Skip to main content

Vehicle classification is often confusing. For instance, when someone says sedan you probably picture something with four doors rather than two. After all, two-door cars are generally known as coupes.

However, things aren’t always that clear-cut in the world of vehicle nomenclature. Do you really know the difference between the two? Let’s find out, plus discover whether two-door sedans are a real thing.

A white 2023 Ford Mustang on display.
2023 Ford Mustang | Ford

Telling sedans and coupes apart

There are a few similarities between sedans and coupes but also some crucial differences. Most people define a sedan as a four-door vehicle with a fixed roof. Sedans are also generally longer than coupes, due to a wheelbase designed to provide more room for passengers and cargo. 

Most sedans prioritize passenger comfort, including providing plenty of head and legroom in both the front and rear seats. They usually have a larger bench-style seat in the back, with ample seating for three people. The general feeling in these spacious vehicles is one of luxury and comfort.

Since car doors are heavy, coupes typically weigh several hundred pounds less than their four-door counterparts. Less weight and a shorter wheelbase significantly improve a coupe’s handling and performance, especially when it comes to acceleration and braking.

Their exterior styling reflects that enhanced performance, with a sleek, sporty look featuring elongated doors and rear windows. These vehicles look like they are built for speed!

Are two-door sedans a thing?

Not according to J.D. Power, which argues that two-door sedans no longer exist, but four-door coupes do. They explain that it’s the sleek design running from the roof to the trunk that is the defining mark of a coupe, not the number of doors it has. A sedan with two doors just doesn’t have the same look as a true coupe. 

However, others argue that two-door sedans used to be a real thing since they had the same dimensions, ratio, and general structure as a four-door model. The only difference between the four-door and two-door versions being those two missing doors.

Car manufacturers are responsible for much of the confusion regarding two-door sedans and four-door or ‘Gran Coupes‘.

The Society of Automobile Engineers categorizes a coupe as a vehicle with two doors. However, the United States Society of Automotive Engineers doesn’t mention the number of doors at all!

When the governing bodies can’t agree, is it any wonder that consumers are confused about the differences?

Examples of old two-door sedans

So, what makes a vehicle a two-door sedan rather than a coupe? A four-door sedan has a longer roof and framed windows, unlike a true coupe. Some vehicles (like the Chevy Vega) were only available as a two-door sedan, with no four-door model even being offered.

Some of the vehicles they describe as two-door sedans are the 1963 Buick LeSabre, with its fairly boxy sedan shape but just two doors. The 1982 Buick Century had a similarly boxy shape anchored by two doors with framed windows—the hallmark of a sedan. 

The 1991 Buick Skylark Sedan and the 1991 Buick Skylark Custom Coupe look remarkably similar in side-by-side photos. The most noticeable difference being the two doors missing from the “coupe” model. 

Are you still confused by the differences between four-door coupes and two-door sedans? Don’t worry, because you’re definitely not alone. As long as automakers keep playing fast and loose with automobile classifications, we’ll probably all be confused for decades to come!


Don’t Let the 2021 Hyundai Veloster’s Quirk Stop You From Buying This Safe Car