Hatchback Glossary & Terms

Hatchback Styles and Body Types


A hatchback with a more traditional profile consisting of two box-like forms – the engine compartment and passenger cabin. The cargo area blends into the rear of the cabin.


A hatchback with three distinct body sections – the engine bay, passenger compartment, and cargo area. Provides a more squared-off, wagon-like appearance.


A hatchback with four standard doors for passengers plus a fifth rear hatch door providing access to the cargo area.


A sleek, aerodynamic hatchback style with a continuous roofline that slopes downwards toward the rear. Provides a coupe-like profile.

Hatchback Rear Layouts


A hatchback with a tailgate that hinges at the top and lifts up and out when opened. Allows for easy access to the cargo space.


A rear door or hatch on a vehicle that lifts up or out to open. Provides access to the rear cargo area.

Split Rear Hatch

A rear hatch door divided horizontally into an upper and lower section. The upper section lifts up while the lower section drops down to open.

Hatchback Dimensions


The smallest hatchback size, typically less than 165 inches long. Maximizes fuel efficiency and maneuverability.


A small, efficient hatchback usually between 165-180 inches long. Comfortable for 4 passengers and city driving.


A versatile hatchback size ranging from 180-200 inches long. Blends interior room with easy parking and handling.


A large hatchback over 200 inches long prioritizing passenger and cargo room. More powerful engines for highway driving.

Hatchback Cargo Capacity

Cargo space

The open area in a hatchback’s rear compartment for storing luggage, gear, and other items. Measured in liters or cubic feet.

Cargo volume

The total capacity of a hatchback’s cargo space. Larger cargo volumes allow more gear to be carried.

Cargo cover

A retractable blind or shade in the rear cargo area to conceal stored items from view.

False floor

A partial secondary floor installed over the main cargo floor to create a hidden storage compartment.

Hatchback Roofs and Doors

Roof rails

Structural rails running along the roof of a hatchback allowing roof racks and carriers to be installed.

Panoramic roof

A large glass sunroof panel stretching from the windshield to the rear hatch offering an open-air feeling.

Power liftgate

A rear hatch door that can be opened and closed at the push of a button for convenient hands-free access.


The rear door on a hatchback or SUV that opens to allow loading and unloading of the cargo area.

Hatchback Features and Amenities

Fold-flat seats

Rear seats that can fold down fully flat to extend the hatchback’s cargo space.

60/40 split folding seats

Rear seats in a 60/40 configuration allowing part or all of the seatbacks to be folded down.

Cargo net

A mesh netting attached in the cargo area to hold items in place during transport.

Cargo mat

A heavy rubberized mat laid in the cargo area to protect the surfaces while hauling dirty or wet items.

Hatchback Design Elements


The distinct side profile and shape of a hatchback.

Wedge shape

A tapering hatchback profile that is wider at the front and narrower at the rear.

Forward A-pillar

The A-pillar at the front of the hatchback that helps support the windshield.

Third brake light

A center high-mounted brake light installed in a hatchback’s rear window.

Hatchback Performance


A forced induction system that pumps compressed air into the engine allowing more fuel to be burned for increased power.


The downward aerodynamic force created by air passing over body panels, improving grip and handling.


Rotational force generated by the engine that determines acceleration and hauling capacity.

Horsepower (hp)

A measurement of an engine’s total power output as it relates to the torque and engine speed.

Hatchback Maintenance

Timing belt

A toothed belt connecting the crankshaft to the camshafts that must be periodically replaced.

CV joint

Constant velocity joints that transfer power between the transmission and the wheels allowing suspension movement.

Tire rotation

Periodically switching the front and rear tires to distribute wear evenly and extend tire life.

Brake pads

Friction material pressed against brake rotors or drums to stop the wheels when braking.

Hatchback Ownership


The reduction in a vehicle’s value over time due to age, wear, and new model releases.

Curb weight

The total weight of the vehicle including all factory installed equipment but without passengers or cargo.

