What’s The Difference Between Unibody And Body-On-Frame Vehicles?

unibody car

Unibody Car Chassis Frame Isolated. 3D rendering

When you’re car shopping, you’ll likely hear terms like unibody and body-on-frame construction. But what are they, how are they different, and what do they mean for your drive time? Toyota of N Charlotte is here with answers to your questions. 

While most cars, SUVs, and minivans are unibody construction, some SUVs (like those designed for off-roading) and trucks are body-on-frame construction. 

  • In unibody construction vehicles, the chassis and the frame are made as one single unit (rather than two separate pieces that are then stuck together). 
  • In body-on-frame construction vehicles, the chassis is a separate unit from the frame and is attached to the frame during manufacturing. 

Now that you know what each term means, it’s time to consider how they can affect your drive time. Here are the pros and cons of each, straight from the experts at Toyota of N Charlotte. 

The pros and cons of unibody construction vehicles

As we said, most cars, SUVs, and minivans are unibody construction. This type of vehicle is typically easier to find, and it can also be cheaper. Here are the pros and cons of this type of N Charlotte Toyota. 


  • Did you know that unibody frame cars tend to be more fuel-efficient? They’re usually lighter in construction, which means they use less gas. That’s why so many N Charlotte Toyota crossovers and SUVs use this type of construction. 
  • Unibody vehicles also have a sportier performance to offer. They usually have better cornering capabilities, and are more comfortable for the driver and passengers as well. 
  • You’ll also have a higher degree of safety on unibody cars. It’s easier to integrate features like crumple zones and advanced safety tech into this type of construction. 


  • They’re not great for off-roading. If you like off-roading, a unibody construction vehicle is not for you. They’re best suited for paved surfaces and usually include all-wheel drive (versus four-wheel drive) for handling slippery surfaces. 
  • They can also be more expensive to repair. Everything is manufactured as one unit, so when the car is damaged in an accident or collision, the damage tends to affect more pieces and parts. It can mean major repairs and replacements to get the car like-new again, which can be expensive. 

Electric vehicles body assembly line. 3D rendering image.

The pros and cons of body-on-frame construction vehicles 

Trucks – and some SUVs – that are designed for off-roading use body-on-frame construction. Remember, the chassis and frame are separate – here are the pros and cons of this type of N Charlotte Toyota. 


  • Body-on-frame vehicles are much better for off-roading – this is why vehicles like the N Charlotte Toyota 4Runner are built this way. Vehicles with this type of construction offer more “flex” because their chassis and frame are separate. This makes them better for traveling over uneven terrain and rocky surfaces. 
  • They’re also cheaper to manufacture because they have a simpler, two-piece design; the chassis and frame can be used on multiple different models, which saves both time and money in the manufacturing process. In a unibody construction vehicle, the design typically can’t be used for more than one car. 
  • They tow better. They have the aforementioned flexibility, which means enhanced towing and hauling capabilities. 
  • Additionally, they’re easier to repair. The separate frame and chassis means a lower likelihood of widespread damage in the event of an accident or collision. 


  • They’re heavier – this can mean that they’re slower and less fuel-efficient than unibody Toyotas. 
  • They can be less safe; it’s not quite as easy to integrate advanced safety tech into this design. 
  • They’re also typically less comfortable than unibody construction vehicles. That ruggedness comes at a cost. 

Ready to see for yourself? Shop for a new Toyota today at Toyota of N Charlotte. We’re just off I-77 at exit 23 in Huntersville at 13429 Statesville Road.