Coupe vs Sedan: What’s The Difference?By Kijiji Autos
Coupes and sedans can both provide you with practical, fuel-efficient transport that can also be fun to drive. Both body styles have their advantages and drawbacks depending on what you’re looking for in a new vehicle. In this article, we’ll examine the differences between coupes and sedans and define both vehicles with examples.
At its most basic the difference between a coupe and a sedan is the number of doors on the vehicle, with a coupe having two and a sedan having four different entry points for passengers. Coupes are generally a little lighter and faster than their sedan counterparts, though this improved performance comes at the price of some practicality. Coupes tend to be a little more expensive to insure than sedans.
What is a coupe?
A coupe is a vehicle that features a “three-box design” (engine compartment, passenger compartment, trunk), two passenger doors and two front seats. Rear seats are most often included but they’re frequently compromised on room.
Coupes often feature low, sloping roof lines that reduce rear seat headroom, while the compact cabin limits rear leg room. Coupes have fixed roofs, unlike their convertible counterparts which can drive with the roof raised or lowered.
Coupes are a good choice for drivers who want a sportier vehicle without the fuel consumption and more expensive components that come with dedicated performance vehicles. Coupe drivers would likely not have many people to drive around, as would a driver with a larger family.
In the past few years, auto manufacturers have blurred their definition of a coupe, with four-door cars and even SUVs given the low roof line treatment and marketed as coupes. Examples of this trend are the Mercedes-Benz CLA, Audi A7 and the BMW X4. Examples of true coupes include the two-door versions of the BMW 3 Series, Honda Civic and Infiniti G35.
What is a sedan?
A sedan is a four-door vehicle that follows the same three-box design as the coupe. Often featuring a longer wheelbase than their coupe counterparts, sedans bring additional space and practicality with more room in boxes two and three for passengers and cargo.
This extra space comes with a slight weight penalty and a little less potent acceleration, but sport sedans like the BMW M5 still pack plenty of punch. Sedans can often accommodate three adult passengers on their rear seats, with better head and legroom for all.
Sedans have fallen in popularity slightly in recent years, with more buyers opting for larger SUVs with more space and an elevated driving position. Sedans provide better handling and fuel economy than larger vehicles. Sedan drivers tend to be a little older than coupe drivers and may have a larger family to transport. Sedans provide these motorists with space for passengers and gear while keeping the driving experience engaging.
Eight differences between coupes and sedans
Automakers sometimes offer both coupe and sedan versions of a car like the Honda Accord. In this case both vehicles are likely to come with the same standard equipment, though optional equipment like all-wheel drive may only be available on one version. Here are eight common differences between coupes and sedans.
- Performance and handling
- Interior space
- Cargo space
- Fuel economy
- Crash safety
1. Performance and handling
If outright performance and handling are high on your list of priorities for a new vehicle then you may want to choose a coupe. With shorter wheelbases and lower weight, coupes are often more agile than sedans. Acceleration and braking is also improved thanks to having less weight to get moving and rein in.
If a coupe is marketed as the sportier version of a sedan it may come with optional performance extras that aren’t available on the four-door version like upgraded brakes and exhaust systems.
Sedans are larger and therefore heavier but their longer wheelbases can give confidence-inspiring handling through long, sweeping corners at the cost of some low-speed agility. Engines, transmissions and brake hardware are often shared among different versions of the same vehicle, but sedans may feature uprated suspension to handle their extra heft.
Sedans can also feature more engine and powertrain options than their coupe cousins, with a greater range of efficiency-focused motors and all-wheel drive.
Exterior styling is another area where coupes and sedans have a few key differences. As we mentioned above, coupes have two doors while sedans have four. While coupes often feature shorter wheelbases than sedan versions of the same vehicle, the difference isn’t usually drastic.
This means that two doors have to fill the space taken up by four on the sedan, and results in coupes having longer doors that can be a hindrance in tight parking spots. The four shorter doors on a sedan make it easier for passengers to get in and out of the vehicle. Coupes also feature more sloping roof lines than sedans, giving a sporty, low-slung look reminiscent of a race car.
3. Interior space
Coupes are generally built to be driver’s cars, while sedans are usually focused on passenger comfort. Following on from this, coupes tend to have optimal seating for the driver and front passenger, while rear seat quarters can be a little tight. Fastback rooflines and shorter wheel bases mean there’s less room for passengers.
Many two-door coupes, like the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, are only intended to carry a maximum of four passengers. These vehicles feature rear seating sculpted for two without a centre seat. This is not the case for all coupes, with some featuring roomier rear seats as a result of cars becoming generally larger over the years.
Sedans feature wider bench-style rear seats with room for three adults to sit reasonably comfortably. Longer wheelbases make for extra legroom for front and rear passengers, while the lack of a sporty, low-slung roof line gives occupants better headroom than they would get in a coupe. Sedans are easier for passengers to get in and out of.
