How long is a car, you ask? Well, that depends on the make and model of the car. Some cars are shorter, such as hatchbacks and superminis. Other cars are obviously longer, such as station wagons and SUVs. Whether you’re trying to find out how long a car is so you can make sure it fits in the parking space you have available, or you just want to enrich your knowledge so you can show it off to your friends, we’re going to discuss in-depth just how long a car is.
How Long is a Car – The Average Car Length
Our modern requirements have made cars bigger over the years. Safety measures & designs, new features & tech, as well as our general need for more space, have made cars bigger over the years. For example, your typical compact sedans are now around two inches wider and longer than what they used to be in the 1990s.
Speaking of compact sedans, the Audi A4 is often associated with the average car length. Which is around 15 to 16 feet, or around 4.2 to 4.9 meters. Of course, a car’s length varies depending on the body type. But research indicates that cars are around 15 feet on average.
How Long is a Car? Car Types and Their Average Length
Cars come in all sort of shapes and sizes to fit the needs of consumers. What makes explaining this a little tricky is that there are different terminologies depending on where you live. For example, the Euro NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) defines most small cars as superminis. While the US Environmental Protection Agency breaks this segment down into two which are Minicompact and Subcompact. We’ll do our best to explain this from our car enthusiast point of view:
Superminis or City Cars – around 8.8 to 13 feet
These cars are often marketed as the perfect “urban vehicles”, hence the name ‘city cars’. They’re marketed as city cars because of their small size, giving them the ability to maneuver in tight city spaces easily with relative practicality. They’re usually between 2.7 to 4 meters in length or around 8.8 to 13 feet. As for their width, they’re usually around 1.6 meters wide or 5.2 feet.
Some cars that fall into this spectrum are the Fiat 500, the Suzuki Alto, and the Smart ForTwo. However, some would argue that smaller cars such as the Smart ForTwo and the Renault Twizy (even though it barely resembles a car) would fall into the ‘Microcar’ segment.
Small or Subcompact Cars – around 12.4 to 13.7 fee
Need a bit more space but still want a small car? The subcompact cars might be the one for you. These cars are larger than their supermini counterparts but still smaller than the typical compact car, hence the subcompact name. Subcompact cars are usually between 3.8 to 4.2 meters in length or around 12.4 to 13.7 feet.
Some examples of cars in this segment include the Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, and yes, the MINI Cooper hatchback. Despite getting bigger over the years the MINI Cooper is still a small car because the length does not exceed 4.1 meters. But I remember a time where Mini Coopers were no more than 3 meters long.
Mid-size or Compact Cars – around 14 to 15 feet
Despite their relatively large size, cars like the Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3-Series actually belong to the “compact” category. Surprised? Don’t worry, I was surprised as well when I first learned this a few years ago. Compact or mid-size cars are typically between 4.3 to 4.6 meters long or 14 to 15 feet.
They’re usually around 1.8 meters or 5.9 feet in width and stand at around 1.5 meters or 4.9 feet high. Other cars that fall into this category include the Audi A4, Toyota Camry, and the Mazda 6.
Full-size or Large Cars – Around 15.7 feet long on average
Cars that are 4.7 meters (15.4 feet) or longer fall into the full-size or large category. They can be broken down into two segments: first, the mid-size luxury cars which are bigger than the compact cars such as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the BMW 5-Series, and the Audi A6.
Then you have the full-size cars such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Jaguar XJ, and the Ford Taurus. These cars are 4.8 meters or 15.7 feet long on average, with similar width and height to the compact class cars. As long as it exceeds 4.7 meters in length, then it can be considered as a large or full-size car.
We’d like to mention the Rolls Royce Phantom as what is probably the biggest car in this segment. The extended-wheelbase version of the Rolls Royce Phantom is a healthy 5.7 meters or 18 feet long. That’s a whole meter longer than the Audi A6, which is by no means a small car.
Minivans or Multi-Purpose Vehicles – around 13.4 to 16.4 feet
Multi-purpose vehicles or MPVs saw a boom in popularity back in the 90s. They usually have a short bonnet, tons of space inside, and 7-seats in all sorts of configuration. They’re seen as an alternative for SUVs for those who need to fit a large family but have no need in going off-roading. They also sometimes come with a smaller and more efficient engine than SUVs.
These cars are usually between 4.1 meters to 5 meters long, or around 13.4 to 16.4 feet. The segment can usually be broken down into three sub-segments: the Mini MPV such as the Ford B-Max. Then there’s the compact MPV segment which includes cars like the Chevrolet Orlando and Volkswagen Touran. Then you have the large MPV or often referred to as the ‘People Mover’ such as the Renault Espace and Toyota Sienna.
Small SUV and Compact Crossover – Around 14.1 feet in length on average
Small SUVs and Compact Crossovers are very popular in recent years, partly thanks to their increased ride height which makes maneuvering slightly easier. And partly because they give you a bit more space without the thirst or dimensions of a full-size SUV. I personally don’t see the appeal of these cars; they’re bigger and heavier than their sedan or hatchback counterparts (compact SUVs often use a sedan model as their base). This means they are thirstier, as well as slower to drive. Not to mention there are other compromises such as handling and ride comfort.
