What Is A 4-Door Coupe?

Dustin Hawley | Feb 23, 2021

Vehicles like sedans, convertibles, hatchbacks, SUVs, station wagons, pickup trucks, and vans are all rather distinguishable. But as seemingly straightforward as they may seem, each of these individual car categories draws certain ambiguities. In all its simplicity, a coupe is a two-door car with a fixed roof, an engine compartment, passenger cabin, and trunk space, all separated from one another in a standard three-box form. 

what is a 4 door coupe

In recent years, designers have been creating models that have spurned questions and body-style confusion amongst consumers. Some of these conversations have taken place around vehicles like coupes with rear seats and even four-door coupes. But in theory, isn’t a four-door coupe technically a sedan? The confusion is warranted, but we have put together some information to precisely define what a four-door coupe is and what separates it from the sedan category.

Coupe: A Brief History - Find the best car deals!

A little over a century ago, the Society of Automobile Engineers began recommending the names for different body styles, and the name “coupe” was on the list. The word initially was derived from the French language, hence the coupé alternative. The past principle of the French verb “couper” means “to cut,” so it makes a lot of sense to apply this term to the modern meaning of the word, as a vehicle that is made shorter than standard. 

During the 1940s and the 1950s, coupes were easily recognized by their shorter roof area. But by the end of the 1970s, two official standards emerged. Governing bodies began to define the coupe differently. According to the International Standard ISO 3833, the coupe is categorized as a vehicle with two doors. On the other hand, the United States Society of Automotive Engineers J1100 publication does not specify the number of doors at all. 

Car manufacturers have taken advantage of this discrepancy, continuing to produce four-door coupes over the past decade and extending the confusion around the “coupe” narrative. 

Characteristics Of A 4-Door Coupe - Find the best car deals!

There are four key features that all 4-seater coupes have in common. Turmoil exists in defining the four-door coupe, and some consumers even compared them to 2 door sedans. Of course, a two-door sedan doesn’t exist. So why are 4-door coupes the exception to the rule per se? Let’s take a look at some specifications of these vehicles and decide for ourselves: 

  • Four-door coupes have an increased seating capacity, with manufacturers guaranteeing a four-passenger capacity. This isn’t the case with a classic two-door coupe. While many models did offer passenger space in the back, it was often very cramped and wasn’t necessarily designed to accommodate four adult passengers. 
  • The size of 4-door coupes has also increased significantly. One great example is the BMW M8, which has grown considerably over its predecessors in recent years. 
  • Four-door coupes are often considerably more expensive than their two-door counterparts.

Pros And Cons Of A 4-Door Coupe - Find the best car deals!

There are numerous benefits and drawbacks of this unique car category.


  • The impeccable interior and exterior style of many four-door coupes can be quite attractive to consumers.
  • Standard engines are often very powerful in comparison with traditional coupes.
  • Many four-door coupes can be classified as sports cars based on their performance capabilities.


  • Four-door coupes are often more expensive than their two-door contemporaries.
  • If you are looking for additional options and trim packages, you’ll often have to pay much more. 
  • The sloped roofline of 4 door coupes is practically a synonym for “less space,” regardless of what marketing experts say. The lower the roofline, the less headroom space for passengers in the back. For those looking for coupe performance in the body of a “sedan,” you may find it. But seeking the roominess and comfort of a sedan in these coupes will likely leave you underwhelmed. 

Summary - Find the best car deals!

While there may be some similarities between them, there are still many differences that separate traditional coupes from 4-door varieties. At the end of the day, it’s not the number of doors the vehicle has that gives it the “coupe” title, but rather the specific design, notably, the sleek roof that runs all the way back to the trunk. 

The decision on whether or not to purchase a four-door coupe comes down to your budget, your personal preferences, and how often you have passengers in the back of your vehicle.

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