Car Dimensions

Car dimensions sound as academic and dull measurements until you want to know if your new vehicle will fit into your garage, whether you are going to prop up the roof with your noggin or your back-seat passengers can rest with their legs fully stretched, etc. We strongly recommend to pay much attention to such car dimensions as length, width, height, weight, wheelbase, turning radius, track, headroom, shoulder room, leg room, hip room, luggage volume and passenger volume when buying a new vehicle. 

Let’s have a quick look at each of the car dimensions separately for a better understanding. Probably, the most obvious measurement is the car length implying the distance from the front tip, usually a bumper, to the most distant point at the back. It correlates with wheelbase dimension, which is the length between the center of the front and rear wheels. 

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Another important parameter is the car width measuring the vehicle’s stretch from the left to the right side with mirrors not taken into account. It goes closely with the car track identified as the distance between the centers of the wheels on the same axle. Also known as the tread, front and rear car track can be different on the same vehicle.

Speaking of the vertical dimensions, we usually come up with car height comprising the vertical distance from the top point to the bottom line. But it cannot convey the comfort degree inside the car so that’s when you should consider such parameter as head room to know how much space is left for your torso between the roof and the bottom of the seat. Front head room and rear head room go as different values because roof height may vary between the rows of seats. What is more, you may find the minimum and maximum head room values, as in most cars seats may be adjusted up and down.

An overall exterior design of the vehicle results into drag coefficient – a value measuring the resistance of the airflow on the car while driving. Low automobile drag coefficient (Cd) is a certain indication of good aerodynamic characteristics. The air force pushing against the car gets two times stronger if you speed up from 35 to 70 miles per hour. Most modern cars have a drag coefficient slightly above .30 while SUV’s and light trucks due to their boxy shapes have worse results, in some cases even around .40. Sleek and smooth sports cars can boast of outstanding results - below 0.30.

Shoulder room tells you how much space one can occupy amid the left and right door panels, with front and rear shoulder room specified separately.

Hip room informs about the width of a car’s seat. When speaking about the driver’s seat we mean the front hip room, and rear hip room defines the capacity of the passenger cushion to know how much space you’ll have on each side of your waist.

One of the most controversial and uncertain measurements in the automotive industry is the leg room, as the Society of Automotive Engineers does not provide a clear explanation whether it should be measured with the seats fixed all the way forward, all the way back or in the middle position. It would be a good idea to sit in the car and test both front and rear leg room if this is a major issue for you.

As SUVs with a third row seating gain popularity all over the world it is useful to review the third row leg room, head room, shoulder and hip room in advance. The reason is that in reality not all crossovers have enough interior volume to house an extra row of seats. In many cases it simply decreases the cargo volume.

The thing is a car’s interior volume is made up of passenger volume and luggage volume, both measured in cubic feet. Those measurements are usually specified with two options as in many cars (hatchbacks, SUV’s, minivans and even sedans) back seats can be folded down to enable the maximum cargo volume in case the trunk capacity is not enough to load a piece of furniture, for example. Passenger volume, of course, gets reduced if the seats are folded down.


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