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Is average car length getting longer?

Average Car Length: What You Should Know

Vehicles come in different shades, shapes, and sizes. Vehicles vary in length and design. But, specific car models seem to have an average length. But again, who cares how long a vehicle is? Why is the average car length a vital piece of information? What factors are affected by the average length of a vehicle?

As an American car owner, understanding the uniqueness of your vehicle is critical to maximum effectiveness and appropriate maintenance. Plus, your vehicle info often comes in handy when you’re applying for an insurance cover.

Knowing your average car length:

  • Gives you an idea of how much space you need to park your vehicle
  • How much space you’d need to leave between your vehicle and the next
  • Is needed to boost your road positioning
  • Prevents you from overestimating your car size when driving
  • Helps develop confidence in you when driving especially when driving on narrow roads or less familiar spaces since you know exactly how long and wide your vehicle is.
  • May offer you an insight into your insurance premium

What Is the Average Car Length?

Different vehicles come in varying lengths. Nonetheless, you will find that the average car is about 14.7 feet or 4500 millimeters in length. Small cars are often 10-14ft in length, while big trucks usually range from 18-19ft. Hence, there is a wide range of possible sizes when it comes to vehicles, and no specific car length cuts across every existent vehicle. 

Average Car Lengths by Model

The table below gives you a glance through some of the common car types and their respective sizes. 

Size category ModelLength in millimetersLength in feet
Large pickupChevrolet Silverado 561418.4
Small pickupNissan Navarra 498116.3
Large SUVCadillac escalade 511016.7
Small SUV Ford escape440014.4
Full-sized Audi A6480015.7
Mid-sized Audi A4462014.8
Small car KIA Rio421513.8
Mini cars Suzuki Alto319510.5

Why Does a Vehicle’s Length Matter?

Here are some reasons to consider your car length carefully: 

1. Safety

Day in day out, safety is crucial. It is why we eat some meals and avoid others. It is why we wear helmets, use seat belts, ride sober and take other precautions. We love ourselves and do not want any harm for ourselves or our loved ones.

Car size is also crucial to safety. Given that no other factor is varied, longer, bigger vehicles often provide more cushion or crash protection when compared to smaller, lighter ones. In cases of frontal crashes, the longer distance between the front of the vehicle and the occupant’s compartment softens the impact during a car crash. 

The crash tests carried out by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in 2019 portrayed the role of size and weight in safety upon collision with larger vehicles. In the demonstration, a midsize SUV was paired with a small car by Kia, while a large car and minicar made by Toyota were paired. The smaller cars used both had exemplary ratings in five IIHS tests relevant to driver safety. So, they were great cars. However, they performed poorly when they collided with a larger vehicle. 

P.S: Smaller cars are now safer than they’ve ever been but their larger counterparts still seem to offer more security. Understanding the car length of your intended model and its potential risks will help you make an informed decision during purchase.

2. The vehicle length may influence purchasing decisions

We all get cars to ease us of some form of inconvenience, not to create another. Long or short, your vehicle will transport you effectively from one place to another. However, some difficulties might set in if you have a long vehicle and own a rather small garage or parking lot. Your parking space and cargo requirements are key reasons to consider a vehicle’s length carefully before making a purchase. Plus, if you live in a place like Manhattan, parking your vehicle on the street might be a bit of an issue if you drive a long car. 

3. Your car length is vital when driving

No motorist goes around town actively thinking about how long his vehicle’s headlamp is from its windscreen or how far away the trunk is. However, these become key factors when making a turn or bending a curve. While a small car can easily make sharp turns and navigate small streets, driving a longer vehicle through the same route might require more expertise. The driver of the longer vehicle often has to take the turn slowly turning subtle angles per time. Thus, knowing the size of your car could be a reasonably essential piece of information when driving. 

4. It might impact weight

While a longer car doesn’t always mean a heavier one, it often does. And, car weights are crucial determinants of injury and impact in the course of a collision. When two vehicles collide, the bigger vehicle will push back the lighter one causing a higher impact of the collision to be felt by passengers in the lighter vehicle while the heavier vehicle receives a lighter impact. 

5. It determines handling

The overall size of your car goes a long way in determining the car’s handling. Relative length to width proportion impacts weight transfer. A longer (and a wider vehicle) will have higher inertia relative to a shorter and slimmer vehicle. 

Factors that Influence Car Length

Alterations or improvements in configuration and certain car features may dictate car length. Usually, larger passenger space and/or cargo space will add to the length of the car. On the other hand, certain safety features such as lane departure sensors and airbags may call for a wider car width. 

The Influence of Location on Average Car Length

The decision of what car to purchase rests on the shoulder of individuals hence there is no rigid framework. However, the following trend is often the case.

