By on September 18, 2015

Dodge Grand Caravan American Value Package

Today, I’m going to talk about a dramatically unloved segment of the automotive population: base models. You probably know base models from their lack of window tint and tremendously ugly steel wheels.

Base models aren’t discussed very often, because they’re often not very cheerful. In some cases, nobody even really buys them. For instance: I was walking along the other day, glanced inside a new Forester that was parked on the street, and it had a stick shift. I also noticed it had no sunroof, steel wheels, and cloth seats. This thing is probably rarer than a Lamborghini.

But automakers like the fact that nobody buys their base models. In fact, the entire point of the base model is basically to ensure people want to spend more money for a nicer version of the car. Dealers tell you the car “starts at” twenty-four grand, but then you show up on the lot, and there it is: twenty-four grand of no air conditioning or radio. To get a decent car, you’ve got to spend a few thousand more.

It’s like the Virginia license plate situation. Over in Virginia, they have dozens of different license plate designs, including ones for Jimmy Buffet fans and Friends of Tibet and The Southwestern Virginia Society of Air Conditioner Repairpersons and stupid crap like that. And in order to make you want to choose one of these designs, they make the standard license plate as boring as humanly possible. It just says Virginia on the top, and there are some numbers. It doesn’t even include a standard Virginia scene, with rolling hills, or beaches, or D.C. metro area gridlock.

Some car companies are famous for this sort of behavior. I mean, yeah, sure, virtually everyone does it, but some do it much better than others. So today I’m asking: what car company makes the best base models? The cheapest, flimsiest entry-level trims in order to suck you in and force you to pay more, even when you desperately don’t want to spend a dime above the base price?

I think there are a lot of good contenders, but the winner is clearly Honda. In fact, one of the most offensive base models of all time is the 2008-2014 Pilot LX, which features, well, basically nothing.

2011_Honda_Pilot_--_LX_NHTSA

In terms of wheels, this Pilot offers the most heinous work-van-style steelies you’ll ever see on a family crossover. Window tint is removed from all the back windows. Fog lights are unceremoniously capped with black pieces of circular plastic. And then there’s a black plastic line running down the side of both doors, an unnecessary addition designed to remind you that no, you really did not want to spend a penny on this thing, did you?

The CR-V is almost as bad. In the long, sad history of steel wheels, nothing will ever really top the CR-V’s five-spoke steelie for pure ugliness. “I got a base model,” it shouts. “And I’m proud of it.”

2007-Honda-CRV-LX

Honda’s base-level cars are pretty sparse on equipment, too. Although Honda is now running ads touting that all of their vehicles feature a standard backup camera, they fail to mention that the Honda Fit still uses rear drum brakes — even if you splurge on the top-level EX-L model. And we could also mention the fact that Honda is still installing four-speaker stereo systems in base-level versions of the Accord.

And so, I think Honda is the king of the base model. Not because their base models are good, but for the exact opposite reason: because their base models are so basic that they basically force you to spend more money. “Do I really want four speakers?” you might ask. “Drum brakes? Those wheels?” Of course, in every case the answer is no, and so you end up looking at an EX, or an EX-L, or an SE, or a Touring, or an Elite, and the next thing you know there’s a built-in vacuum cleaner in your Odyssey.

What’s your opinion? Which automaker do you think boasts the very best — and thus the very worst — base models?

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173 Comments on “QOTD: Who Does Base Models Best?...”


  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    How about the old “This model starts at $25,344. Our tester came nicely equipped at $58,997” trick?

    I’ve literally never seen a review that did a basic, no-options car.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      I saw one once for an XL F-150.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      One of my top 10 pet peeves.

      Why are only top of the line fully equipped models reviewed?

      I am old enough that I was taught to never buy a top of the line fully equipped Chev when I could get a nicely equipped Buick for the same or even less.

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      But there is some logic to that. Buyers want to know if the add-ons are worth the money, and it’s easier to read the loaded car’s review and imagine the stripped version than it is to read a review of the base model and imagine how well the optional features work.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        Exactly. It paints a better picture of the vehicle to review a loaded model and see all the available/optional features than to see one without. Maybe the navigation system is optional, but a piece of junk. Wouldn’t you rather read about it in a review than buy one and find out later?

  • avatar
    JReed

    Funny you should mention the Fit. Just bought the base LX a few months ago, and I had the exact opposite opinion as you. My current car is a base Chevy Aveo from not too long ago, 2008. Roll up windows, manual door locks, no tech features, and a clock that never works. The base model Fit comes with power windows and doors, keyless entry, a rear backup camera, bluetooth streaming, touchscreen radio, automatic headlights, and even a washer bottle spray on the REAR windshield wiper for Pete’s sake. Those last few additions certainly weren’t necessary on a base model. Oh, and it averages 10 more mpg that the similarly sized Aveo.

    All for $17k. Head to Youtube and watch the Motorweek Retro reviews. Pay attention to the pricing of cars from even the late ’80s, and you will see how good we have it for car value these days. More features, better fuel economy, drastically improved safety, oftentimes for less money NOT EVEN adjusted for inflation.

    BTW, the drum brakes are a silly hang up. Cheaper to manufacture, cheaper to integrate the parking brake, and totally effective for the rear of a 2500ish pound car. Do you want to pay more for your car for no advantage?

    Oh, and ironically enough, I was just complaining about the base 3 series and E class wagons, at about $50k and $60k respectively, don’t even come with a rear backup camera. Talk about a silly value proposition. How they can call themselves the premium option when they can’t match features of a car about 1/3 the price baffles me.

    • 0 avatar
      King of Eldorado

      When I bought my 2011 Fit, I paid about $1700 more to get the uplevel Sport model mostly because the base Fit lacked cruise control, which is a must-have for me. (Since then CC has become standard on all Fits.) I could easily have done without the other things the Sport upgrade included, especially the fog lights that I never use and one of which is now broken, presumably by a rock. The dealer wants around $300 to fix it.

      I totally agree about the rear drum brakes, and would add that the 2500 pounds is distributed 60/40 front/rear, meaning the drums are more than adequate.

    • 0 avatar
      paanta

      I love my base ’10 Fit, though on long trips I’ve found myself longing for cruise control. Really is the best do-it-all car I’ve had, and it manages to avoid feeling cheap in spite of all the significantly cheaper materials it uses. Drive it way more often than my M3 because it’s just so damn good.

      The rear drum brakes couldn’t be less of a problem. A set of good front pads is all ya need:
      [vimeo 107462537 w=640 h=360]

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    It’s funny, I am sure those base models from Honda and Toyota offer AC and power w/l. Gone are the days where you would see manual steering and brakes. You’d even be hard pressed to find crank windows anymore. And we consider these base models. So now you can get rooked on a certain technology “package” that will not give you keyless entry unless you buy all of this other crap you really weren’t after. Brilliant!

    • 0 avatar
      Sloomis

      If I buy new, I only by base models, and I have to say my base 2005 Odyssey has everything you need – power windows/locks, plenty of airbags, ABS/traction control, tinted windows, AC, CD player. A modern-day base model in most cases is equivalent to a premium model of 20 or 30 years ago.

  • avatar
    Yankee

    I guess I’m in the minority, but I like styled steel wheels and drum brakes. I live in Pittsburgh (the pothole capitol of the northeast) and low-profile tires on big alloy wheels don’t last that long here. As far as drum brakes go, what’s wrong with them on an economy car or a truck? They work well, last forever, and are far superior for use as an emergency/parking brake that actually works (a lesson learned by many manufacturers who are now including drum parking brakes into the hat of the rear rotors).

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Drum brakes are a royal pain to service and are prone to develop squeaks. No thanks.

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        Dont drum brakes auto adjust when you break on reverse? Anyway, who cares… only on mini cars and light trucks where it doesnt matter too much.

        While I see a lot of cheapness in those exmaples, I see a lot of common sense and overblown exaggeration (LOL Doug).

        I dont have a problem with those steel wheels… they have a nice style and on an SUV, eh who cares. While I find those unpainted black foglamp covers quite ugly you can spray them with some paint from Walmart and who needs fogs really in most climes? And that Honda has a rub strip on the doors? Probably not a bad thing?

        I think for the vast majority of modern western and japanese cars, base models do give you enough… you kinda need central lock, electric windows, electric mirrors, 4 spks cd/mp3 player w/ BT etc. If you buy a $20k car you should get ‘stuff’ (and not ‘get stuffed’).

        I know some companies give you a real simplified driving info panel which is made up of LED segments like a $10 china clock… maybe they stick you with a tiny HVAC screen that doubles up as a reverse cam (mandated).

        I also found some high spec. cars to be a bit chintzy… like ‘luxury’ to them means piano black, faux wood and chrome plastic trim rings and the like which is a very cheap attempt to make you feel like some money was spent, when it clearly wasnt.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          Drum brakes do self adjust, at least until the self adjuster freezes up from corrosion or from getting gooped up with brake shoe dust, at which time you get to pull them apart and clean/replace the adjuster.

          Some adjust from using the brakes while reversing, and some adjust from using the parking brake.

