Three body styles with pillars and boxes

Typical pillar configurations of a sedan (three box), station wagon (two box) and hatchback (two box) from the same model range.

Three box notchback Fiat 124

A three-box coupé in notchback form, the Fiat 124

Hatchback three box

A three-box hatchback in notchback form—with its vestigial third box, the European Ford Escort

Three-box & rear engine

A three-box sedan, the Renault Dauphine, with articulated engine (rear), passenger and cargo (front) volumes.

Three-box design is a broad automotive styling term describing a coupé, sedan, notchback or hatchback where—when viewed in profile—principal volumes are articulated into three separate compartments or boxes: engine, passenger and cargo.[1]

Three-box designs are highly variable. The Renault Dauphine is a three-box that carries its engine in the rear and its cargo up front. The styling of the Škoda Octavia integrates a hatchback with the articulation of a three-box. This style was later used by its larger Škoda Superb, which marketed as the TwinDoor, within the liftgate operable as a trunk lid or as a full hatchback. As with the third generation European Ford Escort (also a hatchback), the third box may be vestigial. And three-box styling need not be boxy: Car Design News calls the fluid and rounded Fiat Linea a three-box design[2]—and most examples of the markedly bulbous styling of the ponton genre are three-box designs.

One-box designEdit

One-box, also called a monospace, mono-box or monovolume configuration,[3] is a design that pulls the base of a vehicle's A-pillars forward,[3][4] softening any distinction between separate volumes and enclosing the entire interior of a vehicle in a single form—as with the Renault Espace, 1992 Renault Twingo I, Tata Nano and Japanese microvans amongst others.

Two-box designEdit

Two-box designs articulate a volume for engine and a volume that combines passenger and cargo volumes, e.g., station wagons or (three or five-door) hatchbacks, and minivans like the Chrysler minivan.[4][5]

See alsoEdit

American EnglishBritish EnglishEuro Car Segment[6]Euro NCAP 1997 - 2009Euro NCAP[7]Examples
MicrocarMicrocar, Bubble carA-segment mini carsSuperminiPassenger carIsetta, Smart Fortwo
Subcompact carCity carFiat 500, Daewoo Matiz, Peugeot 107, Toyota iQ
SuperminiB-segment small carsFord Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo, Ford Figo, Opel Corsa, Peugeot 207
Compact carSmall family carC-segment medium carsSmall family carFord Focus, Opel Astra, Toyota Auris, Volkswagen Golf, Chevrolet Cruze
Mid-size carLarge family carD-segment large carsLarge family carFord Mondeo, Opel Insignia, Volkswagen Passat, Chevrolet Malibu, IKCO Samand
Entry-level luxury carCompact executive carAlfa Romeo 159, BMW 3 Series, Lexus IS, Volvo S60, Audi A4, Cadillac CTS
Full-size carExecutive carE-segment executive carsExecutive carFord Crown Victoria, Holden Commodore, Toyota Crown, Chrysler 300C, Chevrolet Impala
Mid-size luxury carLexus GS, BMW 5 Series, Jaguar XF, Lincoln LS, Audi A6, Volvo S80, Cadillac CTS
Full-size luxury carLuxury carF-segment luxury cars -Audi A8, Maserati Quattroporte, Lincoln Town Car, Mercedes S-Class, Cadillac DTS
Sports carSports carS-segment sport coupes -Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche 911, Ferrari 458 Italia, Nissan Z-car, Lamborghini Gallardo
Grand tourerGrand tourer -Jaguar XK, Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, Maserati GranTurismo
SupercarSupercar -Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari Enzo, Pagani Zonda
ConvertibleConvertible -BMW 6 Series, Mercedes CLK, Volvo C70, Volkswagen Eos, Chevrolet Camaro
RoadsterRoadsterRoadster sportsRoadsterAudi TT, Honda S2000, Lotus Elise, Mazda MX-5, Porsche Boxster,
 -Leisure activity vehicleM-segment multi purpose carsSmall MPVMPVFord Tourneo Connect, Peugeot Partner, Škoda Roomster
 -Mini MPV Opel Meriva, Fiat Idea, Citroen C3 Picasso
Compact minivanCompact MPV, Midi MPVMazda5, Opel Zafira, Ford C-Max, Volkswagen Touran, Peugeot 5008
MinivanLarge MPVLarge MPV Chrysler Town and Country, Ford Galaxy, Honda Odyssey, Peugeot 807
Mini SUVMini 4x4J-segment sport utility cars (including off-road vehicles)Small Off-Road 4x4Off-roaderDaihatsu Terios, Mitsubishi Pajero iO, Suzuki Jimny, Jeep Wrangler
Compact SUVCompact 4x4 BMW X3, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Chevy Equinox, Jeep Liberty
 -Coupé SUV -Isuzu VehiCROSS, SsangYong Actyon, BMW X6
Mid-size SUVLarge 4x4Large Off-Road 4x4 Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Volkswagen Touareg, Chevrolet Tahoe
Full-size SUV Cadillac Escalade EXT, Chevrolet Suburban, Range Rover, Toyota Land Cruiser, Jeep Commander
Mini pickup truckPick-up -Pick-upPickup Chevrolet Montana, Fiat Strada, Volkswagen Saveiro
Mid-size pickup truck Chevrolet Colorado, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton/L200, Nissan Navara
Full-size pickup truck Dodge Ram, Ford F-150, GMC Sierra, Nissan Titan, Toyota Tundra
Full-size Heavy Duty pickup truck Chevrolet Silverado , Ford Super Duty


  1. "Car Design Glossary - Part 2: One-Box (Monospace or Monovolume)". Car Design News. “The principal volumes of the traditional sedan can be split into separate compartments or boxes: the hood/bonnet is the first box; the passenger compartment the second, and the trunk/boot the third—i.e. it's a 'three-box' car.”
  2. "Fiat Linea". Car Design News.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Car Design Glossary - Part 2: One-Box (Monospace or Monovolume)". Car Design News.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Mike Mueller (2003). American Cars of the '50s. Crestline Imprints. ISBN 0-7603-1712-7. 
  5. "Car Design Glossary - Part 2: One-Box (Monospace or Monovolume)". Car Design News. “A three or five-door hatchback (no separate trunk compartment) is a 'two-box' car.”
  6. European Commission classification
  7. NCAP Comparable cars
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