Average car length is usually smaller in places with smaller streets and sharper turns or bends. Americans who live in larger cities with wider roads, on the other hand, are more open to getting longer vehicles. 

Personal needs and preferences also impact one’s vehicle choice. Someone who needs cargo space and a larger passenger capacity will likely opt for a longer car that suits these needs. 

Estimating Car Length

On average, car models can often be grouped into one of the categories below.  

Urban cars: often between 2.7-4m with heights ranging from 1.5-1.7m

  • Small-sized cars: often between 3.8-4.1m in length and about 1.5-1.8m in heights 
  • Compact cars: about 4.1-4.3m long, 1.4-1.5m high, and 1.7-1.8m wide
  • Small SUVs: usually between 4.3-4.7m in length
  • Porsche cars: 4.6-5.6m in length 
  • Sports cars: often range in length from 4-5m
  • Compact crossovers: fall between 3.7-4.3m in length
  • Pickups: Pickup trucks usually fall between 5.2-5.7m in length. 

Determining the Exact Car Length of Your Vehicle Model

To determine the exact length of your car model, you could do any of the following:

1. Use VIN Decoder

This is perhaps the easiest stress-free method to determine your vehicle’s length as VIN decoders are freely accessible on the web. To determine your car length using a VIN decoder, simply:

  • Find out the VIN of your car. This is usually in specific locations of the vehicle. Car VINs are often found in front of the steering wheel, at the lower-left corner. 
  • Once you have your car’s VIN, enter it into the VIN decoder. Then, you can access your vehicle’s dimensions.  

VIN, the vehicle identification number, is the identifying code for a particular automobile. The VIN is sometimes referred to as the chassis number. A vehicle’s VIN can be compared to fingerprints in humans as no two vehicles have the same chassis number. VIN is a seventeen-character code composed of both figures and capital letters, each of which codes for specific info about the car. 

Locations to Find Your Car’s VIN

  • The lower-left corner in front of the steering wheel, where you can read it by simply looking through the windshield on the driver’s compartment of the vehicle.
  • The front of the engine block. This should be easy to find once you look at the front of the engine
  • The driver-side doorjamb 
  • The driver-side door post
  • The spare tire: your vehicle’s VIN may sometimes be found underneath the spare tire. 

2. Check an Online Auto Shop

An alternative means to find out your car’s specific dimensions is to use an online auto shop. You may enter your license plate number when you enter an online auto shop. Thereafter, you can find out all about the specifications of your vehicle including its dimensions. However, ensure that the online auto shop is secure as your license number is key private information. 

3. Find Out from Your Local Dealer

Car dealers are exactly that-car dealers. They are experts who have a vast knowledge of cars and other car-related topics. You could simply put a call through to your trusted local car dealer and let them know your license number or VIN to find out your car’s dimensions. You can also ask them other questions that you may have about the car. 

4. Measure It Yourself 

The final option is to go DIY. You could simply measure your car length yourself. Car length is one of the easiest variables to measure. Manually determine your car length by measuring from the rear to the front bumper. You could simply put a yardstick at the car base to determine its length. Your car length is the horizontal distance from the car’s front end to the farthest point at its rear. 

Does Car Length Affect Insurance Rate?

Insurance premiums are prepared to match the risk level of the insured. So, age, years of experience, location, health conditions, proneness to theft, and car safety features influence your insurance rates. However, these are not the only factors responsible for determining your insurance cost. Your vehicle size also plays a key role. 

Smaller Cars Attract Higher Rates

Smaller cars are quicker, easier to manage thus they can avoid accidents, right? Wrong! On the contrary, smaller vehicles are more prone to accidents and are likely to receive a greater impact upon collision with larger ones. Research on the interactions of large and small cars in real-world crashes also proves that the mass of a car is a key factor that determines injury outcome. Statistically, smaller cars have a higher accident incidence rate than their larger counterparts; hence they attract higher premiums. A study also suggests that smaller cars may be why car crashes injure women more. 

Average Car Length Trend: Is It Increasing or Decreasing?

There seems to be a change in taste and preferences as most Americans now opt for less expensive longer and larger vehicles that leave them feeling safe overall. Large vehicles are beginning to dominate the streets of America. 

You may be tempted to conclude that small vehicles are outrightly unsafe but that’s not true. Yes, a lighter vehicle is certainly at a disadvantage when a collision occurs. However, large vehicles are no longer as huge a threat as they once were. Automakers now closely align their energy-absorbing structures with those of cars to improve safety.  

Many car owners seem to assume that knowing your car length is too much information. But, this couldn’t be more untrue. Whether you’re an American just setting out to purchase your car or you already own a vehicle, knowing your average car length is critical to making safer and better decisions.

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