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What Should You Know About Automotive Generations?

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When shopping for a new vehicle, the "generation" of your new car may be one of its most critical characteristics. If you aren't familiar with this term, then learning a bit about what it means and how it can impact your purchasing decision may help you to get a better deal or even a better car. Keep reading to discover a bit more about why this piece of industry terminology is so essential.

Understanding How Manufacturers Use Generations

Many car buyers tend to focus on the model year of their vehicle, but this one number won't always tell you everything that you need to know about a car. Instead, most manufacturers design vehicles using the concept of a generation. A vehicle generation may span many model years, and most manufacturers will typically make few if any changes within a single generation.

What this means in practice is that the differences between two different model years of the same model are often minimal, if they exist at all. Manufacturers may occasionally make minor cosmetic changes from model year to model year within a generation, but more significant changes are rare. On the other hand, modifications from one generation to the next are often drastic.

Using Generations in Your Purchasing Decision

Car buyers often want their new vehicles to represent meaningful upgrades from their old ones, and that's where understanding a bit about automotive generations can come in handy. If you're replacing your car with a newer version of the same model, always ask if the vehicle has received a significant redesign. If not, you may find yourself repurchasing essentially the same car.

On the other hand, recognizing when redesigns happen can help to save you money, too. When manufacturers shift to a new generation, dealerships will often still have many examples of the outgoing models on their lots. If the upgrades in the more recent model aren't meaningful to you, then you may be able to score deep discounts on a new car from the previous generation.

Recognizing the Exceptions to the Rule

While significant changes to models tend only to occur when a manufacturer redesigns a model for a new generation, there are exceptions. Some manufacturers offer mid-cycle refreshes (sometimes known as facelifts), for example. These refreshes do not drastically alter the mechanical underpinnings of a model, but they include significant cosmetic changes, engine upgrades, or new technology.

When working with a dealership to decide on a new car, always ask about differences from model year to model year. Most car dealership team members will be happy to discuss the most recent redesign or facelift for a model, helping you to understand why one model year may be better than another. As with any large purchase, the more information you have, the better a decision you can make. z