Cargo area of hatchbacks

I’m an artist, and often have to transport my art work by car. My current car is a PT Cruiser and, with the back seat down I can fit a 56” x 40” painting lying flat, without having to move the front seat, and still able to close the hatch.

It’s getting to be time to trade in the PT Cruiser, and I’m hoping to find another car with a similar interior area, less than $25K . . . preferably a hatchback, for ease of loading/unloading the art work. All the car sites give the “cargo volume,” but none give the actual horizontal area that’s not taken up by wheel wells, etc. I’m planning to go to the Auto Show at the end of the month, to actually measure the cars.

Any suggestions?

My wife had a PT Cruiser and it was one of the worse cars we’ve ever owned. Her 2012 Nissan Altima has about the same cargo space width and length-wise with the rear seats down. Not so much for height though.

When I was looking for an economical new car, one of the big requirements was that I could put my bicycle in it with only removing the front wheel at most. I went into car dealerships carrying a blanket in one arm and my bicycle over the other shoulder. Car salesmen actually walked away from me! I bought a 2007 Kia Spectra5 wagon.

Your idea of actually measuring is sound. Some of the cars I checked out had more cargo volume than the Kia; however, there were things like rear strut towers in the way. My daughter has a 2010 Kia Soul and was looking for another car. She checked out the 2015 Soul; however, they changed the rear cargo area somewhat which made it somewhat narrower to where they couldn’t put one item they carried into the newer model.

Measure not only the floor area, but the hatch opening as well. A while back I bought a TV from COSTCO and had measured the area on my hatchback and knew it would fit. But the actual hatch opening was smaller and I couldn’t get the box in at all.

We had a similar situation. We took the item out of the box, and it fit through the opening just fine. Wrapped it in some blankets for protection. Maybe you thought of that, but if you didn’t, future reference and all.

I drive a 2008 Honda Fit. I just checked it out with a tape measure, and with the back seats down you can fit a 39" x 60" fairly thin object through the hatch and lay it flat on the cargo bed.

If the object has more than a couple of inches worth of depth, it couldn’t be more than, say, 37 inches wide. That’s because the hatch opening isn’t square. (Once you got it through the hatch there would be no problem with the cargo bed.) The largest object that I’ve ever stuffed into the car was a box containing a new lawn mower - something like 36" x 24" x 60". It was a tight fit, but it fit in the Fit.

Newer Honda Fits might be a bit larger, or they might be a bit smaller - I wouldn’t know.

New Honda Fits cost somewhere around $18,000. While I really like mine, Honda has lots of fine competition from other manufacturers which sell small hatchbacks, so it won’t be like the Honda Fit is the only game in town.

You might want to look at a Ford C-Max or Transit Connect. Both would fit the criteria.

I had interest in an Accord Crosstour…until I tried to put my bike in the back. Same thing with the Nissan Rogue. No, Mr. Salesman, I don’t wanna come inside & talk [del]monthly payments[/del] color until I know it’s big enough to interest me. It wasn’t, I left.

Remember to measure with the hatch down. Something may fit in with it open but be large enough to prevent it from closing due to the shape of the glass/covering for the rear wiper blade motor. Maybe get a sheet of thin plywood or paneling & cut it down to the size of your largest art to ensure it can fit in & close.

Ha, I know I completely blew the car salesman’s mind when I walked into CarMax hauling a car seat. “Look, the only reason I’m even looking for a new car is that it is a pain in the ass to squidge a baby into a rear facing seat in a Grand Prix.”

I’m pretty sure that would go into my ‘06 Prius. The only thing that makes me a little hesitant is that there might not be 40" between the wheel wells. But I have squeezed at one time: a stack of three 3’x6’ folding tables, three 4’ round cocktail tables, and a bunch of folding chairs in there (I did have to move the passenger seat forward). There is more cargo room than a lot of people expect.

The 2016 version has been redesigned, so I don’t know how much room is in there now. You can probably get one for under your 25K limit. You might also look at the smaller Prius c, which you can get cheaper. I think it’s the same width as the full size model, but just shorter. If there’s 40" between the wheel wells, I think there would be 56" front to back in either model.

For me, it is my upright bass. Your idea of measuring at the auto show is a good one. When you narrow it down, simply bring a canvas of the desired size to the show rooms.

BTW - my bass fits nicely in my Matrix, or in my buddy’s Golf.

My ex broke the window of her Honda Accord hatchback many years ago. The box she put in fit fine with the hatch open. It hit the back window just right when she closed it. Yes, checking the height of one’s cargo is very important.

When I was in college I frequently transported an upright bass in my VW beetle. (A real beetle, not the fake “new beetle”) One time I carried the bass, a bassoon, and a bassoonist. I did it by removing the front passenger seat.

I ditched my PT Cruiser because I was tired of having to take the back seats out to fit all my art show stuff. I now have a Kia Sportage (2006 - they have since redesigned it so I don’t know if these specs match the new ones.) Anyhoo, I can easily fit my EZ Up canopy in its roller bag, and I believe the bag is 65" long. That’s with the back seats folded down, and they fold down flat.

I’ll check the width between the wheel wells.