    • 0 avatar
      Sloomis

      Yankee
      I agree. I’ll take tasteful understated steel wheels over garish alloys any day. Personally, I think both the Hondas pictured look great with those utilitarian wheels.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        One thing I thought GM really did well [there had to be one thing, even for them] was how on the base G6 and presumably others, the spokes of the steel wheels were arranged to completely disappear behind the spokes of the plastic wheel covers. You had to look twice to realize they weren’t alloy wheels. Certainly not a big enough deal to induce me to want steel wheels or a Pontiac but evidence of thought.

  • avatar
    FractureCritical

    Audi S models.

    the ‘base’ versions come equipped to the mid-level range “A” versions of the cars.

    when I bought my S4, the only option on the window sticker was the 19″ wheels, and only because there’s pretty much nowhere you’re gonna get factory 19″ rims wheels for $850.

    • 0 avatar
      tnk479

      Don’t be so easily fooled. The “S4” is itself a very high trim level of an “A4”. In fact, the Audi “S” cars are often nearly double the price of the model they are based on. And what do you get for doubling the price? A better engine with more horsepower and sportier seats? It works out well for Audi I am guessing.

      • 0 avatar
        FractureCritical

        that’s the whole point of the exercise.
        who does base well, and yes, the base model already comes nicely equipped and needs nothing.

        and duh, of course you’re paying for the bigger engine and sportier seats. that’s the point. ;)

  • avatar
    Drew8MR

    I always buy base models. I don’t care one whit about wheels (why you would spend one dime more than you had to on such a high wear item for a commuter is beyond me) or tech. I don’t even care if it has a radio at all, much less care about how many speakers it has, since any car in my price range is going to be a terrible environment for music listening anyway. I prefer cloth seats and rubber floors. I do like having AC, but that’s rarely an option these days anyway. The only options I care about are powertrain options, but unfortunately no one will let you buy the big motor in a stripper anymore anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      “…but unfortunately no one will let you buy the big motor in a stripper anymore anyway.”

      Yeah, or my favorite – you can get the manual transmission, but not with the premium engine.

      Or they make you buy an entire package to get the ONE feature you want.

      It’s like back when you had to buy the whole CD when there was only one song on it you actually liked, and you had to pay for other 15 you didn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Sloomis

      Drew8MR
      Me too. I’m a big fan of base model cars, it gets you into a new vehicle at the lowest possible price. Couldn’t care less about the frills. Big fan of rubber floors in particular, instead of carpeting – much easier to clean and doesn’t get crappy looking over time like carpeting. Would’ve been perfect for my Odyssey. My base model Ranger of 20 years ago had rubber floors with a vinyl bench seat, no radio, no AC, no power steering and I bought it new for practically nothing. It was also my favorite car I’ve owned.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        Way back in ’81, my dad needed a commuter, so he and my mom went down to the nearest Dodge dealer one day and came home with this absolutely stripper Aries K coupe.

        Damn thing had a light blue vinyl bench seat, a manual transaxle, no radio, roll up windows, wing mirror only on the driver’s side and if I remember right, 13″ steel wheels.

        He got it for like SIX GRAND OUT THE DOOR, and the salesman hated him for buying it. Frankly though, he did the guy a favor because probably nobody else would’ve taken the thing.

        100,000 miles for $6,000 and the occasional oil change and set of tires?

        Pretty good deal.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    I think VW does base models better than anyone else, as far as standard features.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I would agree with this right now. The current el cheapo Jetta and Golf come pretty well equipped. There isn’t anything I would “need” over the current content. I do think the SE is a MUCH better value for basically $1200 more.

      Before this year though, in the Jetta at least, they gave you such wonderful standard features as an engine and rear suspension from 1992.

      • 0 avatar
        whynot

        Agreed that VW does a good job equipping their base models and an excellent value with their SE. Especially since they usually let you get a sunroof with just the base trim (without having to add other additional options/packages as well).

        Their SEL models however…I mean all upper trim levels are usually bad values but with VW they are particularly awful (on US model cars at least).

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I agree. On Jettas and Golfs they often offer packages that are not on the configurator site that have great value. Wolfsburg Edition, Value Edition, Limited Edition, etc. I wish they’d bring back the Wolfsburg edition. That was the best value of the MKV cars. I think mine was $21K, had everything I needed, 2.0T engine, and nothing I didn’t want. The only downside was that it felt TIRED at 40K miles. It was a squeak and rattle machine.

    • 0 avatar
      genuineleather

      Yep, totally agree. For $21k, the Golf S drives as well and has just about as many features as a base model C/3/A4.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    I like base models, too. Driving a 2014 Accord Sport 6MT, the 4-speaker stereo was (past tense) annoying. Sixty bucks for a set of Polks in the front doors and about 30 minutes of work solved that problem.

    Just look at what a Camry LE comes with now for $20k. Bluetooth, touch screen, keyless entry, backup camera, etc.

    It is a golden age for base model family sedans.

    http://www.carmax.com/enus/view-car/default.html?id=12108479&AVi=16&No=0&Rp=R&D=90&zip=46410&ASTc=camry%20LE&Us=2&Q=e2bc9d10-0e9b-4b61-ab43-86d177679e44&Ep=search:results:results%20page

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      I also have a Sport 6MT. The 4-speaker stereo kinda sucks, but at least the bluetooth audio actually streams in full stereo, unlike the buggy 7-speaker “premium” audio system in my old VW.

      What bothers me more is that it doesn’t have a compass like the EX, even though it uses the exact same dash display. And there’s absolutely no excuse for a glove box that doesn’t lock.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Toyota’s always been the worse for base models. For the longest time, the base Corolla had wind-up windows, and people would buy it that way. Even the 2016 has a 4 speed transmission that would have looked obsolete 15 years ago.

    What really irks me is petty stuff missing from high-priced cars. Recently looked at an LR4. The “base” model doesn’t have fog lights in Canada. It’s a $60,000 truck, FFS, but you have to drop an extra 5 grand to get the package with fog lights! That kind of BS is the reason I didn’t buy an LR2 last time I was shopping for a new car. I just feel robbed if I’m paying 5 grand extra for stuff that’s standard in a $15,000 Hyundai.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Factory fog lights are garbage anyway – nothing more than “light-shaped toys” to quote Daniel Stern.

      Use that money you saved to get some good aftermarket lights from a decent company like Cibie, Hella or Bosch.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    As soon as I saw the title, I knew there would be lots of comments from the unmarked-cop-car-and-proud-of-it folks.

    I buy all my cars loaded.

    • 0 avatar
      Waftable Torque aka Daniel Ho

      I also don’t understand why people buy cars that aren’t fully loaded. For one, the navigation system and uprated stereo can only be found on the highest trim levels. The latest safety equipment is usually found on mid or upper trim levels. And the best seats and headlights are usually reserved for the highest trim level. That’s the difference between getting a new car itch in 3 years versus 10+ years. That’s false economy to me.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I bought a C-Max SE instead of a C-Max SEL. I ordered the car, and picked out specific options. The reason why I didn’t get the SEL is simple: the price for leather, push button start, and a better sound system was basically $4000. I like all those things, but they won’t make me keep a car longer or prevent me from having a new car itch.

      • 0 avatar
        ItsMeMartin

        Let me break that down for you:
        -Navigation: Almost everyone has a phone that’s a better nav unit that the one installed in the car. Also, factory navigation systems are often outdated in a year or two. They start to feel slow, the maps are out of date etc.
        -Uprated stereo: Many people can’t tell the difference between that and the standard one. As long as it plays the songs, it’s good enough.
        -Safety equpiment: The only thing that upper trims add are electronic nannies, and they are far from being universally accepted as better, especially among above-average skilled drivers.
        -Best seats: best is debatable, and it depends on the model. Top trims usually have more sport-oriented seats and not everybody wants that.
        -Best headlights: you’ve got a point there but in many cases springing for the HIDs/LEDs/etc is simply not worth the cost; especially on a commuter car.

        I also think you’re giving yourself too much credit by thinking that your opinion is representative for anyone else. What you described is not false economy, it’s just your opinion, and nothing else. Get over youself.

        By the way, I’ve got a question for you, Daniel. When you buy your fully-loaded car, do you even test lower trim levels or do you automatically assume that anything less than the most expensive version is beneath you?

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I like integrated Nav, but I’m sure Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability will be more important than Nav on my next purchase. On anything with an 8″ or so display screen, that compatibility will make Nav a worthless option for me.

          I think Navigation in vehicles will eventually just be an app anyway.

        • 0 avatar
          Waftable Torque aka Daniel Ho

          Anger management class is that way, Martin. Or are you here to start a fight?

          • 0 avatar
            ItsMeMartin

            Not really. I apologize if I was overly harsh.

            My points stand, however. There are people who just don’t care for all the things that higher trim levels give you, and the added utility of many of the things that you list is debatable.
            Another reason why many people don’t buy loaded versions is that car equipment generally follows the law of diminishing returns – the more expensive you go, the less added utility another tick on the option sheet gives you. At the extreme point, the buyer just becomes the sucker that drops 2k on those legendary Porsche leather air vents.
            So, will you answer my question? I’m no longer trying to be snarky, I’m just genuinely curious.

