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December 14, 2020
So you’ve painstakingly researched cars and finally decided what model you want. But guess what, now you have another decision, what trim to buy!
Manufacturers often create different versions of every vehicle model they produce, and each one is called a trim.
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A trim level (or configuration package) is a version of a vehicle model that is equipped with a distinct set of features. The higher the trim level of a model, the more features and the higher the price tag. Each higher trim level will typically add upon the features of the entry-level model (typically called the "base" model) or replace them with better variations.
Manufacturers assign a name for each trim level, usually 2 or 3 letters shown after the model, such as Ford Ranger XL. The trim level is often displayed on the rear of the vehicle.
Car trims help you identify the manufacturer-installed features of the vehicle you’re buying.
Your car’s trim often dictates:
Trim levels are named using a pair of letters such as SL or GT, alphanumeric codes such as Z28 or XR5, or words such as Executive or Ambition.
Most letter combinations symbolize a trim’s origins, such as SL and GT which stand for Standard Level and Gran Turismo, respectively.
The acronyms and trim level names used will vary greatly between manufacturers. Below we show the most popular and widely used trim level names and what they mean:
The most common way manufacturers denote the standard trim level for a model is with "base". Here are some widely used base level naming conventions and their meaning:
Most manufacturers separate their sport and performance-based trims by naming them "sport" or "turbo". Some other common names used are:
Some of the more popular ways manufacturers denote their high-end or luxury trims is with names like "Platinum", "Premium", "Reserve", or "Touring". Some other standard naming conventions include:
Can't decide on what trim to buy? See which trim we recommend for every model of new car.
For you to better understand car trim levels, here’s what the 2021 Hyundai Tucson trim levels are like:
As you can see, the higher the trim level is, the more unique built-in details a car has. It’s important to understand car trim levels because, as shown in the example, there are more considerations in buying a 2021 Hyundai Tucson than its color, transmission, and style. There are six trim levels to choose from, each offering a unique detail that you might enjoy.
In addition to various trim levels, car manufacturers may also offer options to give you more choices. An option is a single add-on component that you can add to your car, usually for an extra cost.
Options and packages are different from car trims in such a way that they usually bundle fewer additional features. Car trims offer a wider slate of supplementary equipment. Automakers will sometimes only allow particular options for specific trim levels, and these options will not be available for lower levels. We’ll discuss packages in more detail later.
There are dozens of options available for you, from aesthetic additions to those that can improve your car’s safety. Here are some examples of car options you can purchase:
In the example earlier, you may purchase the 2021 Hyundai Tucson SE but opt for heating for the front seats, which the Value trim level offers.
An accessory package is a group of aesthetic or functional options that manufacturers bundled to meet specific consumer needs. Brands create packages to make related options more affordable.
Each manufacturer offers unique packages, but here are seven common ones and some of their inclusions:
1. Appearance package
2. Performance package
3. Sports package
4. Towing package
5. Safety package
6. Handling package
7. Navigation package
Compute the costs and check if it’s more reasonable for you to get select options or a complete package.
The make is the manufacturer’s brand. The model is the specific vehicle name or range of vehicles.
Take Toyota for example. Toyota is the “make”, and there are several different models. RAV4 is a type of Toyota, but so is a Camry. So, Toyota RAV4 and Toyota Camry have the same make but are different models.
Manufacturers usually offer different body style options for specific car models, which should not be mistaken for car trims. Two cars can have the same trim but different styles. For example, you may purchase the 2021 Honda Civic in either sedan or hatchback.
Here are some of the most common body styles:
Now that you know the answer to the commonly-asked question, “What is a car trim?” you can make an informed decision before buying a car. It’s best to have a definitive list of the features you want to have so you can find the perfect combination of car trims, options, and packages that will give you the best value for your money.
Having trim levels allows manufacturers to meet the ever-changing demand of their consumers. Using trim levels target different needs and different budgets.
If you’ve done your research on a particular brand and model and you’re satisfied with the specs of its entry-level trim, then go ahead and purchase it. The higher levels are available for buyers with specific preferences and usually with a bigger budget, but the same manufacturer made both trims. They were most likely built by the same people and went through the same quality control testing.
The answer to this question is dependent on which options you want for your car. List down your non-negotiables and compare prices. Different brands and sellers have different option prices, but the answer should be the car that gives you more savings.
Your original sales invoice or owner’s manual usually contains this information. Some cars also have decals or emblems stating their trim. If you still can’t find your car’s trim using these methods, you may visit the manufacturer’s website and use your vehicle identification number (VIN) to get trim information.
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Posted in Car Buying Tips |