What’s the Difference Between Body Styles?

So you’re shopping for a used car.  Lots of terms are thrown around like “Coupe”, “Mid-Sized Sedan”, “Crossover”… what does it all mean, and what are they best for?

Microcompact – In the United States, these are pretty rare.  The only car for sale that qualifies as a microcompact (to my knowledge) is the Smart fortwo.  These cars are pretty limited in their utility, and are primarily designed with only inter-city transport.  Some are so small you can actually park them sideways.

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You may think this smallness means really good gas mileage, but that’s not always the case, and the Smart car only gets mid-30s.

Perfect For: City dwellers where parking is tight

Bad For: Everyone else

Subcompact - This next level up is still quite a tiny car, but usually it will seat 4-5, and there is almost always a large emphasis on low sticker price and good fuel economy.  Some examples are a Kia Rio or Ford Fiesta.

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Perfect For: Students, first car, people without children

Bad For:  Tall people, large families

Compact – What was once considered quite small in the United States is now a pretty average car.  Compact cars are usually a step up in price from a Sub-Compact (around $20k), but are still pretty reasonably sized.  Picking between a compact and sub-compact is usually just for someone who needs a little more space or amenities.  The Volkswagen Golf is the iconic example of this car, although the Jetta also counts.

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Perfect For: Just out of college, smaller families that want more economy

Bad For: Larger families, those with tight budgets

Mid-Sized – This is usually the best selling group of cars in America.  Mid-Sized cars are as the name implies, pretty average in size.  Some people may even consider them large.  Fuel economy takes a back seat to comfort here, and typically auto manufactures try to make cars in this class appeal to the widest set of people possible.  The Toyota Camry or Chevy Malibu are great examples of this class.

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Perfect For: Those who want a more “substantial” car, those who need lots of trunk room

Bad For: Worried about fuel economy

Full-Sized – These rolling sofas are the largest cars on the road.  When comfort and size are your most important features, these cars usually deliver.  They will almost always be tuned for a soft, cushy ride.  You may have trouble parking them though, and forget about fuel economy.  Examples are the Ford Crown Victoria, and the Toyota Avalon

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Perfect For: Pensioners

Bad For: Urban Dwellers