By on August 16, 2017

1966 Chevrolet Impala in Colorado wrecking yard, air conditioning decal - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Yesterday, Tim Cain reported on the new Chevrolet Tahoe Custom trim, which lowers the point of entry on the Tahoe by $3,750 for 2018. If you’re a nerd and enjoy trim-level discussions like I do, this is an important moment. For the first time since the Tahoe grew to four doors in 1995, you’ll be able to buy a trim lower than the LS.

This new (relatively) low-cost trim is seen by many Internet Car Enthusiasts here at TTAC as the way forward: dispensing with unnecessary options like infotainment, large wheels, and a third row seat that rarely sees use. Seems like a decent enough idea, so let’s take it across the board today.

Which vehicles deserve a cost-cutting trim level?

In our modern automotive era, manufacturers are hard pressed to compete with the standard features offered by competitors in each segment. Since the 1980s, companies like Hyundai and Kia have democratized standard features to ever lower entry points at a rapid pace. Options once found only in the realm of larger, more expensive luxury vehicles have become standard fare on compact Korean hatchbacks.

All this expansion in standard features (and perhaps easy access to longer-term loans) has created a new opportunity for value-oriented basic trims like the Tahoe Custom above.

My pick today was going to cite Porsche as an example of removing options to lower cost — but then I remembered that’s the opposite of the way Porsche operates. So here’s a different example.

2016 Chevrolet Impala LTZ

That’s right, this other Chevrolet is a good candidate for a bare-bones trim. The Impala starts in LS trim with a 2.5-liter inline-four engine (197 horsepower) for $27,500. MyLink and an 8-screen is standard. USB outlets, satellite radio, a power driver’s seat, floor mats, keyless start, OnStar, power windows and locks, and air conditioning are all standard. At least half of that can go, pushing the entry point lower. Fleets and special order companies would love it, and it would satisfy the ICE’s desire for a basic, large sedan. Win-win, Impala Custom.

1986 Buick Regal Somerset in California junkyard, Custom emblem - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

As a historical bonus, the Custom trim name already appeared on basic Buicks for many, many years.

What’s your selection of vehicle(s) deserving of a good cost-cutting trim?

[Images: Murilee Martin / The Truth About Cars, GM]

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113 Comments on “QOTD: Which Vehicles Deserve a Cost-cutting Trim Level?...”


  • avatar
    993cc

    Since we can’t get the Tdi anymore, I would love a slightly de-contented Golf Wagon with less infotainment, more MPGs, and the 1.4tsi from the Jetta.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Meh, Golf wagons start at $21,000 or so, and they’re pretty basic as is (cloth seats, etc). They don’t have a whole lot of infotainment to begin with.

      And as a guy who owns a 1.4 TSI Jetta, you DEFINITELY want the 1.8 in the heavier Golf. The 1.4 is a great little engine, but “little” is the operative word here. The performance when you’re “on the boost” is terrific, but if you’re trying to max out your fuel economy, it’s a dog. It’d be worse in the Golf.

      Objectively, a manual in a Golf will save you a second to 60 over a 1.4 Jetta manual. You definitely feel the difference.

      • 0 avatar
        Anuska

        FreedMike,

        Cloth seats are quite common among brands and the infotainment systems are quite full featured in the VW lines.

        A manual transmission would be a savings in price but not add hardly any performance gain other than a 1 mpg mileage improvement.

        Only reason I can think of why the VW 1.4 isn’t offered in any of the Golf lineup is the Golf has been much of the NA focus of performance. You can even get a Passat with a 1.4.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          So, switching from the head unit in the Golf to a non touchscreen saves what – a couple hundred bucks, if that? Not worth it.

          Instrumented tests of the Golf hatchback in C/D show it will do 0-60 in 6.6 seconds versus 7.3 for the automatic. The performance difference is sizable.

          Would the 1.4 work in the Golf? Probably, but the Golf’s a heavier car, which means you’ll have to keep it “in the boost” to get the kind of performance you want. And I can tell you from experience that doing that has a very significant impact on fuel economy.

          Golf is better off with the 1.8, for sure.

    • 0 avatar
      jeanbaptiste

      I want an up-contented Golf Wagon GTI S. Same base infotainment, more HP and keep the 2.0 from the GTI.

      Different strokes and wrong topic…..

