How to Measure Cargo Space

Jane Seymour A few hours ago · 5 min. read
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After recognizing that manufacturer-published cargo specifications could not be trusted to accurately represent the true space of vehicles, particularly when comparing across different automakers and types, we created our own technique of measuring the cargo area behind backseats so as to remain consistent amongst all automobiles.

This is a tricky job, as cargo areas are hardly identical. Our tested volumes combine two measurements: the straightforward depth, width and height of a typical cargo area's main boundaries - where you could fit in that large rectangle box from your local furniture store- plus all other crevices surrounding it into which an owner may tuck their belongings.

To measure the cargo capacity of vehicles with two or three rows, we count and report the total volume behind the backseat. For those with a third row, we also measure space separately by accounting for it using our methodology - both figures are published. Maximum room is not considered due to too many discrepancies; these include footwells in the second-row and crevices present on rear doors that can't be accurately measured without special tools.

Compare Regardless of Body Style or Seating

Regardless of seating configuration or body style, you can compare our figures between a hatchback and sedan. However, cargo volume is just one aspect to consider when evaluating storage capacity. Keep in mind that compared to sedans and coupes with enclosed trunks and limited space after the first row has been folded down, vehicles like hatchbacks, wagons, minivans or SUVs offer open cargo areas which enable more efficient use of available room behind the front seats.

Consistent Across All Makes

You might notice that our cargo volumes are often significantly smaller than those listed in manufacturer-published manuals, even behind the second or third row. Automaker practices vary from brand to brand and even between two cars of the same make, which can affect measurements for things like seating placement or what is actually being accounted for when measuring cargo volume. We strive to offer real-world accuracy across a variety of makes with volumetric tests done onsite by us personally!

Always secure your cargo, and note that certain specifics — namely, a spare tire or extra stereo speakers — can alter cargo volume in the example you’re shopping versus what we test. To give the best frame of reference, we’ll note all relevant specifics in each test car for which we publish cargo volume.

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