Defining Car Types

When it comes to buying a new car, the first decision is what type of car do you want or need for your purposes. Cars are classified by a range of categories with manufacturers sometimes offering a selection of models in each category.

Popular Body Types

  • Sedan: a passenger car which may be 2-door or 4-door.
  • SUV: Sports Utility Vehicle. This category has emerged from what used to be known as 4WD (four wheel drive) vehicles. The category has adapted into a more versatile vehicle which offers passenger comfort and ease of driveability for standard on-road city travel with elements of off-road capabilities. The extent of the off-road/4WD features will vary with each individual vehicle. Standard features usually include higher ground clearance than passenger sedans, four-wheel drive transmission and off-road tyres. There is no standardisation across manufacturers for SUVs so you will need to investigate the individual features for each brand.
  • AUV: this usually refers to Asian Utility Vehicle which was a basic utility vehicle available primarily through the 1960s-1970s as a basic vehicle for many Asian developing countries. Not designed as an off-road/4WD vehicle.
  • MPV: multi-purpose vehicle: usually named as it has more seating capacity than a standard sedan but is more compact than say a mini-van.
  • All terrain/4WD: all terrain, off road and 4WD are terms used for vehicles which are designed to tackle tough terrain and as the name implies, off road environments. They are differentiated by larger tyres with wide tread and specialist suspension. Some SUVs have 4WD capabilities which may add to confusion.
  • Convertible: the classic description for a car with a roof that can be removed. Some convertibles have a soft-top, some a hard top which can be removed and some may offer both options. Modern versions have a press-button function to remove the soft-top. With vintage and older models with hard tops, the hard top needs to be removed and stored say in the garage.
  • Hatch: the fairly standard description for a 3 door car with a rear hatch. These are usually smaller, compact cars and great for city roads.
  • Wagon: can come in a range of sizes but usually refer to a 4 door car with a rear hatch for access to a large luggage/cargo area.

Engine Types

Petrol powered engines are being phased out by some manufacturers as they move to more environmentally friendly engines, while some allow use of ethanol-based fuel as an option. Car owners now have the choice of a range of engine types from many manufacturers:

  • Petrol only engine
  • Diesel only – many 4WDs and utes are diesel
  • Electric only
  • Hybrid – combination of electric and another form of power, eg petrol

To make your purchase decision, consider your driving needs and have fun with your car buying experience.