4. Cargo space
Sedans generally feature longer, more spacious trunks. By comparison, coupes often have shorter trunks to minimize rear overhang, which is the amount of car that extends beyond the rear wheels. Less rear overhang means better handling because more of the vehicle’s mass is located between its front and rear wheels, though this can come at the expense of trunk space.
This can be countered by rear seats that fold flat to increase cargo space. Not all vehicles are capable of this, so it’s important to do your research if you’re considering a coupe and have things to move around. Coupes are sometimes close in trunk space to their sedan counterparts, like the Dodge Challenger which features a cargo area that’s only slightly smaller than the one found at the back of its Dodge Charger sibling.
5. Fuel economy
Fuel economy is an important consideration when shopping for a new vehicle. Sedans are some of the most fuel-efficient vehicles around thanks to their aerodynamic bodies and lower ride height, besting SUVs, trucks and hatchbacks. Coupes take this even further by doing away with some of the sedan’s weight while maintaining its aerodynamic shape.
For example, a 2019 Honda Civic sedan is rated at 9.4 L/100 km city and 6.5 L/100 km highway, while a Honda Civic sedan from the same year is rated at 7.8 L/100 km city and 6.1 L/100 km highway. Both vehicles are powered by the same engine, but having less weight to move around means that the coupe consumes less fuel than the sedan.
Sedans are generally more practical than coupes because they have more room for passengers and cargo. In many coupes, the focus is on the driver and passenger, with less consideration given to rear seat comfort. Small children may be fine in the back seat of a coupe, but it’s unlikely that fully grown adults would want to spend long periods of time as rear passengers.
This is not always the case, however, like in the Dodge Challenger mentioned above, which features extra room for passengers and a cavernous trunk thanks to its larger size and longer wheelbase.
7. Crash safety
Sedans are often praised for their crash safety when compared to other vehicles thanks to their lower centre of gravity making rollovers less likely.
Additionally, sedans often come packed with a range of safety equipment and technology. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class, for example, has been first to introduce a range of safety features such as anti-lock brakes, electronic traction control and crumple zones which are areas of the car designed to deform in a crash and keep dangerous forces from acting on the passenger cabin.
Coupes are often based on sedans and as such share the same safety features. One thing that’s worth mentioning is that lighter cars tend to come off worse in collisions with other heavier vehicles. This is part of the reason that buyers have begun to favour heavier SUVs over sedans in recent years.
There are a number of factors that make coupes more expensive to insure than comparable sedans. Coupes tend to be more expensive to purchase (and therefore replace) than sedans and can be thought of as sports cars by insurance companies.
We’ll delve further into all the reasons that coupes can be more expensive to insure later in this article, but first let’s go in-depth with the coupe and sedan versions of a popular performance car: the Infiniti G35.
Infiniti G35 coupe vs. sedan
The search comparing the infiniti g35 coupe vs sedan appears often when buyers are comparing the merits of sedans and coupes because of the popularity and comparatively low prices of these enjoyable and luxury sport vehicles. In this section, we’ll detail features shared by both cars before taking a look at the qualities that make them different from each other.
The Infiniti G35 sedan was sold for model years 2003-2008, while the Infiniti G35 coupe was on sale for model years 2003-2007 before it was replaced by the updated Infiniti G37 coupe.
Both vehicles feature layouts that placed the engine further back in the engine bay for better weight distribution, and both use a potent V6 engine with up to 298 horsepower on tap. Both make use of sport-tuned suspension and feature upmarket interiors with available leather upholstery and aluminum trim.
Safety is another common thread between the Infiniti G35 coupe and sedan. The vehicles are equipped with front, side and roof-mounted airbags. Infiniti’s Vehicle Dynamic Control system helps to maintain control in slippery situations by applying the brakes to individual wheels in order to stop an unintended slide.
Seatbelt pretensioners are available as an optional extra to detect an imminent crash and hold driver and passengers more securely against their seats.
Differences between the Infiniti G35 coupe and sedan include:
- Interior space
- Cargo space
- All-wheel drive availability
- Road noise
1. Interior space
Like many coupes, the Infiniti G35 coupe provides less interior space for its passengers thanks to its smaller body and greater focus on the driver and passenger up front. The coupe’s sloping roof line reduces rear headroom while its shorter body provides less room for passengers to stretch their legs.
2. Cargo space
The Infiniti G35 coupe’s trunk is smaller than that of the sedan version thanks to its shorter rear overhang which reduces space for cargo. Space for all the things you need to carry can be increased, however, by folding the rear seats forwards to create a larger cargo area.
