Car Classification

Governments and private organizations have developed car classification schemes that are used for innumerable purposes including regulation, description and categorization, among others. This article details commonly used classification schemes in use worldwide.

Classification methods

Vehicles can be categorized in numerous ways. For example, a government may establish a vehicle classification system for determining a tax amount. In the United Kingdom, a vehicle is taxed according to the vehicle's construction, engine, weight, type of fuel and emissions, as well as the purpose for which it is used. Other jurisdictions may determine vehicle tax based upon environmental principles, such as the user pays principle. In another example, certain cities in the United States in the 1920s chose to exempt electric-powered vehicles because officials believed those vehicles did not cause "substantial wear upon the pavements."
Another standard for road vehicles of all types that is used internationally (except for Australia, India, and the U.S.), is ISO 3833-1977.
In an example from private enterprise, many car rental companies use the ACRISS Car Classification Code to describe the size, type and equipment of vehicles to ensure that rental agents can match customer needs to available vehicles, regardless of distance between the agent and the rental company or the languages spoken by either party. In the United States, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety uses a scheme it has developed that takes into account a combination of both vehicle size and other vehicle features such as length and wheelbase.
Highway Loss Data Institute classification
Those cars with significant high performance features
Higher-end cars that are not classified as sports
Length more than 495.3 cm (195 in) and wheelbase more than 279.4 cm (110 in)
Length 457.3–495.3 cm (180–195 in) and wheelbase 266.8–279.4 cm (105–110 in)
Length less than 457.2 cm (180 in) and wheelbase less than 266.7 cm (105 in)
The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) separates vehicles into classes by the curb weight of the vehicle with standard equipment including the maximum capacity of fuel, oil, coolant, and air conditioning, if so equipped).
NHTSA classification
Curb weight
Passenger cars: mini
1,500–1,999 lb (680–907 kg)
Passenger cars: light
2,000–2,499 lb (907–1,134 kg)
Passenger cars: compact
2,500–2,999 lb (1,134–1,360 kg)
Passenger cars: medium
3,000–3,499 lb (1,361–1,587 kg)
Passenger cars: heavy
3,500 lb (1,588 kg) and over
Sport utility vehicles
Pickup trucks
The United States Federal Highway Administration has developed a classification scheme used for automatically calculating road use tolls. There are two broad categories depending on whether the vehicle carries passengers or commodities. Vehicles that carry commodities are further subdivided by number of axles and number of units, including both power and trailer units.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has developed a classification scheme used to compare fuel economy among similar vehicles. Passenger vehicles are classified based on a vehicle's total interior passenger and cargo volumes. Trucks are classified based upon their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). Heavy duty vehicles are not included within the EPA scheme.
EPA car class
Total passenger and cargo volume (cu. ft.)
Any (designed to seat only two adults)
Less than 85 cu ft (2,407 l)
85–99 cu ft (2,407–2,803 l)
100–109 cu ft (2,832–3,087 l)
110–119 cu ft (3,115–3,370 l)
120 cu ft (3,398 l) or more
Small station wagons
Less than 130 cu ft (3,681 l)
Mid-size station wagons
130–159 cu ft (3,681–4,502 l)
Large station wagons
160 cu ft (4,531 l) or more
A similar set of classes is used by the Canadian EPA. The Canadian National Collision Database (NCDB) system defines "passenger car" as a unique class, but also identifies two other categories involving passenger vehicles—the "passenger van" and "light utility vehicle"—and these categories are inconsistently handled across the country with the boundaries between the vehicles increasingly blurred.
In Australia, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries publishes its own classifications.

Size and usage-based vehicle classification systems worldwide

This is a summary table listing several different methods of vehicle classification.

