Learn the Language of New Car Shopping

What’s in this section?

Some people buy a car every few years. Some people buy a car only when absolutely necessary, perhaps every 10-20 years. Unless you are a car enthusiast or you work at a dealership, you don’t speak this language on a regular basis and it can be overwhelming when dealing with “trim levels”, Option packages, etc.

Customers don’t deal with car language and most of my first encounters with Subaru buyers is explaining the models and trim levels, option packages and accessories. I don’t pretend to be an expert on other car maker’s models and variations, but I can certainly make you familiar with those of Subaru and Mitsubishi. Subaru delivers a lot of bang for the buck which is one of the reasons our brand has become so popular lately. To do that, there is a certain “efficiency of production” that we must maintain. In plain language, not every option is available on every car. Car manufacturers “package” cars in the way they sell best. For example, while not everybody wants their 3.6R Subaru Outback in leather, the vast majority of those who bought a 6 cylinder Outback bought it that way. We used to make a 3.6R Outback with cloth seats, but these tended to stick around the dealership for a very long time. Eventually it became more efficient – giving the consumer more car for their money – to eliminate the cloth 6 cylinder Outback and focus those dollars and resources somewhere else.

In this section we’ll start with Brands and end up with accessories, so you can price, shop and discuss cars intelligently.


We might as well start here even though it probably seems silly.  We’ll follow a hierarchy: Once you’ve decided you want a “Car”, the next choice would be “Brand”.  Fuji Heavy Industries  makes a lot of stuff.  They make cars under the brand name Subaru.  Mitsubishi is the same.  A huge Japanese company making cars under one name: Mitsubishi.  Three items of note: The venerable Fuji Heavy Industries announced in June of 2016 that they are changing the name of the whole company to “Subaru”.  Second, Mitsubishi has for many years made cars and trucks for other brands, e.g. for many years Dodge’s small trucks sold in America were Mitusbishis.   Third, in 2016 Nissan (owned by Fiat) bought a controlling interest in Mitsubishi.

If that isn’t confusing enough, think about this:  General Motors makes cars, but has a stable full of “brands” we all know like Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, etc.  The same goes for Ford, Toyota, Nissan and Honda.  Each of them makes cars under a different brand name.  Ford makes Lincoln, Toyota makes Lexus and up until 2016, Scion, Nissan makes Infinity and Honda makes Acura.  Finally, the two Korean brands, Kia and Hyundai have merged so while there are two brands, it is one company.