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What Is A Car Trim?

What Is A Car Trim?

You may have heard about trim levels in vehicles and might be wondering, ‘What is a car trim?’ Well, you know how some vehicles have different versions? This is what trim refers to. The trim level of a car indicates what you can expect from the vehicle. If you still need more clarity, join us in this guide as we explore the concept of car trims and how they affect the features and performance of a car. We’ll also cover factors to consider when choosing a trim level.

What Is A Car Trim?

A car trim refers to a version of a car model. When a car has different versions, they are regarded as the trim levels. Each car trim level offers a combination of features that make it different from other trims. Trim levels typically impact the car’s appearance, performance, comfort and cost. However, it is important to note that the engine does not change with the trim level. Manufacturers typically offer engine upgrades separately.

The number of trim levels available for a vehicle depends on the car maker and the model. For example, some vehicles are available in only one trim, while others have up to six trims. Most manufacturers like to provide a number of options, so they offer between four and five trims.

Understanding Vehicle Trim Levels

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Although many car makers have unique names for their vehicle trims, there are some naming conventions that manufacturers tend to use, such as:

  • S or L: When it comes to car trim levels, S and L often refer to standard or entry-level models. This may also be known as the base model of the car.
  • EX or SXT: These refer to extra or standard extra trim. Vehicles with this label are usually equipped with a mid-range upgrade package.
  • SE, SX, SRT or GT: These four labels often represent sport and performance packages. You’ll find them on sports editions, sport crossovers and Gran Turismo versions of a car.
  • EX-L, LX, LE or SEL: Most car trim levels with an L, such as these, are luxury trim packages.
  • Premium, Platinum or Limited: Car trim levels with these names or similar usually represent higher-end packages. However, they’re often not at the top of the range.

See here to learn about the different car types and what to expect from each one.

Features In A Higher Trim Level

The features in a higher trim level vary from car to car. For example, some manufacturers focus on making the vehicle more sporty and performance-oriented as you go up car trim levels. For luxury cars, it’s about upgrading the level of opulence in the vehicle. Although the changes across car trim levels vary, they tend to focus on three main areas.

Exterior Enhancement

Let’s start with exterior trim details. A higher car trim level often comes with an upgrade to the vehicle’s exterior. These exterior upgrades are often in the form of styling enhancements, making the car look more sleek and performance-oriented.

A sports car with a trim upgrade may have redesigned front or rear bumpers and black trim instead of silver trim fitted around the windows, so it looks more muscular. It may also have two exhausts instead of the standard one. These enhancements sometimes even cause changes to the wheelbase of a car.

Away from sporty trims, an upgrade in trim may also come with appealing features such as larger alloy wheels and tinted rear windows. Car trim levels with a focus on luxury take it a step further, offering features like a power-operated boot lid, power-fold wing mirrors or chrome surrounds for the windows.

Interior Upgrade

Interior Of A Luxury Car

Cars also tend to feature interior trim upgrades to transform the cabin’s look and feel. Upgrades can range from simple changes like the addition of leather to a panoramic sunroof to major enhancements like better upholstery.

General interior upgrades you can find in higher trim levels include:

  • Leather upholstery upgrade from cloth upholstery
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Power-adjustable seats
    Heated front seats and heated steering wheel
  • Higher-quality headliner
  • Larger touchscreen
  • Wi-fi hotspot
  • Stereo upgrade
  • Automatic headlights and wipers
  • Digital dashboard instruments
  • Apple Carplay or Android Auto

Features like air conditioning and automatic headlights are commonly offered in the base trim level for most vehicles.

Safety And Engineering Upgrades

Higher trim levels can also modify a car’s performance and safety capabilities. Many safety features and engineering upgrades can be added as you go higher up car trim levels. These safety features include:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Sophisticated lane keep system to keep you in your lane with natural steering inputs
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Driving modes to alter the car’s behaviour on the road
  • Adaptive suspension
  • Sports suspension
  • Autonomous emergency braking

Optional Extras And Packages In Car Trims

In addition to car trim levels, many manufacturers offer optional extras and packages. This gives you more flexibility to add specific features from higher trim levels to an entry-level trim without paying for the full trim package.

For example, if you’re happy with an entry-level model but want the lane-assist technology of a higher trim, you can pay a certain fee to get only that feature. You should note, however, that you can’t remove specific features from a higher trim to reduce the cost.

Similar to options, there are packages. In this case, the carmaker bundles up a group of cosmetic or functional options together. Features in a package usually have a common theme. For instance, a technology package would include an upgraded infotainment system, a larger touchscreen and navigation, while a safety package may come with additional airbags and a collision avoidance system.

What Trim Level Should You Choose?

White Cars Of The Same Model

Choose a trim level based on your budget and preferences. You can go for an entry-level trim if you’re only looking for standard features and don’t want to spend too much money on the car. Just make sure it has all the features you need. On the other hand, a mid-level trim or high-level trim may be the best option for you if you’re looking for more features and have a more flexible budget.

Alternatively, you can select entry-level trims and upgrade the vehicle with extras or packages if the manufacturer offers that option. This is a great way to save money while getting specific high-end features.

Hire a prestige car from SDVH and enjoy the best luxury features. We also offer a range of budget vehicles for hire for those casual outings.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, the car trim is not the same as the model. The trim is the specific version or package of features available for a particular model. The model, on the other hand, refers to the overall design and specifications of the car. For example, the saloon Mercedes-Benz E-Class is the model, while the trim can be the E 350, E 450 or AMG E 63.

The trim levels cars have vary across models and also depend on the maker. Most cars tend to have between four and five trim levels, ranging from the base trim to mid and high-end car trim levels. However, it can also be as few as one trim or up to six or more for some cars. The manufacturer will provide information about the number of trim levels available.

The cost of a higher trim level can range from a few thousand pounds to tens of thousands. The exact cost depends on the vehicle and the features offered in that car trim level. Higher car trim levels generally come with more advanced features, technology, and luxury amenities, which can greatly increase the price compared to the base model.

No, not all cars have trims. Some vehicles with very basic configurations are available in only one trim, with minimal options and packages. However, most cars do have trim levels, as they give the manufacturer the flexibility to cater to different segments of the market with the same model of car.

You can determine a car’s trim level by checking the manufacturer’s website or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Carmakers typically provide detailed information about the different car trims, as well as the features and specifications on their website. You can also decode the VIN of your car to determine the car trim level, as it can sometimes hold this information.


So what is a car trim? It is everything your vehicle is about, from features to capabilities. Whether you’re buying a new car or hiring, understanding car trim levels can make your buying process a lot smoother, making it easier to find a vehicle that aligns with your preferences. You’ll also get more value for your money.

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