QOTD: What's Your Spec?

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
qotd what s your spec

Yesterday you saw our new feature, The Right Spec, which exists to replace Ace of Base. As a reminder of how it works, Matthew (or anyone who pens one in his absence) will take a popular model (and/or one recently reviewed here) and tell you how he thinks you should spec it.

As I edited his piece, I was reminded of the endless debate that takes place in auto-journo circles when it comes to specs on the cars we actually test.

For the uninitiated, most of the test cars we get (or drive on junkets) are top-trim and fully loaded. And many of us scribes whine because we’ve noticed that for many models, consumers tend to buy mid-level trims in greater numbers, and we think we should be testing what’s popular with buyers.

Imagine whining about driving fully loaded cars each week. But aside from the fact that us well-fed auto writers are good at complaining, the argument is actually a pretty good one. We probably should spend more time testing the most-popular configurations.

Inside baseball aside, I am also curious how you, the average buyer, specs your vehicles. Do you go full boat? A mid-trim that has just what you need and not anything more? Are base models just fine? And how do you handle automakers like Honda that don’t offer features a la carte — meaning you might have to step up to a higher trim if you want, say, heated seats, even if that means also taking on features you don’t need?

So yeah, you’re getting two QOTDs for the price of one today. It’s Friday, it’s summer, and I’m in a good mood. Heck, I will even throw in a third one: What are your must haves? I know we’ve asked that before, but it’s been a while.

Sound off below.

[Image: BlueSkyImage/Shutterstock.com]

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5 of 75 comments
  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Jun 12, 2021

    I hate the looks of so many cars and SUVs made presently. I like the Challenger a lot, enough that I'm on my second one. Don't like the Mustang's looks much, and really hate the Camaro. Too bad, it's a nice car in an awful wrapper. Requirements for my vehicles: 300+ HP. My present 485 seems "just right" Automatic. My nightmare would be having to daily drive a stick. RWD in a car, 4WD in an SUV. Leather, with heated seats and even more important, a heated steering wheel. My soon to be 65 year old hands feel 10X better in the cold months since I got my car with one. Decent looking wheels. And I wish my car didn't have black wheels, but I don't hate them enough to change them. No boring colors. The FCA high impact colors are great, IMO. At least a mid level stereo. I have the HK in my car and it's disappointing, but the bass is near perfect. There's something off about the midrange though. Pretty much loaded, but they can take the lane keeping tech and shove it. I haven't driven anything with it that isn't crying "Wolf" constantly or waiting until you're already over the line to pop up. Things I don't care about: Adaptive cruise. I barely use the CC anyway. Lane keeping. Absolutely not: Sunroof. Bad colors, like F8 Green and the worst Destroyer Gray. Baby shit green and Gray Primer Clearcoat would be better names for them. Manual transmission. IMO, it makes driving a total chore.

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Jun 12, 2021

    If I had to pick one decision rule for all time for a new vehicle which I planned to live with for awhile, it would be: -> Second trim from the top This would generally get most of the good stuff (upgraded powertrain, seat adjustability [including lumbar], audio, climate control) while avoiding some of the bleeding-edge gimmicky fiddly easy-to-break and expensive-to-repair items (and avoiding the Most Impractical tire and wheel sizes).

    • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Jun 12, 2021

      In the website 'Build' process, why do Kia and Hyundai force you to choose 'Select Options' in order to change the Trim? (And why show a base invoice pop-up right away, before I've even compared trims? This is called "anchoring" and it's not helping you.) [Chung Eui-sun, your U.S. marketing teams owe me $1,000 plus my next lunch receipt as a consulting fee (maybe a Fiesta Taco Salad from Taco Bell? Oh wait, "not currently available").]

  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Jun 12, 2021

    I have a 2000 Lexus that can't compare to a new Hyundai Elantra for features, I like it that way, no 'infotainment' no nav, no wi-fi hot-spot, no self-park, etc. but it's got a big V8, sunroof, leather and wood, cruise and A/C, all I really need.

  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Jun 13, 2021

    I have pretty much the perfect spec in my car today. Finally pulled the trigger on a Mazda3 Turbo. Must haves: 1) A color (you can keep your black, white, silver, greige - some of the gunmetal/matte greys might be an exception) 2) Sunroof: I like light 3) Upgraded sound system (I wish CD players were still more of a thing, even if there was just a disc cassette hiding in the trunk) 4) AWD 5) Heated seats/wheel (leather - or a reasonable facsimile - is nice, but not necessary) 6) Tint: the darkest legally possible. Thinks I'd, but aren't deal killers: 1) parking sensors (had these in my Chrysler and they were wonderful) 2) manual (I know, take away my card.) 3) the aforementioned CD player 4) 360° camera (primarily for the poorly maintaned curbs that can bark lower bumpers) Things that can f--- right off: 1) enormous wheels (I have 18s and they're even a bit big - thinking of maybe doing a -2, but wonder if that would look weird) 2) driver attention monitors (I went for a drive to Gooseberry Falls today ~ 250 miles and had the thing bong at me. It was more of a distraction than a help.) 3) incessant bongs (like the seatbelt bong - I'm getting ready to put it on, maybe wait a minute while I prepare other things)