Insurance group

A classification system that insurers use to determine the risk of insuring different hatchback models.


Loans provided by lenders to help buyers pay for a new or used hatchback over time.

Hatchback Shopping and Reviews

Test drive

Driving a hatchback being considered for purchase to personally evaluate its performance and features.

Invoice price

The manufacturer’s initial wholesale price for a hatchback before incentives and markups are applied.


Purchase incentives offered by the automaker to reduce the final sales price for the buyer.

Road test

Reviews assessing a hatchback’s real-world performance through objective testing and driving evaluations.

Hatchback Accessories

Rear wiper

A wiper mounted on the rear hatch that clears rain and debris from the back window.

Hood deflector

An add-on airfoil that redirects airflow over the hood to protect the windshield from bugs and road debris.

Bike rack

A carrier attachment that allows bicycles to be transported on the exterior of the hatchback.

Trailer hitch

A receiver installed on the chassis allowing a trailer to be towed behind the hatchback.

Hatchback Safety

Backup camera

A rear-facing camera providing a view behind the vehicle when reversing to prevent accidents.

Collision avoidance system

Technology that automatically brakes the hatchback to mitigate or prevent impacts.

Lane keep assist

Makes small steering adjustments to help keep the hatchback centered in its lane.

Blind spot warning

Alerts the driver to vehicles in hard-to-see adjacent lanes to prevent collisions when changing lanes.

Hatchback Interiors


The fabric, leather, or synthetic materials covering the seats and other surfaces inside the cabin of the hatchback.


The raised portions on the side edges of seats that provide extra lateral support and grip for the occupants.


The fabric material applied to the interior roof of the hatchback’s cabin.

Infotainment system

The in-dash interface for accessing audio, navigation, climate and other technology systems in the hatchback.

Hatchback Seating


The amount of space between the front and rear seats that determines rear passenger leg comfort.


The distance between the roof and the top of the seats that allows sufficient vertical space for passengers.

Lumbar support

An adjustable lower backrest feature supporting the lumbar spine to reduce fatigue during long drives.

Thigh support

Padding and contouring in the lower seat cushion to comfortably support the occupant’s thighs.

Hatchback Storage

Door pockets

Compartments built into the door panels for handy in-seat storage while driving.

Center console

The central compartment between the front seats offering covered storage and cup holders.


A compartment built into the dash in front of the passenger seat for storing documents, gloves and small items.

Underfloor storage

Compartments beneath the cargo floor that provide hidden, secure storage when the rear seats are folded.

Hatchback Climate Control

HVAC system

Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning climate control with vents throughout the cabin.

Automatic climate control

A system allowing occupants to set a desired interior temperature that is automatically maintained.

Rear air vents

Adjustable air outlets in the back of the center console providing airflow to rear seat passengers.

Defrost vents

Vents directing air flow to the windshield and side windows to rapidly clear fog and frost.

Hatchback Exterior Styling

Body kit

Cosmetic enhancements like front/rear bumpers, side skirts, and spoilers that customize the exterior.


The front fascia opening that allows air intake for engine cooling and includes the brand emblem.


Logos and lettering on the exterior identifying the vehicle make, model, and trim level.


The structural supports framing the windows along the sides of the vehicle cabin.

Hatchback Wheels and Tires


Metal wheels that tires mount onto, usually measuring 15 to 20 inches in diameter on hatchbacks.


Decorative disk covers on wheel center caps protecting and customizing steel wheels.


Upgraded aftermarket wheels made from lightweight aluminum alloys instead of steel.

Wheel locks

Locking lug nuts requiring a special key tool to deter wheel and tire theft.

Hatchback Brakes

Vented discs

Perforated brake rotors that dissipate heat buildup for improved high-temp braking performance.

Ceramic pads

Upgraded brake pads made from ceramic compounds that withstand high heat and resist fade.

