Do you buy the highest trim car ?

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White Coat Investor
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by White Coat Investor » Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:54 am

mariezzz wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:47 am
theplayer11 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:39 am
mariezzz wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:26 am
If you want leather, look into what kind of leather they use. I wouldn't pay extra for bonded leather. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonded_leather

I wouldn't opt for leather at all though due to the heat/cold issues. I've never had a problem with a cloth seat and I've bought older cars (corolla, civic) and driven them past them being 20 year old cars.
that's what heated and now ventilated seats are for :D
Leather seats just seem unnecessary, for many reasons.
I cannot stand heated seats - even when I lived in a cold climate state I did not like them - parents had them. :beer
Seat heaters are a lot more useful when combined with leather seats. Not as important with cloth seats IMHO. I use them until the car heater kicks on. My wife uses them all the time. I'd be more likely to use a ventilated heat I suspect, but haven't yet had a car with them.
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by UALflyer » Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:56 am

For those of you considering highly optioned non-luxury cars, be sure to then compare the overall pricing (not the MSRP, but the actual pricing, which on certain makes and models can be far below the MSRP) to the luxury ones. A lot of non-luxury vehicle manufacturers charge absolutely exorbitant prices for certain options, which are available for a lot less through luxury car manufacturers.

A lot of people just do not realize this, or only compare the MSRP's, so they end up paying about the same or more for a non-luxury car with a shorter warranty, etc...

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by randomguy » Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:56 am

White Coat Investor wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:53 am

I think it's like a lot of things in life:

The lowest trim is for the cheapskates.
The middle trim is the way most people prefer their cars.
The highest trim is usually a rip off and/or a status symbol.

If price matters as it seems to to you, then either wait longer to buy until you have more money or go with a lower trim level. I suspect it is probably not cost-efficient or time-efficient to buy a lower trim level and then add features a la carte most of the time.
Have you ever met anyone one that was impressed by a Honda Pilot Elite instead of Honda Pilot EX-L? Anyone that cares about status is buying the stripper luxury car not the top tier in my experience.

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by jharkin » Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:58 am

I tend to buy higher trims, but not automatically the highest if I dont see the need for the features.

We bought a pilot 2 years ago and got the EX-L. Reasoning:

(These comments are for the 2017, 2019 may be different)
- Edmunds review recommended EXL as the best balance of features and price. There was definitely a lot more inventory for this trim/better deals.
- EXL has carplay, so the nav system on Touring/Elite is not needed
- EXL was the highest trim that still had the Honda built 6AT. Touring/Elite use(d?) a 9SP ZF transmission that had a lot of complaints in reviews
- The 20inch wheel on the Touring/Elite are a negative for me as they make the ride harsher and limit you to a smaller selection of more expensive replacement tires
- Neither my wife or I was all that excited about the panoramic roof or felt that our grade school kids needed second row "captains chairs"

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by dm200 » Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:59 am

UALflyer wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:56 am
For those of you considering highly optioned non-luxury cars, be sure to then compare the overall pricing (not the MSRP, but the actual pricing, which on certain makes and models can be far below the MSRP) to the luxury ones. A lot of non-luxury vehicle manufacturers charge absolutely exorbitant prices for certain options, which are available for a lot less through luxury car manufacturers.
A lot of people just do not realize this, or only compare the MSRP's, so they end up paying about the same or more for a non-luxury car with a shorter warranty, etc...
Yes - all sorts of pricing tricks.

Under the covers, as well, many "luxury" makes/models are pretty much the same as the non-luxury make/model (such as Lexus and Toyota nameplates).

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by nisiprius » Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:59 am

Unfortunately, the last time we bought a car, the electronic driver-assist features and the manufacturer at that time was only making them available on the highest trim car. In order to get the IIHS Top Safety Pick+, we had to buy the highest trim level. So we did.

This linkage between pseudo-luxury features we don't care about, and functional features we do care about, has existed for a long time (forever?) It is what it is. The last time I bought the "bait" (the base model actually available at the advertised low price) and ignored the "switch" ("you wouldn't want that one, it doesn't have a radio") was... 1967.
dm200 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:59 am
Under the covers, as well, many "luxury" makes/models are pretty much the same as the non-luxury make/model (such as Lexus and Toyota nameplates).
Remember this one? (1981).

