About a quarter century ago, my father’s wife declared that she was tired of her 7-Series Bimmer and that she just wanted “a nice, basic car, like a Saturn.”
“Okay,” I replied, “sounds like a good idea. What options do you need?”
“Nothing special… just the standard things, the basic things.”
“Okay, what are those?”
“Power locks… power windows… A/C where you just pick the temperature number… tilt wheel… leather upholstery… a nice stereo… I want the mirror that gets dark where there are headlights behind you… the remote entry button thing… I don’t want hubcaps… cruise control… it should have some kind of theft alarm…”
“Let me stop you right there,” I said, “I don’t think you’re Saturn material.” Sure enough, her next car was a loaded Audi 100. The funny thing is that most of the things that she considered to be “standard equipment” back in ’92 actually are standard equipment in 2017. But the question remains: When it comes to equipment, how low can you go?
When I was younger, I was totally fine with rolling up my own windows and using the “Back to Black” stuff on my base-model unpainted bumpers and even installing my own stereo. Nowadays, I’m thinking that the level of equipment in the Lincoln Continental Black Label is just about right. If I want to “rough it,” I’ll ride a motorcycle.
But this causes issues when I go to look at new cars, because it’s always tempting to get the next bigger or better car without all of that stuff. Loaded Accord or base TLX? V8 Phaeton with all the trimmings or a W12 with a plain back bench? CL55 AMG or CL65?
I’d like to hear your philosophy for speccing out a vehicle. And what do you consider to be “base” equipment in 2017? Are you closer in spirit to the people who pick the equipment on AutoZone delivery trucks, or do you favor my wicked stepmother’s approach?