GTO, GL, DL, DX, SX, LE...what do all the initials mean?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have enjoyed your columns very much. You seem to know a lot about cars. Maybe you can clear up what has long been a mystery for me. What do those crazy initials after a car's name signify? I know that on a Buick Regal GS, the GS stands for Gran Sport (because it says so elsewhere on the car). I know that GT is Gran Turismo. But what about GTO, GL, DL, DX, SX, LE and dozens of other bewildering initials?

RAY: Great question, Robert. And let us be perfectly clear from the outset. We have no idea.

TOM: Right. We wrote a piece about this several years ago, and we predicted that in the year 9857, archeologists will understand everything about our civilization, except what those damn letters on the backs of cars stand for.

RAY: Our best guess is that many of the letters don't actually mean anything. They just "imply" things. For example, the letters LX suggest you get "luxury" when you buy that car. We'll leave it to you to figure out what you're supposed to get when you buy, say, a Nissan 240 "SX."

TOM: One of our readers once wrote to tell us that when you see DX on the back of a car, it stands for "Dealer eXaggerated," which is not as bad as a DL, which means "Dealer lied."

RAY: SLE was obvious to us. That means the car is a real sled. So much so that the "D" fell off in the showroom.

TOM: Finally, one of my favorites is the EX, often seen on the rear deck of Hondas. EX means that a former spouse is making the car payments.

RAY: If you can decipher some that we've missed, you can send them to us in care of this newspaper.

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