The Difference Between Hatchbacks and Sedans

Sedans and hatchbacks are both passenger cars. This means they aren’t trucks, minivans, or SUVs. While it used to be simple to tell the two types of cars apart from each other, that is no longer the case. We’re here to help clear the confusion and explain the main features of sedans and hatchbacks.


Luckily, the age-old definition of the sedan has not changed. It is still a ‘three-box’ passenger car with an engine compartment, a passenger area with four doors, and a separate trunk. In case you’re wondering, a trunk is a completely enclosed cargo hold with a lockable lid that is separated from the cargo hold by the back of the rear seat and a fixed parcel tray under the rear window. A lot of sedans have fold-down rear seatbacks that allow longer items to pass through the trunk area for more cargo space. But in normal conditions, the trunk is a private space sealed off of any prying eyes. For over 70 years, this has been the construction and definition of a sedan, and it has stayed the same.


As compared to sedans, hatchbacks have experienced a considerable amount of evolution over time. In the beginning, they were small, cheap, and boxy cars that were meant for new drivers or people with very limited budgets. They were called two-box cars with the engine in the front and a passenger and cargo space as the second box. There was no separate trunk for hatchbacks. They were and are available with two or four doors, and a one-piece flip-up tailgate called a hatch on their squared-off rear end. Early versions of the VW Golf, Ford Escort, and Dodge Omni are typical examples of hatchbacks.

Hatchbacks today are hardly what they used to be. They’re sleeker, have stylish lines, are well-built, often well-appointed, and some are very luxurious and expensive too. They still offer considerably more cargo space than equivalent sedans thanks to the practical hatch and fold-down rear seats. Good examples of new hatchbacks include the Mazda 3, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra GT, and the Toyota Corolla hatchback. The VW Golf today bears some resemblance in design to its predecessor but offers much more power and comfort than ever before.