  • avatar
    ACCvsBig10

    Ford Focus RS, Civic type R should have base trims simliar to the focus and civics

  • avatar
    ash78

    I have always voted for Mercedes in this question — and others could follow suit. For years, I’ve wondered if you could target a group of customers who want a basic — but nice — vehicle that they plan to hang onto for 10+ years.

    Decontent some of the electronics and excessive luxury items, then maybe slap a little longer warranty on it for the same overall price as the standard model(or a wee bit cheaper). Something like that might allow them to hit both parts of their market — the people who want a new vehicle every 2-3 years, as well as the growing population of retirees who find something they like and prefer to hang onto it.

    The profit margins on something like that would be smaller, but with clever marketing and ongoing upgradeability and dealership service plans, I suspect you could close the gap a bit AND boost your brand awareness by having more cars on the road for longer.

    I picked Merc specifically because they sell the E-Class as a taxi in much of the world, but in the US you’re not getting one for under $55k-$60k, an it comes with a lot of bells and whistles that Boomers often don’t care about.

    I test drove a Volvo V90 a week or so ago, and it was a nice car…entirely hampered by marginally functional electronics (and HUD that disappears when wearing polarized glasses, voice commands that didn’t respond to me or the salesman, etc). I could do without most of that stuff, and I’m only 38.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think they want to harm their luxe brand image here in the US. Even back with the introduction of the C-Class, we got one much better equipped than was available in the EU.

      • 0 avatar
        ash78

        I don’t disagree, but that’s sort of the standard cliché US-centric response to the idea…I think with their recent and upcoming line expansions downmarket (namely the CLA, GLA, and the A/B-classes), they’ve been testing those “cheaper waters” far more dangerously than a slightly decontented E- or S-Class would do.

        And we can all just pretend the C Coupe from the early 2000s just didn’t happen ;)

        • 0 avatar

          Ah, the C180. What a weird little experiment that was.

          I get what you’re saying about introducing cheaper models. But those cheaper models are still well-equipped, more so than other markets.

          Cheapening the E or S would just get them the kind of sales they *don’t* want.

    • 0 avatar
      legacygt

      Luxury brands have to be very careful before they tread in these waters. MB can take the taxi version of the E class and sell hit here but then find that they have a much harder time selling the luxury versions at the price points that they can when the brand is synonymous with luxury. They’d sell more cars but see a huge hit to profit margin. Hard to know if it will work. The real way to do this is to create sub brands.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      MB’s were taxis in Bangkok years ago when I was there. The exteriors, sans a bit of trim, were pretty much identical to those in US showrooms. The interiors were plainer, of course, but seemed pretty well screwed together and comfortable and quiet to ride in despite the cacophony of the busy streets. Intrigued, I visited the local MB showroom and looked over what may be described as the “Biscayne” level of the same vehicle which was tricked out to the “Fleetwood” level when sold in the US. A very nice, understated vehicle which appeared to be about 90% of the content and 98% of the appearance of US vended MB’s and (after a quick translation from Baht to dollars) about the price of a low- to mid-range Pontiac of the time. There is a reason that MB pushed very hard for the Grey Market rule some thirty-years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Not all that long ago the starting price for BMW 525 was $36K

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Anything with a base-level price over $28,000. Not everybody can afford a $30K car or truck. Most people who buy used can’t even afford $28K and often can’t even at four years old, much less paying for OPP (other peoples problems) as a result.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    As ‘993cc’ stated a VW Golf wagon. Also any model/type that originally started life as an entry level vehicle, first new car, 2nd car grocery getter, kids’ car or for use as a courier vehicle.

    Examples? Honda Fit and Honda Civic Hatchback come readily to mind.

    In theory love the idea of the Tahoe Custom. But that seems like one heck of a lot of vehicle to haul around a maximum of 5(?) passengers.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Corvette.

    Drops mike.

  • avatar
    dallas_t4r

    Maybe just produce the 70 Series Land Cruiser for more markets. Please.

  • avatar
    matt3319

    I thought one time Chevy considered a stripper Corvette with a V6? Am I right?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      That doesn’t sound right, but they would do well to make a de-contented Stingray with cloth manual seats, a fixed roof, more basic infotainment, a track suspension, etc. Call it the “club sport” or something like that. Everything you need to go fast with a modicum of comfort, and nothin’ else.

