Sedans are dying in the United States, which is not news. However, one segment seems to have completely died off without anyone noticing: The commuter coupe. Obviously, small cars make more sense as hatchbacks. Despite this anarchism, two door sedans have been produced with aspirations of pure utility, including the Toyota Echo.
The Echo itself was interesting because no one really thought a car with no pretense of status or sportiness could succeed in the United States in the early 2000s. Essentially a rebadged Yaris, it really only made sense in its two and four door hatch versions. However, the US got some very strangely proportioned sedans instead, for reasons which are beyond me.
Spotting a decrepit example of the two door on the street got me thinking. There is a reason no one bought these; such boring and utilitarian cars make more sense with four doors. Scanning the two doors currently for sale does not turn up anything that meets these requirements. As I see it, a true utilitarian sedan must have a semi-upright rear window for rear passenger headroom and no pretensions of sportiness or style, just commuting. So what was the last of this breed?
The Civic coupes are too sporty. That stylish sloped rear window really isn’t utilitarian at all.
Then I thought of the ultra rare Hyundai Elantra Coupe. This could be the last, but I think it has too many sporting pretensions to be in the same class as the Echo.
Maybe the two door Ford Focus sedan. There really wasn’t anything stylish or sporty about it. It was about getting from point A to point B without frivolous extra doors. Of course to people at point C, lying in between points A and B, omitting rear doors seemed exceedingly strange.
So when was the last of the era of two door commuters? In the late 80s and early 90s, you could get coupe versions of your everyday Sentras and even Jettas.
And if we go further back, we get into the era where such designs were actually commonplace, with designs like the Ford Anglia taking utility so seriously as to be its defining characteristic.
And some of the oldest practical two doors were business coupes, which had very large trunks for salesmen to store their samples and dead bodies.
So when did the commuter coupe die in the USDM? I would probably go with the Focus as the last, but the evolution of this now dead segment is simply fascinating. Any thoughts?
UPDATE: I think we have a winnner: the V6 Challenger. It is basically just a large premium coupe with only vague sporting aspirations. In practice, it’s just a big comfy cruiser with a usable back seat. And it’s still on sale. Can we call this the last vestiges of the personal luxury coupe? Thank you, Darkbrador, for your suggestion.