QOTD: Trims to Models and Everything in Between?

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
qotd trims to models and everything in between

On Friday, we published our take on the 2019 Ram 1500 pickup. Some of you even read it, for which we thank you. Ram wisely brought a wide range of trims to the event, ranging from the workaday Tradesman to the high-zoot (that one’s for you, commenter MLS) Limited model.

The differences in equipment, capability, and appeal between the different trims on display got me thinking: at what point do we start thinking of these things as distinct models?

In 2017, the Ram brand sold 556,790 units, with the vast majority of those, over 500k, being pickup trucks. Parsing out the vehicle lineup we find only trucks of the 1500 to 5500 variety and a couple of staid work vans.

Over at Jeep, where 828,522 machines hit the road, five models compete for showroom space — six if you count the JK and JL Wrangler as separate models, which this author does. Five models conspired to sell 446,996 vehicles at Dodge. Individually, none of them came even close to 500,000 copies like the Ram pickup did.

If car companies ever started treating individual trim levels as unique models, it would give us a fantastic window into the buying habits of the American public. This is not limited to Ram; an Ace of Base F-150 XL bears little resemblance to a loaded-up Platinum.

After all, in the bad old days, one could argue the early-90s versions of a Chevy Blazer, GMC Jimmy, and Olds Bravada were simply gradually increasing trim levels of the same vehicle, and their sales were reported individually. Yes, there were different marques on their noses, but you get the point.

None of this will ever happen, of course, as I am quite confident manufacturers would be quite happy to give us less information about sales numbers, not more, if they thought they could get away with it.

Makes for an interesting train of thought, though: what trims on what vehicles do you think could be broken down into different models?

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  • Fahrvergnugen NA Miata goes topless as long as roads are dry and heater is running, windscreen in place.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic As a side note, have you looked at a Consumers Report lately? In the past, they would compare 3 or 4 station wagons, or compact SUVs, or sedans per edition. Now, auto reporting is reduced to a report on one single vehicle in the entire edition. I guess CR realized that cars are not as important as they once were.
  • Fred Private equity is only concerned with making money. Not in content. The only way to deal with it, is to choose your sites wisely. Even that doesn't work out. Just look at AM/FM radio for a failing business model that is dominated by a few large corporations.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic Lots of dynamics here:[list][*]people are creatures of habit, they will stick with one or two web sites, one or two magazines, etc; and will only look at something different if recommended by others[/*][*]Generation Y & Z is not "car crazy" like Baby Boomers. We saw a car as freedom and still do. Today, most youth text or face call, and are focused on their cell phone. Some don't even leave the house with virtual learning[/*][*]New car/truck introductions are passé; COVID knocked a hole in car shows; spectacular vehicle introductions are history.[/*][*]I was in the market for a replacement vehicle, but got scared off by the current used and new prices. I'll wait another 12 to 18 months. By that time, the car I was interested in will be obsolete or no longer available. Therefore, no reason to research till the market calms down. [/*][*]the number of auto related web sites has ballooned in the last 10 to 15 years. However, there are a diminishing number of taps on their servers as the Baby Boomers and Gen X fall off the radar scope. [/*][/list]Based on the above, the whole auto publishing industry (magazine, web sites, catalogs, brochures, etc) is taking a hit. The loss of editors and writers is apparent in all of publishing. This is structural, no way around it.
  • Dukeisduke I still think the name Bzzzzzzzzzzt! would have been better.
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