QOTD: Reserving the Cheap Seats?

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
qotd reserving the cheap seats

Most readers know of our weekly Ace of Base series, which turns a jaundiced eye to the instant-ramen end of the price scale for a particular model. Thanks for all the comments on those, by the way.

Sometimes, though, there is no cut-rate model. No trim on which to hang the placard of “Value Leader.” Let’s fix that, shall we?

For example, the new 2018 Ford Expedition doesn’t really have a “base” trim, save for a fleet-only XL on which the level of detail is so scanty the thing ranks with the hippogriff on the scale of mythology.

The opening bid on Ford’s big cruiser is an XLT for $51,695 with power-folding rear seats and features galore. Imagine a new Expedition with air conditioning as its only feature of note, plus power accessories such as windows and locks as demanded by economies of scale. Keep the EcoBoost under the hood, powering only the rear wheels. And a big, unheated, cloth bench seat spanning the two front doors, of course.

Not that anyone would buy it. All hands are too busy signing 72-month notes on vehicles loaded to the gunwales with leather, touchscreens, and the scattered cappuccino machine. Hell, I just finished configuring a Platinum Max version of the Expedition mentioned above ($84,525, by the way). But this is strictly a fantasy question, so let your imagination run wild.

What model would you like to see in poverty trim? Lamborghini Aventador DL, perhaps? Maybe not. How about a bare-bones version of a specific sub-model like the Civic Type R? Honda could strip out the infotainment system, bin the A/C, replace the door handles with fabric loops, and add $5,000 to the sticker. Actually, that’s not a bad idea. Porsche does it all the time.

[Image: juriskraulis/ Bigstock]

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9 of 64 comments
  • 30-mile fetch 30-mile fetch on Aug 14, 2017

    A truly stripped Miata or Toyota 86 would be welcome—I’d want one for afternoon blasts along local roads rather than the commuting and road-tripping they aren’t very good for anyway, so I wouldn’t regret the loss of power accessories and infotainment. Their current upper-20s asking prices are a bit steep to me. I wouldn’t like a stripped out version of a common commuter (who wants a return to the no-A/C no-stereo no-comfort penalty box in stop-n-go traffic hell?), but I would like a return to the base trim V6 midsize sedan. Standard equipment on a $23K base model is pretty lush nowadays anyway, so charge $1500 above that for the zoomy engine and I’d be quite happy. The current Camry L has more stuff on it than I require, so put the six in there and reduce the touchscreen to a simple DIN Aux/USB/Bluetooth stereo for an MSRP under $25K. A strippo Italian supercar is pointless, it’d be a rounding error in the total price. May as well have the baubles on it.

  • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Aug 14, 2017

    I like my cars loaded so the answer here will have to be a truck. I'll take a F-150 XL with the 3.5 EcoBoost, 10-speed, and crew cab, but rubber mats and black bumpers. You can't currently get a crew cab and base spec in the same truck.

    • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Aug 14, 2017

      There was a dealer near me that had a fleet white XL crew cab F150 4x4 with the 5.0. I don't know if it was truly BASE but it was XL trim.

  • R129 R129 on Aug 14, 2017

    I'd love to see stripped versions of the V8 Camaro and Mustang. Make a manual transmission mandatory, and bring back those black styled steel wheels on the Camaro. Maybe offer a few performance-related options, but no creature comfort upgrades.

  • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on Aug 14, 2017

    The only stripper anything I would buy would be a truck, but I would never buy a truck new. My '95 Land Rover is about as base as a "Luxury SUV" (ha, ha, right) gets (or got, even back then). Stickshift, no sunroofs, originally cloth seats but replaced with leather at some point. Still has A/C and power everything, even ABS. Was under $30K new in '95. I have no interest in anything less well equipped than my GTI Sport at this point. And I added a few things to the GTI. Auto-dimming mirror, folding outside mirrors, auto-headlights. VWs are like Legos, easy to snap stuff in it didn't come with. My hairshirt automotive days are long over, thankfully.

    • See 3 previous
    • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on Aug 14, 2017

      @gtem You bet! There is just nothing like working on a vehicle that has never seen salt. Even on the best of cars, even if the body doesn't rot, it still takes a toll on fasteners and minor bits underneath. My Disco got lucky, I bought it last summer intending to use it in the winter in Maine (and feeling bad about that, because it is SO nice), but then bought a place in Florida. So it only ever saw a couple of storms and a bit of salty roads when I was home for weekends here and there. So now it will live a genteel retirement being used in the summer in Maine. Similarly, my BMW wagon only really saw one winter before I bought my first SUV (Grand Cherokee) and basically stopped driving it in the salt.