Sedan vs. Coupe: Do You Know the Difference?

SUVs, trucks, crossover, hatchback, convertible, sedan, and coupe are all different body styles of cars. They each have a loose definition depending on how many doors they have and other factors, but sometimes it gets a bit more complicated than that. Knowing the difference between a coupe and a sedan can help you identify what car you want to buy. If you’re a fan of two doors but want the space of a four-door sedan, there are many options. You just need to know what to look for. This is the difference between a coupe and a sedan.

Coupes fit many definitions

Lamborghini Versace LP640 Coupe on display in Sydney
Lamborghini Versace LP640 Coupe on display in Sydney | Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

Historically, a coupe was defined as an enclosed “carriage” for two passengers and a driver. Now, by definition, a coupe is a car with a fixed roof, two doors, and a sloping rear. Generally speaking, coupes are cars with two doors. A Mustang, for instance, is a two-door car. Thus it must be a coupe. However, the car’s top takes precedent if it has a removable soft top, i.e., a convertible, that becomes its designation. 

The coupe definition goes farther than that, according to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), which classifies coupes as a fixed-roof cars with less than 33 cubic feet of rear interior volume. The absence of B-pillars is another coupe body style indicator. Coupes can have four doors and remain coupes, as long as they abide by these parameters.

Four doors don’t necessarily mean a sedan

BMW 520i M Sport driving in Banten
BMW 520i M Sport driving in Banten | Dasril Roszandi/NurPhoto

Sedans, also called “saloons” across the pond, are traditionally cars with four doors. A more precise definition dictates a sedan is an enclosed body with a trunk separated from the cabin. Another definition states that a sedan is a passenger car with three compartments, one for the engine, a second for the occupants, and a third for the trunk, according to JD Power. Now it gets confusing when companies like BMW make two-door sedans and call them Gran Coupes. A gran coupe has four doors and a large interior. 

Advantages and disadvantages to both

BMW 4-Series on display in Geneva
BMW 4-Series on display in Geneva | Gerlach Delissen/Corbis via Getty Images

Each body style has its own pros and cons. It completely depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a four-door coupe, you’d be hard-pressed finding one outside of Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. One of the better four-door coupes comes from the BMW 2-series. It uses a turbocharged inline-four with 228 horsepower. The Audi Sportback models count as four-door coupes, as well as the Mercedes-Benz GT and CL classes. 

The best four-door coupe for value goes to the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45, with 382 horsepower for $55,350. Gran Coupes are a relatively new body style, so they are holding value right now, but you can find a 2017 BMW 650i Gran Coupe for $53,488 with a 4.4-liter V8 and 445 horsepower. 

Choose the right size car

When choosing a car, be sure to assess how much space you need. If you’re going to be carrying many people around, maybe consider a four-door sedan for ease of entry and plenty of space. 

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