      • 0 avatar

        You know, I don’t think they need a lower trim of the Corvette. The regular Corvette will *become* the lower trim when the mid-engine one is introduced.

        As well, it’s not like they have issues selling all the Corvettes at however much they cost presently (I’m going to guess without looking that they start around $55k.)

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Is this about what they’d sell, or what we’d like to see, though?

          A stripped ‘Vette might be interesting, particularly if it was a track-focused edition.

    • 0 avatar
      LS1Fan

      IIRC, it was discussed in the 90s back when GM management wanted to ax the Corvette due to companywide financial issues.

      That proposed car basically exists today as the Camaro v6 1LE.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        What part of the ’90s? I mean, seriously…the C5 came out in ’96, so this must have been EARLY in the decade, before development began on it.

        And they were making V-6 Camaros at the time as well, powered by Our Lord of Eternal Torque.

        Either way, a V-6 ‘Vette sounds like a good way to puke in your own mouth, if you ask me.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      From what I’ve seen strippers seem to prefer Mustangs and Eclipses.

  • avatar
    hpycamper

    I would love to be able to order an ala carte Audi 5 Cabriolet. Get the V6 with a real automatic, small wheels, no infotainment, no power anything except brakes. A very simple car.
    The true answer to this question is to allow customers to order vehicles the way they want them, instead of predetermined trim levels

    • 0 avatar

      Awfully expensive these days with the costs of production. Open up all the options, and suddenly the stripper car is as expensive as the loaded one was the year before.

      Choice costs money.

    • 0 avatar
      LS1Fan

      When I was a kid in the 90s this was how things were done. There were predetermined trim levels ,but the specific options a vehicle came with could be ordered one at a time. Example; you could order a stripper Pontiac Grand Am GT with the manual trans ,cloth seats,and basic audio system OR you could buy an SE with a base motor ,but with leather ,sunroof etc.

      Then automakers moved to the “Cable Company” business model where a specific option is tied to $5,000 of unwanted extras in a group of options. Nowadays,if you want a sunroof alone you’re also buying $2,000 of extra stuff along with it. Or no sunroof for your.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      Are you willing to pay more for less content?

      That’s the likely end result of dropping trim levels and packages for full ala carte options.

      I get that there are some options that people regard as negatives, such as a sunroof that bumps a tall driver on the head.

      I think it’s unlikely that ditching power locks and windows would result in any savings at all; and may well increase costs given that the OEM now has to design, stock, manage, and support multiple different lock and windows systems.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “Are you willing to pay more for less content?”

        For a custom vehicle? Yes.

      • 0 avatar
        LS1Fan

        “Are you willing to pay more for less content?”

        That’s an unlikely scenario.

        Manufacturers bundle options in expensive group packages for a reason; take a customer who wants an Impala base model with only a sunroof as a standalone option. By itself Chevy could charge $700 for one; plus base price of $27,500 the total is $28,200 .

        Now let’s say that sunroof is bundled in with a satellite radio infotainment package and equipment group with extra unwanted options for $4,000. Now the minimum cost of an Impala with a sunroof is $31,500. Under the first scenario those extras wouldnt have even been sold,and this way both the sunroof and other options can be bundled in at a greater per-feature profit.

        For consumers a la carte options cut costs and allow exactly the car you want. For manufacturers ,big bundles are better because they can standardize production easier and sell more options at a higher margin then as standalone options.

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          But in your example if the sunroof isn’t worth the total cost of the otherwise unwanted “satellite radio infotainment package and equipment group” then wouldn’t the customer just not get a sunroof?

          If GM is effectively charging $4k for a sunroof either:
          1) Customers feel that the sunroof is worth $4k
          2) Customers find sufficient value in the rest of the package to make it worthwhile at $4k

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        For a-la carte with exactly the options I want and no more, yes, I would pay a little bit more. I’m tired of these option packages that are either too little or too much.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The best thing about Audi is that they’ll paint your car basically any color you want for $3900.

