Trim level (automobile)
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", 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; however sometimes a trim level can include mechanical changes such as different engines, suspension or all-wheel drive systems.
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.
Trim levels are often designated by a pair of letters, for example DX, LX, LS, EX, GL, SE or GT. 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.
In North American, long-running designations for high-performance trim levels include Chevrolet's "SS" for (first introduced on the 1961 Impala) and Ford's "GT" (first used on the 1965 Mustang). 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 and Nissan Gloria.
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Items commonly included in current trim packages include:
- Special paint, some with the appearance of pearl, others showing color variations depending upon light angle
- Aluminum, plastic, or stainless steel trim to divide paint regions
- Applied graphics on printed plastic sheeting with adhesive backing
- Interior upholstery materials specific to the package; leather in whole or part is often used in high-end trim packages
- Genuine wood trim
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
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
- Car model
- Automotive trim nomenclature
- Handling package
- Navigation package
- Performance package
- Safety package
- Sports package
- Trim package (sometimes as appearance package)
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