Talk to anyone who’s mad about cars and you’ll soon find yourself discussing makes and models. When you think about the name of a vehicle, you’ll probably be thinking of its make and model.
If someone asks you what kind of car you have, you may say you’ve got a small blue car, but you’re more likely to name its make and model, such as a Honda Civic.
There is a distinct difference between the make and model of a car. Understanding this difference is important, especially when you’re shopping for or selling a car. Make and model are also important when you’re arranging your car insurance and when you book an auto transport service.
Does a Vehicle’s Make and Model Really Matter?
Letters and numbers feature a lot when you’re talking about a car’s make and model but unfortunately, there’s no universal naming convention. This can make things confusing.
In this post, you’ll learn the difference. You’ll also learn about other ways manufacturers name their cars, for example, the trim level and body style.
Knowing the make and model of your own car is going to be important on a number of occasions, not just when you’re discussing your car with your mates. If you ever need to sell it, knowing the make and model will make it easier to describe it to a potential buyer.
Insurance companies base their premiums on a car’s make and model.
In addition, here at USTrans.com, we use the make and model of your car to determine how much it will cost to ship it.
What is a Car’s Make?
A car’s make is the name of the manufacturer who makes the vehicle. It’s also known as the car’s brand. Hyundai, Subaru, Volvo, GMC, Mazda, Toyota, Kia, and Jeep are all examples of car manufacturers and also makes of cars.
If you know the make of a car, you can also get a good idea of the car’s country of origin. For example, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota are Japanese automobile manufacturers. Volkswagen, Audi, and BMW are German car manufacturers. Tesla, Chevrolet, and Ford are American automakers.
Knowing a car’s make is quite a simple thing to determine. It is usually the starting point when describing a vehicle for most people. However, it’s not always as simple as you think because some makes fall under a larger umbrella of a parent company.
A Car’s Make is Not Always Straightforward
The parent company for brands such as GMC, Chevrolet, Cadillac, and Buick is General Motors.
Fiat’s umbrella includes brands such as Alfa Romeo and Maserati. Chrysler makes Jeep, RAM, and Dodge vehicles. In 2014, Chrysler and Fiat combined to create Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, or FCA. FCA recently combined forces with French car manufacturer PSA. All three now fall under the umbrella of Stellantis.
The Volkswagen Group, once the largest vehicle manufacturer in the work, owns several vehicle manufacturers, such as:
The largest automotive manufacturer in terms of global sales is now Toyota.
As well as having a standard range of vehicles, some manufacturers also have a luxury division to further add to the confusion. For example, Nissan makes Infiniti, Honda makes Acura, Toyota makes Lexus, Ford makes Lincoln, and Hyundai makes Genesis.
What is a Car’s Model?
A car’s model is generally more complex than a vehicle’s make. A vehicle’s model is usually a name that’s given to a particular vehicle in a manufacturer’s lineup. Here are some examples:
- Honda – Civic
- Subaru – Forester
- GMC – Terrane
- Alfa Romeo – Giulia
Many luxury manufacturers also differentiate their vehicle models by adding a series of numbers and letters. Brands that are famous for doing this include BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz.
Vehicle models can be as simple as a name. However, they can also be more complicated such as a series of numbers that determine a vehicle’s trim level, body style, and other defining information about a vehicle./
Nissan is one of the easiest manufacturers to follow in terms of vehicle models. Each of the models has a name. There are very few different body styles within a model and the lineup of different trim levels is very simple. From smallest to largest, the Nissan model lineup of cars is as follows:
All models are offered as four-door sedans.
Manufacturers Often Take Things One Step Further
Manufacturers seem to like to keep the consumer on their toes or is it just a case of making things more confusing?
Many manufacturers offer one or more of their models in different body styles. Common body styles include:
- Pickup truck
Sometimes, a manufacturer can take it even further with pickup trucks being a very good example. Depending on the make and model, pickups can be two-door, regular cabs that seat two or three. They can also be two or two-and-a-half-door extended cabs that seat up to four. In addition, there are crew or king cabs with four doors. These can seat up to six people.
To complicate things even further, a current trend is to rename existing body styles or designate a different body style to one of their models that don’t fit the car’s actual body style. Mercedes-Benz and BMW seem to enjoy doing this.
BMW has labelled some of its SUVs as sports activity couples or sports activity vehicles rather than sports utility vehicles. Mercedes-Benz and BMW both offer some of their 4-door sedans as “gran coupe” models.
Trim levels are another way that vehicle manufacturers choose to further delineate vehicle models. Trim levels tend to designate what type of features, powertrain, or equipment is offered on a specific model.
Trim levels tend to be directly correlated to a vehicle’s price. You can usually identify what trim level a vehicle has by lettering or emblems on the car after its name.
Basic trim levels include:
- SE – stands for Special Edition
- LX – stands for Luxury
- GLS – Grand Luxury Sport
- EX – stands for Executive
- SS – stands for Super Sport
- SV – stands for Standard Value
- GT – stands for Grand Touring
Manufacturers that commonly use these trim levels include Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Kia, Ford, and Chevrolet. They are used in conjunction with a car’s name to designate different versions and equipment levels within a specific model.
The number of trim levels various vehicle models offer varies from one manufacturer to another. Typically, you can expect there to be four to six for each model. However, some manufacturers offer up to thirteen.
Number and Letter Combinations
A few manufacturers, namely Audi and Lexus, kick the naming of their models up a further step by giving each of them a number and letter combination. They then add a name or additional letter or number to designate the trim level within that model.
Audi uses the letter “A”. The number following the letter generally relates to the size of the car. For example, the Audi A3 is one of their smallest cars. An “S” is used to designate a more performance-oriented version of a car. RS is used to designate the performance version of each model. An Audi RS4 is the most powerful version of Audi’s company car.
Lexus uses a similar model-naming method but it’s slightly more complex. Its compact sedan is the IS. The ES is its midsize sedan. The large sedan is the LS. Each of these models also has a number designation that can be 250, 300, 350, or 500. A small letter “h” is also used after the number to show whether a model is a hybrid.
How to Find a Car’s Make and Model?
There are many ways you can find the make and model of your vehicle. Often, the easiest way is to look at your car. You might spot an emblem or logo of the brand along with some badging that tells you what model it is.
You can also find the make and model on the title or registration for the vehicle. If these aren’t handy, check your car insurance paperwork.
Another place to look is in the owner’s handbook. You often find the owner’s manual in the glove box for safekeeping.
If all of the above fails to give you the information you need, it’s possible to research the information online using the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).
You’ll find the VIN on the driver’s side door jamb placard or where the dashboard and windshield meet on the driver’s side. The VIN contains 17 digits of numbers and letters and is unique to your vehicle. It contains valuable information about the make and model of your vehicle, along with the engine type, where it was made, and much more. The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a VIN decoder you can use for free.
Now you should know all there is to know about the make and model of a car. When you contact us to book your auto transport service, make sure you have the make and model of your car near and handy.