Vehicle Classification
Not Well Defined / Vernacular
Defined by Law or Regulation
Market Segment (American English)
Market Segment (British English)
US EPA Size Class
Euro NCAP Structural Category
Euro NCAP Class (1997 - 2009)
Euro Market Segment
Microcar, Bubble car
A-segment mini cars
Bond Bug, Isetta, Mega City, REVAi/G-Wiz
Subcompact car
City car
Passenger car
Ford Ka, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Smart Fortwo, Toyota Aygo, Fiat 500
B-segment small cars
Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio, Opel Corsa, Peugeot 207, Volkswagen Polo
Compact car
Small family car
Small family car
C-segment medium cars
Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Mazda3, Toyota Corolla
Mid-size car
Large family car
Large family car
D-segment large cars
Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, IKCO Samand
Entry-level luxury car
Compact executive car
Acura TSX, Alfa Romeo 159, Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Full-size car
Executive car
E-segment executive cars
Chevrolet Impala, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus, Hyundai Grandeur,Holden Commodore, Toyota Avalon
Mid-size luxury car
Cadillac CTS, Lexus GS, Lincoln MKZ, Volvo S80
Full-size luxury car
Luxury car
F-segment luxury cars
Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS, Mercedes-Benz S-Class,Porsche Panamera, Tesla Model S
Grand tourer
Grand tourer
S-segment sports coupés
Jensen Interceptor, Ferrari FF, Jaguar XK, Maserati GranTurismo
Bugatti Veyron, LaFerrari, Lamborghini Aventador, Pagani Zonda
BMW 6 Series, Chevrolet Camaro, Mercedes CLK, Volvo C70,Volkswagen Eos
Roadster sports
Audi TT, BMW Z4, Lotus Elise, Mazda MX-5, Porsche Boxster
Mini MPV
Small MPV
M-segment multi purpose cars
Citroen C3 Picasso, Ford B-Max, Opel Meriva, Renault Modus,Renault Kangoo
Compact MPV
VW Touran, Ford C-Max, Renault Scenic, Opel Zafira, Chevrolet Orlando
Large MPV
Large MPV
Chrysler Town and Country, Ford Galaxy, Peugeot 807, Renault Espace, SEAT Alhambra
Cargo van
Cargo van
Ford Transit Connect, Chevrolet Express 1500 Cargo, Ford E350 Van
Passenger van
Passenger van
Chevrolet Express 1500 Passenger, Ford E350 Wagon
Mini SUV
Mini 4x4
Small Sport Utility Vehicle
Small Off-Road 4x4
J-segment sport utility cars (including off-road vehicles)
Daihatsu Terios, Ford Ecosport, Jeep Wrangler, Mitsubishi Pajero iO, Suzuki Jimny
Compact SUV
Compact SUV
Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Jeep Liberty, Kia Sportage
Mid-size SUV
Large 4x4
Standard Sport Utility Vehicle
Large Off-Road 4x4
Ford Edge, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Volkswagen Touareg, Volvo XC90
Full-size SUV
Cadillac Escalade ESV, Chevrolet Suburban, Ford Explorer,Range Rover, Toyota Land Cruiser
Mini pickup truck
Small Pickup Truck
Chevrolet Montana, Fiat Strada, Volkswagen Saveiro
Mid-size pickup truck
Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado, Mitsubishi Triton/L200, Nissan Navara
Full-size pickup truck
Standard Pickup Truck
Dodge Ram, Ford F-150, GMC Sierra, Nissan Titan, Toyota Tundra
Heavy Duty pickup truck
Chevrolet Silverado, Ram Heavy Duty, Ford Super Duty
Special purpose vehicle
Special purpose vehicle
Lincoln MKT Livery


Straddling the boundary between car and motorbike, these vehicles have engines under 1.0 litre, typically seat only two passengers, and are sometimes unorthodox in construction. Some microcars are three-wheelers, while the majority have four wheels. Microcars were popular in post-war Europe, where their appearance led them to be called "Bubble cars". More recent microcars are often electric powered.
Examples of microcars:
  • Isetta
  • REVAi/G-Wiz
  • Tata Nano
The Tata Nano Europa


Ultracompact car

In 2012, Japan's Transport and Tourism Ministry will allow local government to use ultracompact cars as transport for residents and tourists in their limiting areas. The size of ultracompact cars will be less than minicars, but have engine greater than 50cc displacement and able to transport 1 or 2 persons. Ultracompact cars cannot use minicars standard, because of strict safety standards for minicars. The regulation about running capacity and safety performance of ultracompact cars will be published in early autumn. Today, there are cars smaller than ultracompact cars, called category-1 motorized vehicles which it has 50cc displacement or less and only one seat for the driver.