          • 0 avatar
            Waftable Torque aka Daniel Ho

            No worries, decorum is a better place to make a point.

            Where I stand, I can say with honesty that every car I’ve ever owned which didn’t have the additional option packages was a car I regret not ponying the extra cash for them. That just feeds the trade-in cycle, which is anathema for someone like me who likes to keep my cars until the wheels fall off.

            I remember shopping for an Enclave in 2008, before deciding on something else. I can imagine how tempting it was to skip the pricy nav, but in hindsight I would have kicked myself. It’s a much have feature for me, even if phones do the same thing nowadays (plus I refuse to carry a mobile dataplan, b/c I’m a 300GB/mo household).

            The frustration with option sheets is finding my must-haves (Bluetooth, hifi, brake assist, backup camera, ESP, wood, AWD) without moving up the trim levels.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I disagree with the trope that phone navigation is better. The screens are much smaller, the interfaces are not designed for use at car distances or while in motion, and the GPS antennas often aren’t as good. Even though it is seven years old I’d much rather use the in-dash nav in my LS460 (with an updated map) than use either Google or Apple Maps on my iPhone.

          Also, electronic nannies are not necessarily the only safety addition you find as an option. My LS has rear side airbags that come only as part of a package that also included cooled, reclining rear seats and upgraded leather.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I don’t want most of that crap. The only reasons I got the tech package on my latest car are that it got me the big screen instead of the ugly little one, it actually was useful to have nav the month that I had the car in Europe, and $2k is rounding error on a $50k car. But if not getting it meant getting no screen, like on my last new car I would have saved the $2k. I got none of the extra cost nannies, nor did I get leather. I did get cold weather and the upgraded stereo.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Maybe because not all people are spoiled brats and can be just fine with a non-loaded car. Not all people can afford the top model or to replace it after three years. Lacking optional luxury equipment is a horrible reason to get rid of a car. I cant recall a single person I know who got rid of a nearly new car that often simply because they didnt buy the highest option packages or all optional features. How idiotic that would be. Ive known people who hated their fairly new car and got rid of it when they could afford to, but not because it lacked features, it was because it was uncomfortable on long trips or was too small for what they needed, you know, a legitimate reason, not because it didnt have navigation (and their phone did).

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Nomex underwear @ cleaners, so… ;-)

          I’m blessed to have a career in IT by which I can afford a new top-end mid-size sedan every six years or so.

          But I can also see the value in the base models today. Hell, the Accord now has automatic climate, auto headlights, Bluetooth and other stuff standard. (I just wish that Honda would have expanded the Sport package to the entire Accord Sedan lineup instead of it being just an LX with dual exhaust and big tires — at least a better stereo would have been nice in that model.)

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    My dad leased my sister a Nissan Sentra for $82/month (taxes included). It doesn’t matter how it drives, or it’s level of equipment. At $82/month, it is the best base model.

  • avatar
    duffman13

    I just checked out the Honda website – what’s so wrong with a 4-speaker system? No separate tweeters? All of these models still come with Bluetooth, streaming audio, and USB integration standard, which is all anyone really needs as far as luxury features go. Hell, the Accord even has alloys (granted they’re 16″).

    I went through most of the major manufacturers and checked out their base model compacts. Everything has Bluetooth standard now. 90% have USB integration for your smartphone. 90% of them have standard rear-view cameras. This goes more to the line that there are no truly bad cars today.

    However, I’ll probably put Nissan as the worst though – the Sentra still has a torsion beam rear axle, the least power at 130hp, and it looks like a pile of vomit. And just because I’ve been looking at 370Zs recently, they’re the only manufacturer that was limiting Bluetooth to upper trim levels as recently as 2013, where it was standard for everyone else.

    • 0 avatar
      Trichobezoar

      Yes, Nissan seems to have the lowest price base model in every category.

      One of my first cars was a ’91 Sentra my dad picked up from a co-worker. In vain, I tried desperately to upgrade everything :

      * dorky plastic wheel covers over the plain steel wheels that must have been fashioned to match the donut spare

      * 120 decibel horn, which somehow just emitted a faint feminine tout compared to the stock horn I replaced

      * paid some guys $20 at the audio shop to install some pathetic speakers I found lying around the house on the rear deck, which was actually already fully wired for it. Woo, 4 speakers at last! My fader switch on my tape deck finally had purpose aside from a redundant volume control!

      * tape cassette adapter so I could have an aux input from a portable CD player. But really I found it easier to just buy an old tape recorder from an antique store and make my own mix tapes like in the 80s

      * Borg dice and a “Borg Institute of Technology window sticker to make it feel modern.

      But mostly I just dealt with things manually… rolling my own windows faster than the electric ones, getting dexterous at reaching back to flip the rear windows out, rowing through the 4 gears, learning to rev match when the clutch went out.

      It really made my next Saturn Wagon feel like an upgrade, with its 5th overdrive gear and “huge” 15″ rims.

      Tickled to hear that Mexico factories still produce that 91-era Sentra model, because they’re cheap and indestructible on rough third world roads.

      Also tickled to find out later that my prom date had been disappointed when I had picked her up in a more formal and fully-featured white Isuzu Trooper II that I had borrowed from Dad out of shame, instead of my “cute” wild red Sentra coupe. That car would see some action later in the summer, but geez why are we teenagers so dumb and make such bad decisions?

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      For Americans, Nissan offers the best base models – you can pick up a 370z for $30,000 in Canada, or about $22,000 U.S. $

      I don’t know why there aren’t lineups at the border for this.

  • avatar
    Frylock350

    I think GMC does base models pretty well. The SLE variant of all their SUVs have a decent level of content.

    The worst would have to be the Jeep Wrangler. It comes equipped with almost nothing.

    Honorable mention for luxury brand vehicles whose “base” models are missing equipment a non luxury car half the price has.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      I think with the wrangler though that’s a benefit more than anything else, at least to the type of person who wants to offroad – nothing expensive to break, and you’re not paying for stuff you’re going to strip and replace with aftermarket parts anyway.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Can we just let the Jalopnik-esque “ew rear drum brakes!” meme die already?

    The Fit is a freaking subcompact car that weights 2500lb, those drum brakes will work just fine and will probably never need messing with for the lifetime of the vehicle. Compare that to rear disks, whose rotors will inevitably rust out in about 5 years if you live in the salted North.

    Nissan Versa is my favorite ‘basest of the base.’ The seats are one piece units wih integrated headrests, love it.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Yeah, rear drums will last forever in a light car, provided they get serviced occasionally.
      Rear discs are expensive to replace, and the calipers will seize due to a lack of heat cycling. Sure, they have a theoretical advantage if you are doing multiple panic stops from highway speeds, but who the hell does that on their morning commute? Light FWD cars have all their weight over the front axle, the rear brakes never get very hot.

      • 0 avatar
        SomeGuy

        Expensive? I bet it is $50 probably for rotors and pads all in from AutoZone for the rears on a Civic.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Yeah for some nasty Chinese junk that will warp within a month and rust out within 3 years. Decent quality rotors, OE or maybe something like Brembo blanks are about $60 a side, a set of pads about $40. So not breaking the bank, but add in installation and 50% parts markup at a shop (for the average non-DIY buyer) and you’re looking at $300ish, plus the hassle of even having to think about this or getting it fixed. For what benefit? Like I said, the factory drums may very well NEVER be touched on a small car like that over the course of a decade, not even to grease anything, the brakes will simply work.

          • 0 avatar
            duffman13

            First – autozone rotors are awesome. S2000s crack rotors on track all the time, doesn’t matter what brand. Autozone gives you 2 year no questions ask replacement warranty.

            Second – try checking out Rock Auto – anything by Centric is a good quality part, and their prices are very reasonable. They’re the same company that makes Stoptech. When you buy Brembo blanks You’re just paying for the name; it’s just cast and milled iron, same as any other rotor.

            Also, plenty of chain shops have an axle worth of pads and rotor turning for $100, which is basically just paying for labor. Given the weight and brake bias of a car like a Fit, you’re going to have to replace rear rotors something like every 15 years – doesn’t seem like a big expenditure to me.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Aftermarket rotors on Hondas will fail (shake) way too soon. Not sure why that is, but it’s been a constant over the years. Thankfully OEM Honda rotors/pads aren’t very expensive.

          The problem is the calipers that seize from lack of heat-cycling. That leaves you at the mercy of reman calipers. Those are expensive, and almost as bad as the ones you took off the car. So they last one year instead of five.

          Just to be clear, this issue affects rear calipers on light FWD cars in the rust belt. Front calipers, and rear calipers on heavier cars are much more reliable (though they can also seize, especially if the rubber boots crack).

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “Thankfully OEM Honda rotors/pads aren’t very expensive.”

            OEM parts tend to be pricey and often very, very hard to get since even OEM dealerships resort to using aftermarket parts (in the US of A).

            That’s why “parting out” a car is such a profitable venture, and chop-shops get their chops with stolen cars.