Jury orders GM to pay 10,000 in switch of engines
A Federal jury ruled today that the General Motors Corporation must pay $550 to each of more than 10,000 purchasers of 1977 Oldsmobiles that contained Chevrolet engines.
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by randomguy » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:02 pm

UALflyer wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:56 am
For those of you considering highly optioned non-luxury cars, be sure to then compare the overall pricing (not the MSRP, but the actual pricing, which on certain makes and models can be far below the MSRP) to the luxury ones. A lot of non-luxury vehicle manufacturers charge absolutely exorbitant prices for certain options, which are available for a lot less through luxury car manufacturers.

A lot of people just do not realize this, or only compare the MSRP's, so they end up paying about the same or more for a non-luxury car with a shorter warranty, etc...
A lot of luxury makers charge exorbitant prices for options that are standard on mainstream cars. Price out MB or BMW cost for adaptive cruise control which is standard on most toyotas. Or BMW charging for carplay:) At least BMW is no longer charging 800 bucks for a back up camera....

You do tend to hit an intersection point where the top end trim of a mainstream brand costs the same as the low end of a luxury car. You need to balance the higher number of features of the mainstream car with the higher quality materials of the luxury car. The luxury cars tend to have higher operating costs over time even when the cost out the door is the same.

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by RootSki » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:05 pm

It depends. Some manufactures have "extra" (non-mechanical) options that are only available on the highest trim lines. Sometimes the highest trim lines are overdone with fake plastic chrome bits all over the inside & outside. When both of these condition are true, I will typically look one level down. Usually the "Sporty" trim lines is the balance point for me, even if the sport features are not truly performance enhancing.

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by UALflyer » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:10 pm

sk2101 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:01 am
If the only reason you want the highest trim are the leather seats, then Katzkins are a good solution. I have them on my daily driver, and I am very happy. I think they are better quality than OEM leather. I bought them on Ebay for $500 and did then install myself. I believe they go for around 2K installed.

The Katzkin kit even came with leather for the door panels and the armrests.
Just remember that since quality varies very widely, when you sell or trade in a car with dealer installed and other after market solutions, the value add of those options is likely to be next to nothing or literally nothing, as a lot of buyers will shy away from them.

Also remember that when you insure your vehicle with dealer installed and after market solutions, your VIN number won't tell the insurance company about them. So, if you want them insured, you have to get your auto insurance company to endorse your policy and pay the associated premium.

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by UALflyer » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:17 pm

randomguy wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:02 pm
A lot of luxury makers charge exorbitant prices for options that are standard on mainstream cars.
Right, this happens a lot as well. My point was not to assume that a non-luxury car, particularly a highly optioned one, is automatically going to cost substantially less than a luxury car, and not to run the comparison based on the MSRP.
You do tend to hit an intersection point where the top end trim of a mainstream brand costs the same as the low end of a luxury car. You need to balance the higher number of features of the mainstream car with the higher quality materials of the luxury car.
Exactly.
The luxury cars tend to have higher operating costs over time even when the cost out the door is the same.
I wouldn't phrase it quite so broadly. Something like a Lexus ES, for instance (a super luxury Camry), isn't going to come with higher operating costs. There are a lot of examples like this, particularly for automakers with both luxury and non-luxury divisions.

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by JackoC » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:27 pm

randomguy wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:02 pm
UALflyer wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:56 am
For those of you considering highly optioned non-luxury cars, be sure to then compare the overall pricing (not the MSRP, but the actual pricing, which on certain makes and models can be far below the MSRP) to the luxury ones. A lot of non-luxury vehicle manufacturers charge absolutely exorbitant prices for certain options, which are available for a lot less through luxury car manufacturers.

A lot of people just do not realize this, or only compare the MSRP's, so they end up paying about the same or more for a non-luxury car with a shorter warranty, etc...
A lot of luxury makers charge exorbitant prices for options that are standard on mainstream cars. Price out MB or BMW cost for adaptive cruise control which is standard on most toyotas. Or BMW charging for carplay:) At least BMW is no longer charging 800 bucks for a back up camera....
I agree often actually for luxury makers offer as options and/or charge more for now mundane bells and whistles (Apple Carplay, etc) that are more likely to be standard or lower cost options on mid-upper trim of mass market brands.

