Whether you are shopping for a new vehicle or you are looking to register a pre-owned one, you need to know the type of car you have. But, what is the make and model of a car, and how do you find it?
In this guide, we cover the differences between the make and the model. We also look at differences you might notice between various models and show you how to find the information when you need to find it.
Table of Contents
What Is The Make and Model of a Car?
The make tells you the brand that makes it, while the model tells you what vehicle from the brand it is. As an example, a Ford F-150 would be the Ford make and F-150 model.
Here are some more details on the differences between make and model.
The make is the car’s brand. It’s the automaker that manufactures the car. Recent rankings show that Toyota is the most popular car brand. Honda, Chevrolet and Ford follow close behind. If you are looking at luxury brands, Mercedes-Benz tends to be the most popular. These rankings can regularly change.
Every brand comes from a particular part of the world, even if it has multiple production plants in other areas. VW is one of the German automakers, while Hyundai is considered South Korean. Honda comes out of Japan, along with Toyota. Among the American automakers, you have Ford, Chevy, Dodge, Jeep and Tesla to choose from, plus several others.
What’s interesting about car makes is that many of them fall under the same companies. If you look at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles as an example, you see this company makes Jeep, RAM and Dodge too. Honda owns Acura, while Lexus is a division of Toyota. Additionally, Hyundai, Genesis and Kia are all part of the same company, even though they are considered different makes.
Among every make, you will find multiple models. Going back to the Toyota brand, you will find many popular models, such as the Corolla, Camry, Tundra, RAV4, 4Runner and Prius.
Each brand will list the models in a unique way. While Toyota uses names for each, BMW gives the cars a letter-number designation. For example, this luxury brand relies on SUVs ranging from X1 to X7, while cars are a series ranging from 2 to 8. Mercedes-Benz labels all of its sedans with a Class, such as the C-Class or S-Class. The company’s SUVs are usually labeled as a series of three letters, such as the GLA or GLC, other than the exception, which is the G-Class.
If you put the make and model together, you know what vehicle you are driving. Therefore, you would say, “I drive a Nissan Altima,” or “I have a Honda Accord.”
READ MORE: The Different Types Of Sports Cars
Differences Between Car Models
1. Model Year
Model years are more important than you might think. Very often, these are not the same as the year they are manufactured in, with many makes sending out vehicles a year before the actual model year suggests. As an example, you can get a 2023 vehicle even though it’s still 2022.
Among the model years, you will find that each vehicle falls into a particular generation. When the model is first released, it’s part of the first generation. Every time that the vehicle’s design is changed in a major way, it starts a new generation. When talking about the Ford F-150, the 14th generation began in 2021 with a redesign.
There is one brand, in particular, that doesn’t use model years. If you drive a Tesla, you won’t be able to differentiate your new EV by the year it was made. All vehicles are updated with the latest software to ensure they run the same.
2. Body Style
In general, most models are available as one particular body style. However, there are instances when multiple body styles are available, such as when a car can be a sedan or a coupe. You can also get a sports car as a coupe or a convertible.
Some sedans and coupes can also be purchased as a hatchback model. Aside from these, you also have various body styles available for trucks, SUVs and wagons.
3. Trim Level
Among each model, there should be several trim levels available. These trim levels show you what equipment, motor and features come with the vehicle.
You get a base model for the cheapest amount, but it’s only going to come with the most basic features. There are also sport-focused trims that have better suspension systems, more powerful engines and some off-road equipment. You can also upgrade to a luxury trim level with desirable features if you are willing to spend more.
Each make has its own names for trim levels as well. Toyota uses names such as L, SR, SR5, XLE and XSE. Jeep is also known for its trim levels, such as Rubicon, Sahara or Sport.
Trim levels offer the best features for each package. However, you can add further options to each trim level. Every brand offers a different level of options with each trim level. What you can get with one trim, you may not be able to get with another.
As you customize the new car you want, it’s important to look over the available options. Each one is going to add to the price or you can bundle them in what is known as a package. However, if you add too many options, it might become more cost-effective to upgrade to a higher trim that already includes these features.
RELATED: Foreign Car Brands in the US
How to Find a Car’s Make and Model?
There are multiple ways to find the make and model of your vehicle. Sometimes, the easiest way to get the information is to look at the car itself. You may see the emblem or logo of the brand along with some badging telling you what model it is.
It’s also possible to find the information on the title or registration for the vehicle. If those aren’t handy, you can look at your car insurance paperwork. You need this information to get car insurance and both the make and model will be listed on your coverage cards. Another place where the information can be found is in the owner’s manual. Many of these booklets are kept in the glove box for safekeeping.
If all else fails, you can research the information online using the VIN (vehicle identification number). This number contains 17 digits of numbers and letters. It’s found on the driver’s side door jamb placard or where the dashboard and windshield meet on the driver’s side. The VIN is a unique serial number designed for your car alone. It contains valuable information about the make and model of the vehicle, along with the engine type, where it was made and more. You can use an online VIN decryption tool to get more information.
If you don’t feel comfortable using online tools or you are unsure which ones are safe, it’s always best to reach out to a local dealership. They can look up your VIN and tell you the make and model of your vehicle.
Is the car brand the make or model?
The car brand is the make, and the model is the specific type of car of the same brand or make. For example, a Ford Mustang is a specific model of car that is made by the Ford brand.
The make and model of a car are two important factors to consider when buying a new vehicle. The make is the company that makes the car, while the model is the specific type or style of the car
There are many different makes and models of cars on the market, so it’s very important to do your research before making a purchase. Think about what you need and want in a car, then narrow down your options by make and model. This will help you find the perfect car for your needs.