In SWTOR, each class gets a different starship (with a couple exceptions). The starship descriptions make it seem like they all have different roles, but is that reflected in the ship itself? Is there really any difference between ships, for example in cargo space, shielding, or firepower?
Nope. All ships are mechanically the same, even though they're visually distinct. (both Sith classes share one distinct ship type, as do both Jedi classes with a different ship)
The interior layouts of the ship vary, but they've all got the same options available within them.