Anyway, that’s a rant for another day. Today we’re simply discussing car lengths. Speaking of which, cars in this category are 4.3 meters or 14.1 feet in length on average. They’re typically around 2 meters wide and stand at around 1.7 meters tall. The term ‘small SUV’ and ‘compact crossover’ are interchangeable, manufacturers just like to use different terminologies sometimes. Cars in this segment include the Jeep Renegade, the Suzuki Jimny, the Toyota RAV4, and the Range Rover Evoque.
Large or Full-size SUV – around 17.1 feet
Large SUVs are the big brothers to the compact crossover segment. They’re typically designed from the ground-up instead of using a sedan or a hatchback as their base design. In my opinion, they make more sense than compact SUVs since they usually come with a bigger engine which means they’re more than powerful enough to lug around the heavy body. They also sit higher off the ground with a better 4×4 system which means they won’t get stuck every time you decide to take it for a light offroading. Or even heavy offroading, for that matter. But I digress.
They’re typically around 4.6 meters to 5.1 meters long, and they’re around 1.7 to 2 meters tall. Cars in this segment include the Mercedes-Benz GLS, the Toyota Landcruiser, and the Range Rover.
Pickup Trucks – around 18.3 feet
There are small and large pickup trucks. Smaller pickup trucks such as the Nissan Navara are usually around 4.9 meters long, or just a little over 16 feet. Meanwhile, larger pickup trucks can be as long as 5.6 meters or 18.3 feet. On average, they are around 1.9 meters tall. Large or full-size pickup trucks include the Chevy Silverado, RAM 1500, and the Ford F-150.
Sport Coupes – around 13 to 16.4 feet
Sports cars or sports coupes can be broken down into two segments: the usually larger and more powerful supercars, and the smaller but still powerful sports cars. It’s not clear how you define one or the other, but most car enthusiasts will define supercars as a performance car with more than 500 horsepower, often with a mid-engine configuration. Meanwhile, cars with less than 500 horsepower are usually defined as sports cars.
What is clear is that the term ‘coupe’ is usually used for cars with two doors, a fixed roof, and a sloping rear-end. Meanwhile, if you have a convertible, that’s called, well, a convertible. This term is used for cars with a folding roof that can be taken down. Manufacturers will sometimes use different names, such as roadster, cabriolet, or Spyder/Spider. Some will argue that there are differences between these terms, but they’re interchangeable and it’s mostly just marketing gibberish.
Terminology aside, these cars are anywhere between 4 to 5 meters long, or around 13 to 16.4 feet. While the width varies between 1.7 to 2 meters. Sports cars vary in size. For example, if you want a smaller sports car then there’s the Mazda MX-5, the BMW Z4, and the Porsche Boxster among others. Meanwhile, if you want a bigger sports car then there’s the BMW M4 and the Porsche 911. You can also buy a BMW 8-series or the Mercedes-Benz S-Class coupe if you want something more luxury-oriented. As for supercars, there are a lot of choices: there’s the Ferrari F8 Tributo, the Lamborghini Aventador, and the Porsche 911 Turbo S among others.
Other Car Body Types
The list above pretty much covers all common car body types and their average lengths. However, other car body types are often forgotten and we haven’t discussed them. Discussing this won’t really help with the “how long is a car?” question, but it’s always fun to learn more about cars. It’ll make you seem more knowledgeable as well. Here are some other car body types you should know about:
Estate or Station Wagon
Estate cars or station wagons are cars where the passenger and cargo area are in one joint cabin. Think of a hatchback but with a longer body and more space. They’re often based on a compact or mid-size sedan, which means they’re usually around 4.3 to 4.7 meters long.
Station wagons have significantly more space than a hatchback or a sedan. However, most consumers in the United States prefer a pickup truck since it usually has around the same, if not more space than a station wagon. Not to mention pickups can often go offroading much better than station wagons, offering more utility. They’re not particularly popular in Asia either, since they only come with five seats and a lot of Asian consumers prefer their large cars to have seven seats.
The shooting brake is largely similar to station wagons: they’re long with a combined area for the passengers or cargo. The term shooting brake actually originated from the 1890s where horse-drawn carriages were used to transport shooting parties and their equipment, along with their game or hunted animals.
The term is interchangeable with station wagons, but the name shooting brake is now often used for cars with a station wagon body but with coupe styling cues, sometimes with just two doors. A recent and famous example of the shooting brake body style is the controversial Ferrari FF, the first Ferrari to have an all-wheel drive system. Other examples include the Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake and the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo Shooting Brake. To put it simply, shooting brakes are stylish and fashionable station wagons.
The Coupe Confusion
The coupe segment has gotten more complicated over the years. A “true” coupe only has two doors, and two seats at the front. But if you see a car described as a 2+2 coupe, then that means the car has two doors and two extra seats at the back. An example of this is the BMW M4, which has two extra seats at the back.