            Honda, Toyota: often THE most stolen cars in America. Not for resale. But for the parts.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        Clearly you’ve never done service on a car with rear disc brakes. On my S2000, which is a far more expensive car than the Fit, I can do rear brakes rotors and pads (Centric CTek rotors, Stoptech Street Performance pads) for around $70 in parts. Those are both quality parts and hold up to track use for me. If I went with the cheap stuff I could do it for $40-50. I’m sure on the Fit it would be even less.

        Is it as much as shoes cost? Not really, but I can do rotors and pads in an hour in my driveway, and drums are a pain in the ass.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          duffman,

          I don’t disagree with you. I know a guy who swears by cheap Chinese rotors on his track-only NSX.

          That use case is very different from commuting in slush and salt and cold, in stop-and-go traffic, in a Fit (or any light FWD). You can go weeks without heating-up the rear brakes; salt will eat away at your rotors, sliders and caliper pistons. If you use a “touchless” car wash, salt gets blown past brake seals by high pressure jets. It’s just a big expensive mess, and one that you don’t get with rear drums.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          You’re missing the point entirely. Joe schmo would rather have cheap and durable drum brakes on his cheap and cheerful econobox that will never need messing with for a decade, than some unnoticeable difference in performance that rear disks give him, at the expense of his time and money of dealing with rusted out rotors and frozen rear calipers. Been there and done that in upstate NY, give me my drums. I care not for track day experiences with S2000s.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Hard to say, it is very difficult to find a true poverty spec new car these days. I’m talking the heater and a key. Not too long ago you could buy a VW Jetta with no air, no radio, manual windows, 5 sp. this used to be the lease special.

    Though I can’t or won’t verify…I would think Mitsubishi would still be happy to sell you a car with just about no options.

    Come to think of it, the Chevy W/T optioned trucks are pretty bare, but that kind of makes them endearing a bit.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I would love a base model car IF I was able to buy one with the largest/highest output engine.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Yes!
      The best engine available in your car.
      Which is why a few years ago after testing a ton of CUVs, we ended up getting the Escape SE because it was the lowest, most economical trim which allowed for the 2.0 ecoboost…one of my fav engines.
      I kept all options off except for the stuff that came standard on the SE.
      I even forgave it not having back up, sensors and Nav…and installed as aftermarket all-in-one mirror for $600

      Still happy 3 years later.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      This +1000.

      Bundling the good engine with $10,000+ of dashboard gimmicks that I don’t want, often enough with a sunroof that I can’t even sit upright in the car with, is a great way to make me stop shopping your car right there.

      My Ram doesn’t even have power seats and the dashboard screen is fit for a graphing calculator but it has the big V8 as God and Rockefeller intended.

  • avatar

    Since you mentioned “work van steelies” on the Pilot, I think the obvious answer is… work vans, and base-model pickup trucks. Pretty much the only place you can still get a vinyl interior.

    The base Ranger was probably the king of this, complete with a 4-cylinder engine, stick shift, plastic grill and bumpers, and vinyl interior.

    Of course, these vehicles exist not only so dealers can trumpet their low price, but because fleet operators don’t really care what features a vehicle has and just want the lowest price. It’s like the old Milton Friedman quote – when you are spending your money on something for someone else, you want the cheapest thing you can buy and don’t care what it is.

  • avatar
    Kosher Polack

    Wait, we’re saying that the BEST base models have the MOST stuff?
    I prefer the Chevrolet “WT” trim, with its no-nonsense steel wheels, cloth bench, and rubber floor. Ponying up extra for an infotainment system just doesn’t make sense when a quality phone mount can accomplish all of those things and more.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The Silverado WT and F150 XL are very good base models. Everything is geared towards getting beat up over 5-10 years. There are no trappings of luxury or style trends.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Why pay more money for alloy wheels on a commuter car? Because hubcaps fall off and get stolen. In the winter most cars look pretty tacky, but they look very tacky with one hubcap on and one hubcap off. I demanded alloy wheels on my next car after I had to go a block to buy from the second hand store a half a mile away four hubcaps that just happened to exactly match the ones that had been stolen the day before.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      On a beater car, I’d just remove the hubcaps and run bare steelies. Kept clean (which is almost impossible with road wheel look hub caps) they are usually quite attractive. Add chrome nuts is the plain steel ones look ugly to you.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Yup. That’s what I always did on my Corolla and my Toyota pickup.

        (The main cause being that every time I take a Toyota home – both times – a hubcap falls off either on the way home, or within a week.

        So, steelies.

        I like them, anyway.)

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      And alloys get bent and cracked irreparably on potholes up North, in addition to developing air leaks past the bead once they corrode enough in the rust belt. Steel wheels have their place, I wish my 2012 civic had silver painted steelies with chrome center caps instead of black paint with hubcaps.

  • avatar
    SlowMyke

    Jeep is pretty good with it’s lack of A/C on base models. And 4-speaker sound systems. I know not everyone is an audiophile, but come on. Just about every car I’ve been in with only 2 rear speakers has been impossible to find a volume where all seating positions can hear the radio well and have a conversation at the same time. They have, apparently, stopped the black plastic chunks in place of fog lights though. Points to them for that. I’d assume the rest of Chrysler is the same.

    As far as “ugly” 5-spoke steelies, I think those are better than just about any hubcap.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Remember, though, that most “6 speaker premium” systems are just a four speaker system with additional tweeters in the A-pillar. You’re not getting more speakers in the rear without a *seriously* premium stereo.

      The best way to upgrade your stock stereo for quality is to replace the 4 paper cone speakers that cost $.75 each that came stock, with two or three-way replacements that cost … $10-20, from Parts-Express or the like.

      (Or pay twice as much in store, if you’re lazy or don’t wanna pull the car apart yourself to install.

      I’ve done that; my time isn’t free and I don’t hate myself, and sometimes I just don’t want to have to rip the car apart to replace a speaker.)

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        (A horrible car company would advertise 4 coax speakers as an “8 speaker” system, and they would not be … entirely wrong to do so.

        If you have 6×9″ or other large speakers, you can even semi-sensibly do three-ways.

        12 speaker premium audio!)

  • avatar
    65corvair

    I have a base 2014 Honda Accord with the 6 speed manual. It has alloy wheels with contrasting paint on the wheels too. Look great. Projection beam headlights, auto A/C with dual controls, rear camera. It has lots of other little extras. No reason to buy the next model up. It does everything well. The manual is hardly a low end base transmission. It has six speeds, not five. It is very nice shifting too. When you have the cruise control on, down shift for a hill it will resume without needing to hit resume. Shift into neutral with the cruise on, not using the clutch and the engine goes to idle! Not sure why one would need to do this! We drove it 990 miles in one day! The seats are great. I think the sticker was about $23,000. Paid under $19,000 at end of season clearance. Awesomely fast and redline sounds great. At worst it gets only 3 mpg less than my old Fiesta! Winter it’s about the same. Honda built this car like it was there only car!

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Reading Doug’s build up to what constituted a good/bad base model, I figured Honda didn’t stand a chance at even getting mentioned. Their base models were called DXs, and they’ve been gone for a while. Any LX has practically every feature available not that long ago short of power seats and a sunroof. Apparently he doesn’t know what protective side trim is for and has abominable taste though, so I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s not like a stripped Honda makes you sit on a vinyl sheet like a Mexican hospital or a stripped BMW.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Correct! Before the proliferation of various trims and leather seating, the EX meant a sunroof, bigger tires, alloy wheels and beefier suspension, and a better stereo. LX, as stated, was ps, power windows, locks, mirrors, basic stereo, cruise, wheel covers, and maybe A/C. DX was four wheels and a heater, no radio, wind-your-own windows, steelies. (At least the outside mirrors were still manual remote-control.)

        The first year the DX went away was 2006, I believe, in the 7th-Gen Accord’s MMC, which replaced the DX with the VP (Value Package) which added power windows, mirrors and locks to a DX. (If memory serves, A/C was standard in Accords by that time.)

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        The problem with base model Hondas is the way they nickel and dime the exterior cosmetics and minor interior conveniences, forcing you to spend an extra $2500 for an EX with a sunroof you didn’t want just to have a car that isn’t hideous.

        It would cost Honda pennies to paint the side molding on the Pilot LX body color (or delete it altogether like everyone else does now), but they’ve left it big and black since the first generation vehicle so that almost nobody buys the LX. The lack of rear window tint is even more irritating, since every other midsize CUV has this standard.

        They’ve been doing this for years though. I had an Accord DX, and the thing I disliked about that car wasn’t the crank down windows, or having to get gouged on dealer-installed A/C, it was all the black plastic trim that purposely ruined the look of the car.

        However, Honda’s biggest cynical cheap out is that you STILL have to upgrade to a CR-V EX just to get variable wipers.

        • 0 avatar
          mchan1

          Honda still is like that!

          I was glad when it removed the D(irt!)X trim as I had one long ago …
          Manual windows/door locks, NO A/C or radio/speakers and manual steering and, in typical Honda fashion, a cheap ash low power HP engine (104 hp then).

          Now…
          The LX has the ‘basic’ features that Everyone/Anyone could ever “need”: Powered windows/door locks, A/C and a basic stereo with speakers so basically the LX BECAME the DX entry level trim.

