If you’re in the market for a new car, you’ve probably been thorough with your research as you narrow down your selection. But if you’re still sitting on the fence, identifying the vehicle you need can sometimes be difficult if you don’t understand how that is influenced by the body type of each car.
Not only can the body of a car have a bearing on overall ride comfort and performance, but it can influence your ongoing ownership costs. Here, in part 2 of this guide, we take a look at the various car body types to enable you to frame your buying decision.
Now the first choice for the majority of Australian new car buyers, SUVs – or sports utility vehicles – are defined by their imposing, boxy appearance. They are bigger and more durable than ordinary passenger cars, which also means they require more power under the bonnet. At the same time they are also a standout for cargo and towing capacity.
An option well suited to large families, many SUVs are just as adept off-road as they are on bitumen, although this varies from model to model, and also depends on whether they are fitted with a 4x2 or 4x4 setup. Their running costs will generally be more on account of their higher fuel requirements, plus the wear and tear arising from their overall weight and size.
At first glance crossovers may look rather similar to SUVs, and that’s because their design is shared. Under their external façade however, the mechanical chassis of each offers a distinct difference. Crossovers sport a unibody construction, often sharing the same platform as that found in passenger vehicles, making them more suited for bitumen and not so much off-road. This differs to SUVs, which have a truck-like platform where the body sits on the frame. From an ergonomics perspective, crossovers are often praised for their leg room and higher passenger positioning.
Seen at construction sites all around the country, utes feature an enclosed cabin, with open cargo tray in the rear. The cabin may have a single row of seating, or a second row as well, while the tray has a tailgate and low sides for ease of access to transport goods. More often than not utes will use the same chassis as that in vans, or even serve as the platform for SUVs. This means they have a robust and durable frame for coping with high workloads.
Multipurpose vehicles – or MPV for short – are a form of van, albeit with flexibility for carrying either passengers, or cargo. From a passenger perspective, they can carry as many as 8 or 9 passengers, while folding seats can optimise the same space to transport goods instead. Because it stands more upright than SUVs, their roof clearance is greater and provides an enlarged sense of space inside. MPVs are also more suited for children and elderly passengers given their ease of access and seating ergonomics, however their handling sometimes falls short of comparable cars in other segments.
Vans share many of the practicalities that MPVs do, albeit they are tailored for commercial purposes and thus have less flexibility and amenity when it comes to moving people around. Boasting sizeable storage and payload capacity, the large size of vans typically means they have a large turning circle and are restricted in terms of manoeuvrability and performance. Their distinctive barn-style rear doors and sliding side doors offer great access, which does sometimes make them a convenient option to transport crew.