City car

A city car is a small automobile intended for use in urban areas. Unlike microcars, a city car's greater speed, capacity and (in perception at least) occupant protection are safer in mixed traffic environments and weather conditions. While city cars can reach highway speeds, that is not their intended use. In Japan, city cars are called kei cars. Kei cars have to meet strict size and engine requirements: engines have a maximum displacement of 660 cc and the car's length must be under 3400 mm.
Examples of kei cars:
  • Daihatsu Move
  • Honda Life
  • Suzuki Cervo
2009 Honda Life
Examples of city cars:
  • Fiat Panda
  • Maruti 800
  • Mini
Fiat Panda
Other small cars:
  • Carver One
  • Citroën Type C
  • Smith Flyer
Smith Flyer

Supermini/subcompact car

This class is known as supermini in Europe, subcompact in North America. Superminis have three, four or five doors and are designed to seat four passengers comfortably. Current supermini hatchbacks are approximately 3900 mm long, while saloons and estate cars are around 4200 mm long. Currently (2013) sedan variants are generally not available in Europe and are marketed at a lower price than hatchback models in North America.
In Europe, the first superminis were the Fiat 500 of 1957 and the Austin Mini of 1959. Today, superminis are some of the best selling vehicles in Europe.
In Australia, the motoring press tends to distinguish between a light car such as the Daihatsu Charade or early models of the Holden Barina, and slightly larger models such as the Ford Fiesta which is considered to be a small car. As the general size of vehicles in this class has gradually increased, the category of light car has almost disappeared.
Examples of superminis/subcompact cars:
  • Opel Corsa
  • Tata Indica Vista
  • Volkswagen Polo
2013 Volkswagen Polo
This category is equivalent to the EuroNCAP class "Superminis".

Small family car/compact car

Small family/compact cars refer to the hatchbacks and shortest saloons and estate cars with similar size. They are approximately 4250 mm long in case of hatchbacks and 4500 mm in the case of saloons and estate cars. Compact cars have room for five adults and usually have engines between 1.4 and 2.2 litres, but some have engines of up to 2.5 litres. Early compacts had V8 engines of up to 6.6 liters. These are the most popular vehicles in most developed countries.
Examples of hatchback small family cars/compact cars:
  • Ford Focus
  • Peugeot 306
  • Toyota Auris
Ford Focus
This category is equivalent to the EuroNCAP class "Small Family Cars". In Australia, this class is generally referred to as being small-medium sized cars.

Hot hatch

A hot hatch is a high-performance hatchback, based on standard superminis or small family cars with improved performance, handling and styling. Hot hatches are very popular in Europe, and originated from the Volkswagen Golf GTI. In North America, sport compacts are usually sold as saloons or coupés rather than hatchbacks.
Examples of hot hatches/sport compacts:
  • Citroën Saxo VTR
  • Honda Civic Type R
  • Volkswagen Golf GTI
Volkswagen Golf GTI

Saloons / sedans

Large family / mid-size

A class described as "large family" in Europe and "mid-size" in the USA, these cars have room for five adults and a large trunk (boot). Engines are more powerful than small family/compact cars and six-cylinder engines are more common than in smaller cars. Car sizes vary from region to region; in Europe, large family cars are rarely over 4700 mm long, while in North America, Middle East and Australasia they may be well over 4800 mm.
Examples of large family cars/mid-size cars:
  • Chevrolet Malibu
  • Ford Mondeo
  • Hyundai Sonata
2011 Hyundai Sonata
This category is equivalent to the EuroNCAP class "Large Family Cars". These are known in Australia as Medium sized cars.

Compact executive

These are luxurious equivalents to mid-size and compact cars. Rear seat room and trunk space are smaller than executive cars simply because of their smaller overall size.
Examples of compact premium cars/entry-level luxury cars:
  • Audi A4
  • BMW 3 Series
  • Buick Regal
2013 Audi A4
This category is equivalent to the EuroNCAP class "Large Family Cars".

