QOTD: Which New Vehicle is the Worst Waste of Base?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd which new vehicle is the worst waste of base

Each week, TTAC’s basic car correspondent Matthew Guy brings you an Ace of Base article. Matt’s carefully selected examples are base models which tick many desirability boxes, proving you don’t need thousands of dollars in engine upgrades, brakes, pieces of trim, or tech packages to have good and enjoyable transportation. Overall, the Ace of Base series is positive and uplifting, presenting us with the best of the best of base. The other half of the basic coin is being ignored, however, and that’s where you come in.

Today we seek your nominations for the new vehicle which best represents a Waste of Base.

Now, I know it’s hard for you all to be critical of vehicles, so we’ll have to muddle through today. Some food for thought on what makes a Worst of Base is in order.

Value is of course a primary concern for a base model, and a good starting point for considerations. Think about vehicles which, even in base trim, represent not-great value for money. Think about being relegated to wheel covers, a certain too-small engine, or infotainment from a prior generation. Maybe you can only get one or two bland, flat colors on the outside. And speaking of exterior treatments, maybe the manufacturer doesn’t try quite as hard with the exterior trim of base models as they do with higher price points in the model range. I can tell you’re waiting for an example.

Here it is — the Dodge Journey. The base Journey trim is SE, which I think stands for Somewhat Equipped. And that’s an ambitious title. Hope you like those wheel covers!

This trim also has a different and poorer-looking bumper than higher-up versions, which exchanges this sedate-looking front end for one with a more crossover-like look, plus fog lamps. The price point here is just over $21,000. As you suspected, it’s front-wheel drive, and does not contain a Pentastar V6. Nope, just a 2.4-liter four-cylinder. This engine is not a new Fiat version, but rather dates back to the dark days of the Dodge Caliber. Power heads up front via a four-speed automatic, which is equally archaic and dates from the Chrysler Sebring era.

It only seats five people in this trim (a third-row seat being $1,995 extra), and passengers won’t be making any Bluetooth calls or using any wireless device inside, unless they have a cable. The Dodge Journey SE handily earns a Waste of Base title, and buyers would be well advised to look elsewhere. Perhaps they might look across the showroom at the Grand Caravan.

What’s your pick for Waste of Base?

[Image: FCA]

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4 of 60 comments
  • Namesakeone Namesakeone on Jul 19, 2017

    I'm tempted to say Mitsubishi Mirage, but the recent redesign may be better. Or it may not.

  • Vulpine Vulpine on Jul 20, 2017

    It's a good thing this is an opinion piece then, dt, as I am forced to disagree with three of your four choices and am neutral about the other two. The Renegade is, in base form, intended more as a toy car or, at worst, extremely basic at a very tempting price for those who simply can't afford a better-equipped car at the price. They may need the size (it is surprisingly roomy) when another brand at the same price might be significantly smaller. Even I'm tempted to go with the stick in a second Renegade except for the fact that my wife doesn't want to drive stick, and if her own Renegade breaks down, she'd have to drive mine or I'd have to be the one driving her around (which is what I have to do now, anyway.) So what if it's no air. It wasn't that long ago that air was purely an extra-cost option and people did just fine without it. Some people have just become too coddled for their own good. The Hyundai Veloster is actually an innovative rig in many ways, even if slightly underpowered (by some people's viewpoints.) I've considered it more than once but honestly still need an open bed if I can at all arrange it without taking on a Road Whale™ of a mid- or full-sized pickup. They're just too big, even as a base. As for the Trax... again with the AC complaint... in a country where AC shouldn't even be necessary for 3/4ths of the year. It's a decent vehicle at base, even if it isn't great. As for the Yaris and the HRV, after my ownership of a Fiat 500, I will not disparage a vehicle I don't know just on somebody's hearsay. That Fiat proved a far better car than I ever expected and will never again dismiss a car based solely on an obsolete reputation.