Anti-lock Brakes (ABS)

A system that pulses the brakes to prevent wheel lockup and maintain steering control during hard braking.

Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)

Braking technology that balances rear and front brake force to improve stopping distances.

Hatchback Suspension and Steering

MacPherson strut

Front suspension with a telescoping strut assembly providing efficient use of space.

Rear suspension with several lateral arms allowing tuning for an ideal balance of ride and handling.

Power steering

An engine-driven hydraulic system that boosts steering effort for easy low-speed maneuverability.

Variable ratio

Steering calibration that provides quicker response with reduced steering input at higher speeds.

Hatchback Drivetrain


The transmission containing gear sets and shift mechanisms to transfer engine torque to the wheels.


A gear system allowing the rear wheels to rotate at different speeds when cornering.

Axle shafts

Drive shafts transmitting rotational force from the transmission to the front or rear wheels.


A continuously variable transmission with pulleys that provides smooth, efficient power delivery.

Hatchback Fuel Systems

Fuel induction

Components delivering fuel and air into the cylinders including injectors, throttles and intake manifolds.

Direct injection

A system that sprays fuel directly into the combustion chambers at high pressure for enhanced efficiency.

Fuel filter

A replaceable cartridge filtering dirt and contaminants from fuel before it reaches the engine.

Flex fuel

Capability to run on gasoline, ethanol blends, or any combination of the two fuels.

Hatchback Model Specifications


The distance between the center points of the front and rear wheels affecting interior room and handling.

Curb weight

The total weight including fluids and all factory installed equipment before occupants or cargo are added.

Ground clearance

The minimum distance between the ground and underside of the vehicle affecting off-road ability.

Payload capacity

The maximum cargo weight a hatchback can safely transport without exceeding GVWR limits.

Hatchback Electrical Systems

Charging system

The alternator, battery, and wiring delivering electricity to power accessories, lights and ignition.


A rechargeable lead-acid battery storing and providing electrical current to start the engine and power the hatchback.

Wiring harness

Bundles of electrical wires routed throughout the vehicle relaying power and signals.


Switches controlled by small electrical signals that manage power distribution to components.

Hatchback Engines


The range of engine speeds where peak torque and horsepower are generated.

Compression ratio

A measurement of how much an engine can squeeze the air/fuel mixture for increased efficiency.

Forced induction

Supercharging or turbocharging an engine to deliver more air and boost horsepower beyond natural aspiration.


The distance pistons travel up and down in the cylinder determining torque and displacement.

Electric Hatchbacks

Electric motor

A rotary device converting electricity from the battery pack into mechanical power to propel the vehicle.

Battery capacity

The amount of energy a hatchback’s battery pack can store, measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh).

Regenerative braking

Braking force is used to recharge the battery by converting motion into electrical energy.

DC fast charging

Rapid recharging of the battery pack via high-power DC fast charging stations.

Hatchback Hybrid Systems

Hybrid powertrain

Combines an electric motor and gas engine allowing the hatchback to run on either or both power sources.

Parallel hybrid

The electric motor and gas engine can simultaneously drive the wheels for maximum power delivery.

Series hybrid

The electric motor alone powers the hatchback while the gas engine runs a generator.

Regenerative braking

Kinetic energy recovered while braking helps recharge the hybrid battery pack.

Hatchback Auto Insurance

Liability coverage

Insurance covering injury and property damage inflicted on others when an accident is your fault.

Collision coverage

Optional insurance that pays to repair or replace your hatchback after an accident.

Comprehensive coverage

Optional insurance covering damage to your car from theft, vandalism, weather, fire and wildlife.

Uninsured motorist coverage

Protects you when involved in a collision caused by a driver with no liability insurance.

Hatchback Auto Financing

Down payment

An upfront payment reducing the amount that needs to be borrowed to purchase the hatchback.

Term length

The number of months over which the auto loan must be repaid.

Interest rate

The percentage rate charged on the borrowed funds by the lender.

Monthly payment

The amount paid each month towards the auto loan principal plus interest.

