The Size Matters: How the Trunk Volume Is Measured

Trunk Volume

Trunk volume is not the first indicator most buyers look at when buying a car. However, when it is time to go on holiday, the size of the luggage compartment makes a difference. As used car connoisseurs from the Indy Auto Man dealership in Indianapolis claim, many manufacturers boast of impressive figures, which are of little value in practice. 

Even though only a few buyers will use the cubic meters provided to them to the fullest, here is the question: how do you get the real trunk volume figure, and why can it vary even for the same model?

How Do the Trunk Volume Measurement Methods Differ? 

In the US, the concept of trunk volume on the official car manufacturer website is valid only for a sedan. A hatchback will have the volume of cargo space behind the first row of seats, the volume of cargo space behind the second row of seats, and the volume of hidden cargo space.

The USA and Europe use different standards for calculating the cargo volume. In the USA, it is measured according to the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) standard, namely J1100_200911 (Motor Vehicle Dimensions). In Europe, there is a calculation method according to the DIN 70020 standard, developed by the German Association of the Automotive Industry VDA. How are they different?

Same Trunk, Different Dimensions

The differences between the measurement methods lie, as it is easy to assume, in the way the measured cargo space is filled. The US is distinguished by non-standard measurement, with dominating units like pounds, feet, and gallons, unrelated to each other.

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Here, the luggage itself is used to calculate the available trunk volume. Not conditional, but the real one, consisting of a fixed set of various suitcases: a small man’s two-suiter, a large woman’s suitcase, a woman’s travel bag, and a couple of others, including a golf bag, for which the contents are indicated: two woods (hole clubs), four irons (hard putters), one putter, a pair of shoes and three balls. In addition, small boxes close the list, which are allowed to fill the cavities remaining after packing the main luggage. Fortunately, for each piece of luggage, the exact dimensions are given, for example, 9 x 16 x 26 inches for a large women’s suitcase.

The final calculation of the luggage compartment is carried out by sequentially filling it in according to the method given in the standard – from larger to smaller. Then, it is allowed to push small additional boxes into the remaining sections of the space. True, when filling the virtual trunk, there was one more trick: automakers, for advertising purposes, began to fill the luggage compartments of five-door cars not up to the upper edge of the rear seats, as expected, but under the roof.  This, in particular, explains twice the amount of cargo space in the American Ford Focus hatchback. The other standard assumes filling up to the rear shelf.

Out of the US, the measurement is somewhat simpler: there were no concepts of male and female luggage from the century before last. The VDA implies filling the trunk with flat bricks measuring 200 x 100 x 50 millimeters and (hence) a volume of exactly 1 liter. It is not difficult to calculate the final volume with this approach. It is equal to the number of blocks that fit into the trunk. The blocks fit into the trunk noticeably denser. Therefore, the final volume, other things being equal, usually turns out to be more significant.

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If the key parameter when choosing a car for you is the volume of its trunk, then, as it is now clear, you should pay attention not only to the declared figure but also to the method of obtaining it. If we are talking about VDA (which is more likely for European manufacturers), the volume can be considered conditionally objective. If it is calculated according to SAE, it is worth looking for alternative indicators to understand how much potentially valuable space was lost when packing luggage.

Real Trunk Volume in Modern Cars

Of course, when calculating the trunk volume in modern cars, no one puts real suitcases, boxes, and golf bags with seven clubs, three balls, and a pair of shoes in them – the calculation is done by computer programs for 3D modeling. They also help calculate the most optimal arrangement of suitcases so that the final result is the greatest. The program will easily calculate the volume of any given capacity, taking into account each depression and bend. But since we still fill the trunks with something more molded than water, the best way to estimate the luggage compartment is to see it in real life and compare similar models side by side. Indy Auto Man is the best location in Indianapolis to have a look at the used car inventory, check the trunks, and buy the model with the most impressive capabilities.

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