By on August 10, 2017

Jeep Trackhawk

One of my favorite writers once ruefully noted that “in the end, whether you are loved or not is determined by the shape of your skull.” To which I would add: and the way you know you are loved is whether or not somebody will take out their wallet for you.

Being a wife usually pays better than being a mistress, which pays better than being a girlfriend, which pays better than being a Tinder date. Not that money is precisely equal to love — but in most cases cash speaks louder than poetry.

For that reason, it’s fascinating to use pricing as a window into human desire. With most consumer goods, of course, there are two prices. There’s the MSRP, which is fantasy, and there’s the “street price,” or actual transaction price, which is reality. The sticker price of a new Impala or Taurus or Sonata is considerably above the price that the vast majority of people are willing to pay, but on a 458 Speciale it’s a screaming bargain. These are exceptions that prove a surprising but durable rule: most of the time, automakers price their cars remarkably close to market reality. We take this for granted when in reality it’s proof of just how much intelligence and effort goes into product planning. Consider the fact that Rolex is widely acknowledged as having the lowest discount rate of any major watch brand, yet it’s usually possible to get between 10 and 20 percent off sticker at most dealers. That same amount of pricing flexibility gets Bloomberg in a tizzy when it’s applied to mass-market cars.

Assuming, therefore, that we can usually rely on manufacturer pricing as a rough yardstick for consumer desire, it’s absolutely fascinating to see how Fiat Chrysler Automobiles positions its most powerful sedans and SUVs. It is also very depressing for anybody who believes in an automotive future that contains anything but jacked-up Me-Too-Iguana-Boxes.

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By on August 9, 2017

Jeep Trackhawk

Jeep announced pricing for the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk this week and whether it’s a good value or not largely depends on your priorities. At $85,900 with an additional $1,095 destination charge, it’s essentially the same price as the Dodge Demon before dealer markups. That’s roughly $20,000 over Dodge’s four-door Charger SRT Hellcat, which uses the same supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine delivering an identical 707 horsepower.

So, how do you plate the price to make it appear more appetizing? Direct comparisons. Midsize performance SUVs sit in an odd category almost entirely dominated by premium German vehicles and two less-lavish American models using a seven-year-old platform derived with help from Daimler. What sets the Trackhawk apart is it’s the most bonkers of the bunch and manages its madness at a lower price point than the competition.  (Read More…)

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