That’s simple enough, but then you get to four-door “coupes”. Where the car has four doors but with a sloping rear-end which gives it a coupe look. For example, the Mazda RX-8 is technically a four-door coupe. It has two normal front doors, but there are two rear scissor (and very small) doors for the rear passengers.
BMW is notorious for making their lineup incredibly confusing with the coupe term. For example, they make the 4-Series Gran Coupe and the now-out-of-production 6-Series Gran Coupe. These are four-door cars based on two-door cars, which were four-door cars to begin with. The 4-Series and the 6-Series were originally two-door versions of their four-door 3-Series and 5-Series respectively.
Confused? We’re not done yet. There are also big SUVs with the name coupe attached to them. They’re basically big SUVs but with a sloping rear-end which supposedly makes them look more sporty and coupe-like. A recent example of this is the Porsche Cayenne Coupe.
Anyway, what you need to know is that coupe is usually a term reserved for cars with two doors and a sporty design. If a car maker gives their car the name coupe but it has four doors, then really it’s just a marketing language to make their car sound more sporty.
The term ‘Targa’ is very interesting. They are basically convertibles, but instead of a folding roof that folds away to behind the driver, the Targa roof is often removable with clips and then you can store it in the trunk. It’s quite similar to convertibles, so the defining feature of Targa cars is the full-width roll bar behind the seats. Because of this, Targa cars have less “headroom” when opened if you compare it to fully convertible cars.
The first car to use the Targa name was the 1966 Porsche 911 Targa. There have been many Targa cars over the years, and most convertible supercars technically have a Targa roof. But since Porsche trademarked the Targa name, other manufacturers can’t use it. If they do, Porsche lawyers will be in contact with them faster than you can say “Stuttgart”.
A limousine, by definition, is a big luxury car driven by a chauffeur often with a partition separating the passengers and the driver. There’s also the stretch limo, which is an even longer version of these luxury cars. Some popular cars that are often converted into stretch limos include the Hummer H2, the Cadillac XTS, and the Escalade.
Most limos are around 5.4 to 5.7 meters long. Meanwhile, stretch limos vary in length, depending on how long the limo service wants their car to be. Rarely anyone owns a limousine. Instead, limo services rent them out to people who might need them, such as wedding parties, celebrities, and really anyone who wants a ride in them.
Fun fact: the world’s longest limo was called “The American Dream“. It was a 100-foot long limo based on the Cadillac Eldorado built-in 1966 by Jay Ohrberg, a Hollywood designer known for creating KITT on Knight Rider and the time-traveling DeLorean in Back to the Future. The monstrosity had 24 tires, two engines, and a helipad on its tail. However, the car was so large that it could never be driven on the road. Still, quite a sight to behold.
If you want to learn more about car body types and their history, we recommend watching this video from Donut Media:
How to Find Out How Long is A Car
Whether you’re trying to find out whether the new car you’re about to buy will fit comfortably in your garage or you’re just filling in the free time you have with car facts, there are several ways you can find out the specific length of a car:
How Long is a Car? Use a VIN Decoder
If you already own the car and you’re trying to find out the length for whatever reason, then you can simply use a VIN decoder. You can find the VIN by either locating it in the car or taking a look at your car’s papers. Simply input those 17 digits and voila! You’ve got all the information you will need.
Looking up your car’s VIN won’t just reveal its dimensions, it will also reveal a lot of other interesting information about your car. This includes the equipment fitted, where the car was manufactured, and where the car was originally sent for sale.
How Long is a Car? Ask the Dealership
If you have no intention of buying a car, then it would be best to simply look it up online. Lots of online auto shops such as Vroom and Carvana will provide the dimensions of a car on the page. However, if you’re looking to buy a car, then might as well visit the dealership and ask for the information and specs that you want to find out. It’ll give you the chance to take a closer look at the car as well.
How Long is a Car? Why You Should Know
There are a lot of specs in a car that you should know before you buy them. As mentioned, you might want to check how long the car you’re planning to buy if you know you have a tight parking space. This way, you can make sure the car fits comfortably. If you’re taller than average, it will also help to know the height of the car, as they’re often an indication of how much headroom it has. You don’t want to buy a car only to find out your tall figure barely fits in it.
The cargo or boot space is something you’d want to know as well before you buy a car. The longer the car, the more cargo space it could have. However, this isn’t always true as some cars use their extra length for legroom, fuel tank, or some other component. If you have specific needs, you might want to give these specifications a proper check. For example, if you own a small business and you know you haul a lot of things around, then be sure to look for a car that prioritizes cargo space over anything else.
How Long is a Car: In Conclusion…
As mentioned, there’s no one answer to the question “how long is a car?” since they come in all shapes and sizes. On average, a car is around 4.6 meters or 15 feet, or around the size of an Audi A4. But it can be shorter or longer, depending on the body type.
Knowing how long a car is will be very useful when you’re about to buy a new car. You can make sure that it fits your requirements and you won’t have sudden surprises when you take it home for the first time. Even if you’re not planning to buy a car, then knowing a car’s length is just good fun and gives you something to talk about the next time you’re on a first date. Although make sure your date is actually interested in cars, otherwise you’ll just bore them.