Hatchback Fuel Economy

Fuel efficiency

A measure of how far a hatchback can travel on a gallon of fuel, expressed in MPG.


How smoothly air flows over the exterior shape affecting efficiency at highway speeds.

Fuel tank capacity

The maximum amount of fuel the hatchback’s storage tank can hold, ranging from 10-18 gallons.

EPA rating

The official government fuel economy ratings representing a mix of city and highway driving.

Hatchback Auto Repair

Aftermarket parts

Non-original equipment components manufactured by third-party companies as replacements.

Diagnostic trouble codes

Numeric codes generated by the hatchback’s computer to identify detected faults.

Haynes manual

Third-party brand of auto repair guides with step-by-step service procedures.

Torque wrench

A tool used to tighten bolts and fasteners to the proper torque specifications.

Hatchback History


A precursor to modern hatchbacks featuring a sloped roofline and upward-lifting rear door. Popularized in the 1970s.

Station wagon

Early extended-length models with passenger and cargo space. Evolved into hatchback designs.


A two-door vehicle blending coupe, wagon and hatchback styling from the 1960s and 70s.

Hot hatch

High-performance compact hatchback models produced since the 1980s.

Luxury Hatchbacks

Leather upholstery

Premium leather seating surfaces, steering wheels, and trim accents.

Wood accents

Real wood interior trim lending an upscale, refined aesthetic.

Powered driver’s seat

Electric controls allowing the driver’s seat to be positioned for optimal comfort and visibility.

Premium audio system

Branded stereo components delivering exceptional, concert-like sound quality.

Hatchback Prices and Values


Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price listed for new hatchbacks before incentives and fees.

Invoice price

The initial price the auto manufacturer charges the dealer for the hatchback.

Resale value

The estimated market worth of the hatchback as a used vehicle after depreciation.

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO)

Late model hatchbacks inspected and warranted by the automaker to meet strict criteria.

Hatchback Regulations

CAFE standards

Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations enforced by NHTSA governing fuel efficiency.

Crash testing

Safety tests evaluating a hatchback’s structural integrity in collisions.


Regulations limiting allowable byproducts from the exhaust and evaporation systems.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration overseeing auto safety and standards compliance.

Hatchback Manufacturing


A type of construction where the body panels are structural instead of using a separate frame.


The primary technique for joining steel components to construct the hatchback.

Quality control

Thorough inspection and testing performed at each stage of the assembly process.


Polymers like ABS, PVC, and polypropylene used for light, durable interior and exterior components.

Hatchback Racing


Racing hatchbacks on closed public roads and off-road courses against the clock.

Touring car racing

Heavily modified hatchback models competing on circuits in endurance races.

Hill climb

A competition where drivers race up a steep incline in the fastest time.


Timed races on makeshift tracks outlined by traffic cones in parking lots and open areas.

Concept and Future Hatchbacks

Concept car

A design study model showcasing new styling, features and technology planned for future production.

Autonomous driving

Self-driving hatchback models that pilot themselves using cameras, sensors and computers.

Augmented reality

Enhanced dash and windshield displays overlaying navigation, traffic, and other information.

Alternative fuels

Hydrogen fuel cells, biofuels, and other emerging power sources under development.

Hatchback Ownership Costs

Registration fees

Charges paid to the DMV to legally operate the hatchback in a state.

Insurance premiums

The amount paid monthly or annually for auto insurance coverage.

Fuel costs

The ongoing expense of refueling the hatchback’s gas or electric range.


Preventative repairs and routine servicing like oil changes to keep the hatchback running smoothly.

Selling a Hatchback

Private party sale

Selling directly to another individual instead of trading in or selling to a dealer.


Giving your current hatchback to a dealership as partial payment towards a new one.

Listing price

The asking price set by a private seller or dealer looking to sell the used hatchback.

Carfax report

A vehicle history report detailing any title issues, accidents, or damages.

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