Fully upgraded models?

Every 4 or 5 or 6 years, a model is extensively remodeled. In between, they mislead you by claiming the next year is new when it has only trivial cosmetic changes. How to find the actual years of extensive upgrades?


What model(s) are you specifically interested in? Keep in mind sometimes it can the be opposite of what you’re describing. For example the 2011 Mustang looks just like the 2010 Mustang inside and out, but it’s completely different in terms of powertrain.

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I’d likely get another Hyundai but my question is not limited. I’m open to others.

You can google ‘year make model specs’ to find out details about a given year. You can also go to wikipedia, which will have a history for each model, listing the changes year by year, and the major change years.

Are you looking for used or new cars?

Ever since the era of the Model A Ford “ new” models were often cosmetic only changes. On the other hand, some years will have mechanical changes during the production run.

Now is nothing like it was in the '50s through the '70s, with huge yearly announcements of the ‘new’ models.


Your timeline is true unless it’s Toyota. They seem to do a new generation every decade, maybe longer. I’m sure they wait so long because the new generation starts when sales drop off. They have plenty of time to plan the new generation, but deployment is delayed.

Sometimes it’s referred to as a mid-cycle refresh, but they throw in a few new features or colors every year to entice you to get the 'new" model. Depends on the brand, my dad took a test drive of a new Honda Crv back in 2019 and most of the controls felt exactly the same as his 2007 CRV, which actually helped seal the deal. All the things he liked about his 2007 but with more tech and safety features but not changed just for the sake of change.

Consumer Reports keeps track of this. At least they used to, in their vehicle ratings publications. Car buyer’s guide is the title I think. As I recall the list of model years has a little mark for a year which has a major redesign.


You can also look it up in Wikipedia.

George beat me to it!
In their reliability ratings charts, the model years in which there was a complete redesign are noted in bold print.


And some years will have unannounced changes that can cause you headaches if you aren’t aware of them. I remember doing a clutch on my '88 CRX. I didn’t know that the spline count was different on the 88’s than it was on the rest of that generation (89-91), because I don’t think it was widely publicized outside of the factory service manuals. And the parts store guy didn’t know it either, because I ended up with the wrong clutch, and there I was with a disassembled car and having to wait another day to get the right part.


Been there, done that. I expect most diy’ers run into this same problem frequently. It happens to the shop techs too, but all they have to do it phone the customer up and tell them its going to take 2 more days. For the diy’er, a big motivation to have an extra car on hand.

I don’t have any experience with vehicle manufacturing, but it’s fairly common for high tech companies to swap one part for another during the same production run. They find they’ve run out of the part, and need a substitute immediately in order to ship the product. This may require a circuit board to be slightly modified so the new part fits. When that happens the only documentation is usually are some engineering change orders. It’s not done willy-nilly, a group of experienced engineers must approve before the change goes into production.

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Oh is there a car in there somewhere?


Some people don’t want the first year of a new model run. A high volume auto will likely have the kinks worked out after the first year.`

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Carmakers NEVER want to introduce a “fully upgraded model” if they can help it.

Imagine the development costs of a new transmission, new engine, new suspension, new body with new interior al at the same time. Billions and Billions (in Carl Sagan’s voice) of dollars!

Now imagine the RISK. With new designs comes the possibility of defects, customer dissatisfaction and recalls.

So the “New” Toyota Corolla has new styling with a new interior with a zippy new touchscreen and better crash-test performance but underneath it carries a slight variation of same strut suspension that it has had for over 30 years. It still has the 10 year old engine family with the latest emissions and performance evolutions.

So “new” but not “fully upgraded”