With the increasing number of vehicle categories in the market today, sedan remains as the practical choice for millions of car buyers. The traditional four-door car sets the bar higher in terms of overall quality, performance, fuel economy and reliability — the factors every consumer should consider in purchasing a car.

Sedan, or saloon as often called in other countries, is a vehicle type with three major distinct sections for the engine, the passenger cabin, and the luggage compartment. Its primary purpose is to transport people and their baggage on ordinary roads.

According to international auto Web site Edmunds.com, sedan is one of the most versatile forms, ranging from econobox basic to first-class executive comfort to back-road speed special.

“Today, the crossover SUV has replaced the sedan as America’s vehicle of choice. An SUV’s high seating position offers easy step-in entry and a commanding view of the road, and voracious cargo capacity makes them a staple for active families. But for many, a sedan offers a level of driver engagement, handling and performance that still eludes even the best crossovers, with enough space and utility to make it an ideal daily commuter or family hauler,” the site says.

With a broad range of sedan cars in the market, it is difficult to find one that suits the needs and the situation of a certain car buyer. To winnow the choices, here are some important features to consider, as enumerated by Consumer Reports on its Web site.

When comparing sedans in terms of engine and fuel economy, Consumer Reports says that the number of cylinders doesn’t always equate to horsepower or fuel economy.

“In fact, some V6s are thriftier than some fours. Many modern engines have adopted direct-injection technology and turbocharging to maintain power while saving fuel, although real-world fuel economy can vary based on driving conditions and style. Some of these turbocharged cars and many upscale sedans require premium fuel,” it says.

In terms of accessibility, choose sedan with wide doors and enough headroom so that front and rear passengers can enter and exit easily without bumping their heads, and sit in the rear without brushing the ceiling.

“Some sedans are styled with low, sloping rear rooflines that concede practical considerations for appearance. Such coupelike designs can degrade rear-seat accessibility, headroom, and the driver’s aftward view,” Consumer Reports says.

For car buyers who expect to carry long or bulky cargo, look for sedans that has a fold-down rear seat with a tall, wide opening to the trunk behind. Even a small pass-through port can be handy for long, slender items such as skis, Consumer Reports says.

Although sedans, especially the mid-sized and large ones, are known for their good balance of maneuverability, protective structure, and available safety equipment, it is still important to check the safety ratings of a certain car model as not all models afford the same protection.

At present, all new sedans have standard safety features including front and side-curtain air bags; lap-and-shoulder belts in all outboard seating positions; child-seat top-tether; and lower LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) attachments in the rear seats. In addition to these, car buyers should be mindful of some advanced safety technologies, such as forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking.

The two valued systems are fast-becoming standard equipment on many new vehicles today. Forward-collision warning technology provides a visual, audible, or tactile alert to warn the driver of an impending collision with a car or object directly in its path, while the automatic emergency braking technology senses a potential collision, and starts braking when the driver doesn’t react on time.

Other modern safety features to look into, according to Consumer Reports, are telematics systems that alert emergency personnel if an air bag deploys; lane-departure warning systems that sound an alert to the driver if it change lanes without signaling; lane-keeping assist to center vehicle in the lane if the driver starts to drift; and blind-spot warning systems that indicate vehicles driving in the blind spots to the side and rear.