Trim level (automobile)

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LX badge on a Honda Civic, indicating the highest trim level

Trim levels are used by manufacturers to identify a vehicle's level of equipment or special features.[1][2][3]


For a given car model, the trim level denotes which equipment and features are included as standard. A car buyer may add to this standard equipment with trim packages or individual options. The trim level with the least equipment/features is referred to as the "base model",[2] and the trim level with the most equipment/features is referred to as "highest specification" or colloquially as "fully loaded". Differences between trim levels often consist of interior equipment (eg leather seats and reversing cameras), and cosmetic changes;[2][3] however sometimes a trim level can include mechanical changes such as different engines, suspension or all-wheel drive systems.[4][5]

Some car brands use a different car model for what could be instead considered a trim level, therefore the distinction between a model and trim level can vary between brands. For example, Volkswagen could choose to define the Golf GTi could be marketed either as a standalone model, or as a trim level within the Golf model.

Naming systems[edit]

Trim levels are often designated by a pair of letters, for example DX, LX, LS, EX, GL, SE or GT.[1] They can also be designated an alphanumeric code (eg Z28, XR5, GT3), or using a word (eg Executive, Ambition or Deluxe).

The alphanumeric coding began to appear on Japanese and European vehicles beginning in the mid 1970s.[citation needed]

In North American, long-running designations for high-performance trim levels include Chevrolet's "SS" for (first introduced on the 1961 Impala)[6] and Ford's "GT" (first used on the 1965 Mustang).[7][8] General Motors also use alphanumeric coding to denote handling packages installed on performance vehicles, such as "Z28" on the Camaro, the Buick GS, or the Oldsmobile 442, and currently uses the designation "Z71" on the Suburban and Tahoe.

During the 1970s and 1980s, some manufacturers used a word to denote the highest trim level for a particular model, such as the word "Brougham" used on the top level Nissan Cedric[9][10] and Nissan Gloria.[11]

Options packages[edit]

Trim packages[edit]

Example of trim packages on the 1980 American Motors Spirit models.

A trim package (sometimes called an appearance package) is an automotive package composed by a set of cosmetic (mostly non-functional) embellishments to a vehicle.

Items commonly included in current trim packages include:

Items that have been included in trim packages in previous decades include:

  • Paint patterns using multiple colors— for example, two-tone
  • Pin striping, usually applied as a dealer add-on using special plastic tape and a removable backing
  • Plastic bumpers painted the same color as the vehicle body, rather than a matte black (now mostly included in the base level vehicle)
  • Plastic rub strips to reduce paint and metalwork damage from adjacent car doors that are carelessly opened
  • Wood-patterned plastic or applied surfaces in the interior or exterior
  • Exterior vinyl roof covers, simulating the appearance of a convertible
  • Padded plastic top additions to simulate a removable top portion—a landau top

Sports packages[edit]

A sports package is a set of cosmetic and functional enhancements that can be added to a vehicle, sold and priced as a unit.

In an SUV or light truck this may include special racks or tiedowns for transport of off-road recreational vehicles and other equipment.

For a sedan or coupe the package combines elements of the following packages:

  • Performance package - a more powerful motor, perhaps including increased displacement, higher compression, or a turbocharger or supercharger and may include special wheels of light weight
  • Handling package - Harder suspension bushings, enhanced shock absorber, and anti-roll bar. Modern versions typically include special wheels and tires.
  • Trim package - often with bold graphics or special paint colors
  • Special aerodynamic bodywork, often with a chin spoiler, side skirts, and a fixed rear foil or powered flap or spoiler to increase downforce at high speed

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Trim levels 101: All about trims, styles, options and packages". Retrieved 31 March 2018. 
  2. ^ a b c "How to Choose New-Car Trim Levels and Options". Retrieved 31 March 2018. 
  3. ^ a b "Your vehicle's trim level: What it is, why it's important, and how to find it". Retrieved 31 March 2018. 
  4. ^ "2017 Ford F-150 trim level comparison". Retrieved 31 March 2018. 
  5. ^ "Ford Focus Sedan and Hatchback Models". Retrieved 31 March 2018. 
  6. ^ "Chevrolet Impala SS History 1958-1969". Archived from the original on 2013-10-23. Retrieved 2014-05-08. 
  7. ^ "1965 Mustang History". Retrieved 31 March 2018. 
  8. ^ "1965 Ford Mustang". Retrieved 31 March 2018. 
  9. ^ "1977 Nissan Cedric 4Door Sedan 2800 Brougham". Retrieved 31 March 2018. 
  10. ^ "Project Car Hell, Possibly Legal Japanese Import Edition: Nissan Cedric Brougham VIP or Toyota Corona GT-R?". Retrieved 31 March 2018. 
  11. ^ "The Cedric and Gloria Series". Retrieved 31 March 2018.