What Is the Difference Between Make and Model?

A vehicle’s make refers to the car manufacturer, while the model refers to the product name. For example, Toyota is the vehicle make (manufacturer) and Corolla is the vehicle model (type of Toyota). Car insurance companies care about your vehicle’s make and model because its value, theft rate and other risk factors greatly affect your car insurance rate.

What Is the Make and Model of a Car?

Make refers to the manufacturer of the car, such as Honda, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz. According to Statista, Toyota, Ford and Chevrolet were the leading car manufacturers in the United States in 2021 based on vehicle sales.

vehicle make with most units sold in the year 2021 in bar graphs

Make refers to the manufacturer of the car, such as Honda, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz.

Model refers to the specific product made by that manufacturer. For example, models manufactured by Chevrolet include the Chevy Malibu, Chevy Impala and Chevy Equinox. According to Statista, the best-selling passenger models worldwide in 2021 were the Toyota Corolla, Toyota RAV4 and the Ford F-Series.

vehicle model with most units sold in the year 2021 in bar graphs

The vehicle year refers to the year in which the manufacturer made or intends to launch the new model to the general public. Some model years are available for purchase earlier than the year begins. For example, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 450 4MATIC Sedan is expected to hit U.S. dealers in late 2022.

Model refers to the specific product made by that manufacturer. For example, the model of a Ford Mustang is Mustang.

Understanding the Differences Between Cars of the Same Model

Consumers can see further variations within the same vehicle model based on its body style and trim.

Body Style

Manufacturers can release the same model in different body styles, which can change the look and price of the car. For example, a vehicle may come as a four-door sedan or a sportier-looking two-door coupe, each with a different price.

An example today is the 2022 Toyota Corolla, which is sold as a sedan or a hatchback with a flip-up tailgate.

Other common types of vehicle body styles include:

  • Sedan
  • Coupe
  • SUV
  • Convertible
  • Wagon
  • Hatchback
  • Crossover

Trim Levels

Vehicles are also available with different trim levels, which may offer unique or upgraded features and configurations. According to Kia, commonly used trim names include:

  • CE: Classic/Custom Edition 
  • D/DL/DX: Deluxe
  • EX/X: Extra
  • GL: Grade Level
  • GLE: Grade Level Extra
  • GT: Grand Touring
  • LE/LX: Luxury
  • LTD: Limited
  • S: Sport/Special/Standard
  • SE: Sport/Special Edition or Special Equipment
  • SL: Standard Level
  • T: Touring Edition

Let’s take a look at how features can vary between the 2022 Honda CR-V LX versus the 2022 Honda CR-V Touring.

Features

LX

Touring

Seats

Standard

  • Heated seats (front)
  • Leather-trimmed

Power Tailgate

Apple CarPlay Integration

Android Auto Integration

Power Tailgate

Hands-Free Access

One-Touch Power Moonroof

LED Headlights with Auto-On/Off

Wheels

17-inch alloy

19-inch alloy

Car Insurance by Vehicle Make and Model

Why Do Make and Model Matter?

Make and model matter because consumers will gravitate to cars that fit their budget and aesthetic preferences. Your car’s make and model can also affect how much you pay for auto insurance due to price and safety ratings.

A vehicle’s make and model greatly affect your car insurance rates based on value, theft rate and other risk factors .

Pricing will vary by both the car manufacturer and the different models that manufacturer sells. Using Honda as an example, we see variations in the manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) between six of their 2022 models.

Year, Make and Model

Starting MSRP

2022 Honda Accord

$26,520

2022 Honda Accord Hybrid

$27,720

2022 Honda Civic Sedan

$22,550

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

$23,550

2022 Honda Insight Hybrid

$25,760

Pricing can further vary based on the vehicle’s trim level. For the 2022 Honda CR-V, consumers can see a price difference of up to $9,800 depending on which trim they choose.

Year, Make, Model and Trim Level

Starting MSRP

2022 Honda CR-V LX

$26,800

2022 Honda CR-V Special Edition

$28,000

2022 Honda CR-V 2022 Honda CR-V EX

$29,310

2022 Honda CR-V EX-L

$31,900

2022 Honda CR-V Touring

$36,600

Color can add to the MSRP, as well. Purchasing a 2023 Honda CR-V in white pearl, radiant red metallic or sonic gray pearl would add $395 to the MSRP. Fortunately, car color isn’t a specific rating factor used in determining insurance costs, however. If you resonate strongly with the color red, for instance, your premium won’t be more expensive than any other color!