    • See 1 previous
    • Vulpine Vulpine on Jul 21, 2017

      @theonlydt "Vulpine – I love the Fiat 500. It has character. It’s zippy (as long as you get the stick). " --- And see? I still have to disagree with you on one point: It's zippy, even with the 6-speed automatic. I didn't even need to run in Sport mode to outrun nearly every car on the road at traffic lights... including showoffs in big pickup trucks who thought they could outrun anything. But yes, the little car is fun and perfectly adequate for a single or childless couple and still acceptable for up to one child. Might work for two--it has the mountings and enough room for two child seats... but then your carrying ability is massively cut. As long as you can fold at least one seat down, you can handle a decent Costco run for a month's supplies. When it comes to the Renegade, we're talking base and by no means is the Trailhawk edition 'base.' But the base model prices in at around $18K or less, gives you that stick and is still pretty lively with enough room to handle a family of four AND that Costco run, though maybe not a camping run with tent, chairs, food and everything else you need. True, the AWD adds to the price but as a base it's still not a bad choice. BTW, the 1.4turbo comes ONLY with a stick in the Renegade... unless they changed it for '17? Last I read it's stick-only for the 1.4 and auto-only for the 2.4. Build and Price on the Jeep site says that's still true. What roomier car are you suggesting for $4K less? $18K is hard to beat at that size. Why not the Accent? Two too many doors. Four doors don't imply 'fun' in my eyes unless it's an SUV or wagon-styled (and I don't mean those bubbles on wheels we typically call CUV). Yes, I know the Renegade is technically a CUV but its design specifically says SUV even if it's not BoF. The Veloster's design offers both a sporty look as a two-door from the driver's side and yet more functionality than a 2-door with the split door on the passenger's side, making it much easier to access the back seat for passengers or cargo without looking expressly like a four door. The design, to me, is quite logical and less staid than a sedan or 5-door hatch. Oh, I'm fully aware of what the AC can do for you, summer and winter but my point is that as a base, if you can't afford a new car otherwise, then certain sacrifices can be made and still give you a car more reliable than an 11-year-old beater. And honestly, almost nobody ever buys a base model anyway with the probable exception of Mennonites or misers. We've become too soft with all our technology and as a result things have become necessary that were once pure luxuries. My first car didn't have AC, nor, after a while, did my first Ford; I had to have the belt pulled from the AC because the bearing wore out on the idler pulley feeding the compressor because every time that belt ripped, it took out both the other belts. It needed a custom idler arm and nobody wanted to do it on such an old (12-year-old) model and I had neither the time nor the tools to try it myself. I also owned a 1990 pickup that lacked AC because all the hoses dry-rotted and the owner simply pulled the hoses and compressor. Great horsepower with that 5.0 but I admit it was toasty inside unless you opened all three windows (split back window.) Yes, you can survive the heat even at 95° so AC is not really as mandatory as implied. It really depends on what you can afford and if removing the AC makes a new car affordable, then I'm all for it. My dad once said, "A car is nothing but transportation." And while I still disagree with him, most people only see cars the way he did. I look out my window every day and see people with status symbols and people with transportation. The ones with 'just transportation' tend to have cars that look like every other one. They have no individuality... no style and as they age they start looking ratty. When it breaks down, you can see their thought processes of, 'should I fix it or replace it'? If they knew they could avoid repair costs for 3, 5 or in some cases 10 years and get a brand-new car for lower payments than a questionable used car, what do you think they would choose?

  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)
  • AMcA Phoenix. Awful. The roads are huge and wide, with dedicated lanes for turning, always. Requires no attention to what you're doing. The roads are idiot proofed, so all the idiots drive - they have no choice, because everything is so spread out.
  • Leonard Ostrander Pet peeve: Drivers who swerve to the left to make a right turn and vice versa. They take up as much space as possible for as long as possible as though they're driving trailer trucks or school busses. It's a Kia people, not a Kenworth! Oh, and use your turn signals if you ever figure out where you're going.
  • Master Baiter This is horrible. Delaying this ban will raise the Earth's temperature by 0.00000001°C in the year 2100.
  • Alan Buy a Skoda Superb.