Like any other consumer goods, automobiles are heavily influenced by trends and market demands. Hybrid drivetrains, LEDs, infotainment systems and lightweight structural materials have all made their way into the cars of the 21ts century. We have even seen new classes of vehicles created. The crossover, for example, is a relative newcomer to the automotive scene. In fact, the whole spectrum of cars has evolved. Many compact, "economy" cars now offer what used to be luxury features. Even the biggest SUV's offer comfortable rides, and green powertrain options. One of the oldest and most common forms of the motor vehicle, the sedan, continues to be a popular seller around the world, but continues to be adapted to the needs of modern drivers.
Just as crossovers have blurred the lines between station wagon and SUV, a new generation of sedans is expanding the definition of the traditional four-door people mover. Recent and new additions to the market, like the BMW GT, Honda Accord Crosstour, and Mercedes-Benz CLS play games with our minds by abandoning traditional design elements. The first round of hybrids to hit the road has developed a unique look for itself too. Some, like Mitsubishi's Lancer, offer a sedan and "sportback" version. Most of these, in my opinion, aren't quite sedans, but they're close. They're not quite crossovers, station wagons, or hatchbacks either, but again, they're close. However you decide to classify them all, rumored upcoming vehicles like the Audi A7 sportback hint at a future for this new breed of sedans.
You may already be disagreeing with me, so let me explain this a bit more. When I imagine a sedan, I picture four doors, minimal ground clearance, flat or slightly sloped hood and trunk lid, seperated from a flat or arched roof by the front and rear windscreens. Wheelbases can range from compact to luxurious. Styling and performance will range from conservative to comfortable to sporty, and asthetics anywhere from plain to downright sexy. In contrast, we are beginning to see a group of cars with higher rooflines, more ground clearance, larger wheels, and continuously curved body lines from bumper to bumper.
The advantages of this design stragetgy would appear to be increased interior passenger and storage space, and versitility beyond the pavement in some cases. Well, you can get that from a station wagon, crossover, or SUV right? Yes. However, these cars will attract buyers not interested in the looks or status associated with those options.
To me, these sedan/hatchback/crossover mashups seem a bit awkward. There are, no doubt, benefits to owning one. For example, the BMW GT is a sort of a ruggeed sports sedan. That could be fun, right? And the Crosstour, love it or hate it, is certainly unique with its combination of generous storage space and AWD and car-like handling.
So, what's my point? My point is, there are people out there that love the looks and character of the sedan as we know it, but want more than what it can offer. They want more space, convenience, ruggedness. Now, I believe they can have it. As this new segment gains popularity on the road, other drivers will begin to realize it's exaclty what they have been wanting.