The make of a car is the brand – Toyota, Honda, Kia, Ford or Volkswagen, for example. The model of a car is the term used to describe the various types of cars, or lines of cars, produced and sold by an automaker. For instance, the car model may be a word, such as Toyota’s Camry, Corolla and Tundra models, or an alphanumeric name (a combination of letters and numbers), like BMW’s i8 Roadster or M3 Coupe. Together, the make and model of a car specifically identify a vehicle.
Something to keep in mind regarding car makes and models is that vehicle manufacturers are sometimes large, multinational corporations that own several brands (car makes). Even though the cars are produced by the same parent company, each brand is a distinct make. For example, Toyota Motor Corp. produces the Toyota, Scion and Lexus car brands.
When the Make and Model of a Car Matter
The make and model of a car matter because they help identify specific types of vehicles and make it easier to determine their value. This is especially important if you’re buying or selling a vehicle or shopping for auto insurance.
The car model is particularly important in determining the value of your car, as each model has specific trim levels (extra interior and exterior features), body styles (such as sedan, coupe, minivan, pickup, SUV and hatchback) and appearances that can further distinguish a vehicle. Trim levels, also known as grades, are usually specified with names or initials.
For example, the 2020 Chevrolet Equinox comes in four model versions, with each additional level providing more options for comfort, tech and performance: L, LS, LT and Premier. In this case, the “L” model is the base trim level that doesn’t have any special features; the “LS” trim level offers more comfort and tech features; the “LT” trim level offers even more features and three engine options; and the “Premier” trim level, the highest for this car model, offers all the available features and engine options.
The car model year is also important because vehicle designs can change drastically from year to year. The model year can be tricky, too, because it is rarely the same year as when the car was built.
How to Find the Make and Model of a Car
To find the make and model of a car, look for the logos, badges, decals and emblems found on the vehicle’s exterior, usually on the trunk or front grille. However, the types, prominence and combinations of these identifiers are unique to each car model.
For example, Cadillac has a script logo, front grill badge and decorative hood ornament that distinguish the car’s make from others in a line-up. You can almost always find the model name of a Cadillac written on the trunk, too. Another example is how Audi vehicles have a distinctive emblem of four interlocked chrome circles placed prominently on the front hood or grille, which is sometimes accompanied by the car model name. You can also typically find the model name for Audi vehicles on the trunk.
Another way to find the make and model of a car is by looking up its vehicle identification number (VIN), the unique 17-digit number consisting of numbers and capital letters that acts as the vehicle's fingerprint. The VIN is usually found stamped into a plate and mounted on both the driver’s side door jamb and dashboard, though there are exceptions to this rule, and you may find it in other places like under the hood in front of the engine block or on the front end of the frame of older cars. With the VIN, you can learn the car’s make and model as well as information like the vehicle’s specifications, country of assembly, recall records, warranty claims and past thefts.
Alternatively, you can check the owner’s manual or vehicle registration for your car’s make and model information.
2021’s Most Popular Car Makes
Source: Car and Driver
2021’s Most Popular Car Models
- Ford F-Series
- Chevrolet Silverado
- RAM Pickup Truck
- Toyota RAV4
- Honda CR-V
- Honda Civic
- Toyota Camry
- Chevrolet Equinox
- Toyota Corolla
- Nissan Rogue
Source: Kelley Blue Book
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