The time has come to buy a new vehicle. You’ve mostly driven cars before, and this time, you want something a little roomier. An SUV might be too big, so you’re thinking perhaps a hatchback. Or maybe a sedan? What’s the difference between these two vehicles, anyway?
The differences between hatchbacks and sedans include the following:
- Vehicle size
- Cargo space
- Interior room
This comparative guide will first explain hatchbacks and sedans individually. Then we’ll delve deeper into the differences in the list above. When you’re done reading, you’ll know whether a hatchback or sedan is better for you!
What Is a Hatchback?
Let’s start by discussing hatchbacks. These four-seat, two-box vehicles feature a rear door (tailgate) hinged at the roof that you open by swinging it upwards. The easy way to identify a hatchback – the rear window always opens with the tailgate.
That’s why some folks refer to hatchbacks as five-door cars. When the rearview window opens with a tailgate like this, it offers easy access to a ton of cargo space.
Some hatchback models have additional seating. The second row of seating folds down when not in use to maximize the available cargo space if you don’t have a lot of passengers riding with you.
Suitable for families looking to transport the kids, hatchbacks come in many styles, including sports cars, executive cars, and superminis.
Some of the top-selling hatchback models on the market today are:
- Toyota Corolla Hatchback
- Hyundai Veloster N
- Subaru Impreza
- Chevrolet Spark
- Mitsubishi Mirage
- Volkswagen Golf R
- Nissan LEAF
- Toyota Prius Prime
What Is a Sedan?
Moving on, let’s take a closer look at the sedan.
A sedan is a three-box passenger vehicle with cargo, passenger areas, and the engine in its own dedicated compartments.
Although it can vary depending on the model, most sedans feature an interior volume of at least 33 cubic feet.
The roofline of a sedan does slope, but not to the same steep extent as a coupe. This gives the sedan the advantage when it comes to headroom, but the vehicle doesn’t look as sporty.
Sedans feature rear cargo and a front engine, as well as two seating rows. The vehicle also has a B-pillar for roof support. The pillar is placed between the rear and front windows.
Here are the most beloved sedan models available:
- Kia Rio
- Hyundai Accent
- Nissan Versa
- Honda Civic
- Honda Insight
- Hyundai Elantra
- Subaru Legacy
- Hyundai Sonata
- Toyota Camry
What Are the Differences Between Hatchbacks and Sedans?
Let’s explore how both hatchbacks and sedans diverge so you can determine which vehicle might be the one you own next!
Hatchbacks and sedans are four-door vehicles, but their sizes make them very different.
A sedan features a longer wheelbase, which extends the overall length of this vehicle compared to a hatchback.
Sometimes, the difference is only a matter of six centimeters, which is approximately 2.36 inches. You might think this isn’t a lot, but you would be surprised!
The smaller size of a hatchback allows it to navigate into tight areas with aplomb. If you’re trying to park on a narrow street or squeeze into a parking spot with just enough space for your vehicle, a hatchback will likelier have an easier time doing so than a sedan.
When selecting a new car, you want one that allows for easy visibility from an assortment of sides and angles. The fewer blind spots you have behind the wheel, the safer you’ll feel when driving.
After all, even technology like automatic blind spot detection isn’t always perfect. You need to rely on your own vision.
Hatchbacks usually have a sizable window around the back that allows you to easily see what’s going on behind you when driving.
Of course, if you’re someone who loads up your rear cargo space to the brim, then that extra visibility is not applicable.
Cargo space is a top consideration as you browse around at new and used cars. You need a vehicle that can tote around kids’ toys, soccer equipment, groceries, and the supplies for that latest home improvement project on your to-do list.
The hatchback doesn’t have a trunk, per se, but a rear hatch. The open design of the rear allows for far more generous storage space than what you’d find in most of today’s sedans.
As you’ll recall, you can even maximize your hatchback storage space further by folding down the second row of seats so that about half of your hatchback can be used for storage.
Sedans have three rows of seats. While one of these rows does indeed fold down, that’s two rows of seats that are still upright in the sedan versus one row in the hatchback, giving the latter more space.
The last main difference between sedans and hatchbacks that we’ll examine is the interior room.
The average passenger capacity for both a sedan and hatchback is four to five people depending on the model. One of the two cars is more spacious in the interior, though, and that’s the sedan.
As you’ll recall, it has the greater wheelbase length of the two. Plus, its cargo space is separated from the rest of the vehicle.
This hurts when it comes to cargo capacity but does allow for more roominess in the passenger seating area.
Legroom is important, especially if you often travel in your vehicle on long trips. The sedan has legroom in spades.
That said, they often lack headroom compared to a hatchback.
Which Is Right for You – a Hatchback or Sedan?
How can you possibly decide between a hatchback or a sedan?
It’s a tough decision for sure, and we’re not going to minimize that. In areas such as fuel efficiency and price, hatchbacks, and sedans are pretty much neck and neck.
The two vehicles don’t even weigh that much more than one another. Hatchbacks are slightly weightier, but it’s nothing significant.
Thus, it really comes down to the factors we discussed in the last section.
If you want a new car with a lot of legroom and plenty of space for passengers, you won’t be disappointed if you buy a sedan. The long wheelbase makes sitting in one of these vehicles feel very spacious.
That said, you might be a little cramped if you’re looking for headroom.
Perhaps you care more about cargo capacity. The hatchback would win this category, hands down. The sizable hatch and fold-down seats give you all the cargo space you need for your everyday life.
For safe driving and parking, especially in narrow conditions, the hatchback wins again. Its rear hatch window can enhance visibility (if you don’t stack up cargo), and its neat size makes for easy maneuverability.
Sedans and hatchbacks are similarly styled four-door vehicles that have their own unique features to stand out from the pack.
Hatchbacks offer more headroom, better visibility, and a lot more cargo space while not sacrificing on areas like price, passenger capacity, and fuel economy.
Sedans are longer vehicles with plenty of legroom, compartmentalized areas, and two rows of seating while still offering great fuel economy and not costing too much.
We hope we’ve made it easier to choose between a hatchback and a sedan by presenting the differences. Whichever vehicle make and model you prefer more, know that you can’t go wrong!
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- About the Author
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.