Hatchbacks vs. Wagons: What’s the Difference?


Hatchbacks and wagons have a lot of similarities. They both have five doors, five seats, and a two-box body configuration. So are they the same? Not really. Let’s figure out what separates these two very similar vehicle types.


 What’s important to know is that both wagons and hatchbacks are based on the equivalent sedans. They use the same platforms as the sedans they’re based on. But the main difference between them is that a wagon is significantly longer than a hatchback. Both have space for five adults, but the station wagon has a lot more cargo space and a much longer body than a hatchback. In fact, station wagons are usually long and extremely elongated as compared to hatchbacks.


 If the length of the vehicle isn’t a clear enough indicator, there’s another way to figure out whether the car you’re looking at is a hatch or a wagon. Start counting the number of windows. A hatchback only has two pairs of windows – the front and the rear. A station wagon has an additional pair of windows behind the rear windows. In all, it has three pairs of windows. But you may argue, there are hatchbacks with three pairs of windows too. You’re right. In that case, let’s move to the next step.


 A station wagon tends to have more pillars than a hatchback. A hatchback has three – A, B, and C. A station wagon has an additional D pillar at the rear. But in case that’s still confusing, thanks to the extra windows that many hatchbacks also have, there’s still another step you can take to confirm.

Bumper and Roof

 Hatchbacks have a roofline that dips just past the rear passenger doors. Station wagons have roofs that continue past the rear door. The D pillar on a station wagon is also pushed back, creating a long rear overhang. So check the rear bumper and see if it hangs far behind the rear passenger door and tires. And that’s the main difference. A hatchback’s roof will dip after the rear doors. A station wagon’s roof continues straight. This is an easy way to confirm whether that vehicle is a hatchback or a station wagon.

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