How To Find Your Car Make and Model

Drivers can confirm their car’s year, make and model by reviewing their owner’s manual, car title or registration. You also enter your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) into the VIN decoder tool on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website. You will typically find your VIN on the dashboard near your windshield or the driver’s side door jamb.

At first glance, your VIN may look like a string of randomized digits and letters unique to your car. However, specific letters and the spaces they hold tell information about where your vehicle was built, its manufacturer and more. For example, if the first character is a 1, 4 or 5, it means that your car was manufactured in the United States.

vehicle identification number or VIN number example

Find a car’s year, make and model in a car owner’s manual, car title, car registration or by checking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.

How Do Make and Model Impact Insurance Rates?

Insurance companies care about your make and model because replacement costs, theft rates, accident rates, casualty rates and other factors will vary by the car. Certain makes and models have a higher number of insurance claims, resulting in higher premiums for those vehicles.

Different Makes and Models Have Different Replacement Costs

Insurance premiums can vary by make and model because different cars have different purchase prices. Car insurance pays to replace your car, if totaled. Therefore, more expensive car models are charged higher insurance premiums because they cost more to replace.

According to Kelley Blue Book, the average cost of a new non-luxury vehicle was $43,942 in June 2022. The average cost jumps to $66,476 for a luxury car — a 51% price increase. Since luxury vehicles cost more to replace after being totaled, they also cost more to insure.

Auto Theft Rates

Some makes and models with higher theft rates are charged higher premiums because comprehensive insurance covers theft and vandalism. Your insurance company knows the car theft rates of your specific model in your neighborhood and will charge premiums to accurately reflect your vehicle’s risk.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the 2004 Chevrolet Pick-Up (full size) was the most stolen vehicle in 2021, followed by the 2006 Ford Pick-Up. The most recent model in the top 10 most stolen vehicles in 2021 was the 2020 Toyota Corolla. 

Fortunately, improved anti-theft technology on newer models may contribute to relatively lower theft rates on newer models.

Make and Model

Total Thefts in 2021

Model Year Most Stolen

Chevrolet Pick-Up (Full Size)

48,206

2004

Ford Pick-Up (Full Size)

47,999

2006

Honda Civic

31,673

2000

Honda Accord

30,274

1997

Toyota Camry

17,270

2007

GMC Pick-Up (Full Size)

15,599

2005

Nissan Altima

14,108

2020

Honda CR-V

13,308

2000

Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee

13,210

2018

Toyota Corolla

12,927

2020

Note: Parking your car in a garage may qualify you for a garaged car discount because your car is less likely to be stolen or vandalized.

Accident Rates

When insurance companies see a higher number of accident claims linked to certain makes and models, insurers raise premiums for those vehicles. Conversely, less-accident-prone vehicles are more likely to see lower insurance premiums.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) analyzed the relationship between driver deaths and different types of vehicles. The IIHS found that the following vehicles had “more than 65 driver deaths per million registered vehicle years, 2017 and equivalent earlier models, 2015-18.”

  • Ford Fiesta
  • Hyundai Accent
  • Chevrolet Sonic
  • Nissan Versa Note
  • Fiat 500

IIHS listed the following makes and models as those with the lowest rate of driver deaths:

  • GMC Yukon XL 1500 4WD
  • Infiniti QX60 2WD
  • Land Rover Range Rover Evoque 4WD
  • Lexus NX 200t 4WD
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan 4WD
Car Insurance by Vehicle Make and Model

FAQs

Is Honda the make or the model?

Honda refers to the vehicle’s make. If you drive a Honda Accord, Accord refers to the vehicle’s model.

How many models of cars are there?

There were over 500 models of cars in 2022.

What is the most common car model?

The best-selling car in 2021 was the Toyota Corolla, followed by the Toyota RAV4 according to Statista.

Key Takeaways

  • Your car’s make refers to its manufacturer (i.e Toyota) while the model refers to the manufacturer's brand (Camry).
  • Body style and trim levels can vary between cars of the same make and model, thereby affecting price and insurance rates.
  • Insurance costs will vary by make and model because different vehicles have varying purchase prices, theft rates, accident rates and other rating factors.
  • You can look up your car’s make and model by reviewing your owner’s manual, title, or registration or looking up your VIN on the NHTSA website.

Find the cheapest auto policy for your make and model. SmartFinancial’s free online tool analyzes quotes from multiple insurers in your area to match you with a policy based on your coverage needs and budget. Just enter your zip code below or call 855.214.2291 to answer a few questions before receiving several free auto insurance quotes.

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