  • avatar
    legacygt

    I’m not sure every car has the wiggle room to do this. It works on the Tahoe because it’s such a high margin vehicle. This isn’t the case across the automotive landscape. The reality is that all that tech and all those features really aren’t that expensive to the manufacturer and, in some cases, offering to delete some of them can add costs if they require much more differentiation on the assembly line.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      This right here. ^^ A true stripper model – in many cases – would save only modestly on MSRP, and it’s not worth the hassle to carry it for the mfr.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Tesla seems to be an extreme example of this problem, with high demand for low-end models, yet the least interest or ability to deliver them.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        There is no “high demand for low-end models” with Tesla; Tesla has tried offering such low-end models many times and the demand is marginal at best. Remember, the ASP (average selling price) for a Model S is around $105K, not $75K for the 60kWh version.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      GT – you got it. All those “fancy” features are designed in since almost everyone wants them. Taking them off actually complicates vehicle assembly and inventory control, which adds more cost than the deleted components save in most cases. I remember reading that this was also the case in the 1950s, when Chevy offered the same body with the 150, 210, and BelAir trim levels that consisted largely of more chrome around the body. The base 150 was found to be more expensive to produce than the BelAir because all the body panels had holes punched in them for the upper-level chrome trim that the 150 did not have, which required assembly line workers lots of extra labor to fill the unneeded holes with lead and hand smooth the body.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    That’s a tough question for the US market. In even the most basic cars, automakers are stuffing as many features down our throats as they can. In the Elantra and Civic you can get active cruise control, leather seats and active HID headlights.

    I would be interested in seeing stripped down sports cars from BMW, Audi and MB. How about an M3 with things like minimal or no infotainment screen, no active diff or suspension, cloth seats w/o heat, no carbon interior trim, fixed HID headlights instead of adaptive, -1 wheel/tire package, scaled-back audio system.

    The ironic part is, the process of removing current standard items from the M3 and replacing them with lower-spec items would add cost in development, validation, etc. I wonder if the MSRP would even be any lower.

    • 0 avatar
      LS1Fan

      I would pay extra for an enthusiast car with NO infotainment system, no electronic nanny , no engine programming restrictions,and no navigation or parking assist or “lane departure assist”.

      Part of the reason I think used sports cars are selling at the prices they do is because they don’t have any of that crap, being made years before it became “mandatory”.

    • 0 avatar
      bking12762

      In the 1989 and 1994 Porsche offered the retro Speedster. It was a decontented version (albeit with a different top and windshield). Now those discontented cars are worth significantly more than the standard versions.

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      I have a “stripped” M3, and it’s anything but. The first models of the current generation lacked some of the options BMW offers, like the upgraded audio, comfort access keys, and LED lights, but slowly those options have become standard. It’s not what the dealers stock anyway, so it wasn’t worth producing.

  • avatar
    cleek

    Ash makes a great point. A Merc or BMW everyman’s config would be great to see in the states.

    Technology does not age well. A cheap smartphone will generally outperform all of the mfg’s audio headunits, GPS, and laughable user maintenance alerts (read” idiot lights).

    The interior tech packages start looking goofy after about 4 yrs.
    I still see new cars with CD players built and DVD entertainment systems.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I still want a police spec Tahoe or a SL trim rubber floor Yukon – $35K base price.

    Stripped world spec Land Cruiser, vinyl, crank windows, AC, 4×4 small V8 or inline 6 – $40K (or at least under $50K)

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I’ve always liked vehicles with the high power for low dollar. Give me an option for a Mustang, Camaro or Challenger with ugly cheap manual cloth or vinyl seats, crap radio (if at all) and interior but able to pick the powertrain options I want a la carte. IDGAF if it even has carpet. Not a track pack, not 1LE gizmos, not a Scat pack. Too much gingerbread. I’m talking below fleet spec with a 500hp engine option. Think Charger Pursuit level content with a 6.4L or Hellcat 6.2L

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      This is a good idea. Challenger Tradesman 6.4L.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        The original Viper didn’t even have side windows or door handles. Now that’s focused.

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          And the 1992 Viper started at $50k in 1992 dollars; when the same year Corvette started at $33k.

          This is a good demonstration that production efficiency and economy of scale do much more to lower prices than simply decontenting.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Absolutely. In the case of the Viper, Chrysler knew they’d never hit Corvette volume, however through lots of parts bin engineering and decontenting they were able to offer a low volume hyper focused supercar where most wouldn’t bother.

            As cool and hardcore as the original RT/10 was, I’m on the hunt for the look and function of the second gen GTS, which is still a stripper in it’s own right.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            If I can’t find the right GTS, I will buy a modern track focused pony car as close to the specs I want and strip it for track use. There a couple new road courses going up near me and dammit I will have a track rat.

