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Vehicle buying guide - Coupes & Hatchbacks

June 10, 2005 11:15 PM EST | Consumer Info , Coupes | Email to Friend

A Coupe/Hatchback is a two-door car that can have either a fixed glass rear window or a rear window/hatch that opens. Below is a list of things you should know before you buy.

Size/Market Segment: Coupes and two-door hatchbacks are typically based on a corresponding four-door sedan. The majority of coupes currently on the market are either compact or midsize, while most hatchbacks are compacts.

Price: Economy two-doors start as low as $10K while some exotic coupes can run in excess of $100K. Lower-priced coupes and hatchbacks tend to cost slightly less than their four-door counterparts, while premium coupes are often several hundred dollars more than their sedan counterparts.

Operating Costs: Between their low prices and great mileage, economy coupes and hatchbacks promise exceptionally low operational costs. Midrange and luxury coupes generally offer mileage on par with their sedan counterparts, but some insurance companies consider them sportier than sedans so premiums are sometimes higher.

Engine/Fuel Economy: Economy coupes and hatchbacks generally use ultraefficient four-cylinder engines that can return as much as 30-40 mpg, but they can make for sluggish acceleration. Most midsize coupes use larger six-cylinder engines that deliver more exciting performance but reduced fuel economy. Luxury coupes often employ high-powered six- or eight-cylinder engines that provide thrilling performance but below-average gas mileage.

Safety: Lower-priced coupes and hatchbacks now offer side airbags on many models, but their small size does make them vulnerable to larger vehicles in the event of a crash. Midsize two-doors often employ the same sophisticated systems found in their family sedan counterparts, so overall protection is generally very good. Luxury coupes usually come standard with the latest in safety technology, such as side curtain airbags and stability control systems.

Luxury Features/Convenience: Economy coupes typically offer basic amenities like air conditioning, an AM/FM stereo and power windows and locks. Midlevel two-doors often come in uplevel trims only, so amenities like leather, CD stereos and power everything are common. Luxury coupes come loaded with everything from heated and cooled seats to navigation systems.

Passenger Capacity/Interior Space: Although coupes have backseats, they typically offer very limited passenger room. Economy two-doors often have bench seats in the rear, while some midlevel and luxury coupes are designed to accommodate two passengers only.

Top Operation: Manual vs. Automatic: Lower-cost coupes often provide a choice between a manual or automatic transmission, while most midlevel and luxury coupes offer automatics only. Manual transmissions typically provide better performance and mileage, while automatics make stop-and-go driving less cumbersome.

Cargo Capacity: Most coupes provide as much cargo space as their sedan counterparts. Two-door hatchbacks offer additional cargo room in most cases compared to traditional trunks, as well as easier access to items stowed in back.

Body Style: Coupe or Hatchback: Like most sedans, a coupe typically has a standard trunk. Two-door hatchbacks provide more additional room by extending the roofline to the rear of the vehicle and using a rear hatch that opens much wider than most trunk lids.

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