          Unfortunately…
          1. There are Hardly ANY options so if you want a specific equipment, you’ll HAVE to pay More and go to one of the EX/Sport trims!

          2. Honda still nickel and dimes stuff!
          – Why a Bench rear folddown set when it was STANDARD years ago?!
          – Now, it’s ONLY available as Standard in Sport? or EX trims starting in 2016!
          – Look at the ‘quality’ of the interiors… over the years, there were and still has some cheap Plastic considering the Higher Prices of the models!
          – Honda has NEVER been known for Quietness in its cars!

          I come from a HONDA family… family, friends, relatives… I should know!!

          NOT anymore!

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      I was “building” my dream Accord on Honda’s site the other day, except… I didnt have to. The base LX coupe with I-4/6spd (drivetrain/bodystyle I wanted) has everything Id want. I just chose some accessories lol I didnt pick one single option.

  • avatar

    “Why pay for alloy wheels”

    It’s really just cosmetic. I refuse to buy non-OEM equipment. I don’t mind buying the OEM equipment because I know it will look good and be warrantied.

    “Base Models” are about stripping a car down so that it only has, basically, what’s mandated by law for it to have.

    If that’s the case, I’d say that the best base model really comes down to PRICE.

    Who makes the cheapest car that comes with every piece of equipment mandated by the law?

    Nissan?

    OK then – you win.

    • 0 avatar
      FractureCritical

      I hate agreeing with you almost as much as I hate you, but I agree with you.

      I also have a completely irrational need to be able to fit my foot between the spokes of the wheels on my car. It’s a deal breaker if I can’t get that, and there isn’t a single valid rational or irrational reason why that should be a metric for buying a car.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      I didnt know the basic Versa has A/C because its required by law. Hummm. Cloth seats and carpet, too? Must be a new law.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I actually really like Honda’s five-spoke steelies – they’re simple, but there’s an attempt at design there. For that matter, maybe it’s a Canada thing, but base Foresters are fairly common (even with the five-speed). I think they’re a bit of a reverse status symbol (I’d put money on the average Forester customer’s income being more than that of your typical entry level luxury sedan buyer), and for some of those hyper-rational buyers (you know, the ones who have polar fleece in every single outfit), the base model is more than adequate.

    Now, Chrysler gets some weird optioning on base models. I believe they offer the most vehicles with optional air conditioning (even on a $20k Renegade), they’re one of the last to hang on to crank windows, and as much as I’m usually happy with the base model, I couldn’t do a plain Grand Caravan even if it’s not missing any options I need. On the other hand, the short bed single cab Ram with vinyl floors and the Hemi is very cool.

    • 0 avatar
      azinck

      I agree. The honda steelies are probably the only non-alloys I would consider. I hate the way almost all hubcaps look and I really appreciate the “honesty” of Honda’s steel wheels. A great choice for a budget car.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        Not that I love plastic wheelcovers, but on the subject of “honesty” I strongly preferred the wheelcovers on the recently discontinued Scion xB and xD to others on the market. They leaned more toward “covers the wheel” and less toward “fake alloy wheel.”

        The first-gen Honda Civic (someone linked Wikipedia’s picture of one a day or two ago) had some great unadorned steel wheels.

        OT: I agree with all the rear drum brake love here. Given that antilock braking now has been sussed for them, they’re probably a better option for subcompacts than are rear discs.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      When I spent a week in Edmonton a few years ago, bare black steel wheels seemed to be way too common to not be a deliberate choice. Maybe its a Canada thing?

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        What time of year? If it was September through May, you’re looking at winter rims.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          Oh, Edmonton.

          Where winter is 9 months of the year.

          (I know people who live there, so I know you’re not kidding, either.

          “Oh, it’s early June, and it snowed today. Big deal.”)

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            I was in Calgary at the end of May. I was surprised to find a snow brush in the trunk of my rental. I was less surprised after I came out one night to find a cm or two of snow on the car.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    A few years ago I bought my wife a used base ’04 Honda Element. No cruise control, no ABS, and no armrests for the front seats. That car drove me crazy for long highway cruises, but I did enjoy the room and foldout back seat.

    The lack of ABS (and traction control) also made it a bit touch-n-go during a Michigan winter, so it was eventually was sold off to buy a more upscale Accord, which has since been replaced by a 325i. Yeah, I gotta keep away from the car dealerships.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      I would love an AWD basic Element with the 5 speed sticking out of the dash like a 1972 Z600 and the painted silver steelies. Dont love the black center caps but theyre easy enough to pop off.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    The last Nissan Versa was probably the greatest best-worst base model. That thing was unapologetically stripped. The current Versa still feels like a pretty cheap base-grade appliance.

    The best-best base model may be the last gen Jetta Sportwagen. The lowest trim came with a surprisingly good sounding 10-speaker audio system, heated seats, power seatback recline, telescoping wheel, heated mirrors, power stuff, a/c, cruise, variable speed wipers, keyless entry, 170hp, 4-wheel discs, stability control, and some really nice interior materials for about $20K.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I think all OEMs has awful-looking stripper-models. Remember those gray, grainy-finish bumper covers on Cavaliers and Chrysler minivans?

    Nowadays, the steel wheels are the dead giveaway, but they can be painted a nice satin black, and perhaps one could find some nice hubcaps to accent them?

    I figure if you’re going to buy a new car, just buy what you can afford, regardless if it’s a stripper or not – it’ll get you from point A to point B just as well.

    When I was young and had limited resources, I bought the base models. Later, as my income grew, I moved up a bit to mid-level, and finally to top trim. I wasn’t interested in making a “statement”, as it were, I just liked the increased amenities – one gets used to them!

  • avatar
    ctg

    By Doug’s definition, I think the luxury brands actually do the “best” base models in terms of forcing you to pony up for more content. As others have pointed out, Honda actually equips its base models pretty nicely in terms of content for the price. And Hondas are generally economy cars, so its understandable that someone might not care about alloy wheels, 10-speaker stereo, etc.

    MB, BMW, etc. all make their base models pretty spartan and then bank on the fact that most people will add $10-15k+ in option packages to get features (backup cam, keyless ignition, bluetooth integration, leather, navigation) that they could get on a $30k mainstream model.

    • 0 avatar
      jeoff

      I agree. You can’t strip down a Corrola enough for some people. But, a luxary or luxury-pretender without a backup camera or bluetooth? No way!

    • 0 avatar
      Nedmundo

      Agreed, and of those, I think BMW is the worst. The base 320i lacks stuff that comes standard on seriously inexpensive cars. I appreciate the availability of RWD, MT, and the Sport Package for a somewhat reasonable price, but it easily hits $40k when you add some really basic stuff, which is ridiculous.

      I agree with Astigmatism below that Acura’s base models are the best in the positive sense. They come very well equipped, and higher trims mostly add tech that many buyers won’t find necessary. (I do wish I’d bought the Tech Package on my 2010 TSX though.) It’s a simple, straightforward approach.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        The funny thing about BMW is that there was an era (post-2002 but before Yuppification of the brand had ramped up) when virtually their only options for US market cars were leather seats (versus nice cloth) and limited slip differential. Every car came standard with alloy wheels, fog lights, a/c, a sunroof, a good radio with cassette player, power locks, and power windows. Granted, that would not have been the case in other markets. But it was an interesting approach in an era when none of those things were standard on the vast, vast majority of US market cars.

        Agree on Acura. All their cars have leather and a sunroof standard, yes? Not that every consumer wants those, but they’re expensive options on most US market vehicles.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Well..I believe the ILX (and maybe the TLX, too) comes with an “MB-Tex”-esque vinyl in the base trims, but like the namesake I mentioned, some folks can’t tell the difference.

          • 0 avatar
            Nedmundo

            That’s true. The ILX and TLX don’t have standard leather, but the same is true of BMW’s, Benzes, and probably others. When I tested a C300 back in 2009, the salesman told me he sold most E-class cars with M-B Tex, and the customers had no clue.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I wouldn’t mind steel wheels if color matched steelies with dog dish caps still existed, but the more modern flat black steelies with a zillion holes just look uncool.

    Can’t even get a truck with old fashioned steel wheels!

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Explorer Interceptor wheels are glorious. They are the closest thing to that.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        +1 to both of you. I’d like to see someone do a take on Mercedes’ classic wheels of yore: body-colored steel wheel with a nicely designed hubcap and beauty ring. Chevy *almost* did this with the “heritage” steelies on the current Camaro, but the wheels were black. (I think the effect was neither great nor terrible. It was intriguing enough to make we want to see someone take the idea further.)

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          I had a Mercedes “of yore” (’76), and it had black steel wheels.

          The body color bit (glorious chrome ring and star, body color infill) was the hubcap, not the wheel itself.

          [Amusingly, they also fit my Toyota pickup.]

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        They kinda look exactly the same as the police Charger wheels though.

        Different spoke design, but still 5 spokes with a shiny center cap.

        I echo the Mercedes wheel praise, that design and the big wheel covers with body-matched centers are classic and classy.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          They are a steel wheel though. The Charger wheels are also good, but the center cap is way less cool. On non police spec cars, the Charger wheels look bad. Somehow, the Explorer wheels look great on any D-platform Ford.

