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Q: What is a Hatchback?

December 17, 2013 12:53 PM

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A hatchback is a car with a cargo-access door (aka, a hatch) on the rear of the vehicle. The hatch is typically a liftgate with hinges on the top, so it is simple to open and pass cargo through. A hatchback is related to a station wagon, although standards vary by country. The primary advantage of a hatchback is that it allows for easy access to cargo stored in the rear of the vehicle's interior.

Hatchbacks are often classified into 3-door vehicles and 5-door vehicles. A 3-door hatchback generally consists of two passenger-entry doors and the hatch, while a 5-door hatchback consists of two passenger-doors in front, two doors for the second row of seating, and the hatch.

The hatchback body style has been in use since the 1930s, although the term hatchback has only been in use since 1970. A hatchback is frequently a body-style option for a vehicle model and is available on many types of cars, including compacts, family cars, and executive cars. A hatchback may also be sold under a separate model name from the sedan version but still be similar except for the rear end.

A hatchback generally has three pillars known as the A, B, and C pillars. The A pillar is between the front wheels and the passenger compartment. The B pillar is between the front-passenger compartment and the second row and cargo compartment. The C pillar is usually behind the rear wheels. The primary difference between a 5-door hatchback and a station wagon is that a station wagon typically has a D pillar at the rear of the vehicle.

The hatch in the rear of the vehicle makes hatchbacks more convenient for loading cargo, especially long or bulky objects.

Hatchback and sedan versions of the same model are often identical from the A pillar forward, including the drivetrain options. This generally means that a model with 4-wheel drive (4WD) for the sedan version will have 4WD for the hatchback version.

A hatchback is often shorter than a sedan due to the abrupt cut of the hatchback's rear end, whereas the rear of a sedan tends to slope more. You may be able to increase the length of the cargo space even further by folding the rear seat down in some hatchback models. Some sports cars are also available as hatchbacks to make up for their limited cargo space.

Hatchbacks are usually marketed as a body option for a particular model of vehicle, rather than a separate model. This allows these vehicles to share as many components as possible, especially in the front end.

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