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Le Car Glossary*

Adaptive cruise control
A safety feature complementary to conventional cruise control that slows or stops your vehicle in order to avoid a collision.

Advanced safety systems
Vehicle equipment that provides additional safety assistance such as blind spot detection, collision avoidance, and technology that helps to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.

All-wheel drive (AWD)
Power is distributed to all four wheels of the vehicle; AWD is ideal for wintry conditions.

Autonomous Technology
Sometimes referred to as “self-driving” technology, autonomous technology is software and hardware that allows a vehicle to operate partially or fully without human controls. The most commonly accepted standards for autonomy are set by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and the levels of SAE autonomy are divided into five levels of automation. Level 5 would allow for the removal of the steering wheel from the vehicle.

Base price
The base price is how much the vehicle costs before adding any options, features, or extras.

Blind spot monitoring
Sensors that alert driver of obstructions in a blind spot, or area where a driver cannot see the surrounding area.

Blue Book value
Suggested retail value (based on automotive research firms such as Kelley Blue Book or TrueCar) that is a starting point of negotiation between buyer and seller on a used car, based on the model and how it has aged over time.

Another term for convertible, a vehicle with retractable or removable roof.

Car sharing
A transportation option that offers users short term rental usage of a shared vehicle.

Carbon fiber
An expensive, lightweight material used to build parts that may contribute to better performance, or make a car faster.

The parts of your car that function like a rolling computer. There are several types:

  • Connected services that provide navigation, weather and traffic information, or roadside assistance such as OnStar, AcuraLink, or Audi Connect.

  • Equipment such as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto that allows you to use services available on your smartphone such as navigation and music streaming services.

  • Streaming services built directly into the vehicle such as satellite radio or internet streaming without the need of an external smartphone

  • Data plans that turn your car into a mobile WiFi hotspot

  • Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) technology that allows your vehicle to “talk” to others on the road.

A car that has a retractable or removable roof, it is also sometimes called a cabriolet.

A car with a sloping roofline that typically has two doors, but can also include some four-door models.

A type of vehicle that blends an SUV and a car. Crossovers feature a raised seating position, but are built on a car platform.

A cylinder is a part of the engine where fuel is burned and converted to power. Typical small passenger vehicles have four-cylinder engines, which are fuel efficient. Sports cars, trucks, and large SUVs use engines with more cylinders as they are more powerful, but less fuel efficient.

The control panel that houses gauges and is typically located behind the steering wheel in a vehicle..

An authorized sales location that is owned independently from the car company, dealerships are mostly franchise operations in the U.S.

Over time, the value of your car decreases. Its remaining value is called its “residual value,” a number set by companies that specialize in residual calculations. A lease payment is determined by a number of factors, with the residual value being the primary factor.

Direct sale
The sale of a vehicle directly to a consumer by a car company, instead of via a dealership franchise.

A measurement of engine size. Larger numbers typically mean more power and fuel consumption.

A vehicle that uses relatively less or no gasoline.

Electric vehicle
A vehicle that operates entirely on battery power.

The outside of the vehicle.

Financing a vehicle
Similar to a mortgage, a vehicle can be financed through a bank, resulting in monthly payments with interest. A lease is also a form of vehicle financing that allows for a long-term “rental” of a vehicle (see “Lease” definition).

Four-wheel drive (4WD)
Sends power to all four wheels of your vehicle.

Fuel economy
The amount of fuel your vehicle uses per mile traveled. In the US, it is commonly measured in units of miles per gallon.

The measured amount of power produced by the engine.

A vehicle with both a gasoline and an electric motor.

The in-car technology system that houses navigation, in-car apps, Apple CarPlay and Android auto, and many of your vehicle’s settings and controls.

The inside cabin of the vehicle.

Lane departure warning system
Safety systems that alerts driver to stay inside of the current lane.

A contract to rent a car for a certain amount of time based with designated restrictions.

Leg room
The measurement, usually in inches, for the amount of space between seats in the vehicle.

The vehicle brand.

The name of the vehicle belonging to a brand.

Model year
The year assigned to your car by the car company, which often goes on sale before the corresponding calendar year begins.

Monthly payment
The principal and interest payment due for a lease or financing.

Miles per gallon. A measure of fuel economy.

Manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Also referred to as “list price” or "sticker price." An MSRP may contain additional pricing for options and features, so should not be considered the same as the “base price.”

Original equipment manufacturer, an industry term used to describe car companies.

The system that houses mapping functions; generally part of the vehicle’s infotainment system.

Off-road vehicle
A vehicle that can be driven on hilly terrain, up and down sharp inclines, and through gravel, rocks, and mud.

Optional equipment
Options or features that are not included in the base model.

Parking assist
An electrical system that helps with parking the car. It can range from guidelines on a back-up camera to a car that parks itself.

A collective measure of a vehicle’s responsiveness when it is being driven. This is typically in the context of a sports car where “high performance” denotes an agile, speedy car.

Residual value
The value of the vehicle at the end of its lease.

A two- or four- door passenger car that seats four–six people.

Self-driving systems
Technology that enables autonomous driving. (See “autonomous technology” definition)

Sticker price
The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for a vehicle, this refers to the large sticker that can generally be found on the front driver’s window

An opening in the roof of the vehicle that tilts up or slides open, which can also be called a moonroof.

Sport utility vehicle. A vehicle that offers seating for 5 to 8 passengers and comes in varying sizes. Most SUVs are taller and have higher seating positions. They also incorporate more cargo space than sedans of the same length.

The measurement of twisting force created by the engine or electric motor. Higher torque translates to more towing capacity or faster acceleration.

Trim level
The different versions and options for a specific vehicle, which are sold at varying price points. Trims vary from brand to brand, and may include different groupings of features and options.

Turbo or turbocharger
Equipment added to an engine to increase the efficiency and power output. An engine can have often have two turbos, hence the names twin-turbo or biturbo.

An engine with six cylinders.

An engine with eight cylinders. These are typically more powerful than six- cylinder engines (V6s).

Distance between the centers of the front and rear wheels.

Zero-emission vehicle.

Updated: September 6, 2018

*The definitions provided on this page are for informational purposes only. Definitions and technical details have been simplified to make them easier to understand. Please consult other sources and references for complete details.