You’ll likely hear “make and model” when shopping for a car or getting auto insurance. And while those details might not seem that important, they can have a significant impact on your lifestyle and finances.

Many products have makes and models, from refrigerators (like the Samsung RF27T5501SG or LG LRMVC2306D) to smartphones (like the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy).

Similarly, vehicles have their own makes and models, such as the Ford F-150, Honda Civic or Nissan Rogue. These are all examples of car makes and models, and their differences are important. Read on to find out why.

Key Highlights
  • A car’s make and model are two key pieces of information for drivers and insurers.
  • The make usually refers to the vehicle manufacturer (though not always).
  • The model refers to the specific vehicle product under a particular make.
  • There are several ways you can find out your vehicle’s make and model.
  • A vehicle’s make and model can have a big impact on how much you pay for car insurance.
Written by:
Casey Bond
Contributing Researcher
Casey Bond is a seasoned writer and editor who has covered personal finance for over a decade. Previously, she reported on money, home and living for HuffPost. She has held editorial management roles at Student Loan Hero and GOBankingRates.
Edited by:
Elizabeth Rivelli
Contributing Researcher
Elizabeth Rivelli is a freelance writer who covers insurance. Her areas of expertise are life insurance, car insurance, property insurance and health insurance. Elizabeth has appeared in dozens of online publications, including Investopedia, CNET and Bankrate. She has also written for several insurance companies.
Reviewed by:
Laura Longero
reviewer icon
Executive Editor
Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

What is the difference between vehicle make and model?

The terms “make” and “model” are similar, but they’re not the same thing. And it’s important to understand the difference when you’re car shopping and shopping for car insurance.

What is the make of a car?

Generally, the “make” of a car is the same as the manufacturer. An easy way to remember this? It’s the company that makes the vehicle. Some examples of makes (or manufacturers) are Honda, Toyota, Dodge, Ford, Chevrolet, Mazda, Tesla, etc.

What is the model of a car?

The model is the specific vehicle type under the make, explained John Williams, an agent with Farmers Insurance in Colleyville, Texas. For example, he said, if you have a Jeep Grand Cherokee, the make is Jeep and the model is Grand Cherokee. Or if you have a Honda Civic, the make is Honda and the model is Civic.

Keep in mind that the model can have different trim levels. The base model is usually the version with the fewest number of features.

Take the Dodge Challenger — Dodge is the make and Challenger is the model. However, the Challenger comes in several trims, including the SXT, GT, RT, SRT, etc. All of these trims come with specific features and varying price points, making each one a separate model under the Challenger brand.

What is the make and model of my car?

If you aren’t sure your vehicle’s exact make and model, there are a few ways to find out.

The easiest is to check out the front hood/grille and trunk or rear liftgate for logos or badges that indicate the make and model. Sometimes, the trim level is also emblemized on the rear part of the car.

However, you may not always be able to find this information on the car’s exterior, especially if you have an older vehicle.

You can also look at your vehicle registration or insurance card for the make and model.

“A more sophisticated way is to use a VIN look-up feature, such as through Carfax,” said David Andrius, founder of

A vehicle identification number, or VIN, is a unique 17-digit code that’s given to every car sold in the U.S. And each one provides details about the vehicle, including where it was manufactured, the make, model, year and more. Your car’s VIN can usually be found on a sticker at the base of your windshield or inside the door jamb on the driver’s side.

Can cars with the same make and model be different?

The short answer: Yes. “You can have different trims within the same model,” Andrius said.

For instance, he says, Cadillac XT4 has a premium, premium luxury and sports trim. Additionally, each model and trims can have different standard features and customization options, allowing each car to have different functionalities and features such as heated seats, driver-assist packages, 360 cameras, etc.

Another example is the Honda Pilot. The 2023 Honda Pilot has five trim levels—Sport, EX-L, TrailSport, Touring and Elite. The make and model for all five vehicles is the Honda Pilot, but the different trim levels have varying features, options and have small changes in body style.

Car makes and models can change more significantly depending on the model year. For instance, a 2010 Subaru Forester looks much different than the 2020 Subaru Forester. While both cars are technically the same make and model, the two model years have a much different body style and contain different features.

Is the vehicle make the same as the vehicle manufacturer?

Usually, a car’s make is the same as the manufacturer. However, there are some instances when this isn’t the case. Sometimes a car manufacturer will produce different “brands” under the parent company.

For instance, Infinite is a car make, but it’s actually manufactured by Nissan Motor Co. (just like Nissan is made by Nissan Motor Co.). The same is true of the make Lexus, which is a luxury brand under the manufacturer Honda. Or General Motors, which owns the makes GMC, Cadillac, Chevrolet and Buick.

Why do make and model matter?

You might be wondering why these details matter. After all, all cars get you from Point A to Point B. But a car’s make and model are important for a couple of reasons:

Differentiate price points and features

Make and model are important for distinguishing a certain vehicle’s price and characteristics. Using Chevrolet as an example, say you want an entry-level car. You could get a vehicle like the Chevy Spark.

