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Vehicle size class

There are many ways of classifying cars. The common North American parlance is word-based (eg, compact car) while European writers typically use letters for sizes.

United States EuroNCAP Euro size Example
Microcar - Microcar Smart Fortwo
 - Supermini A class Fiat Panda
Subcompact B class Ford Fiesta
Compact Small family car C class Ford Focus
Mid-size Large family car D class Volkswagen Passat
Full-size E class Chrysler 300
Luxury Executive car F class Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Sports - Sports Porsche 911
Convertible - Cabriolet BMW 3-Series
Roadster Roadster Roadster BMW Z4
 - Small MPV MIni MPV Opel Meriva
 - Compact MPV Renault Scénic
Minivan MPV Large MPV Toyota Previa
Crossover SUV Small Off-Roader - Honda CR-V
SUV Large Off-Roader - Jeep Grand Cherokee

North America

Vehicle size classes in use in North America categorize automobiles by their relative lengths and volumes. Widely used vehicle size classes include:

Car Class Interior Volume Modern example
ft³ L
Microcar/supermini/minicompact < 85 <2400 Smart
Subcompact car 85-99 2400-2800 Hyundai Accent
Compact car 100-109 2800-3000 Ford Focus
Mid-size car 110-119 3000-3300 Chevrolet Malibu
Full-size car >120 >3300 Lincoln Town Car


Vehicle segments in Europe don't have formal characterization or regulations. Models are attributed a segment based on comparison to generalist brands models. For example, a car the size of a Volkswagen Golf would be its competitor. The VW Polo is smaller, so it belongs one segment below the Golf, while the bigger Passat is one segment above.


MPVs are usually atributed to the B, C and D segments, according to the models they are based on. For example, the Opel Meriva belongs to the B segment (called mini MPVs), the Ford Focus C-MAX] is a C-segment car (a Compact MPV), and the Renault Espace corresponds to the D segment (large MPVs).

Off-road vehicles and SUVs are considered a segment apart from normal, as are light commercial vehicles. While classification is more confusing in this case, reporters use to compare different 4x4s the size, off-road capabilities and engine power.

High-performance sports cars and supercars are not part of a normal classification, due to their nature as overpriced exotic vehicles, although some coupés and cabriolets are based on regular models and included in the same segment as the base model.

For safety ratings, the EuroNCAP uses nine categories:

  • Superminis (it includes city cars)
  • Small family cars (also for stand-alone saloon superminis, like the Dacia Logan)
  • Large family cars
  • Executive cars (for expensive cars over 4.80m long)
  • Roadsters
  • Small off-roaders (similar to the Northmerican crossover SUV category)
  • Large off-roaders (similar to the Northmerican SUV category)
  • Small MPVs (both mini MPVs and compact MPVs)
  • Large MPVs

See also