3. All-wheel drive
All-wheel drive is only available as an optional extra on the Infiniti G35 sedan, which is known as the Infiniti G35x. Rear-wheel drive is standard on the sedan and is the only drivetrain setup available for the coupe. The Infiniti G35x’s all-wheel drive system sends 100% of its engine’s power to the rear wheels under steady cruising conditions, but can send up to 50% to the front wheels under acceleration.
4. Road noise
Some owners report that after test driving both versions of the Infiniti G35 they found that the coupe’s performance-tuned suspension and tires created a little extra road noise that was audible in the cabin.
Both versions of the Infiniti G35 were praised by reviewers for their exciting and confidence-inspiring handling, but it was the coupe that edged out the sedan thanks to its smaller, more nimble body.
While the two vehicles share the same wheelbase (distance between the front and rear axles) the coupe’s body measures around four inches shorter in length and three inches lower in height than the sedan. The coupe is around 1.5 inches wider which gives it a wider track width for more planted handling.
Coupe vs. sedan insurance: which one is better for you?
In general, coupes tend to command higher insurance rates than sedans because of a wide variety of factors including the types of drivers who buy them.
When an insurance company sells you a policy they’re taking into account much more than the value of your vehicle. It’s the insurance company’s job to build a profile of you as a driver so they can decide how risky it will be to insure you. Yes, the make and model of your vehicle play a role, but there are a number of other factors that end up affecting how much you’re required to pay for car insurance.
Here’s everything that insurance companies consider before providing you with a quote, and how the different factors related to the issue of coupes versus sedans.
Vehicle make and model
Insurance companies take your vehicle’s make and model into account when providing you with a quote. Expensive and luxury vehicles cost more to replace, so the insurance company needs to hedge its bets by charging you a higher premium. The companies look at previous claims for the brand and model of your vehicle as well.
If the vehicle you’re looking to insure has an extensive history of being crashed by other drivers or stolen you’ll be expected to pay more.
Expensive vehicles tend to use higher quality (and therefore more expensive) parts, which makes them more expensive for the insurance company to repair. Again, you can expect this cost to be passed on to you in the form of higher monthly premiums.
Coupes, unlike sedans, are sometimes viewed as sports cars by insurance companies. This means that in the eyes of the insurance company, rather than ferrying kids from school to hockey practice you might have purchased your car to, shock horror, enjoy driving it. Insurance companies do not like this kind of driver, as they prefer to insure people who rarely venture out onto the road where accidents could possibly cost them money to repair.
Modern vehicles feature a range of newer technologies than older ones, and this makes them more expensive to insure and repair.
For example, many modern cars, trucks and SUVs feature sophisticated headlight assemblies that look great and help you see the road ahead with perfect clarity. The downside of these technologically advanced headlights is that they can cost thousands of dollars to replace, even as the result of a fairly minor fender bender.
The newer and more advanced your vehicle, the more you may be asked to pay in insurance premiums.
Younger drivers have less experience than older ones, and this is reflected in their insurance rates. Younger drivers are also more likely to drive recklessly and don’t have the benefit of years of problem-free motoring to show an insurance company that they can be trusted.
Coincidentally, many of the drivers who choose to purchase coupes are young, single men. This is one of the factors that make coupes more expensive to insure than sedans.
Your driving record and past claims
Even if you’re an older driver your driving record and previous car insurance claims can have a strong effect on the premiums you end up paying. A record littered with speeding tickets or having written off three cars previously will make insurance companies far less inclined to do business with you, and will result in higher premiums.
Where you live and where you park your car also plays a role. Live in a big city and park your car on the street? That’ll cost you more while living in the country or suburbs and parking your vehicle in a locked, alarmed garage will make it less likely to be damaged or stolen and this will be reflected in your insurance rates.
Insurance companies also take your job into account when deciding how risky it’ll be to insure you. Preferred occupations include secretaries, government employees and teachers. Professional athletes, fairground workers, and people with no jobs are often required to pay more.
Married people tend to be more stable in the eyes of insurance companies, and therefore are less likely to make a claim. Single people, especially young men, end up paying more for car insurance.
How often your car is on the road also plays a role. People who spend three hours a day commuting on busy and chaotic highways will likely end up paying more than someone who works from home and rarely gets in the car.
Not all insurance companies take your credit score into account, but having a good history of repaying debts is an indicator that you can be trusted with a company’s coverage.
According to RateLab.ca, women tend to pay 5-15% less for car insurance than men. Women paid an average of $141 per month for car insurance while men paid $163 in 2020.
How to choose between a coupe and sedan
Whether you want a coupe or a sedan really comes down to your own personal preferences and needs. If you have a lot of people or things to move around a sedan may be better for you, whereas if you have a smaller family and want more exciting handling the coupe may be what you’re looking for.
If you’re looking at a vehicle with coupe and sedan versions we’d highly recommend test driving both to see which you prefer. Check out the huge variety of coupes and sedans available at Kijiji Autos today, and get behind the wheel of your new vehicle tomorrow.
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