There are plenty of car categories out there, each with their own stand-out models and historical standard-bearers, but what are the features that truly define a ute, a sedan or a crossover? What does someone mean when they talk about a pickup’s rear or a convertible’s nose?
To find out we’ve decided to find the absolute average car from each of the most popular car categories. To do this we have taken images of the front and rear of dozens of the leading models from the chosen classes, then we layered image upon image and used a fancy algorithm, to create one, unified example of what the archetype of the class is. The results are in many cases surprising and always revealing and give a unique insight into the essence of these car classes.
1. The average pickup
Pickups are the best-selling vehicles in the States and are the sturdy backbone of Ford and GM’s business. Considering that basically the entire global pickup market is US-focused, it’s no surprise that size is everything when it comes to the average front. The sleek lines of Japanese and European models, like the Isuzu D-Max or Mercedes X-Class are toughened out with the more rugged, boxed appearance of the likes of the GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado.
The average rear of a pickup shows quite a few competing elements trying to muscle through. A full rear-light pillar on both sides wins out over more minimalist approaches, like on the F-150. The average pickup will also ride a lot higher than might be expected, sticking to its original working vehicle roots rather than going down the line of many modern versions which often seem more intent on looking like performance cars than carrying a load of stakes.
2. The average ute
Where would we be without the beloved ute? The rest of the world considers them a bit of an anomaly but here at home they reign supreme, so much so that pretty much every manufacturer selling in Australia offers a ute version. With utes’ fronts ranging from compacts or saloons, like the Jumbuck, to commercials like the VW Caddy, all the way to full on American-style pickups in the mould of the HiLux, the average front is quite a mix of styles. What wins out is the form of lower riding saloon, but with sterner lines and a flattened bonnet giving its appearance a touch of American muscle.
Though utes are all about party at the front and business at the back, the average rear is surprisingly heavy-duty, looking exactly like what a saloon/pickup cross should. There are hints of the side bars and tarp and Tonneau cover supports that set utes apart from their American cousins but by the looks of things the average ute would have carrying capacity to match any of them.
3. The average hatchback
Though everyone will have their favourites for different reasons, hatchbacks generally follow a formulaic pattern, which was why it was notable when some strong features shone through despite being averaged out. Its height to width ratio, for example, makes it a lot taller than one would think, which would suggest that manufacturers have been quietly super-sizing hatchback models to meet modern tastes while still striving for them to fit into “small” car categories. This is also borne out in the bonnet size, which is in line with a smaller engine housing, but appears to be relatively tiny compared to the rest of the car’s dimensions.
The average rear is also an eye-opener for hatchback aficionados. Gone is the sporty fastback style of the mid-00s and in is a far more reserved, Yaris-style straight rear. Though that doesn’t mean that the sporty nature of hatchbacks has been completely eroded, the averaging out also delivers a dual exhaust system to keep the horsepower ticking over.
4. The average sedan
The average sedan actually turns out to look anything but average, showing off some slick lines and boasting a meaty radiator grille. The wraparound headlights are definitely on-point and the bonnet shows off a sweeping curve around the sides which follows the current Japanese design trend from, among others, the new Subaru Legacy and Toyota Camry. So, even though the averaging methodology is completely objective, here it’s definitely managed to create something which would fit right in at any of the major shows.
The rear of our average sedan takes a slightly less bold and adventurous route. The boot and rear shoulders would more befit a boxer than a ballet dancer but who’s to say that sturdy and uncompromising isn’t exactly what the average sedan driver is looking for. The rear intakes and dual exhausts add a dash of flair but, overall, it’s a solid, dependable look that wins out.
5. The average SUV
Sports utility vehicles or SUVs are a heavy-duty lot which don’t really know whether they want to be off-roaders or city-tractors. Due to this vehicular dysmorphia and the different design directions taken by the various marques, we discovered that the average SUV came out with some fascinating features. The front is stern, with an imposing and slightly protruding nose and the kind of grille that wouldn’t look out of place on a semi-truck.
The average rear has very much the appearance of one of the original archetypes of the class, the Chevy Suburban. This elongated and box-like rear was originally to give extra room for your camping gear, but from the look of the average SUV we’ve created, they have now become the size of a small house.
6. The average convertible
As a favourite of design teams who get to let loose with lines, curves and features, each convertible is unique and so an interesting challenge for the averaging process. Drawing from Corvettes, Porsches, S-Classes and many more, the result is that most of the kinks and curves are ironed out, though the car still holds onto its low-profile character and the extra lower front air intakes to keep the likely souped-up powertrain chilled.
The average rear however really takes on some of the best sporty features from the convertible class. A quad exhaust system should keep air flowing nicely, while the drag-reducing aerodynamic curves wouldn’t hold the car back. The average convertible would obviously also have the hood down, what’s the point in having a convertible otherwise.
7. The average crossover
Crossovers are already a considerable mix of ideas, in that they generally share a design platform with smaller cars but get amped up to be like milder versions of SUVs, so creating an average version suited it perfectly. This can be seen in the front, where the narrowing curves around the headlights lead to a more tapered grille than the more in-your-face battering ram approach of an SUV. The windscreen and upper part are also more petite than pronounced, aiming for substance rather than statement.
The rear of the average crossover is also a lot more understated than the SUV but carries a lot more heft than the average sedan or hatchback, though it has a similarly low profile. It displays nice lines below the brake lights and a sleek rear window design.
Design teams spend lifetimes tweaking the smallest of features on the cars they’re working on, so much so it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Averaging out dozens of the leading models in the same category allows us to see what’s truly at the heart of the class and gives us an awesome insight into what the median model is.
To find the average front and rear of the seven different car categories we first went through an extensive research phase. To begin with we created a shortlist of a dozen car categories, which were narrowed down to the seven most popular and interesting for our audience. For each of these car classes, we listed 50 models from 2019, and then narrowed the list to 25 of the most typical cars of the type based on sales and general popularity.
Straight-on front and rear images were then collected for each of the cars. Our designer subsequently cut out each image to remove background noise and layered all the images on top of each other. This process can be understood better in the following images.
An averaging logarithm was then used to combine each of the 25 models into a single, unified version for the series.
This post was brought to you by Budget Direct Car Insurance