A Complete Guide to Sedans: What to Expect from Your Ride

A Complete Guide to Sedans: What to Expect from Your Ride

With various types of vehicles out there on the market, it can be hard to distinguish them from each other, especially when some models are incredibly close to others. Sedans are one of those types of cars that sometimes it's unclear of what it's referring to when someone uses the term. So what is a sedan, and what makes it distinguishable from other types of cars?

Characteristics of Sedans

Sedans are one of the styles of vehicles that have been on the market for over a century. Renault produced the first sedan in that time, and Cadillac was responsible for the first fully enclosed model, which would become a popular style that many other manufacturers would reproduce over the years.

While different manufacturers will put their variations on how they design sedans, the main characteristics of these vehicles are:

  • A B pillar to support the roof between the rear and front windows
  • A three-box design (engine at front and cargo at the rear)
  • Two rows of seats
  • A roof that slopes less steeply, allowing for more headroom
  • At least thirty-three cubic feet of rear interior volume

Another commonly interpreted feature of sedans is that they must have four doors, but that isn't always the case. Many car manufacturers produce two-door sedan models, and they have also started to make more allowances in what they call a sedan, even if it doesn't match up with these characteristics exactly.

Within the broader category of sedans, there are various body styles, such as close coupled, convertible, hardtop, club, fastback, notchback, and sedanettes, which all have their slightly different aesthetic and functional purposes. Even so, there hasn't been much variation in what makes a sedan since it first entered the market as a type of vehicle.

Sedans vs. Coupes

Part of why many people use the number of doors to define what is a sedan and what's not is to help distinguish them from coupes, which traditionally have two doors. However, since manufacturers like GMC have been making two-door sedans and four-door coupes in recent years, that definition is becoming much less accurate than it was before.

Instead, the actual distinction between sedans and coupes is the rear interior volume. As mentioned, a sedan needs to have at least thirty-three cubic feet of space available in the rear, though they can certainly have more space than that depending on how the manufacturer handles it.

Coupes then have much less interior rear space. So long as the vehicle has any amount of space less than thirty-three cubic feet while meeting the other notable features, it's a coupe, rather than a sedan. However, with the small amount of interior space available, it makes sense that most coupes only have two doors, which is what's lead to the popular idea of the distinction between the two.

With the technical details out of the way, the different builds of these types of vehicles lend themselves better to various functions. Overall, the steeper incline of the roof on a coupe helps make it sportier, and these vehicles are likely to have one or two rows of seats in the build.

With more space to them and two rows of seats, sedans tend to fall into the "family" care category since they have enough room to seat four or five people. Even while these distinctions exist, some manufacturers have been blurring the line between the two as they experiment with different vehicle styles.

Overall, though, neither a coupe or a sedan is superior to the other in terms of performance or even new car prices. It's a matter of finding the features, performance, and fuel efficiency that work best for your needs and budget.

Top Sedans and Their Prices

Sedans have remained popular since their inception, and plenty of sedans are available on the market today. Some of the top options currently available are below, along with their prices:

  • Alfa Romeo Giulia – New: $38,295 – Used: $24,150
  • Audi A6 – New: $58,900 – Used: $32,675
  • BMW M5 – New: $102,700 – Used: $47,925
  • Chevrolet Malibu – New: $22,095 – Used: $18,675
  • Ford Fiesta – New: $14,260 - $15,490 – Used: $12,100
  • Ford Fusion – New: $22,840 – Used: $22,825
  • Honda Accord – New: $23,720 - $36,695 – Used: $20,250 -$26,150
  • Honda Civic – New: $19,490 - $27,300 – Used: $18,250
  • Honda Insight – New: $22,830 - $28,090 – Used:
  • Hyundai Accent – New: $14,995 - $19,080 – Used: $12,425
  • Hyundai Elantra – New: $17,200 – Used: $14,575
  • Hyundai Sonata – New: $22,300 - $31,900 – Used: $18,200
  • Kia Cadenza – New: $33,100 - $44,100 – Used: $27,025 - $33,025
  • Kia Forte – New: $17,790 - $21,990 – Used: $16,250
  • Kia Optima – New: $22,990 – Used: $21,025
  • Kia Rio – New: $15,390 - $16,190 – Used: $15,275
  • Kia Stinger – New: $32,990 - $52,400 – Used:
  • Mazda 3 – New: $24,195 – Used: $19,475
  • Mazda 6 – New: $23,800 - $35,100 – Used: $22,025
  • Nissan Altima – New: $24,000 – Used: $17,025
  • Nissan Maxima – New: $34,050 – Used: $25,700
  • Subaru Legacy – New: $22,545 – Used: $18,350
  • Toyota Avalon – New: $35,500 - $42,200 – Used: $28,275
  • Toyota Camry – New: $23,845 - $34,600 – Used: $17,375
  • Toyota Corolla – New: $18,700 - $22,880 – Used: $15,925
  • Toyota Mirai – New: $58,500 – Used: $28,500
  • Volkswagen Jetta – New: $26,945 – Used: $19,875
  • Volkswagen Passat – New: $25,295 – Used: $14,975

Even with recommended values, new and used sedan prices can vary greatly between dealerships and sellers. Research the vehicle you want in advance, and use a vehicle history report whenever buying used.

Things to Consider When Shopping for a Sedan

With the vast amount of sedans, their manufacturers, and their price ranges, simply deciding that you want to own a sedan isn't enough to narrow down the playing field to make a purchase. You'll find that these cares can vastly differ in terms of performance, reliability, comfort, and fuel economy, so you'll want to pick out the best option to meet your needs.

Engines and Fuel Economy

In many ways, the design of the engine can profoundly impact fuel economy. While it used to be more common that the number of cylinders could indicate what the horsepower of a vehicle would look like, modern technological advancements have made it possible for more efficient engines of every kind.

Even so, fuel economy is an essential factor that will impact your driving and the money you spend on gasoline, so you should pay attention. Naturally, the advertised values won't be entirely accurate to real-world driving conditions, but you can get a solid idea of what you'll be dealing with by paying attention to the projected fuel economy of your chosen sedan.

Take note that some upscale sedans come with turbocharging, which can require premium gas to work at their fullest capacity.

Price and Your Budget

While many factors can play into whether or not a car is right for you, the price is undoubtedly one of them. When looking back at our list of sedans, it's easy to see the spread of costs, so it's not much of a challenge to find one that falls into your realm of affordability. Even so, you shouldn't neglect this step so that you don't end up with financial trouble later in your loan period.

Aside from knowing what you can afford to pay and thinking about your monthly payments, you should pay as much as you can in your down payment, which will save you from paying interest on that amount. Another critical factor when planning your long-term budget will be considering potential maintenance and repair costs you'll encounter.

While financing can help, it's always best to be realistic about what you can afford and not take out too much in a loan. Consider your options; new BMW sedan prices will differ from used ones.

Safety Features and Other Tech Options

If you shop for a newer sedan, you'll find that you have plenty of technology options like music, navigation, and more. However, not all of these features are essential, and you can save money by opting for older sedans that may not include these aspects.

An area that's less up to compromise is safety. Modern safety features have come a long way, and older vehicles may not have the same level of protection available. Review stats for the model of sedan you're interested in, and only purchase a car if you're comfortable with what it has to offer.