Front-Engine vs. Rear-Engine Buses: What’s Best For You?

Front-Engine vs. Rear-Engine Buses: What's Best For You?

You’ve doubtless noticed that some buses have flat fronts, while others have “dog-nose” traditional body styles. That’s not about aesthetics—it indicates where the engine is located. So, when it’s time to compare front-engine vs. rear-engine buses, what’s best for you? We examine the differences.

Bus engines are heavy. Their placement can affect how a bus handles for the driver and has an impact on the passengers’ experience, too. One type of bus isn’t better than another, but their contrasting characteristics should factor into your decision.

Front-Engine, Dog-Nose Buses


  • The engine is accessed by flipping the cover up.
  • They’re usually less expensive than rear-engines.
  • They have more size choices.
  • They are often easier to learn to drive.
  • The shorter wheelbase makes them more agile.
  • It’s easier for the driver to hear or sense engine trouble.
  • The driver also has more protection in the event of a collision.


  • It can be a loud ride for passengers.
  • Front-ends have a long overhang at the back.

Front-Engine, Flat-Nose, Transit-Style Buses


  • Because the engine is right next to the driver, they can listen for any problems.
  • There’s more space lengthwise inside the bus for more passengers.
  • A grille on the front helps protect the radiator and engine.
  • A shorter wheel base means a greater turning radius.
  • The broad windshield gives the driver better turn vision, as well as a better view of students entering and exiting the bus.


  • The engine can get loud up front.
  • Sometimes heat emanates from the engine into the cabin.
  • There’s less buffer in the event of a head-on accident.
  • The near-horizontal steering wheel is tough to handle for drivers of less than average height.

Rear-Engine, Flat-Nose Buses


  • They provide unobstructed entry for passengers.
  • They’re more lightweight than front-engines.
  • They’re much quieter than front-engines.
  • They’re usually available in longer lengths.
  • They tend to have more powerful engines and better transmissions.
  • The lower front glass can make a driver more comfortable and offer better visibility.
  • The engine can be accessed with a removable panel.
  • The longer wheelbase often means a smoother ride.
  • It has a short rear overhang.
  • Driving it is easy once you get the hang of it.


  • The engine takes up some space in the back.
  • The longer wheelbase makes it less agile.
  • They’re often more expensive.

If these pros and cons don’t have you any closer to a decision, it’s best to see each option in person. When it comes to front-engine vs. rear-engine buses, you’ll learn what’s best for you with a closer look and a comprehensive test drive.

If you’re looking for a new or used school bus for sale, National Bus Sales, Inc. can match you with the perfect vehicle. For more than 30 years, we’ve been helping customers with their needs and can deliver a bus to you anywhere in the country. Contact us for more information.

Ben Henshaw

Ben Henshaw

Ben Henshaw Sales Manager National Bus Sales

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