What Is a Trim Level on a Car?

Illustration of 2020 Ford Explorer trims illustration by Desiree Farkas

So you’ve narrowed your search and you’re ready to buy the car you selected — but not so fast: You still need to decide on which trim level meets your needs. What’s that? Within a given model, most automakers offer trim levels that have varying levels of equipment, from safety and convenience features to engines and transmissions. 

Related: What Car Should You Buy?

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What type of equipment you get in each trim can vary widely. A base trim level may not come with many features but obviously has the lowest price in the model lineup. A top trim then has more features, from practical safety systems to more luxurious items, such as massaging seats.

Most automakers offer different options for different trim levels, so it’s important to know what features you need and which trim level has those features. Options and packages are distinct from trim levels in that they typically bundle a smaller number of features, whereas a trim level usually carries a broader slate of corresponding equipment. Automakers often will offer certain packages or stand-alone options only on a given trim level, rendering trims below it ineligible for those options.

This can be confusing, but can help with detailed information about what’s in each vehicle’s trim level. For example, check out a trim level breakdown for the Honda CR-V.

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