• Aug 29, 2007
Being the auto-obsessive types that you are, we're sure you can recount endless conversations with potential car buyers about the variety of body styles on the market, and how several of the CUVs and wagons currently available are, at times, far superior to their overblown SUV counterparts. The reasons behind the current boom in hatchbacks and crossovers are obvious: better fuel economy, more car-like handling and ride, all with many of the same attributes of an SUV.

USA Today
ran a piece that details some of the offerings that are either making a splash in the marketplace already, or that are pegged to be winners as the movement away from big 'utes continues. Much of the discussion centers on some of the new high-end crossovers that are currently in the works, specifically the BMW X6 and Infiniti EX35, which offer a bit more luxury over outright utilitarianism.

The real crux of the article is that American consumers have put to rest the moribund offerings of the 70s, like the Ford Pinto and Chevy Vega, and are finally warming up to the sloping rooflines of modern five-door designs.

[Source: USA Today via Winding Road]



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  • 21 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      I know alot of people will disagree with me, but I hardly think of those as hatches...

      When I think hatchback, I think of something more akin to a car, like a short stationwagon-style.

      Besides, since when does USA Today know anything?
        • 7 Years Ago
        No that's an estate car (station wagon as its known in the US), which is essentially a car with an extended trunk in herse-like fashion. Hatchbacks have their own distinct styles and the lines which extend from the hood through to the back indicate this.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I disagree with USA Today's assertion that the EX35 is not an SUV. It is the conventional SUVs such as the Explorers, Tahoes, and Suburbans that don't fit the bill. The EX35 has significantly more Sport and Utility than the conventionals. And the 2 door hatch certainly didn't go out of style with the Vegas and Pintos. Honda, Toyota, Mazda, etc. made and sold millions of them for decades following. I would love to have my '89 Civic 2 door hatchback again. It was a wonderful, economical car that could haul stuff. What's not too like. Unfortunately, too few manufacturers offer the 2 door hatch anymore. They have become obsessed with stodgy looking 4 door sedans and 4 door hatchback/station wagons. Now, unfortunately, even the SUVs are getting morphed into longer, 3 row seating, station wagons. The new Toyota RAV4 typifies that. It's a great disappointment there are so few 2 door hatchbacks available. Even the cars such as the 2 door Accord and 2 door Civic which look like they could be hatchbacks, only have a tiny lid into a trunk. Why they forfeited the hatch, when they could have the same stylish lines PLUS the utility, is beyond me.




      • 7 Years Ago
      I think it is the offering of quality hatchbacks that makes the difference. There is no way I will ever buy a sedan ever again, after all, what is the point? I would rather have a hatch or wagon. Maybe a coupe or 2-seater if you are being sporty, but a sedan?

      The GTI is just ridiculously good looking.
      • 7 Years Ago
      If I were buying a car right now I would look very hard at a small hatchback. 2drs are great looking but for me it would be very impractical unless it was as a second car. I would be attracted to a hatchback for the versatility. Yes you probably don't need that much room all the time but it's there when you do need it.
      • 7 Years Ago
      As cars get taller and SUV's turn into CUV's the need for a trunk is so much less because there's so much (vertical) cargo capacity behind the rear seat.Naturually a hatch is the best way to capitalize on this interior volume.
      • 7 Years Ago
      naggs - EVER read a demographics report? The old people have much more money than young people.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "The real crux of the article is that American consumers have put to rest the moribund offerings of the 70s, like the Ford Pinto and Chevy Vega, and are finally warming up to the sloping rooflines of modern five-door designs."

      It baffles me that the industry as a whole is still stuck in this mindset that consumer preferences are dictated by the cars of THIRTY YEARS AGO. It's ludicrous. Someone who turned 16 in 1977 is 46 today.

      A lot has changed in three decades. Hell, look at the minivan segment. Or the mainstreaming of SUVs and pickups.

      Regarding hatchbacks in particular, I think SUVs (yes, SUVs) are in large part responsible for the resurgence. The SUV got people used to the rear door/liftgate, and now that SUVs are waning and gas prices and such are driving people back to cars, they're looking for vehicles that can still offer something of that SUV utility. Thus hatchbacks and 5-doors (Mazda3, anyone?).

      It probably helps that manufacturers are offering sexier hatchbacks with every new model year. The Mini, GTI, C30, etc, are far cries from the Pinto and Vega of yesteryear.
        • 7 Years Ago
        That One Person - it probably depends where you live. We still have more than our share of SUVs and pickups here in Austin, but I see more and more Minis, GTIs, Rabbits, Fits, Mazda3s, and similar hatchbacks and 5-doors every day.

        And don't forget that one of the biggest success stories in the industry over the last few years is a hatchback - the Prius.
        • 7 Years Ago
        "Regarding hatchbacks in particular, I think SUVs (yes, SUVs) are in large part responsible for the resurgence. The SUV got people used to the rear door/liftgate, and now that SUVs are waning and gas prices and such are driving people back to cars, they're looking for vehicles that can still offer something of that SUV utility."

        Couldn't have said it better. The crossover segment will get lighter and more fuel efficient and hatches will grow in popularity again for the reasons you list above. I think the A3, the four-door GTI, the Mini Clubman, etc. are going to wind up being the direction things go in ultimately.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I am sure if you went out and asked people who own Japanese vehicles "Why did you buy a Honda?", I am sure there will be a few people who will say "Oh, I owned a late 70s/early 80s GM product".

        Some people are stubborn and don't want to realize things have changed.

        As for hatches coming back, I will have to wait and see. I know this doesn't represent the whole market, but I do not see a ton of hatches around. I may see a Mazda3 hatch every once in a great while. And the majority of Aveos I see are sedans. Take a look at Focus ZX3/5 sales. It's no wonder they are dropping those models. The only hatch I see on a constant basis is the Vibe. And even those are becoming less popular around here.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hatches never left - minivans and then SUVs are WAGONS with hatchbacks (some rare exceptions like the Rav4) but it;s still a wagon).
      • 7 Years Ago
      Why have a small trunk on a big sedan, when you can have lots more space for stuff on a hatch, by just folding the rear seats?
      • 7 Years Ago
      so many americans drive hatchbacks and wagons, called SUVs. God forbid they drive something ACTUALLY called a hatcback or a wagon though
      • 7 Years Ago
      2004 and Mazda 3 hatch owner. The hatch is the perfect blend of driveability and convenience for me. Couldn't think fo doing without it now.

      Nice to see the "media" waking up, where have they been?

      Punchy
      • 7 Years Ago
      Here in Canada, the Protege5 was very popular but the Mazda3 Sport (the hatchback) really took hatchbacks mainstream. This car proved that hatchbacks can be hotter than sedans!
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