What is a Coupe, Anyway?

November 13th, 2012 by

If you’ve ever watched the TV show Top Gear, you may have been confused by terms like coupe (it doesn’t help that they pronounce it differently across the pond either). Have you ever wondered just how a sedan, crossover, SUV, and more are defined? What exactly does it take for a car to become a coupe instead of a sedan?

Well, I’m here to tell you.

Let’s start with that coupe, which is a 2-door car that is either a 2- or 4-seat vehicle that has a standard roof. Doors on a coupe are often longer than similar sedan models, with smaller rear passenger space (if there’s any at all). Some vehicles that are really not intended to have rear passengers might get called a “2 + 2.” If you’re talking to an older car aficionado, you may hear them say that coupe vehicles only had one window per side, but this is now a thing of the past.

The term crossover has been adopted in recent years to describe an auto that is a blend of an SUV and a car. Many times, calling a crossover an SUV is acceptable, though be aware that a big difference between the two is that a crossover has abandoned the body-on-frame construction that many SUVs have.

Which brings us to the Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV), something of a fusion between a four-wheel-drive vehicle and a pickup; the SUV has been around for decades, though it has undergone a surge in popularity in the last five years or so. An SUV has a fully-enclosed cabin and many car-like features while giving the power and handling of off-road capable vehicles.

Many cars you’ll hear about can be described as a sedan, which is a 2- or 4-door car that seats four or more (one of the big differences between a sedan and a coupe). There’s a lot of versatility to the sedan body type, so feel free to ask some questions if all you’ve been told about a vehicle is that “it’s a sedan.”

Now you can feel a bit smarter on your next vehicle search, though be aware that there are plenty of different car body styles that weren’t covered here. Go out and discover more of them for yourself!