However, if you want a step-up in size and amenities, you could look into the Chevy Malibu. Or if you prefer a sports car, you could opt for the Camaro. “Each model within the brand/make can be a step up or step down, and this all affects price point,” Andrius said.

Impact on auto insurance rates

The make and model of a vehicle also dictate how much (or little) you’ll pay for auto insurance. “It generally costs more to insure a Mercedes-Benz than it does to insure a Honda Accord,” Williams said. This has much to do with the differing car values, repair costs and frequency and severity of claims for any given make and model.

“There can also be big differences in crash test results and safety ratings from different models from the same make,” Williams added. When your insurance company runs your VIN to help determine the premium amount, it takes into account the make, model and trim level, he noted.

An EX might look the same or almost identical to you as an LX, but they are different in some way, whether it’s equipment or amenities. To an insurer, they are different vehicles with different claims records. You could pay hundreds more to insure the same make/model, but with the different body style and trim levels.

How do make and model affect car insurance costs?

Car make affects car insurance costs, but the car model is what sets the costs apart.

As you’ll see in the table below, insurance costs for vehicles of the same make can vary greatly depending on the model.

Take Chevrolet, for example. The Chevy Express costs an average of $1,737 per year to insure, but the Camaro costs $2,169 per year. The Tesla variance is even larger with the Model 3 national average at $2,914 and the Model S at around $4,005 per year.

Make and model with annual car insurance costs
Make Model National Average Rate
TeslaModel 3$2,914
TeslaModel S$4,005
ToyotaGR Supra$2,665

Car make and model: They’re more than labels

Sure, you might want a particular make and model because you’ll feel cool in it, because it goes fast, or sounds superb. But the car make and model you choose will affect your bank account, and we’re not just talking about a car payment.

Your insurance rates will be affected by the make and model you choose, even down to the trim package you select. If you’ve got certain features that are must-haves in a vehicle and a budget for car insurance, don’t forget to consider those while car shopping.

Frequently asked questions: Car make and model

Can the make and model affect maintenance and repair costs?

Yes, the make and model of your vehicle can affect the cost of repairs and maintenance. For example, a Tesla Model 3 likely has higher repair and maintenance costs than a Honda Civic. Before you purchase a new vehicle, it’s a good idea to research the average repair and maintenance costs to better understand what the car might cost to fix.

How does a vehicle’s model year affect car insurance premiums?         

One of the things that will affect the cost of auto insurance is the make and model of your vehicle. Cars that have a higher value or higher repair costs are usually more expensive to insure. So, for example, the cost of car insurance for a Mercedes GLA is probably going to be higher than the cost of insurance for a Ford Escape.

Why do car models come in different trim levels?     

Car models come in different trim levels to give consumers options. The most basic trim level usually has the cheapest sticker price and the fewest options. Higher trim levels are often equipped with more specialized features and luxury touches, so they have a higher MSRP. This allows car shoppers to choose a vehicle that fits their specific needs, budget, and lifestyle.

Resources & Methodology

Methodology editors in 2023 collected rates from Quadrant Information Services for a 40-year-old male driving a Honda Accord LX for a full coverage insurance policy with limits of 100/300/100 and $500 comprehensive and collision deductibles. We analyzed 28,561,720 records, 510 ZIP codes and 58 insurance companies nationwide.

Laura Longero

Ask the Insurance Expert

Laura Longero

Executive Editor

Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

John McCormick

Ask the Insurance Expert

John McCormick

Editorial Director

John is the editorial director for, and Before joining QuinStreet, John was a deputy editor at The Wall Street Journal and had been an editor and reporter at a number of other media outlets where he covered insurance, personal finance, and technology.

Leslie Kasperowicz

Ask the Insurance Expert

Leslie Kasperowicz

Managing Editor

Leslie Kasperowicz is an insurance educator and content creation professional with nearly two decades of experience first directly in the insurance industry at Farmers Insurance and then as a writer, researcher, and educator for insurance shoppers writing for sites like and and managing content, now at

Nupur Gambhir

Ask the Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir

Managing Editor

Nupur Gambhir is a content editor and licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert. She has extensive experience bringing brands to life and has built award-nominated campaigns for travel and tech. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service.

Please Enter Valid Question. Min 50 to max 250 characters are allowed. Only (& ? , .) charcters are allowed.
Please Enter Valid Email.
Error: Security check failed
Thank You, Your message has been received. Our team of auto insurance experts typically answers questions within five working days. Note that due to the volume of questions we receive, not all may be answered. Due to technical error, please try again later.
Compare top carriers in your area Get quotes near you!
Please enter valid zip
author image
Contributing Researcher

Casey Bond is a seasoned writer and editor who has covered personal finance for over a decade. Previously, she reported on money, home and living for HuffPost. She has held editorial management roles at Student Loan Hero and GOBankingRates.