  • avatar
    warrant242

    Land Cruiser!
    Didn’t someone just do an article to that effect?

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Chevy could return to the 1960s – introduce a low-trim Impala and call it Bel Air.

    All safety features, of course, but offer non-power seats, a (gasp) radio with BT connectivity for your devices, steel wheels with dog dish covers, although that may be a cost factor, no sunroof option, and perhaps a different grille – although they already do that depending on trim.

  • avatar
    jmo

    I think we’ve jumped the shark in terms of the B&B claiming they would buy vehicles that they would never actually buy in reality.

    • 0 avatar
      Landau Calrissian

      Yeah, the people who are so frugal that they want rubber floors and unpainted trim are just gonna buy used cars anyway. Why try to cater to a market that doesn’t support your business? These same people complain about $70k King Ranch F-150s like that’s all anyone sells, when you can get a single-cab XL with 300 hp, an auto trans and AC for the price of a Focus.

  • avatar
    YeOldeMobile

    Who would the market be for such a vehicle? People who want a basic but good car, or people who can’t generally afford better cars but want the reliability and the safety of a better car?

    If the model is targeting a down-market niche, then I would say a basic GMC would be a good idea. GMC has a masculine appeal, this sort of brawn-over-luxe image that isn’t quite true when you think of how much Denali sells, but I’m sure there are a lot of people who would love lower-priced GMCs that aren’t used.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    Regarding any of these – and more specifically the upcoming Tahoe custom – will the dealers ever stock them? If you have to order it, then you get into comparisons with higher level trims already on the lot, the cost difference shrinks, then – how badly do you really want one of these strippers?

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    I’m not a fan of these, but what about the Prius? (I know the Prius C exists)

    Take out:
    – Infotainment system, except what is required
    – Automatic climate control
    – power windows
    – Heated seats
    – Push button start
    – Keyless entry
    – Put some more basic guages on it, maybe from a previous generation.

    That should lower the cost of entry, and maybe make it more accessible to the unwashed masses. I’m going by the standard options on the $27k Canadian base model here, so the US options may differ a bit.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Push button start with a transponder is actually cheaper than an ignition tumbler and programmed key.

      Why do you think Nissans have had it forever? Cost cutting while making the consumer think its a “feature”. Until the stupid fob fails and you must insert it in the dash and then hit the button, because that’s SO much better than inserting a key.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Based on your supposition, why is my ‘base model’ Nissan equipped with a regular key, while each of the ‘higher end’ models have push button starts?

        I do agree that using the key is a ‘better’ system than a push button stop/start.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          I was thinking specifically of the Altima. Push button start became standard in 2007. It was cheaper to develop one system for the entire car, and it can be listed as a “standard feature”.

          From the Nissan Rouge page on Nissan’s website:

          “With the standard Push Button Ignition feature, you just insert your key, push the button and go.”

          You JUST insert your key AND press a button, that’s all! Yep! So simple. Much better than inserting a key, turning it slightly, and *not* pressing a button. Yay technology!

          I can only guess that if Canadian Nissans don’t have push button start, its not because its too expensive, perhaps its because the *perception* of Canadians may be that its needlessly expensive. Canadians love them some cheap cars (Micra, anyone?), and a car with the some electronic fancy ignition system doesn’t look/fit the part.

          I don’t really care either way, I’m happy with a key and tumbler, but to the general public, push button start gives the feeling of it being an expensive high-tech feature that must be better because technology. Nissan (and others) is/are all too happy to play the part, when it suits them.

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          Cost to manufacture =/= cost to the consumer.

          If Nissan sells more high end Versas than base models it makes sense for them to put the higher profit margin option on the bigger seller.

          It’s also in their interests to make transponder keys desirable, so if they take a hit on tumbler keys now and sell more transponders later that may be the right choice.

          I also find transponder keys to be enormously convenient. My car came with two, and replacements cost $100. Even if each one only lasts 3 years that means I’m out ~$15 per year to keep the functionality for the first 12 years. That’s a reasonable cost to me.