Full size / large

This term is used most in North America, Middle East and Australia where it refers to the largest affordable sedans on the market. Full-size cars may be well over 4900 mm long.
Examples of full-size cars:
  • Dodge Charger
  • Chevrolet Impala
  • Holden Commodore
2006 Dodge Charger


These are luxurious equivalents to full-size cars. This also refers to the largest hatchbacks within the similar length in this class, such as the Porsche Panamera.
Examples of executive cars/mid-luxury cars:
  • Peugeot 607
  • Mercedes-Benz E Class
  • MG Magnette
2010 Mercedes-Benz E Class
This category is equivalent to the EuroNCAP class "Executive Cars".

Full-size luxury / Grand saloon

Also known as full-size luxury cars, grand saloons, or premium large cars, while "Oberklasse" is used in Germany. Typically a four-door saloon (sedan). These are the most powerful saloons, with six, eight and twelve-cylinder engines and have more equipment than smaller models.
Examples of grand saloons:
  • Audi A8
  • Cadillac XTS
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class
2011 Audi A8
This category is equivalent to the EuroNCAP class "Executive Cars".

Sports saloon/sports sedan

These are high-performance versions of saloons. Sometimes originally homologated for production based motorsports (touring cars or rally cars) and like regular saloons, seats four or five people.
Examples of sports saloons/sedans:
  • BMW M5
  • Mazdaspeed6/Mazda 6 MPS
  • Ford Mondeo ST200
2012 BMW M5
Examples of sport compact saloons/sedans:
  • Dodge SRT-4
  • Lotus Cortina
  • Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V
1965 Mk1 Lotus Cortina

Estate cars / station wagons

A station wagon (also known as an estate or estate car) is an automobile with a body style variant of a sedan/saloon with its roof extended rearward over a shared passenger/cargo volume with access at the back via a third or fifth door (the liftgate or tailgate), instead of a trunk lid. The body style transforms a standard three-box design into a two-box design—to include an A, B, and C-pillar, as well as a D-pillar. Station wagons can flexibly reconfigure their interior volume via fold-down rear seats to prioritize either passenger or cargo volume.
Examples of estates/station wagons:
  • Hyundai i40 Tourer
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake
  • Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake
2013 Jaguar XF Sportbrake

Sports cars and grand tourers

Sports car

The term "sports car" does not appear to have a clear definition. It is commonly used to describe vehicles which prioritise acceleration and handling; however, some people claim it is also defined as a vehicle with two seats.
A sports car (sportscar or sport car) is a small, usually two-seat, two-door automobile designed for spirited performance and nimble handling. Sports cars may be spartan or luxurious but high maneuverability and minimum weight are requisite.
Examples of sports cars:
  • Mazda Miata
  • Alfa Romeo Brera
  • Porsche 911
2013 Porsche 911

Grand tourer

Larger, more powerful and heavier than sports cars, these vehicles typically have a FR layout and seating for four passengers (2+2). These are more expensive than sports cars but not as expensive as supercars. Some grand tourers are hand-built.
Examples of grand tourers:
  • Aston Martin V8
  • Lexus SC300/400
  • Ferrari 612 Scaglietti
2013 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Coupe


Supercar is a term generally used for ultra-high-end exotic cars, whose performance is superior to that of its contemporaries. The proper application of the term is subjective and disputed, especially among enthusiasts.
Examples of supercars:
  • Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren
  • Lamborghini Reventón
  • Bugatti Veyron 16.4
Bugatti Veyron 16.4

Muscle car

The muscle car term generally refers to rear wheel drive mid-size cars with powerful V8 engines, manufactured in the USA. Some people define it as a 2-door vehicle; however, others include 4-door vehicles in the definition. Although opinions vary, it is generally accepted that classic muscle cars were produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Muscle cars were also produced in Australia and other nations.
Examples of American muscle cars from the 1960s and 1970s:
  • Ford Torino
  • Plymouth Road Runner
  • Pontiac GTO
1970 Ford Torino
Examples of Australian muscle cars:
  • Ford Falcon
  • Holden Monaro
  • Valiant Charger
1969 Holden Monaro

Pony car

The pony car is a class of American automobile launched and inspired by the Ford Mustang in 1964. It describes an affordable, compact, highly styled car with a sporty or performance-oriented image.
Examples of pony cars:
  • AMC Javelin
  • Chevrolet Camaro
  • Dodge Challenger
2011 Chevrolet Camaro


A car that features a flexibly operating roof for open or enclosed mode driving. Also known as a cabriolet or roadster.
Examples of convertibles:
  • Honda S2000
  • Volkswagen Eos
  • Volvo C70
2011 Volvo C70


Off-road vehicles, or "off-roaders" are sometimes referred to as "four-wheel drives", "four by fours", or 4x4s — this sometimes happens colloquially in cases where certain models or even an entire range does not possess four-wheel drive.