However, upstream of that I don't buy a 'luxury' brand to save money. And I don't even consider my BMW M2 to be a 'luxury' car. It's a performance car with, to me, relatively good economics, relatively low price point for 4 sec 0-60 and especially the degree of chassis/suspension/brakes adaptation to getting around corners fast. Of course others can have their own favorites among performance cars (Tesla in 3,2,1... :D but that's a big no thanks for me) but anyway the idea is not A to B safely and comfortably for as little money as possible. Or IOW high end Camry v Lexus ES is not necessarily everyone's comparison of the car they'd buy in 'luxury' category to one in 'regular' category. I tend to buy basically different cars in the two categories.

For 'regular' cars my general practice has been one trim level off the bottom one, unless there's some particular feature at a higher trim. I bought a new Honda CR-V for my daughter last year, one level off bottom, had all the safety features, more than the M2, and Apple Carplay standard which indeed was a $300 option on the M2 though already on the one in stock I bought. Cloth seats. I didn't see compelling value in the higher trims. Not to derail about oil dilution but the dealer claims a software fix addresses it and the dipstick doesn't smell like gas anymore.

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by UALflyer » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:40 pm

White Coat Investor wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:53 am
The highest trim is usually a rip off and/or a status symbol.
It may or may not be a rip off (depends a lot on the specific features and incentives), but I don't see how it can be a status symbol. It is virtually impossible for people to keep track of all the trim designations for every model of a particular year, so whether a model has "L" or "LE" or "XLE" or whatever next to it generally tells people absolutely nothing about it. Likewise, a lot of luxury makers don't even have those types of designations on the outside differentiating different trim levels (the look of the vehicle can be different based on the trim, but the trim designation itself won't necessarily be shown).

This is actually the reason that it is so common to have stripped down versions of luxury cars out there. The car itself ends up being a status symbol for their owners, as others do not realize just how stripped down it is by looking at it from the outside.
Last edited by UALflyer on Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by dm200 » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:41 pm

In my opinion and experience, to evaluate this issue fully and make the optimum choice, you do not want to start with the cars on the lot at the dealer. Start with a "blank" sheet and go through all the trim levels and options. Then, once you have described your ideal car (trim level, options, etc.), tell the dealer that is what you want and will not pay for anything beyond the ideal.

if the dealer will not do so, then walk out the door and go to another dealer.

We did that once (right down to color) and, once the dealer knew we were serious, found one in transit from the assembly plant to a destination about a thousand miles from here. We signed the deal and picked up the car a few days later. :)

We knew we had a good and fair deal on price, since it was through a buying service - and the discount from MSRP, etc. was well documented.

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by psteinx » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:51 pm

White Coat Investor wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:53 am
The lowest trim is for the cheapskates.
The middle trim is the way most people prefer their cars.
The highest trim is usually a rip off and/or a status symbol.
Or,
Trims lower than mine are strippers. Only FOOLS would buy them.
Trims higher than mine are foolish extravagances. Only PROFLIGATES would buy them.
The trim I chose was obviously the sensible one, for intelligent people like myself.

Also,
Car makes/models lower than mine are claptrap. Only FOOLS etc etc.
Car makes/models higher than mine are status-driven extravagances. Only PROFLIGATES yada yada

Also,
Houses (smaller/bigger)...
Cell phones...
Etc.

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by student » Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:15 pm

psteinx wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:51 pm
Trims lower than mine are strippers. Only FOOLS would buy them.
Trims higher than mine are foolish extravagances. Only PROFLIGATES would buy them.
The trim I chose was obviously the sensible one, for intelligent people like myself.

Also,
Car makes/models lower than mine are claptrap. Only FOOLS etc etc.
Car makes/models higher than mine are status-driven extravagances. Only PROFLIGATES yada yada

Also,
Houses (smaller/bigger)...
Cell phones...
Etc.
:D Yes. I call this the goldilocks syndrome.