          I get what you are saying though. The Mercedes dog dishes with body colored accents are awesome.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            I wonder how the Ford Interceptor wheels look on a white Fusion…

            Unfortunately, I’ve heard they cost a small fortune for such a basic design so I doubt very many people have tried it.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            With a Fusion, you’d be better off just buying one with the black 5 spoke wheels. The bolt pattern is different than the D-platform vehicles.

            And yes, the Interceptor wheels are $270 a piece. My wife’s MkT rolls on aftermarket Interceptor look a likes in the winter.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    Base model craptacularity is one of the reasons I appreciate Acura. People sneer at the TLX, and of course it doesn’t drive as well as a BMW or Mercedes, but while you can get into a base-model 320i for not much more than a base-model TLX, to get the same level of equipment in the 320i you have to add another $7,450 in options. Acura will happily charge you thousands more for a better engine or AWD, but for just the bits that get fitted into the interior etc., it’s pretty much just base model or tech package, and the base model is already well-equipped for everything other than infotainment.

    Of course, this made for a more compelling proposition when the car itself was more compelling – hence my prior ownership of a 3rd-gen TL and current ownership of a (loaded) GTI.

  • avatar
    tnk479

    I nominate the 2016 Subaru Forester as one of the best base model deals out there. At $22,395, you get Bluetooth streaming, four wheel disk brakes, a 170-hp 2.5-liter four banger, 5-speed manual, decent looking steel wheels, and lots of room. It’s a respectable looking ride and for 22k it’s hard to beat.

    With that said, I think Hyundai and Kia are the kings of the base models as far as equipment that comes standard is concerned.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      The wonderful thing about Subarus is that the base models need not feel deprived because the uplevels have the same quality (or lack thereof) interiors by and large.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      I also find that Subaru base models aren’t too far off from the higher trims. The higher trims typically only differ by leather, moon roof, digital climate control, and slightly nicer stereo.

      Bought a new 2008 Outback for $18,500 and the only missing nice-to-have would be leather.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Enterprise Rent-a-Car bought/spec’d those Impalas which didn’t even have all the consumer-grade airbags. That’s pretty basic.

    The new Jeep Renegade base model doesn’t have A/C – lame.

    As for steel wheels – living in the Pittsburgh area, I don’t like watching aluminum wheels corrode in the winter salt, so steel wheels are OK with me.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    To answer the question posed by the article more directly: Porsche. How has nobody mentioned this? A $90k car with hard plastic everything that will get outrun at a track by a $55k Corvette that now ACTUALLY HAS A BETTER INTERIOR – which Porsche will happily rectify for you if you’d like to spend $14k for the S model, $3k for special paint, $4k for a leather interior, $3k for nicer seats, $8500 for brakes, and $420 for auto-dimming mirrors (?!), which therefore becomes a $124k car as soon as you equip it to the minimum level appropriate for a hi-zoot sports car.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I have a C7 3LT and the interior is beautiful. However, it is not better than that in a 911. No way. That said, the cost of options caused my 911 curiosity to end right there. Porsche is not only obscene with the price of options, it is actually insulting to see what is considered and option. But when talking base cars, what you can get out of a C7 1LT is absolutely amazing for the money. In fact, it is probably the BEST base car you can buy.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Today’s base model is pretty well equipped, and can’t hold a candle to to the astoundingly plain base models of the past, which includes the likes of the Chevette Scooter, which I think had cardboard door panels. Quibbling about steel wheels is comical in light of the austerity that these cars put our frugal forefathers and foremothers through. We’ve gotten very spoiled.

    I think the VW Golf 2-door TSI would have to be my favorite base car today. When VW’s website tells you “build only,” you know it’s got to be good. It’s a little pricey at $18,495 but you get a driving experience that will match much more expensive iron. Not to mention a manual transmission, which I predict will be a very expensive option in 10 years.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      Scooter, no rear seat. Base cars like Novas charged for door armrests etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        Yup, I think that’s right. GM even went so far as to suck all the cheap chrome plating off the plastic and metal pieces and paint everything black or grey, including the damn bumpers. You didn’t even get the cheap plastic armrest to bump your elbow on.

        Today’s fat spoiled American would be found dead in that car within an hour. They wouldn’t be able to handle it. That was some old school frugality right there.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          Agreed! I heard my neighbors daughter arguing yesterday that she didnt want to drive her moms old car (a 97 Taurus with 260k but in good shape) to the store 2 miles away because its old and therefor embarassing.

          She refused a 2002 Honda Accord EX 5spd/I-4 sedan in pristine condition with 150k on it that I found for her because its too old and not cute enough. Wouldnt look at a loaded 05/06/07 Focus ZX3 5spd I found because its a hatchback and so not cool enough. Only cars she likes are the current Accord, previous Maxima or the Ford Fusion. Its so frustrating because we are looking to pay cash for it and those are not realistic for that. Even an 06 Fusion S is likely more than her mom has to spend unless its some beat up worn out high mileage POS. Wont consider a Civic or Sentra. Affordable Altimas dont tend to age well. Anything decent and affordable wont be a well equipped 3-4 year old car! Its gonna have to be a bit older.

          Id love the 02 Accord myself, or even the Focus. Id be proud at 16 or 60 to drive them. Both are affordable, fairly decent to drive, good on gas and likely very reliable.

          What if she had to drive the 1983 Tercel wagon I drove in high school?!?! Or hell, my 95 Taurus I have now?!?! Drives me crazy. Im proud of my car even if it is 20 years old. For my needs and what I could afford, I love it. Couldnt ask for better considering my situation. Ive never been ashamed to drive something old.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Why do you say Altimas don’t age well? My work-provided Altima now has 112K on it and is holding up rather well…

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Sounds like it’s a good time for your neighbor to break her daughter of her entitled mentality by not getting her a car. If she does get her one, then she is obviously to blame for her daughter’s attitude and not worthy of your sympathy.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Does anyone 55 or older think there even *are* any “poverty spec” cars being sold new today?

    Base model anything is mighty fine.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Agreed, RideHeight. I’d actually revise that to anyone 40 or over, though you would have had to have been paying attention as a youngster.

      I’m a frequent borrower of a relative’s subcompact sedan and midsize pickup truck. The fact that both have a/c, cruise control, and power windows (in non-loaded guise, no less) is pretty amazing to my primordial brain.

    • 0 avatar
      Geekcarlover

      I’m 49. I remember what that friends and I had as first cars. Mavericks, Novas, Darts and base Diplomats, Pacers, VW Beetles and Things, one friend had a Datsun Lil’ Hustler (4 wheel drums, AM radio, no AC). Most people today would have a nervous breakdown if they had to spend a month in one of those.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        My folks always had well-optioned lower-to-middle-range Oldsmobiles with a few basic options (A/C, automatic, rear-window defogger (yes, that was optional on most cars until the ’90s, maybe). When my Dad got his 1983 Regal Custom Sedan for a company car, he sprang for the Delco MTR AM/FM stereo; what a revelation!!! (That damn thing sounded better than some of today’s “premium” crap!) So much so, that when I found out that a cousin of my Dad’s was going with aftermarket sound in his Chevy K pickup, he gave me the identical unit to the one in the Regal from that pickup, which I had installed into my “hooptie” of a ’78 Cutlass Salon at an *** OEM radio-installation *** place in town in place of its AM unit (with Delco 6x9s in the rear to match)!

        Then my Dad bought an ’86 Century Limited with the 2.8 Chevy V6 with a 2bbl carb (last year for those — ’87s were TPI); this despite my best efforts to convince my Dad to get a 3.8L car. Top-line; cruise control and Tilt-Wheel were revelations, again! So much so that after I got tired of the rattles and squeaks in that Cutlass, and my aunt’s 1984 Sunbird hatch became available for sale, I jumped at the chance (yes, because of the cruise control and better economy for my commuting days at college), and as my Mom said, it was like I had gone from a Chevy to a Cadillac!

        Fast-forward fifteen years or so to 2003, when my 2000 Accord was in the body shop for a month as the result of another driver’s boneheaded move! At first, Enterprise had me in an F-150 4×4, but when I was apprised of how long my car would be in the shop, I didn’t want to burn all that gas, so Enterprise put me in a 1st-Gen Focus — without cruise! A little awkward for commuting, since by this time, it was second-nature to engage it.

        Then a week or so later, I met some folks at Cedar Point. The drive there was quite uncomfortable, and by the time I got home after possibly setting a speed record going down the Ohio Turnpike, V1 in tow, my right foot was THROBBING from having to hold the throttle in place!

        I’ve become SPOILED by cruise control, and the Adaptive Cruise in my 2013 Accord Touring is da bomb! 8-D How things change!