Sport utility vehicle

Sport utility vehicles are off-road vehicles with four-wheel drive and true off-road capability. They most often feature high ground clearance and an upright, boxy body design. Sport Utilities are typically defined by a body on frame construction which offers more off-road capability but reduced on-road ride comfort and handling compared to a cross-over or car based utility vehicle.
Examples of SUVs:
  • Land Rover Discovery
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Mahindra Scorpio
2013 Land Rover Discovery
This category is equivalent to the EuroNCAP class "Large Off-Roaders".

Crossover SUV

Crossover SUVs are derived from an automobile platform using a monocoque construction with light off-road capability and lower ground clearance than SUVs. They may be styled similar to conventional "off-roaders", or may be look similar to an estate car or station wagon.
Examples of crossover SUVs:
  • Tata Aria
  • BMW X5
  • Chevrolet Equinox
2012 BMW X5
This category is equivalent to the EuroNCAP class "Small Off-Roaders".

Multi-purpose vehicles/Minivans

Also known as "people carriers", this class of cars resembles tall estate cars. Larger MPVs may have seating for up to eight passengers. (Beyond that size, similar vehicles tend to be derived from vans (see below) and in Europe are called minibuses.)
Being taller than a family car improves visibility for the driver (while reducing visibility for other road users) and may help access for the elderly or disabled. They also offer more seats and increased load capacity than hatchbacks or estate cars.
Examples of mini MPVs:
  • Ford B-Max
  • Citroën C3 Picasso
  • Opel/Vauxhall Meriva
2012 Citroën C3 Picasso
Examples of compact MPVs:
  • SEAT Altea
  • Opel Zafira Tourer
  • Ford C-MAX
2012 Opel Zafira Tourer
Both categories are equivalent to the EuroNCAP class "Small MPVs".
Examples of large MPVs / minivans:
  • Mazda5
  • Ford Galaxy
  • SEAT Alhambra
2013 Mazda5 GT
This category is equivalent to the EuroNCAP class "MPVs".

Van, camper, RV, minibus etc.

In some countries, the term "van" can refer to a small panel van based on a passenger car design (often the estate model / station wagon); it also refers to light trucks, which themselves are sometimes based on SUVs or MPVs. (But note that those retaining seats and windows, while being larger and more utilitarian than MPVs, may be called "minibuses".) The term is also used in the term "camper van" (or just "camper") — equivalent to a North American recreational vehicle (RV).
In the United States, the term "van" refers to vehicles that, like European minibuses, are even larger than large MPVs and are rarely seen being driven for domestic purposes — except for "conversion vans". These possess extremely large interior space and are often more intended for hauling cargo than people. Most vans use body-on-frame construction and are thus suitable for extensive modification and coachwork, known as conversion. Conversion vans are often quite luxurious, boasting comfortable seats, soft rides, built-in support for electronics such as television sets, and other amenities. The more elaborate conversion vans straddle the line between cars and recreational vehicles.
Examples of North American "vans":
  • Dodge Ram Van
  • Ford E-Series
  • GMC Savana
2000 GMC Savana
Examples of European "vans":
  • Ford Transit
  • Volkswagen Transporter
  • Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
2010 Volkswagen Transporter T5

