Hatchbacks continue to make comeback as luxury vehicles

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The hatchback is back. It's just wearing much fancier clothes this time around. (KABC)

The second generation 2018 Porsche Panamera was introduced last year, and it has a lot going for it. Its attributes include sleek styling, great handling balance, lots of power and lots of luxury.

And it's a vehicle that was a bit of a pioneer when the first version debuted eight years ago. It brought U.S. buyers something they hadn't really had access to before: a luxury car in a 5-door hatchback body style. With the 2010 Panamera, performance and posh feel met practicality, and that carries on in 2018. There's tons of room for cargo in back, but the vehicle maintains the attributes of a car. It's like an SUV when you need it, but like a true luxury sports sedan when you don't

And other choices keep arriving, as this hatchback trend evolves and grows. New for 2018 is the Audi A5 Sportback, a mid-size premium 5-door that was previously only available in markets like Europe. Audi must have felt the time was right to offer it here in North America, after the success of their first hatchback model, the A7. That car followed the Panamera to market by one year, as a 2011 model, and there's now a second-generation 2019 Audi A7 coming late this year. The new A5 Sportback carries a base price of $42,600.

Want more choices? Buick is also getting into the premium hatchback game with the Regal Sportback. At first glance you might not realize it has a hatch, which is intentional. But open up the rear hatch and you'll find a very roomy cargo area.

BMW got into the hatchback arena a few years ago with their 4-series Gran Coupe. At first glance it looks like a conventional sedan with a slightly more swept roofline, but there is indeed a hatch at the back, which BMW purposely concealed.

And of course one of the most noteworthy uses of hatchback design in recent years has been Tesla's Model S.

What's interesting about all these modern hatchbacks is that, for the most part, auto makers don't call them hatchbacks. And that may be because there are still many buyers in America who remember hatchbacks strictly as economy cars, likely from their younger days in the 1970s and 1980s. For them, it's quite possible that the term "hatchback" has never been associated with the term "luxury."

But it's a different story today. From the feature-laden Buick for anywhere from the mid-$20,000 to upper $30,000 range, to a high-performing Porsche on either side of $100,000 (base price for the 2018 Panamera is $85,000, but options can quickly escalate that amount). The hatchback is back. It's just wearing much fancier clothes this time around.
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