        Interestingly, the parents of a lady who was in my circle of college friends (and who go to my church) were two sides of the “loaded” coin! GM folks through and through, she usually got a midlevel Pontiac Bonneville, but with every option on the trim checked. Her husband, by contrast, would always order-up the top-line Oldsmobile (usually a Ciera or 88, meaning Bro-ham or LSS), but with no options; so wind-up windows (which worked in reverse on the A-Bodies — counter-clockwise to lower), no Tilt-Wheel, maybe cruise, and base engine, were part of the deal! When Olds went away, I asked this gentleman if he had gone in one last time, and he had, but this time, he went for the nicer stereo! :-)

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      I am 33 and distinctly remember my parent’s 1985.5 Escort 3 door. Vinyl seats, manual everything, no A/C (was sold new near Atlanta!!). Even our upgrade to a new 1990 Ford Aerostar XL extended length didnt net us alloys, power windows or locks. Did have cruise, automatic, rear privacy tint, rear audio controls, and cloth seats. Dad got a new 92 F-150 Custom when the Escort was totalled, no radio, no rear bumper.

      It wasnt until I was a sophmore in high school that mom got a Mercury Sable GS with power windows/locks/seat. Now she drives a well equipped 2012 Taurus SEL, a major upgrade from her 08 Grand Marquis LS fleet spec. Dad drives an older modestly equipped F-250 XLT Super Duty ex-cab diesel.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    In some instances I might actually pay more to decontent the vehicle.

    I do not want a built in sat nav system, a built in DVD player, dual zone A/C, or fancy or expensive wheels or wheel covers, power opening or closing doors and a push button start. I do not want leather seating, power seats or adjustable lumber supports (or built in seat massagers). I would prefer to have roll down windows. I would never buy a vehicle with a sun roof.

    I require power door locks, power mirrors, an average sound system, cloth interior, an engine block heater, multi adjustable wipers, rear window defog, 60/40 rear folding seats, tinted windows, 6 way manual adjustable driver’s seat (heated) and A/C.

    Mandatory are the passive and active safety systems such as active head rests, air curtains, stability and traction control and ABS ( and yes preferably with 4 wheel discs).

    I can take or leave a back-up camera and fog lights and will not pay extra for them.

    And of course, I prefer to have a manual transmission and an actual ignition key switch.

    In my estimation and experience the company that does this the best is Fiat/Chrysler in their Dodge Caravans. Some families require the functionality of a minivan, yet don’t have a lot of money to spend on fripperies. The Caravan provides this at the best price and value point. If only it had better reliability it would be darn near perfect (paired with a Miata as the 2nd car).

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    Funny, I’ve been looking at some cars recently and haven’t found much compelling reason to upgrade from base models. The standard feature lists are pretty good and I like manual transmissions which usually relegate me to the bottom class.

    When I bought my Fiat 500 Abarth three years ago, as an example, I went through the list of options and ordered a car with no extras at all. I even deleted the side stripes to give it more of a sleeper look.

    In fact, I think the value proposition of a lot of cars really goes down hill fast when features are added. The base Versa interior is acceptable in a $13k commuter car, but start adding options to turn it into a $20k car and suddenly it feels really chintzy. Then you start overlapping with much better cars.

  • avatar

    My life has revolved around base models, and aside from an odd car, I’ve usually have owned the most basic version of each model. But the definition of a base model has changed dramatically over the years.

    My older, secondary car is a basic Daihatsu Charade from 1988; one of the most simple cars you could get at the time. There’s no passenger side mirror (it was left behind in Japan), no power steering, no rear wipers, no tachometer, no factory radio, and no airbags or safety gear of any kind. Luckily, whoever bought it in 1988, upgraded to buy the optional air conditioning. All the car really is is some seats, a steering wheel, a manual transmission, and a small engine.

    Fast forward 20 years in the automotive industry and we have my husband’s current Chevy Aveo. It’s also the most basic LS model (former rental); we’ve gained front and side airbags in those years, power steering, an AM/FM radio, tilt steering wheel, tire pressure monitoring, a passenger side mirror and a rear wiper. However, still no power windows or door locks. We don’t miss any of these items and have driven the car cross country

    Fast forward yet another seven years in the industry, and we have my primary car, a 2015 Honda Fit LX with manual; the cheapest Fit, and the cheapest Honda, you can buy. It has everything that the Aveo has, but adds features that weren’t even available on luxury cars 15 years ago. It has Bluetooth, USB, CD player, curtain airbags, A/C, back-up camera, automatic headlights, traction control, stability control, ABS, cruise control, and yes, power windows, door locks, and the passenger side mirror!

    The dealer tried to talk me up to the higher EX with touch screen, foglights, alloys, and sunroof, but seriously, it’s an economy car. It wasn’t even a consideration. The point is that I’m not suffering in today’s base model car. Sure it’s got hubcaps, but I don’t have to look at them while I’m driving.

    To answer the question, Nissan does base models well. They bank on getting people in with stripped Versas that are still very basic and manual, but an automatic alone adds almost $2000 to the price in a nation where few people can drive sticks. Well played Nissan, well played

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “My life has revolved around base models” I’ve got a friend like that who recently purchased a 2015 Camry LE for less than $20K out the door at Vescovo Toyota in Las Cruces, NM.

      First things he did was replace the steel wheels and hubcaps with alloys and bigger rubber. He added some strategically placed aftermarket trim to the body and, voilà!, from the outside the car looks like an XLE instead of a lowly LE.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Did doing that cost him more than just buying an XLE?

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          I don’t know, but he has done this for all the decades that I’ve known him.

          He buys a base model of whatever then hobbies around with it by adding a cargo carrier to the trunklid along with a spoiler, installing four mudflaps, maybe some driving/fog lights up front, sometimes a towhitch.

          He did a Chevette Scooter one year and had three contour green stripes of different metallic green paint painted across the back of the top and along the sides of the vehicle. Looked really sharp. Added some alloy wheels with oversized tires, a sunroof, a trailer hitch, mud flaps, fog lights, and it looked great.

          When it came time to sell it, it was sold the same day he put it in the Thrifty Nickel.

          He did a Chevy Work Truck with a Sunroof years ago. I still see someone driving it although he sold it years ago.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            I sorta did that with my 95 Taurus. It was a modestly equipped GL with 5 passenger seating (console/floor shift, a no-cost option), I added mostly black (leather) interior from a 92 LX and 16″ alloys from a 2006 mid-level model.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    Base cars today come well-equipped.

    Still, has anyone tried to buy a “base” car? In my experience, you hae to special order it.

    You’re lucky to find a vehicle with only $1-1500 in options in stock

    • 0 avatar
      Drew8MR

      I went in asking about a Dodge Tradesman in the specific config I wanted (white,4×2,Long Bed,Regular Cab, Hemi,ZF 8 sp, 3.92 rear, LSD. Oh and sliding rear window.). Salesman treated me like I had rabies and almost flat out refused to try and order it. When he realized I wouldn’t buy it any other way, he quoted me some bs price $2k above the online build price. Such bullshit.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    “has anyone tried to buy a “base” car”

    Dealers that stock a “base” car are few and far between, and maybe something of a loss-leader promotional-event rarity.

    Usually dealers add dealer-installed options, or paint-sealant, glass-engraving, styled alloy wheels, or whatever to pop-up the price of the car, out the door.

    Up-selling is the name of the game.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Scion

  • avatar
    ezeolla

    Definitely Fiat/Chrysler based on the fact that (IIRC) they are the only manufacturer that offers cars without A/C. Even the $12k Versa has A/C standard!

    Wrangler, Renegade, Patriot, and Dart all have A/C optional on the base model

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Really?

      I knew about the Wrangler, and the Renegade/Patriot don’t surprise me.

      But the *Dart*?

      What in God’s name are they thinking?

      It’s a 16 THOUSAND dollar car!

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Work Truck pickups. It’d just be amazing if you could get the Camaro, Mustang or Chally in “Work” spec. Just the V8, manual trans, steel wheels and rubber floor. They way they should be.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      F150 XL V8 regular cab with the 8′ bed = $26500. Not a bad price. Good luck finding one though. Oh, SuperCab adds $4000.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Stripper trucks are scarce right now, so yeah I’ll need it. But the Super cab is my truck of choice anyway. Its the sportiest combo too, with the 6.5′ bed. The other ‘extra cabs’ just don’t look right.

        All stripper pickups look best in black though, except for the mono-chrome and color-keyed Express and (now cancelled) STX .

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    Disagree about base Hondas. Our Odyssey LX has everything we need: AC, cruise control, good range of wiper speeds, flexible seating and a comfortable ride. We prefer a car with electric windows and locks, and it has that too.

    This is of course my utilitarian perspective. If your vehicle is a tool you use to impress others, then that’s another story…

  • avatar
    50merc

    You like base models? Two words: Studebaker Scotsman. That’s Bangladeshi base.

  • avatar
    kkop

    ‘But automakers like the fact that nobody buys their base models.’ – but dealers like them to, to get their quota filled.

    IMO, Chrysler does this best, but with a twist. They have base models with just a few enticing upgrades that move the metal pretty good for dealers.

    Last year, the local dealer sold the Ram 1500 Tradesman (V-6) for around $16,500. That was a little too basic for us, so we went for the 1500 Express version: basically a Tradesman – but with a Hemi, projector and LED lights, upgraded sound, tow package, and all-black. Around $21K (regular cab).