Other car classification terms

Car Classification
A generic South African term for light pickup truck.
A Buggy is an automobile with wheels that project beyond the vehicle body
Cabrio coach or Semi-convertible
A form of car rood, where a retractable textile cover amounts to a large sunroof
Convertible or cabriolet
A body style with a flexible textile folding roof or rigid retracting roof — of highly variable design detail — that can convert between open-air and enclosed modes.
A 2-door, 2- or 4-seat car with a fixed roof. Its doors are often longer than those of an equivalent sedan and the rear passenger area smaller; the roof may also be low. In cases where the rear seats are very small and not intended for regular use it is called a 2+2 (pronounced “two plus two”). Originally, a coupé was required to have only one side window per side, but this consideration has not been used for many years.
Convertible coupé
A 2 door roadster with both a cloth convertible top, and a removable hardtop, coupé roof. (technically not a coupe, but some car companies try and cash in on the cachet the word coupe brings)
Coupe utility
A passenger-car derived vehicle with an integral cargo tray.
Sometimes used to describe a luxury sedan or town car. Actually a trade mark of Rolls Royce
Crossover (or CUV)
A loose marketing term to describe a vehicle that blends features of a SUV with features of a car — especially forgoing the body on frame construction of the SUV in favor of the car's unibody or monocoque construction. Crossovers usually borrow drivetrains and other parts from traditional cars in the same manufacturer's line. Crossovers typically employ an FF layout or an FF-based four-wheel drive layout with a transverse engine, rather than an FR layout or an FR-based 4WD layout with a longitudinal engine as is typically used on traditional truck-based SUVs.
Drop Head Coupe
Generally a European term referring to a 2 door, 4 place automobile with a retractable canvas / cloth top with both a padded headliner and rollup windows (as opposed to side curtains).
British name for a station wagon.
A design where the roof slopes at a smooth angle to the tail of the car, but the rear windows does noit open as a separate “door”
Flower car
In US, similar to ute in Australia, i.e. generic for Chevy El Camino, Ford Ranchero, GMC Sprint/Diablo etc; Hearse: A converted car to   transport the deceased
Incorporates a shared passenger and cargo volume, with rearmost accessibility via a rear third or fifth door, typically a top-hinged liftgate—and features such as fold-down rear seats to enable flexibility within the shared passenger/cargo volume. As a two-box design, the body style typically includes A, B and C-pillars, and may include a D-pillar.
Originally a removable solid roof on a convertible; later, also a fixed-roof car whose doors have no fixed window frames, which is designed to resemble such a convertible.
A converted car (often a station wagon), light truck or minivan usually used to transport the dead. Often longer and heavier than the vehicle on which they are usually based. Can sometimes double up as an ambulance in some countries, such as the United States, especially in rural areas.
Originally, a car with a tapered rear that cuts off abruptly
A limousine with the passenger section covered by a convertible top
Leisure activity vehicle
A small van, generally related to a supermini, with a second or even a third seat row, and a large, tall boot.
A broad marketing term for a hatchback, which incorporates a shared passenger and cargo volume, with rearmost accessibility via a top-hinged liftgate.
By definition, a chauffeur-driven car with a (normally glass-windowed) division between the front seats and the rear. In German, the term simply means a sedan
Term for a boxy wagon-type of car that is smaller than a conventional minivan; often without rear sliding door(s). Examples are Citroën Picasso, Renault Scénic, Toyota Yaris Verso or Mercedes-Benz A-Class. In Japan, this term is used for Kei car based vans.
Designed to carry fewer people than a full-size bus, generally up to 16 people in multiple rows of seats. Passenger access in normally via a sliding door on one side of the vehicle. One example of a van with a minibus version available is the Ford Transit.
Multi-purpose vehicle, a large car or small bus designed to be used on and off-road and easily convertible to facilitate loading of goods from facilitating carrying people.
A configuration where the third box of a three-box styling configuration is less pronounced — especially where the rear deck (third box) is short or where the rear window is upright
People carrier or people mover
European name to describe what is usually referred to in North America as a Minivan.
A Phaeton is a style of open car or carriage without proper weather protection for passengers
Pickup truck (or pickup)
A light-duty, open-bed truck.
Usually a prefix to coupé, fastback, or hardtop; completely open at the sides when the windows are down, without a central pillar, e.g. the Sunbeam Rapier fastback coupé.
Originally an open car like a roadster, but with a soft top (cloth top) that can be raised or lowered. Unlike a convertible, it had no roll-up side windows. Now often used as slang for a convertible
Retractable Hardtop
aka Coupé convertible or Coupé Cabriolet. A type of convertible forgoing a foldable textile roof in favor of a multi-segment rigid roof retracts into the lower bodywork.
Originally a two-seat open car with minimal weather protection — without top or side glass — though possibly with optional hard or soft top and side curtains (i.e., without roll-up glass windows). In modern usage, the term means simply a two-seat sports car convertible, a variation of spyder.
A car seating four or more with a fixed roof that is full-height up to the rear window. Known in British English as a saloon. Sedans can have 2 or 4-doors. This is the most common body style. In the U.S., this term has been used to denote a car with fixed window frames, as opposed to the hardtop style wherein the sash, if any, winds down with the glass.
Sedan delivery
North American term for a vehicle similar to a wagon but without side windows, similar to a panel truck but with two doors (one on each side), and one or two rear doors
Sport utility vehicle (SUV)
Derivative of a pickup truck or 4-wheel-drive vehicle, but with fully enclosed passenger cabin interior and carlike levels of interior equipment.
Spyder (or Spider)
Similar to a roadster but originally with less weather protection. Nowadays it simply means a convertible
Initially a vehicle used to carry shooting parties with their equipment and game; later used to describe custom-built wagons by high-end coachbuilders, subsequently synonymous with station wagon or estate; and in contemporary usage a three or five-door wagons combining features of a wagon and a coupé.
Station wagon
A variant of a sedan/saloon, (also known as estate or estate car) or with its roof extended rearward over a shared passenger/cargo volume; access at the back via a third or fifth door instead of a trunk lid; flexible configurations to vary passenger or cargo volume; and two or three rows of seating — in a two-box design with a A, B & C-pillar, as well as a D pillar.
A derivative of the Targa top, called a T-bar roof, this fixed-roof design has two removable panels and retains a central narrow roof section along the front to back axis of the car (e.g. Toyota MR2 Mark I.)
Targa Top
A semi-convertible style used on some sports cars, featuring a fully removable hard top roof panel which leaves the A and B pillars in place on the car body
Town car (US)
Essentially the inverse of the landaulet, a historical body style in which the front seats were open and the rear compartment closed, normally with a removable top to cover the front chauffeur's compartment. In Europe the style is also known as Sedanca de Ville, often shortened to Sedanca or de Ville. Note that the modern Lincoln Town Car derives its name, but nothing else, from this style.
Australian/New Zealand English term for the vehicles with a cargo bed at the rear
Wagon delivery
North American term (mainly U.S. and Canada). Similar to a sedan delivery, with four doors
In North America "van" refers to a truck-based commercial vehicle of the wagon style, whether used for passenger or commercial use. Usually a van has no windows at the side rear (panel van), although for passenger use, side windows are included. In other parts of the world, 'van' denotes a passenger-based wagon with no rear side windows.