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by randomguy » Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:17 pm

UALflyer wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:17 pm
randomguy wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:02 pm
The luxury cars tend to have higher operating costs over time even when the cost out the door is the same.
I wouldn't phrase it quite so broadly. Something like a Lexus ES, for instance (a super luxury Camry), isn't going to come with higher operating costs. There are a lot of examples like this, particularly for automakers with both luxury and non-luxury divisions.
ES is more of a super luxury avalon these days:) If you go to a place like edmunds and look at the TCO and take out depreciation and financing, you still end up with a car that costs ~500/year more to operate. Now that isn't exactly german level of added costs but it is still there. Pick just about any other car and the differences grow more pronounced,.

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by White Coat Investor » Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:34 pm

psteinx wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:51 pm
White Coat Investor wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:53 am
The lowest trim is for the cheapskates.
The middle trim is the way most people prefer their cars.
The highest trim is usually a rip off and/or a status symbol.
Or,
Trims lower than mine are strippers. Only FOOLS would buy them.
Trims higher than mine are foolish extravagances. Only PROFLIGATES would buy them.
The trim I chose was obviously the sensible one, for intelligent people like myself.

Also,
Car makes/models lower than mine are claptrap. Only FOOLS etc etc.
Car makes/models higher than mine are status-driven extravagances. Only PROFLIGATES yada yada

Also,
Houses (smaller/bigger)...
Cell phones...
Etc.
No, I think they set them up this way on purpose because people are more likely to buy middle trim levels. By offering something higher (even though almost nobody every buys it) people feel good about buying the middle option. It's a well known marketing technique and I think it's used for trim levels.
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by psteinx » Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:40 pm

To be a little more concrete:

It seems the highest trims are:

1) Produced/sold in small quantities - not too much inventory of these on dealer lots
2) Testing grounds for a lot of extravagant features, SOME of which will trickle down to lower trims over time, but some are just kinda stupid, IMO.

For instance, I think it was the last time we went minivan shopping, and the top trim of one make (Honda) had a built in vacuum cleaner, in the trunk area. Now I know minivans need to be vacuumed, perhaps more than other vehicles (because they're larger and tend to have messy kids in them), but what's the real advantage of building a vacuum cleaner IN TO the vehicle, versus just using a Dustbuster or the like that almost every family shopping for something like this is likely to have anyways? Something else to break, probably hard to find/empty the filter, etc.

OTOH, I still remember, ca. 1985, car shopping with my parents (I was a teen at the time), and the salesman explaining that a particular Peugot (yes, you could buy those in the US back in the day), had seats that would heat up. My mom couldn't stop laughing at the silliness and extravagance of the idea. Heated seats. Bwahahahahahaha!

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by dm200 » Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:44 pm

psteinx wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:40 pm
To be a little more concrete:

It seems the highest trims are:

1) Produced/sold in small quantities - not too much inventory of these on dealer lots
2) Testing grounds for a lot of extravagant features, SOME of which will trickle down to lower trims over time, but some are just kinda stupid, IMO.

For instance, I think it was the last time we went minivan shopping, and the top trim of one make (Honda) had a built in vacuum cleaner, in the trunk area. Now I know minivans need to be vacuumed, perhaps more than other vehicles (because they're larger and tend to have messy kids in them), but what's the real advantage of building a vacuum cleaner IN TO the vehicle, versus just using a Dustbuster or the like that almost every family shopping for something like this is likely to have anyways? Something else to break, probably hard to find/empty the filter, etc.

OTOH, I still remember, ca. 1985, car shopping with my parents (I was a teen at the time), and the salesman explaining that a particular Peugot (yes, you could buy those in the US back in the day), had seats that would heat up. My mom couldn't stop laughing at the silliness and extravagance of the idea. Heated seats. Bwahahahahahaha!
Noticing Toyota Camrys like the older ones we have (late 90's - early 2000s), seems to me I see more of the "LE" models than others. I believe the "LE" was the highest Camry trim level.

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by themesrob » Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:48 pm

dm200 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:44 pm
psteinx wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:40 pm
To be a little more concrete:

It seems the highest trims are:

1) Produced/sold in small quantities - not too much inventory of these on dealer lots
2) Testing grounds for a lot of extravagant features, SOME of which will trickle down to lower trims over time, but some are just kinda stupid, IMO.

