back to articles | March 23, 2023 | Moses Mwangi

Categories: Useful Automotive Information

Vehicle Trim Levels: Base Model Vs. Fully Loaded

Base model or fully loaded trim level vehicle, which is best? That is one of the most important questions for one to ask.


Base model or fully loaded trim level vehicle, which is best? That is one of the most important questions for one to ask. Knowledge of car trim levels is vital if you are on a vehicle purchase journey. It assists buyers in differentiating between various vehicle models in the market, thus, making the purchasing process easier.

Not all car shoppers need the same features in their vehicles. Therefore, automobile manufacturers offer varying choices. So what is the difference between base models and fully loaded vehicles? Below we expound more on vehicle trim levels with a significant focus on base and fully loaded models.

What is a vehicle trim level?

Basically, vehicle trim levels are what buyers and manufacturers use to determine the level of a car's special features and equipment. They involve accessories put together to develop varying variations of car aesthetics and performance.

A car's trim levels determine its difference in tech, power, and appearance within the same model and make. It means that different trim levels have varying features and equipment. An exceptional understanding of trim levels can help you avoid making mistakes in your car purchase process. You will be able to buy the car that suits you best.

For anyone who wishes to make a car resale, the vehicle's trim levels can come in handy. If your car has a higher trim level, you can resale your vehicle at a higher price as it may retain its value for a more extended period.

Generally, there are various vehicle trim levels, where two of the most popular are the fully loaded and the base model. Learn more below:

What is the base model?

The base model comes with the standard and least number of features. It is also the lowest car trim level. Generally, the base model vehicle will have the smallest engine, lowest horsepower, and basic interior.

In addition, these cars may have smaller infotainment touchscreens, no extra exterior features, fewer tech components, and cloth seats. Therefore, if you buy a car with a base trim level, note that you will get one with the least convenient features possible.

One primary benefit of vehicles at the base trim level is that they are very affordable as they are the cheapest option for your dream car's model and make. A base model is best for those who only need the basic features in their vehicles.

What is the fully-loaded vehicle trim level?

A fully loaded vehicle trim level is the opposite of the base model. It is the highest trim level possible, consisting of all or many vehicle features. In other terms, a fully loaded trim goes by the highest specification vehicle model.

Fully loaded cars have high-tech equipment that influences the pricing. The highest trim level car has better technologies than the base model. Additional features in a fully loaded car include a leather-wrapped steering wheel, reversing cameras, Wi-Fi hotspot, leather upholstery, shift knob, and many more advanced features.

The highest trim level cars also have better safety features, such as head-up displays and backup cameras.

Base Model Vs. Fully Loaded

The base model and fully loaded cars have several distinguishing elements. Learn more below:

Accessory Packages

Accessory packages between various trim levels differ. As stated above, the base model consists of standard features only. On the other hand, a fully loaded car model consists of the highest level of specifications.

It means that a base model is a very simple car. On the other hand, the highest trim level can cater to additional accessory packages. Some of the most popular packages among various manufacturers include towing, navigation, technology, and performance packages. In addition, the accessories may come with specific details, such as leather seats, decals, upgraded stereos, bumpers, and steering wheels.


A significant aspect of the vehicle purchase process involves car price. The trim level of a particular model and make impacts pricing. Thus, different car trim levels have varying prices. A car model at the base trim level is cheaper than a fully loaded model.

The pricing difference is due to the additional features present in a fully loaded car. Things such as leather upholstery and sunroofs are pricey to install and manufacture. Thus, they bring the final cost of the vehicle up. The cost difference between the highest trim level and the base model is relatively large. In some cases, it can go as far as double.

For instance, the most standard trim level of the 2022 Ford Mustang (the EcoBoost) has an MSRP of $28,845. On the other hand, the highest trim level (Mach 1) has a tag price of $57,645. The Honda Civic, which is in a similar base to Sport Sedan, goes from $25,745, while the most exclusive version, the Sport Touring Hatchback, has an MSRP of $31,645.

Resale Value

If your goal is to buy a new car for resale, the best thing you can do is purchase a fully loaded-car model. The high-level features of a used car can be very enticing to potential buyers. For instance, incredible car aesthetics can give your vehicle the edge it needs for a better price than a base model.

It means a fully loaded car has a higher resale value than a base model. Special editions or customization may make your car more valuable, primarily if that specific edition is rarely sold out in the market.


A fully loaded vehicle will often have higher capabilities than the base trim-level cars. For instance, the different trim levels in SUVs and trucks can impact a car's payload and towing capabilities.

The base model will have a lower towing capacity than the fully loaded one. Therefore, make sure to consider your vehicle's capability needs before you make the purchase.

Auto insurance

Even though there is no direct correlation between insurance costs and trim levels, the trim you select may impact your auto insurance premium costs. Generally, more expensive models and makes will cost more to insure than cheaper ones.

Therefore, fully loaded cars may cost you more insurance premiums than the base models. The main reason for the high insurance costs is that fully loaded vehicles may need expensive repairs.

Final thoughts

Whether to get a fully loaded or a base model trim level car depends on the features you want the car to have and your budget. The base model is ideal if you want a cheap car with standard features. However, you can consider the fully loaded model if you have a flexible budget. Buying a higher trim level with more automatically included features may also be cost-effective if you want to add more features to a base model.