Know Before You Buy

Know Before You Buy

Market Segment

Two-door cars are also known as coupes, though there are some models that feature hatchback designs. Many are based on a corresponding four-door sedan or more of a performance-oriented vehicle.


Economy two-doors start at just over $10,000, while exotic coupes run well in excess of $200,000. Lower-priced coupes and hatchbacks tend to cost about the same or even slightly less than their four-door counterparts, while premium coupes are often several hundred dollars more than their sedan counterparts.

Performance & MPG

Economy coupes and hatchbacks generally use efficient four-cylinder engines that can return as much as 30-40 mpg. Most offer at least passable acceleration, and sport variants can be downright quick. Most midsize coupes use larger engines that deliver more exciting performance but reduced fuel economy. Luxury coupes often employ high-powered four-, six- or eight-cylinder engines that provide thrilling performance, and thanks to the increased use of turbocharging, far superior fuel economy than past models.


Shoppers should find features like antilock brakes, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and stability control as standard on every model. Rearview cameras are also increasingly standard, while high-tech electronics that warn inattentive drivers of blind-spot intrusion and impending collisions have migrated from strictly the luxury realm down to mainstream brands. Shoppers should also be aware of crash test scores produced by NHTSA and the IIHS.


Luxuries like rearview cameras, automatic climate control, heated seats, smartphone interfaces, navigation systems, keyless start systems and Bluetooth capability can often be found in non-luxury coupes. Look for them as you shop. For coupe buyers, access to the rear seat is almost always tricky, and the presence of features that simplify the journey into the back is always welcome. Look for front seats that automatically return to their previous position and seatbelts that move out of the way for rear occupants but are still easily accessible for the driver.


Although coupes have backseats, they characteristically offer very limited passenger room. Headroom in particular often suffers as the result of steeply raked back windows. While some coupes have room for three people in back, many have room for two only, with bucket-like seats.

Cargo Space

Traditional coupes provide less cargo space than their sedan counterparts; however, two-door hatchbacks offer more cargo room as well as easier access to items stowed in back.

Transmission Types

This used to be a simple section, but not anymore. While traditional manuals with clutch pedals are still recommended for sport-tuned models and underpowered compacts, there are now several kinds of automatics. One is the traditional and most common "automatic transmission," which features a torque converter and sometimes can be shifted manually via the console shifter or steering-wheel-mounted paddles. Automated manual transmissions used to be the stuff of exotic sports cars, but now they've found their way into economy cars for their ability to better maximize the potential of low-powered engines. While these types of transmissions make manual shifting more responsive, they can operate just like a normal automatic, but shift quality is typically less smooth. Finally, there's the CVT, which automatically selects from an infinite ratio to keep the engine in a sweet spot of power and/or fuel economy. A typical downside of this engine is a constant droning noise during acceleration.

Cost to Own

Between their low prices and great mileage, economy coupes and hatchbacks promise exceptionally low operating costs. Midrange and luxury coupes typically offer mileage on par with their sedan counterparts, but some insurance companies consider them sportier than sedans, so premiums are sometimes higher.

More Information About Coupes


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