Coupe vs. Sedan: What's The Difference?

Coupe vs. Sedan: What’s The Difference?

Coupe vs. Sedan: What's The Difference?

Most believe that the difference between a coupe and a sedan comes down to the number of doors and exterior styling. However, the truth is a little more complicated. This is because automakers actually employ coupe and sedan platforms differently to design distinct types of vehicles for their consumers, despite the notion that the number of doors is the only fundamental difference.

As a result, there are more distinctions between coupes and sedans than just outward design. Understanding what differentiates a coupe from a sedan can help you make an informed decision when purchasing a vehicle. Knowing what to look for allows you to purchase the vehicle that best suits your needs and lifestyle. So, let’s discuss the fundamental differences.

What is a Coupe?

A coupe is a car with a three-box style with two doors and a fixed roof. Coupes include a variety of vehicles, such as the two-door Honda Civic and the Infiniti G60. In addition, this category includes many sports cars and vehicles like the Subaru BRZ and the Porsche 911 Carrera.

The traditional three-box coupes, semi-convertibles, and hatchbacks — all of which have two doors — make up the coupe class. Coupes have evolved over time to offer a sportier performance thanks to suspension upgrades and more potent engine options.

The Society of Automotive Engineers defines coupes and sporty coupes as cars with an interior volume of less than 33 cubic feet, characterized by the lack of rear seats.

What is a Sedan?

The Society of Automotive Engineers defines sedans as cars with an interior space volume of more than 33 cubic feet. This also includes significantly more legroom for back seats and a more spacious cargo area. Sedans are four-door vehicles that also feature a three-box design, taller roofs, rear passenger seats, and more angular features than coupes.

Additionally, sedans typically have longer wheelbases, giving their occupants additional comfort and legroom. For many years, the Toyota Camry has been one of the top-selling sedans.

Difference Between Coupe and Sedan

The Society of Automotive Engineers provided the official definitions of the two. According to SAE, a coupe has less than 33 cubic feet interior volume. On the other hand, a sedan is a passenger vehicle with an interior volume of 33 cubic feet or more.

By this definition, size is the only main difference between the two vehicle types. However, styling and other factors could make the distinctions more obvious. These factors include:

  • Door count — The standard door count between the two is, as mentioned before, the most noticeable distinction between the two body styles. Coupes are only available with two longer doors, whereas sedans typically have four shorter doors.
  • Exterior style — Coupes typically have a sportier look thanks to their shorter stature, longer doors, and longer rear windows. This lends itself to a more aggressive overall look. The emphasis on the design of sedans is often placed on luxurious design notes. Additionally, the doors on sedans are typically shorter to produce a more balanced side profile.
  • Interior size — Sedan models are usually the smartest choice for drivers looking for a family-oriented vehicle since they offer a five-passenger capacity. This also means enough head and legroom, plus enormous cargo space. Coupes often have very little rear passenger space. Although most coupes can accommodate four people, their aerodynamic, more compact chassis design outweighs the benefits of a roomy back row.
  • Performance — Coupes offer enhanced performance thanks to their reduced size and weight, making them very popular among performance car aficionados. A coupe’s sharp, sloping stance improves aerodynamics, reducing wind resistance. Sedans offset their weight and dimensions with engine and suspension modifications.

Similarities Between Coupes and Sedans

Similarities between coupes and sedans include a three-box design with engine, passenger, and closed trunk compartments, separating them from hatchbacks. Additionally, both have a low center of gravity, which decreases rollover risks associated mostly with SUVs and trucks.

It’s worth mentioning that automakers have blurred the distinction between the two by cross-pollinating body types. These unorthodox vehicles belong to a four-door coupe category, which is an inherent contradiction in terminology.

Sedan vs Coupe: Which is Better? 

This battle has no clear-cut winner, especially since many manufacturers now offer similar specs in both body types. So, the decision basically falls on personal preference. Consider a sedan if you have an expanding family, often have passengers, or require baggage space. But if the internal capacity isn’t a concern and you prefer sporty styling, consider a coupe vehicle.


Choosing between these two popular body types boils down to aesthetics, feel, and drive. Compare sedans and coupes online to find three to five that fit your needs. In fact, bring the family for a test drive to see how everyone fits.

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