    Cheap, but fun vehicle.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    “Dealers tell you the car “starts at” twenty-four grand, but then you show up on the lot, and there it is: twenty-four grand of no air conditioning or radio”

    To be fair to the modern market, I think the only car you can even buy without AC is a base model Wrangler.

    Even the cheapest Rio has A/C and satellite radio (with an aux jack and USB!), standard.

    (The cheapest Chevy Spark drops the USB and satellite, but still has an aux jack and A/C.)

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    drum brakes are just fine. the rear brakes do something like 30% of the stopping. in the snowbelt, since all the hardware is out in the open they tend to rust and sieze

    and just about every base model has ac/pw/pdl/bluetooth and usb reader. compare that to the 98 civic i had which had none of that, or a stereo. and it had mirror knobs.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Agreed, people today have no idea what “basic transportation” really is. Lets have an 81 Tercel or an Escort Pony, lol talk about basic.

      I also agree that drum rear brakes on a B segment car is certainly okay.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I’m kinda glad I had the 87 Corollova, because it was a lesson in basic transportation.

        No power locks, no power windows, no A/C, carbureted engine, no power steering(if it did have power steering, it certainly wasn’t very boosted), no airbags, no shoulder belts in the back seats, no cruise control, no horsepower, no street cred…about all it had was squareness, blueness, rust, and noise!

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    ” twenty-four grand of no air conditioning or radio.”

    So, what $24k car lacks A/C and a radio?

    Even the most basic F-150 and Transit have a standard radio, and they are for mostly fleets! Im not sure on A/C, but looking at used ones lately, Ive never seen one without it.

    Base models work on some cars. Id drive a base economy car or pickup/van. Midsize SUV/crossover? Probably not.

    I do agree that those Honda wheels are seriously ugly.Ironicly, Honda used to have the best looking steelies, such as in the 80s-90s base Civics, painted silver with center caps. Perfect.

    My cousin’s wife has an 04 Impala she commutes in (because her FWD base model Traverse gets 18 mpg, very dissapointing to her). Its wheel covers are horrible (peeling finish). Im trying to get her to let me paint the wheels silver, put Impala PPV factory center caps on, with chrome lugnuts and trim rings. I think it would look sharp for what it is. Certainly better than what it has now!

  • avatar
    pacificpom2

    Fiat Freemont Base 2.4L nee Dodge Journey SE/SXT
    17″ alloys
    Power windows all round
    6 speed auto
    7 Seats
    Dual Zone Climate

    Misses out on the 8.4 uconnect & rearview camera , huge dollar options.
    Misses out on a few Dodge features I would have liked like the under passenger seat stowage and fold flat front passenger seat.

    What I really need is the drivers seat from a Dodge so I can fit it into the passenger side to give my wife all the benefits of a fully adjustable seat!

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Last year I bought a new 2014 Honda Accord LX (base model) I was so astounded by the level of standard equipment that I didn’t even bother looking at the higher trims. Just of to top of my head, here is a list of standard equipment in no particular order
    four wheel disk brakes
    cruise control
    blue tooth
    decent CD/radio
    16″ alloy wheels ( I hated the optional 17″ low profile tires)
    power windows and locks
    keyless remote entry
    automatic climate control
    more air bags than I can recall
    fold down rear seat
    automatic headlights
    To me this is a full luxo package, all for $21K.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      “To me this is a full luxo package, all for $21K.”

      In. A. Nutshell.

      No wonder OEMs are forced to compete with each other by offering the most dangerously distracting or patently needless tech BS in order to have any profit margin at all.

      Being a new car bottom-feeder has never been more rewarding.

    • 0 avatar
      mchan1

      You’re lucky that Honda discontinued its [email protected] Dirt trim DX model some years ago.

      Otherwise, you’d have NO:
      1. Power package (windows/door locks)
      2. Radio .. maybe a basic am/fm unit
      3. A/C
      4. Power steering
      5. Almost none of the features you’ve listed as Honda’s ‘older’ Base model was a stripper of a car!

      The ONLY/main reason people bought those DX trims was Honda’s old reliability reputation.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    I agree. My idea of ‘basic’ is a car without arm rests. I had one, too. One of the car magazines helpfully explained that arm rests are surprisingly expensive.

    I’m a low mileage driver, so that makes it much easier. I also don’t mind no cruise control, which is a must have feature for many.

  • avatar
    matador

    I don’t own newer cars, but the worst stripper model I’ve owned is a 1986 Dodge pickup truck.

    There were no dashboard vents, only heat (Floor) and defrost vents. You got a single speaker for the radio, which was AM only. It’s the worst speaker I’ve ever had the displeasure of hearing.

    I have a 1987 Chevrolet that’s similarly equipped, but here’s why the Dodge is more cynical. The Chevrolet has a special dashboard design for the base (“Custom Deluxe”) models. Instead of the dash air vent, you got a cubby. On the Dodge, they gave you a knockout panel, with lines across it, making it clearly noticeable as where an air vent would go. All the spots have this. When I pulled a junkyard radio from a Royal SE, it had dual door speakers. But, Dodge still put the plastic grille covering on the top of the dashboard for the single speaker. There was nothing below the cover, but it was still there.

    It’s not like Dodge even tried to disguise anything. At least Chevrolet did a better job of hiding the fact that the buyer was cheap.

  • avatar
    mchan1

    My first car was a 1994 Civic DX Coupe.. a stripped down base car with a manual transmission and NO:
    1. AC
    2. Power steering
    3. Radio/antenna/speakers
    4. Power windows/door locks … all manual
    5. Power side mirrors… all manual

    Adding insult to injury… it had a weak and noisy 104hp engine and could barely make it up a hill without you basically flooring it!

    I avoid base cars now because of that experience!

    Nowadays… many of those missing options are now “standard” equipment considering the technology and possibly cost factors that drove down the ‘basic’ stuff.

    All one really “NEEDS” in a vehicle [despite what auto enthusiasts and luxury drivers “WANT”] are:
    1. Power package – windows/door locks/side mirrors
    2. A/C
    3. Power steering
    4. Some cars have rear disc brakes
    5. Almost all cars include ABS
    6. Radio/speakers… even the basis stereos Now are better than the Older ones…
    – Some automakers may include display radios and even some may include a Touchscreen display radio as Standard now
    7. More ROOM… maybe! :)

    I’m still relatively young but when I see a “base” model now, compared to the early 1990s, these current autos are “luxury” cars, considering what I started out with!

    The “luxury” items that I’d want are:
    1. Sun/moonroof… the auto industry should just standardize the freaking name!
    2. Noise insulation… Looking at you Honda since you’ve NEVER had Quiet cars. I grew up in a Honda family so I should know!!
    3. MORE room and good seats… I’m 6′ with broad shoulders..
    – It’s hard to find a relatively ‘comfortable’ car that has enough legroom, headroom AND cushioned but sturdy seats!
    – Not all cars are alike..
    –> For example… Honda/Toyota/Nissan make some ‘decent’ midsize cars now but how they craft the interior is an entirely different matter.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    My mother has a 2015 Ford Fusion S (base model) with no optional equipment. Power windows, locks and trunk, cruise control, ABS (with four wheel disc brakes), very nice metallic paint, backup camera, more features on the radio than she knows what to do with (including a compass, an outside temperature reading and a CD player), and alloy wheels. The SE would have added a turbocharged engine (and more complicated servicing), power driver’s seat, a few more speakers (or maybe better ones), turn signal repeaters on the outside mirrors, bigger wheels and tires and a more complicated radio and other items which she doesn’t care about. The base model suits her more than well.

  • avatar
    AlphaWolf

    When my wife and I were looking for an SUV for kids the Honda Pilot LX was only a few thousand more than many used SUVs of often dubious reliability. For the low price at the time, we could overlook the steel wheels. The Highlander did not even have a V6 engine on the base!

    Honda put the dollars where they are needed – very comfortable seats, power windows/locks, durability and a V6 standard.

    Ours has been dented in school and mall parking lots, and many of the interior pieces of plastic are scratched, I think the booster seat has made it’s mark on the seat cushions also. The truck rarely makes it to the carwash and my wife hardly ever turns on the (base) radio.

    The formula works for us.

  • avatar
    bpscarguy

    I can only make a few observations based on personal experience and personal tastes:

    1. I agree that any vehicle that is a lower level trim – especially when dealing with exterior trim that might be reduced or in all black (rather than painted body color) – looks best in black as an exterior color.
    2. I personally only buy vehicles that are at are from 1-4 years old. I usually know exactly what I want when it pertains to trim levels/options etc. Sometimes it takes quite some time and distance to locate what I want but I always get it. (Went to NC to get my current daily driver). But, I always buy top trim levels. We keep our vehicles a long time and want the “goodies” but also… I CANNOT STAND looking at filler caps in the dash. It just screams, hey something is supposed to be here but you were too cheap to buy it. So now you have to stare at a crappy filler piece of plastic. Every. Day.
    3. I also personally cannot stand vehicles without alloy wheels. No plastic covers for me thank you. All they end up doing is getting lost, stolen, discolored or mismatched.

    Good discussion!


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