convertibles developed today feature fully powered retractable roofs, a welcomed upgrade over the manual roofs of the past. Like coupes, convertible vehicles are generally very sporty or high luxury, with few in between. However, a few mid-market manufacturers, such as Mazda and Volkswagen, offer this body style to their consumer base. 

Best Selling Convertibles in Canada: Audi A3 Cabriolet, Ford Mustang, BMW 4-Series

Pickup Truck

Pickup trucks are perfect for those who are quite handy and never afraid to get down and dirty. Truck owners generally need lots of space to carry equipment, tools, and other items necessary to help them complete certain tasks. A pickup truck has a passenger cab with a large, open cargo bed in the rear. They come in a variety of sizes as well, indicating how many passengers can be held in them. Single cab pickup trucks have a maximum passenger load of 3, while double cabs can hold 5 or more passengers.  

Best Selling Pickup Trucks in Canada: Ford F-Series, Dodge Ram, GMC Sierra


This guide should give you a fairly comprehensive view of the most popular body styles and vehicle types on the market today. Automotive manufacturers tend to develop variations of these eight main body styles, such as the four-door SUV coupe. However, these alternatives aren’t overwhelmingly prevalent and generally don’t post high sales figures. 

Rest assured that if you’re in the market for a new car or simply want to identify different body vehicle types while on the road, you should have all the knowledge you need after reading this article.


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