What Car Should I Buy Guide

Types of Cars Explained

Types of Cars

Written by
July 28th, 2020

Knowledge is power during the car buying process, instilling confidence in the customer when they’re browsing online or chatting to the local car dealer. A car isn't simply a car. There are so many types of cars to consider, each offering distinct pros and cons for their length, shape, number of doors and much more.

Nissan wants you to find the right car for your needs, and if we do say so, we think our selection can provide the answer you're looking for. Whether you're looking for a two-door sports car, a station wagon, or anything in between, here's some useful information to keep in mind when you're looking for a new or used car.

Vehicle Body Styles

Vehicles come in all shapes and sizes, and they're designed to meet the unique needs of drivers, whether they’re looking for lots of interior/cargo space, power or towing capability among many other considerations. Here are the most popular vehicle body styles so you can assess what suits your lifestyle.

SUV

The growth in popularity of the SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) could be argued as the biggest phenomenon of 21st century motoring. This body style essentially serves as a hybrid between the nimble handling of a small coupe, with the higher seating position, additional space and performance of a truck. SUVs contain either five or seven seats with ample passenger room and storage space. The SUV market is quite broad, and often sub-categorized into 'small', 'medium' and 'large' models, so there is plenty of choice. View the full Nissan SUV & crossover range here.

Nissan Pathfinder SUV
Nissan Pathfinder

Crossover

When buying a car, it’s important to recognize that crossovers and SUVs are almost interchangeable terms. Crossovers are essentially a subcategory of SUV and tend to be smaller. The primary difference is the platform used. Pure SUVs use a body on frame, while crossovers have a unibody platform. Click here to view the full range of Nissan crossovers & SUVs.

Nissan Rogue Crossover
Nissan Rogue

Pure SUVs use a body on frame, while crossovers have a unibody platform.

Sedan

This is a catch-all body style offering ample performance and enjoyable handling, as well as plenty of passenger space and an enclosed trunk. Usually propelled by a simple two-wheel drive (2WD) drivetrain, it’s perfect for day-to-day driving on unchallenging road conditions. There is a huge selection of these four-door sedans on the market, with pricing to suit any type of budget. Of course, you won’t find better value than Nissan with an array of great sedan choices. View the full Nissan sedan range here.

Nissan Altima Sedan
Nissan Altima

Hatchback

Similar to a sedan in many ways, can have 2 to 4 doors but typically has a shorter body with a steep rear end. Perfect for most road conditions, hatchbacks like the electric-powered Nissan LEAF are a good choice for those who need rear seating but maybe not quite as much space as an SUV or a larger sedan for cargo and passengers.

Nissan LEAF Hatchback
Nissan LEAF

Coupe

Looking for added performance, with some practicality for day-to-day driving? Then the coupe is a good option. These two-door vehicles sometimes offer rear seating, but realistically they are only an option for drivers who typically drive alone or with one other passenger. This makes the coupe a largely inefficient option if you have a child but they do typically offer nippy handling and high performance, making it a special experience to drive during any journey.

Nissan 370Z Coupe
Nissan 370Z

Convertible

Look outside the window before considering whether a convertible is a realistic option. Unless you have money to burn on multiple vehicles, this is not a good option for drivers in typically wet or cold parts of the country. But when the sun is out, there’s no better feeling than lowering the retractable roof and feeling the sun and wind brushing across you.

Nissan 370Z Roadster Convertible
Nissan 370Z Roadster

Sports Car

This is the type of car that generates a battle between heart and head. Designed with optimum performance in mind, sports cars are a joy to drive on clear tarmacked roads but the limited interior space and storage, allied with uninspiring traction in icy conditions, makes them largely impractical for day-to-day driving. If you’re looking for a car to consistently thrill you however, then the sports car will set the pulses racing like no other car type. Click here for the full Nissan sports car range, including the GT-R.

Nissan GT-R Sports Car
Nissan GT-R

Truck

This body style revolves around practicality, with vast amounts of cargo space and plenty of pulling power. Pickup trucks are American staples – rugged, dependable and increasingly featuring the creature comforts and new-age technology of their small car counterparts. The long body features lots of cargo space behind the cab which can either be left exposed to the elements or fitted with a bed cover for added security. Depending on the cab type, you can even find many versions with four doors allowing for plenty of interior passenger space. Interested in a Nissan truck? Click here for the full range.

Nissan TITAN Truck
Nissan Titan

Van

Looking for a vehicle for a big family? Then the minivan is something to consider. With seven or eight seats and excellent passenger and cargo space, this can reduce a lot of the stress associated with transporting young kids to soccer practice or trips to visit the relatives. Also a popular option as a commercial vehicle because of their vast cargo capacity, vans don’t tend to handle sharply nor outperform many other vehicles with their power. Looking for a work vehicle? Check out the great range of Nissan Commercial Vehicles, as well as the family-friendly NV Passenger which offers seating for up to 12.

Nissan NV200 Van
Nissan NV200

Other Vehicle Considerations

Hopefully you have a better picture in your head about your desired car type, whether it’s a small, fun hatchback or a large, family-friendly SUV. Don’t rush into a purchase however. There’s a lot more to consider, including trims, buying new or used, drivetrains, engines and transmissions.

Trim levels:

Each car manufacturer offers new models with a hierarchy of trim levels. The 'standard/base' trim of each model contains the fewest number of standard features.

New vs Used:

There are obvious cost benefits to buying from the used car market but beware of the shortfalls. You might end up paying more in the long run for an older, unreliable vehicle. Check out our comprehensive breakdown of the pros and cons of ‘Buying New vs Used’ .

Drivetrains

Available drivetrains are also an important consideration depending on your lifestyle and home climate. Most vehicles feature a functional two-wheel drive system FWD vs RWD, but more traction is required if you’re an adventurous soul living with the perils of regular icy roads. Learn more about the benefits of AWD vs 4WD vs 2WD.

Engines:

These components dictate much more than the power of a vehicle. They can also offer different benefits when it comes to fuel efficiency, towing capability and much more. Learn more about the difference between Gas vs Diesel powered vehicles, as well as the wider comparison between Gas vs Hybrid vs Electric vehicles.

What Is CVT Transmission

Transmissions

The transmission can affect your driving experience more than any other piece of vehicle engineering. Learn more about the key differences between Manual vs Automatic Transmissions, and discover the benefits of the increasingly popular Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

Car Buying Tips

Car Buying Tips

You might well have already found your perfect vehicle and want some help with the next steps. Check out our Car Buying Tips for useful information on planning a dealer visit or test drive, financing options and much more.