Non-English terms

Some non-English language terms are familiar from their use on imported vehicles in English-speaking nations even though the terms have not been adopted into English.
Car Classification
Italian term for a roadster. The name means, roughly, “small boat”
Italian term for a sedan
French term for a sedan
Italian term for a sport coupé
French term for a station wagon
Brazilian Portuguese term for a station wagon (specially in the state of Rio de Janeiro)
Portuguese term for a station wagon. Not used in Brazilian Portuguese
Portuguese nickname for a limousine (the same word for Sword - long piece of metal). Not used in Brazilian Portuguese
Spanish and Polish term for a van, in the latter language almost always used in its diminutive form furgonetka
Portuguese alternative term (less used) for a van. Used in Brazilian Portuguese, most often for vans but sometimes for panel van variants of passenger cars
is a German abbreviation of "Kombinationswagen" (Combination Car) and it is German name for station wagon. Since Germany is a major producer of cars for many European countries, the term Kombi in this meaning is also used in Swedish, Czech, Slovak, Polish, Slovenian, Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, Hungarian, Spanish, Portuguese, Bulgarian. In Afrikaans and in Australia, Kombi is also used to refer to a Volkswagen Microbus. In Brazil the word specifically refers to the VW Microbus
Brazilian Portuguese term either designating a van (especially as spoken in the city of São Paulo) or a station wagon (in the city of Rio de Janeiro)
Spanish term for a sedan. Literally means tourism, used mostly in Latin American countries

Last updated on 1 April 2014 at 12:45.


  1. thanks for sharing

    I will be more than happy to see old car database

    hope to see more posting related to list of car models

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