Notepad, while you are generally correct regarding the limited info that the VIN offers, they do tend to tell more of a story on options. The VIN on my 97 Camaro, for example, contains such things as the engine option, coupe or convertible and some safety items like restrain systems, etc.
What people need to reference is the vehicle build sheet. They are generally discarded during the dealer prep process. They contain detailed option items, like differential gear ratio, interior/exterior color, radio options, shock types, suspension options and more. I still have the original build sheet for my 454SS truck and I still have a copy of the build sheet on my 67 Vette. :D
08 RAV4 Limited AWD V6
05 RAV4 S FWD 5spd -traded for 08
2012 Corvette ZR1
90 454 SS truck 425rwtq