The two-door versus four-door debate can take on many different dimensions. Insurance rates, styling and practicality are all important considerations when it comes time to choose between a two-door model or a four-door edition of the same car. Fortunately, after several years of slim pickings there are a growing number of manufacturers electing to subtract a couple of doors from their original design – or even add a pair of rear doors to an existing vehicle – in order to court a different demographic.
Let’s take a look at six automobiles that offer both two and four door editions, and examine the differences between each model.
The 2011 Jeep Wrangler is the quintessential off-road chariot. This two-door SUV has long been a darling of trail-driving crowd thanks to its tough 3.8-liter V-6 engine (202 horsepower, 237 lb-ft of torque), solid front and rear axles, overbuilt suspension system, skid plates and the choice of two different four-wheel drive systems: Command-Trac and Rock Trac. For those who need the utmost in off-road capability, the Rubicon edition provides best-in-class ground clearance, approach and departure angles, along with a host of other upgrades to help tackle trail duty. The Wrangler also offers the option to go topless, with a removable roof shell that transforms the sport-utility vehicle into a convertible.
One of the biggest complains amongst Jeep Wrangler owners is that its short wheelbase and lack of rear doors make it difficult to use as a daily driver. Enter the 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, which stretches out the vehicle’s platform and adds roomy three passenger capacity to the second row along with an extra set of doors. The Wrangler Unlimited also provides a maximum of 86 cubic feet of cargo space with the back seat out of the picture, putting it more in line with what SUV buyers expect in terms of hauling capacity.
In all other aspects, the Wrangler Unlimited matches the standard Wrangler. Although its longer wheelbase might make it a bit less suited for negotiating certain off-road obstacles, it maintains the same task-oriented equipment list that makes the two-door Wrangler such a formidable explorer.
03. 2011 Cadillac CTS Sedan
The 2011 Cadillac CTS sedan was developed by the Detroit-based automaker as a competitor to the entry-level German luxury four-doors that have dominated that segment of the market for decades. The CTS sedan provides the choice of two V-6 engines offering 270 and 306 horsepower, respectively, as well as the availability of either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission and the option of all-wheel drive. A long list of premium features can be ordered with the CTS sedan, and its tight chassis adds an extra dimension of performance to the vehicle’s luxury equation.
04. 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe
The CTS sedan is definitely a looker, but the 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe amps the vehicle’s styling all the way up to 11. This angular mid-size two-door is all about skin-deep beauty, designed to catch the eye and keep it there with its arresting body work and sharp dimensions. Inside, the CTS Coupe shrinks the rear seat when compared to the sedan, especially given that the rear-sloping roof intrudes significantly into the automobile’s backseat space. The two-door is suitable for shuttling four adults on short trips, but longer highway excursions with the same number of passengers are best left to its sedan sibling. Under the hood, the CTS Coupe is offered exclusively with the more powerful of the two V-6 options but matches the sedan in terms of transmission choices and the availability of all-wheel drive.
The 2011 Hyundai Genesis sedan is an attention-getting salvo aimed at luxury car companies hailing from both Europe and Japan. This upscale, feature-laden full-size car undercuts the competition on price while essentially matching its rivals in terms of power and features. The Genesis sedan is offered with the choice of either a 290 horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 or a 385 horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8, each matched with a six-speed automatic transmission. High tech gadgetry such as surround sound, a navigation system, HD radio and adaptive cruise control are all available with the Genesis sedan, along with a long list of other premium features.
The 2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe is an interesting departure from the Genesis sedan in terms of its overall design and the market it targets. Although sharing its name and parts of its platform with the large luxury four-door, the Genesis Coupe is positioned as an entry-level sports car that offers compact dimensions, a much stiffer suspension setup and radically different styling. The much more affordable Genesis Coupe also drops the V-8 option, making a 306 horsepower edition of the sedan’s 3.8-liter V-6 its top-level engine. Base models come with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder unit that is good for 210 ponies. Transmission choices for the Coupe include a six-speed manual and five and six-speed auto boxes. The Genesis Coupe also offers an R-Spec edition which grafts on a host of track-ready performance features to help improve its lap times.
The 2011 Honda Civic sedan is the bread and butter of the Honda lineup, a popular entry-level compact car that comes in gasoline, hybrid, natural gas and performance editions. Most versions of the vehicle come with a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine that is good for 140 horsepower, matched with either a five-speed manual or automatic transmission. Aside from the GX natural gas trim, the Civic Hybrid offers 45-mpg on the highway, while the Civic Si installs a 197 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder motor and adds a six-speed manual transmission, giving the Civic sedan a wide range of different flavors for compact car buyers to choose from.
The 2011 Honda Civic coupe provides a sporty-looking alternative to the Civic sedan’s four-door design. Although the front fascia and overall styling of the coupe is very similar to the of the four-door model, the two-door does give up interior space behind the fronts seats. The coupe is also slightly less expensive than the sedan, although not by a margin wide enough to make this fact a deciding factor for most buyers.
Mechanically, the Civic coupe is identical to the sedan when it comes to the base 1.8-liter editions as well as the Si model. Missing from the coupe lineup are any of the sedan’s other variations, which means no hybrid or GX versions of the two-door Civic are available.
The 2011 Nissan Altima sedan represents the Japanese brand’s mid-size family offering, featuring good interior room and a chassis that offers more of an engaging driving experience when compared against some of its competitors. The Altima sedan comes with either a 175 horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, a 270 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 or a hybrid model that offers up fuel mileage of 33-mpg both city and highway. The Altima also comes exclusively with one of Nissan’s advanced continuously-variable automatic transmissions, further setting it apart from other mid-size sedans on the market.
The 2011 Nissan Altima coupe drops two doors from the Altima’s styling formula in order to provide a sleek-looking mid-size automobile that offers a sporty character in a segment of the market where there are very few competitors. The number of front-wheel drive mid-size coupes has shrunk dramatically over the past ten years, with only a few Japanese automakers maintaining a two-door presence.
The Altima coupe matches the sedan in terms of engine details – minus the hybrid model – and the V-6 edition of the car adds 18-inch wheels (one inch larger than those found on the sedan) as well as a stiffer suspension system. A further wrinkle is the availability of a six-speed manual transmission for both of the four-cylinder and V-6 models, a gearbox that cannot be ordered on the sedan model. Nissan’s CVT is can also be had with either engine.