What Is a Sedan?

What Is a Sedan?

Say the word sedan, and instantly you picture a car with a four-door, a hood, and a trunk. That’s the classic three-box configuration for sedans. Under the hood or the first box is the engine, the second box with four doors is the passenger cabin, and the third box, the trunk, is a lockable cargo space. A little known fact is that in ancient times in Egypt, India, and China, a sedan chair was an enclosed box to transport important people. Today it’s a car that offers a comfortable, smooth ride.

Sedan Styles

Though the three-box configuration is considered standard, there are several modern evolutions of the sedan.

Notchback: Classic three-box design  with a less pronounced trunk than the engine and passenger compartments

Hatchback: A hatch-type rear door that lifts up and a rear passenger area that is open to the cargo area

Fastback: These sedans have a single sloping roof that runs all the way down to the rear fender

Hardtop: This sedan’s rood is rigid and is either fixed or detachable, but the hardtop can also retract into the storage space making this type a ‘convertible’ sedan

Sedans vs. Coupes

Usually, you can tell them apart by the number of doors each vehicle type has. Coupes have only two doors, while sedans have four. But there are manufacturers who have started marketing what they call four-door coupes. But that’s because they want to indicate that these sedans are stylish and sporty. Traditional coupes have two doors, look sporty and offer sporty performance as well. They have a sleek, sloping roofline, space for two adults in the front and a tiny ear seat.


The design of sedans makes them heavier. But manufacturers make up for the extra weight with engine upgrades that are more powerful. The shorter wheelbase of the coupe and lighter weight help boost its performance. Its acceleration and braking are also improved because it’s lighter.


Most sedans choose the luxury route instead of sporty. It has shorter doors, getting in and out of them is easy, and the windows and door pillars deliver a balanced side profile design. When two doors are removed from the body, the design changes dramatically. The front doors are made longer, more attractive, and less practical.