          • 0 avatar
            Anuska

            You can keep your keyless entry. In our area someone stole a Mercedes using transponder readers.

            https://www.google.com/search?q=keyless+entry+car+theft&rls=com.microsoft:en-US:IE-SearchBox&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7GGHP_enUS459&gws_rd=ssl

  • avatar
    cdotson

    If it works on the Tahoe do it for the Expedition. I’d like to see an Expedition XL for $39,900 with an XL-EL for about $42k. I think if you ditch some Sync, power pedals, leather wheel and chrome exterior trim and heavily leverage F150 XL interior (front bench, dash) with maybe 17″ wheels instead of 18s they could pull it off. All vinyl interior, maybe optional carpet/cloth. Ideally keep the 3.5TT and all the towing goodies, but at least make the third row optional or easily added aftermarket.

    And/or bring back the Excursion based on an F250 XL near the same price point with all-vinyl interior.

  • avatar
    kc1980

    GT86 or brz. The two are already pretty low on content so im not sure what else they can strip away. The price of entry is just too high for a 200 horsepower coupe in todays market. I need them starting closer to 21k not 25-26k.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    It’ll never work.

    People, many of them members of the B&B, would complain loudly.

    “OMG why don’t you just buy a ______!!! That stupid Impala doesn’t even have MyLink! My last rental Kia Rio had a screen! They’re cheating you! You only paid $7,000 less than my mom’s _______! And look, you’re missing all that stuff you don’t need and didn’t want, for shame how you let GM screw you like that. Stupid Mary Barra, she’s what’s wrong with everything! Because GM was doing just great before she screwed it up!”

    • 0 avatar

      Are you suggesting it’s impossible to satisfy the People of the Internet?

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I might be. :D

        Really, consumers would just say the same thing. “I paid only $x,xxx more but I got a screen, standard! How did life exist before screens?”

        People see more standard features as a value, even when it costs more.

        I like the idea of base models. I’d like to see Honda DX trims return. Silver steel wheels, black or grey bumpers, no options. But, it just won’t happen. People, as a whole, are perfectly fine having the LX (or EX in some, isn’t it?) as the base trim now.

        Imagine a Ridgeline in DX trim with 4wd. Steel wheels, rubber floor, vinyl seats, no options.
        I’d love it but they’d sell about 50 and loose big money developing it.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Corey, QOTD submission: Favorite made up car/brand name (that is a word, not numbers/letters).

        Examples:
        Acura
        Datsun
        Toronado
        Aerostar
        Sentra/Altima/Maxima
        Infiniti

        Not applicable (not a word):
        F-150
        LS400
        Q50
        300
        Q7
        MKX
        TL

    • 0 avatar
      hpycamper

      I would honestly be happier without a screen, and other crap that cars come with.
      How many cars really need power steering? Most cars I’ve owned had manual steering and it was not a problem.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I agree. There are a few of us, you, Gtem, me, others, who would appreciate such a car. Just damned too few of us.

        I hope the Bronco has a basic 4wd version with rubber floors, manual transmission, steel wheels, etc. That, and the Ranger as well. Same with the forthcoming Wrangler.

        • 0 avatar
          Anuska

          I suspect the change to power steering has been due to increased vehicle weight and use of rack and pinion steering.

          While it still would be manageable driving parking would require more effort than the previous idler arm systems.

          • 0 avatar
            hpycamper

            1993 Honda Civic witch I assume had rack and pinion steering, no problem steering. 1982 VW Vanagon Westfalia over 5000 lbs I believe, rack and pinion, no power steering, no problem. If you drive with no power steering, you learn that a slight movement forward or backward while trying to turn greatly reduces the muscle needed, but maybe not enough for everybody. If given the choice to save just one: manual trans or manual steering, I’d choose manual steering.

  • avatar
    wolfinator

    A minivan. Pick one, any one.

    If/when FCA discontinues the Dodge Caravan, there’s going to be a hole in the market for cheap, serviceable vehicles for not-rich families. I can’t be the only person with kids who’s horrified by the pricing of most minivans?

    I’d also guess that minivan buyers are one of the few people who are actually looking to buy something cheap and practical.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      The Pacifica is not exactly a wallet buster if you stick with the basic trim. Around my area the Pacific is running 2k or so more than a G Caravan value edition.

  • avatar
    GoHuskers

    How about a no frills Bentley?

    Note – luv the 60s era GM “Air Conditioned” tag.

  • avatar
    RS

    De-featured vehicles will work to a point but volumes will be low. More people are looking for deals on new and used vehicles with the goodies. It’s hard to sell fleet spec vehicles to anyone but fleets in meaningful volume.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    I wish the Colorado/Canyon base trims could be packaged with the crew, diesel, manual, and 4×4. All I really want option wise is AC and rear locker.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    The Cars That Made America, TV series. Watched it the past 3 evenings. How come there is no mention or review of this in a website dedicated to autos?

