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Saloon or sedan - vehicle types explained

When it comes to vehicles these days, buyers have so much choice. The same can be said for vehicle types – buyers are spoilt for choice, with everything from subcompact city cars all the way up to people movers. Whatever your needs, chances are you’ll find the perfect vehicle to fulfil your requirements. However, all this choice has also lead to some confusion about which vehicles fall into which categories, and what the vehicle type actually means. We decided to look at vehicle types in depth to better understand the classification system and find out what it all really means.

Types explained

In terms of vehicle types in Australia, ANCAP breaks cars down into nine different categories. We break down each type below, along with common names and examples of which cars fall into what categories (source: ANCAP).

ANCAP vehicle type Other names Examples of cars in the category
Small car Hatchback, micro-car, city cars, small family car Toyota Carolla, Holden Barina, Hyundai i30, Mazda2, Nissan Micra, Ford Fiesta
Medium car Sedan, medium family car Opel Astra, Ford Fiesta, Kia Optima, Hyundai i40, Mazda6, Subaru Liberty
Large car Saloon, family car Toyota Camry, Ford Falcon, Holden Commodore, Audi A6, Ford Mondeo
Sports car Roadster Honda CR-V, Hyundai Veloster, Mazda MX5, Audi TT, Holden Monaro
People Mover Mini van Toyota Tarago, Chrysler Voyager, Hyundai iMax, Kia Rondo/Carens, Mercedez Valante
Compact SUV Mini SUV, Mini 4x4 Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, Hyundai i35, BMW X1, Skoda Yeti
Medium SUV Large 4x4 Toyota RAV4, Ford Kuga, Mitsubushi Outlander, Jeep Wrangler, Audi Q3
Large SUV Large 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser, Mitsubishi Pajero, Hyundai Santa Fe, land Rover Range Rover

International perspective

When looking at international motoring websites or travelling overseas, it is easy to get confused with vehicle types as the USA, UK and Europe each have their own system. For example, what is considered a Large SUV in Australia is known as a full-size SUV in the USA, and a Large 4x4 in the UK. Also, certain cars are considered in different categories internationally – the Holden Cruze, while considered a small car in Australia is classified as a Medium car elsewhere.

Most common confusion

A lot of the confusion about vehicle classifications stems from the fact that certain cars are often put into multiple categories. If the vehicle type differs across promotional material and regulatory bodies, it can make researching its safety and features difficult.

Car makers also tend to make up their own vehicle types for certain models – for example, BMW has created an ‘Executive Saloon’ for its 5 series of vehicles.

Final thoughts

While there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding vehicle types, at the end of the day if the car suits your needs it doesn’t make a lot of difference which category it falls into. When picking the vehicle type of your new car, it is important to think about what you’ll be using the vehicle for and choose a vehicle from that category – e.g. City driving – small car, large family – people mover or large SUV. Just remember not to get bogged down in vehicle types and terminology – after all, a particular vehicle is still the same no matter what category it falls into!

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