A Guide to Car Classifications

Published: February 20, 2015 | Updated: April 7, 2021 | Posted by: Moneymax | Car Insurance

A Guide to Car Classifications

A car is a car, or at least that’s what you normally think. If it gets you from point A to point B, that’s all you need to know, right? But when thinking of buying a car, it’s good to know the different classifications that might affect your buying decision. Most car aficionados know what’s what when it comes to cars and their types.

If you’ve ever wanted to know where your car (or your dream car) is classified under, check out our handy little guide:


So you’ve probably seen these cars around town. They’re small enough that you can’t actually see them in a parking space. Microcars, or Bubblecars toe the line between car and motorcycle (of the four-wheeled variety), and usually have engines around 1.0 liters.

Cars in this classification include Ford’s Think Nordic, the Isetta, and the Tata Nano, and are more common in Europe and East Asia.


Where microcars are usually meant for smaller towns and roads, the Hatchbacks are made for the city. Cars like these feature engine displacement above 50cc, and are called hatchbacks owing to the fact that there is a door that provides access to the cargo area of the car.

Cars like these are configured with 3 doors (two entry doors and the hatch), and 5 doors (four entry doors and the hatch). These are also the more commonly driven cars and have further sub-classes. Full-size cars like the Chevrolet Impala, and sedans like the Mazda 6 fall under this classification.

Station Wagons/Estate Cars

Cars classified as station wagons are differentiated from hatchbacks by the fact that they have larger cargo areas and often have three rows of seats, and the seats can be comfortably folded to make room in the hold.

They are also called as such (the former being the common name in US, Canada, AU and NZ; the latter throughout most other English-speaking regions) given their usage as modes of transportation to Train stations and country estates.

While cars of this make aren’t as common, some modern variations include a 2007 Ford Focus, and the Pugeot 508 RXH.

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Sports Cars

While the definition isn’t apparently precise, the term “sports car” is used for cars that prioritize performance, acceleration, and handling. These cars are made to purr and rumble thanks to their engines.

While many say that these are usually two-door vehicles, sub-classes of the Sports Car include grand tourers, supercars, and muscle cars. Common examples of the three are seen in the Fast and Furious film franchise.


Cars in this classification are of course, those that feature a roof that can be retracted to allow for open or enclosed driving. These are further classified into the four-seater cabriolet, and the two-seater roadsters.

Technically speaking, the convertibles are more style over performance and common examples of convertibles include the Type 997 Porsche 911, which blends both style and performance; and the more-classic Cadillac El Dorado.

Read more: How To Insure Your Souped-up Car


These kinds of vehicles are meant to quite literally go off a typically paved road and onto more rugged terrain. Oddly, in spite of the fact that some of these vehicles do not have four-wheel drive, they are referred to as four-by-fours.

Sports Utility Vehicles can be found under this classification, and are further split into Large off-roaders and Small off-roaders. Examples of the former include the Jeep Cherokee and the Land Rover Discovery; while the BMW X5 and Chevrolet Equinox are considered small off-roaders.

Multi-Purpose Vehicles

Cars of this nature are usually meant to carry a large number of people, or cargo. The larger kinds of MPVs can carry eight or more people, and are quite tall, as cars go. These cars have engines very close to the front, and have rather large fuel storage capacities.

Common examples of these include the Mazda 5, and the Volkswagen Type-2.

There are further sub-classifications of these vehicles, further technical differences and specifications. If you’ve ever liked cars and wanted to know how to differentiate the ones you see, here’s a good place to start. Are you owning a car? Insure your auto now online here at Moneymax.
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