    Since the ‘Staff’ section of the site is currently blank I have posted this here rather than trying to contact the Editor, etc.

  • avatar
    George B

    In my opinion, the way to market cost cutting is as a rugged fleet-oriented work vehicle that’s also available to the public. For example, a refrigerator white Toyota Sienna minivan with many of the child hauling features removed and replaced with features valuable to a small business owner. The “work” version might end up being socially acceptable to people who would never drive the “Mom” version.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    I’d like to see Honda bring back the Accord DX. Steel wheels, AM/FM stereo with 2 speakers, manual seats. $19,995.

    However, the current LX is probably the biggest screaming value in the automotive world at $23,255 and the car I’d buy if I had to buy new.

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    The make and model don’t really matter, so much as the list of what a majority of cars sold today could remove to answer this question:

    1) touchscreens/infotainment. Put in an old school double DIN. Bluetooth, AUX, and USB can still be integrated if you need to use your smart phone while driving THAT badly. It can have a screen, but not touchscreens and sub-menus to change things. They are distracting and a safety hazard. If you want it, you should pay for it al a carte, so that your insurance company can say “Ah, higher monthly premium for you!”

    2) related to #1, and to use Corey’s example of the Impala, Onstar and its equivalents from all brands. If I want that service, I’ll pay for it, but I should not be required to have the infotainment that comes with it ‘just in case’.

    3) Keyless start. Not a fan. I never know where to put my key (I hate keeping stuff in my pockets while driving), plus, the batteries in the fobs die. This happened to my wife while she was trying to leave work. There’s a physical key that can open the door to get in the car, but no actual slot for a key so she can start it. So, she had to wait for me to come down with 2 pack CR032 batteries…(which is another reason why they are dumb. Why not the more common AAA size?) If she could have just put a key in the ignition, she would not have lost 90 minutes of her day.

    4) Adaptive cruise/blind spot warning/auto stop etc. I personally do see the value in these, but they are usually bundled in to packages. These should not be so much stripped out, but be standard or be a stand alone suite that be installed with or without the fancy infotainment/touchscreen stuff. I should have to get things that make drivers less safe like Carplay (which I can’t use) and bluetooth (which I don’t use) to get safety features. That’s dumb.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      “There’s a physical key that can open the door to get in the car, but no actual slot for a key so she can start it”

      What make and model?

      All the cars I know of provide a means to start the vehicle with a dead keyless fob battery; either in the form of a backup (often hidden) slot for a mechanical key or a RFID proximity setup that will energize and recognize even a dead key if it is placed nearby and then allow the car to start normally.

      I would be very surprised if OEMs would release a car that cannot be started if the key fob battery dies.

      In my car this is accomplished by simply placing the dead fob next to the spot on the steering column where a traditional key would go.

      • 0 avatar
        newenthusiast

        “In my car this is accomplished by simply placing the dead fob next to the spot on the steering column where a traditional key would go.”

        I want to say first, that upon reading this, and then reading an online copy of the manual (as my wife is currently at work), I now believe that this is what could have been done. But she didn’t know that, and I just figured I’d bring batteries to her and be done with it. It was already dark and the kids and I and her all wanted dinner, so I just did what I thought was fastest. I’m going to test this tonight by putting the old batteries from the garage door opener in (I haven’t taken them to be recycled yet).

        To answer your question, its a 2010 BMW 135i convertible. A slim key slides out of the fob, and fits in the traditional old school slot on the drivers side door to lock and unlock the car. But you have to put the whole fob in the slot before pushing the start/stop button on the dash. I tried it when I got there, and the car wouldn’t start, and the fob buttons got no reaction from the car.

        I DID have concerns that it was the starter or an electrical problem, but the new batteries did work. So now I change them when I change mine. I have a little red LED, and when it gets dim, or seems slow to function, I change the batteries. But mine is a key you still stick in the slot and turn if you want (which is what I do 100% of the time), OR use push button (which my wife does is we switch cars)…so, if the battery dies, the only real issue is the loss of the panic button, which is a minor issue, and ONLY in the rare instance that it was needed.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I think it should probably be standard maintenance to change these batteries every five years.

