Hatchbacks may be described as three-door (two entry doors and the hatch) or five-door (four entry doors and the hatch) cars. A model range may include multiple configurations, as with the 2001–2007 Ford Focus which offered sedan (ZX4), wagon (ZXW), and three or five-door hatchback (ZX3 and ZX5) models. The models typically share a platform, drivetrain and bodywork forward of the A-pillar. Hatchbacks may have a removable rigid parcel shelf, liftable with the tailgate, or flexible roll-up tonneau cover to cover the cargo space behind the rear seats.
Hatchback vs. station wagon
Diagram of a five-door hatchback (two-box) superimposed over the station wagon (two-box) from the same model range—in this case, both with a D-pillar
Both station wagons and hatchbacks typically feature a two-box design configuration, with one shared, flexible, interior volume for passengers and cargo—and a rear door for cargo access. Further distinctions are highly variable:
Pillars: Both configurations typically feature A, B & C pillars; station wagons more likely also feature a D pillar as well.
Cargo volume: Station wagons prioritize passenger and cargo volume—with windows aside the cargo volume. Of the two body styles, a station wagon's roof (viewed in profile) more likely extends to the very rearmost of the vehicle, enclosing a full-height cargo volume—a hatchback roof (especially a liftback roof) might more likely rake down steeply behind the C-Pillar, prioritizing style over interior volume, with shorter rear overhang and with smaller windows (or no windows) aside the cargo volume.
Cargo floor contour: Favoring cargo capacity, a station wagon may prioritize a fold-flat floor, where a hatchback would more likely allow a cargo floor with pronounced contour (e.g. the new Mini or the sixth generation Ford Fiesta).
Seating: Station wagons have two or three rows of seats (e.g., the Ford Taurus wagons) while hatchbacks have one (e.g. the MGB GT) or two rows of seats.
Rear suspension: A station wagon may include reconfigured rear suspension for additional load capacity and to minimize intrusion into the cargo volume (e.g., worldwide versions of the first generation Ford Focus).
Rear door: Hatchbacks typically feature a top-hinged liftgate for cargo access, with variations from a single liftgate to a complex tailgate that can function either as a full tailgate or as a trunk lid (e.g., the 2008 Škoda Superb's TwinDoor). Station wagons also have numerous tailgate configurations. Typically, a hatchback's hatch or liftgate does not extend down to the bumper, as on wagons. Another appearance variation that seems to blur the lines between a commonly defined hatchback versus a station wagon is called a kammback, which generally features a sloping roof towards the end of the vehicle, with an almost vertical rear section to the bumper.
Automotive journalist Dan Neil, in a 2002 New York Times report described verticality of the rear cargo door as the prime distinction between a hatchback and a station wagon: "Where you break the roofline, at what angle, defines the spirit of the vehicle," he said. "You could have a 90-degree break in the back and have a station wagon."