Everyone has likely heard the term, such as a four-door sedan or two-door sedan, but what does it really mean? Sometimes called a saloon, it is a passenger vehicle that has three-box styles. It also has pillars that are usually dubbed A, B, and C, respectively, because it has three primary compartments, including the passenger, engine, and cargo.
The cargo area, otherwise known as the trunk, is usually in the back of the vehicle, though some sedans do have it in the front, such as the Volkswagen Type 3, Chevrolet Corvair, and a few others. This is so that the engine can be in the rear of the vehicle. However, battery-electric cars don’t have any engine compartment, choosing to have two cargo compartments.
Of course, there are many variations of the sedan, which is why it’s helpful to know what it is and how it is classified as such.
Also called limousine sedans, this sedan style has separate compartments for the driver and passengers. The passenger area in back usually has bench seating that faces each other, which is very different when compared to traditional passenger vehicles. Examples include some versions of Mercedes-Benz, Rolls-Royce, and the Lincoln Town Car.
It is not common for individuals to own chauffeured sedans. Primarily, corporations and the government use these types of vehicles or something similar.
Liftback or hatchback sedans usually use a fastback silhouette, though the entire rear of the car is lifted with a liftgate or hatch rather than a trunk lid. Sometimes, people call them a five-door sedan if it has four doors and the hatchback. However, it can also be classified as a four-door hatchback sedan. Examples include the Chevrolet Malibu Maxx or the Audi A5 Sportback.
You can also find three- and two-door options with similar designing to the two-door sedan. Popular models using this configuration include the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus, and the Chevrolet Chevette.
The hardtop sedan was popular during the 1960s and 1970s and included frameless door glass. It also didn’t include the B-pillar or center roof support behind the front doors. It was supposed to give better visibility because there were no pillars, though it did require a stronger underbody to give it the firm structure it required. The popularity of the vehicle made it an excellent choice through the 1980s, with Japan creating luxury hardtop sedans in the 1990s.
The two-box sedan style is called a fastback. It uses a constant slope from the roof all the way to the trunk or deck-lid. Many of these styled sedans are almost similar to one-box cars with windshields that sharply rake back from the hood. They also have window slopes that move toward the rear of the vehicle. They aren’t traditional fastbacks because it’s not continuous from the roof to rear deck body line.
A three-box sedan is called a notchback. The passenger’s area is much bigger than the trunk, though you only notice it when you look at it from the side. The roof is one plane, usually parallel to the ground, as well. The back windows angle noticeably toward the roof.