          Last month, the original batteries in both of the fobs for my 2008 Lexus started giving “Low Key Battery” warnings within two weeks of each other. Managed to replace them both before either ran out completely.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    Volvo.

    If people want cheap and safe car with Volvo reputation but not luxuries, they would be able to take advantage of that market with basic version of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Which Volvo reputation are you referring to – the good (old) one, or the bad (new) one?

      Seriously…”old” Volvo hasn’t been a thing since around 1998.

    • 0 avatar
      Anuska

      Panda,

      A cheap Volvo? I thought we were talking new cars not used. I haven’t looked at a Volvo since 2003. They used to be fairly basic then but sold for approx. $2.5-5k US more then competitive brands. They already were trying to position themselves as a premium luxury brand.

  • avatar
    22_RE_Speedwagon

    Exactly. Why pay for a stripper when you can have a used model?

    • 0 avatar
      Anuska

      Well some of us are older and less willing to work on our own cars and want something with years of near to no maintenance.

      I can also appreciate that doing away with many features could make many people happier with the car and save money as well.

      Especially with used cars less than 10-15 years old maintenance and parts costs can be thousands of $’s.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      You can buy a used model, if you’re willing to put up with SEP.

      (Somebody Else’s Problems)

      • 0 avatar
        mchan1

        “… if you’re willing to put up with SEP.”

        THAT IS the problem when purchasing used/pre-owned vehicles, even if you buy those types of vehicles from an auto dealer instead of a private sale.

        At least the auto dealership ‘should of’ inspected the vehicle but, unfortunately, many don’t (care).

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Exactly my point. I’ve only twice bought used where I didn’t have to fix SEP within a month and that SEP has more than once cost me thousands on top of the purchase price. Only once did I go into such a purchase knowing what the SEP was, and still got surprised by a cracked exhaust header, adding to the bill.

          • 0 avatar
            bikegoesbaa

            It sounds like you need to learn how to do a pre-purchase inspection.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            The best way to avoid extra charges is to buy new. I’m not going to pay for an inspection on every single used car I look at before buying; I already have to pay hundreds for a state inspection after.

            But I’m also talking about over 45 years of driving where the vast majority of my cars were used when I received them, including my most recent acquisition but one (purchased new) was my step-father’s 1997 Ford Ranger with, at the time, less than 20K on the clock. Needed to go for a complete hydraulic system rebuild for the clutch along with inspection of brake lines and other soft components focusing on risk of dry rot (like all four tires.) Truck runs great but cost me $2000 to make it roadworthy just to drive 700 miles home in it. Averaged 24mpg at 70mph after never once traveling on the freeway since new.

  • avatar
    Dan

    I wish that they’d have done a Chevy SS that was more Impala and less race car. I don’t want a race car. The race car concessions – staggered tire sizes, premium gas tune, 2200 rpm on the interstate gearing, silly stiff ride, etc – really obscured what could have been the last great big sedan.

    They had one parked next to the then-new Impala at the car show three or four years back and the contrast in visibility and ergonomics of a happy old car against an angry new one was eye opening.

    Gimme that SS LS!

  • avatar
    anomaly149

    One of the funniest things is how power windows are cheaper than manual windows due to volume hits and unique engineering. (power locks over manual locks, as well)

    Overall, it doesn’t make much sense to do this because a “bargain basement trim” vehicle will need a lot of unique engineering (produced at a somewhat inflated price-per-unit due to volume hits) to produce something you have to sell for less dollars.

    There are some places it makes sense, but by in large unique “low-trim” content is a money-loser just done for advertising purposes.

  • avatar
    mchan1

    Due to today’s technology, it doesn’t make sense for the automakers to make Stripper trim vehicles much or anymore. It’ll cost more to make a vehicle with manual parts (i.e. windows/door locks) than it would to make a vehicle with power door locks/windows due to the number of units sold.

    I don’t miss Stripper models as I had my first honda civic coupe DX, dirt trim model (Manual windows/door locks & side mirrors, NO A/C, NO power steering, NO radio/speakers/antenna) and you had to floor it to climb any slight inclined roadway. Didn’t need a gym membership to stay fit because of the manual steering and the heat from no a/c.
    To this day, can’t stand Honda cars esp. Civics!
    Funny this was, I came from a Honda family but many family members can’t stand Honda not for many years now.

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