For instance, I think it was the last time we went minivan shopping, and the top trim of one make (Honda) had a built in vacuum cleaner, in the trunk area. Now I know minivans need to be vacuumed, perhaps more than other vehicles (because they're larger and tend to have messy kids in them), but what's the real advantage of building a vacuum cleaner IN TO the vehicle, versus just using a Dustbuster or the like that almost every family shopping for something like this is likely to have anyways? Something else to break, probably hard to find/empty the filter, etc.

OTOH, I still remember, ca. 1985, car shopping with my parents (I was a teen at the time), and the salesman explaining that a particular Peugot (yes, you could buy those in the US back in the day), had seats that would heat up. My mom couldn't stop laughing at the silliness and extravagance of the idea. Heated seats. Bwahahahahahaha!
Noticing Toyota Camrys like the older ones we have (late 90's - early 2000s), seems to me I see more of the "LE" models than others. I believe the "LE" was the highest Camry trim level.
I believe there were XLEs as well, which were the top line trim.

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by Nowizard » Mon Jul 29, 2019 2:36 pm

Not on purpose, but there are some safety items or other items you may want such as navigation that are only available with a higher trim model. LE trim for Camry is 4-cylinder, LE+ is 6-cylinder and has some other features that one may or may not want.

Tim

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by Matigas » Mon Jul 29, 2019 3:07 pm

The cost of high dollar trim can be deceiving, often better to just rent, as the long term maintenance cost can be overwhelming. :beer

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by UALflyer » Mon Jul 29, 2019 3:11 pm

randomguy wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:17 pm
If you go to a place like edmunds and look at the TCO and take out depreciation and financing, you still end up with a car that costs ~500/year more to operate. Now that isn't exactly german level of added costs but it is still there. Pick just about any other car and the differences grow more pronounced,.
Edmunds' TCO costs have never had much to do with reality. A Lexus ES and many other cars like it simply don't have any maintenance requirements that are different or more costly than those associated with their non-luxury counterparts.

German cars are a different conversation. I've driven plenty of German cars in my life where the maintenance and repair costs have only been 20% - 25% higher than those of a non-luxury vehicle, while their depreciation has been the same or even lower (obviously, used German ones). There are many German cars that certainly are substantially more expensive to own, but there are also a number of them that actually represent a very reasonable financial deal.

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by Calli114 » Mon Jul 29, 2019 3:18 pm

ncbill wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:24 am
Sunroofs reduce headroom and eventually leak...never again for me.

Leather is just as uncomfortably hot as vinyl once exposed to direct sun in our climate, though if you must aftermarket is often cheaper & higher quality.

If you've got kids you should be using custom-fit seat covers (Costco has nice options) whether the seats are cloth or leather.

Buying one down from the top trim line (to avoid sunroof/leather) is the way we go.
Leaking is a real thing. Imagine my surprise one day in a car wash. The dealer was luckily able to fix the seal, but they couldn't even guarantee that it wouldn't fail again. I was paranoid after that until I got rid of the car.

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by Boglegrappler » Mon Jul 29, 2019 3:19 pm

I typically have gone with the highest trim level, but don't have much issue with the extra cost. When I've dropped down a level or two, I find that the things that I miss most are the automatic climate control. I really dislike fiddling with the fan and temperature setting repeatedly to get the temperature I want.

Most people spend quite a bit of time in their car. I think it just depends on what makes you happy or annoyed when you're in there, and whether the extra several thousand makes that much of a difference to you.

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by wilked » Mon Jul 29, 2019 3:23 pm

upgrade enough to get keyless entry. Something you might not think is important until you have it, then would be hard to go 'back'

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by SR II » Mon Jul 29, 2019 3:40 pm

student wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:19 am
I prefer mid trim to get all the safety feature. Things like leather seats and sunroof that often are included in the highest trim are not important to me.
+1

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by msi » Mon Jul 29, 2019 4:04 pm

No, whichever trim upgrades the seating and has remote start is fine with me. Doesn't have to be the highest level one.

I don't care about sunroofs/panoramic sunroofs, bigger infotainment screens, upgraded sound, paddle shifters, etc.

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by RootSki » Mon Jul 29, 2019 4:28 pm

wilked wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 3:23 pm
upgrade enough to get keyless entry. Something you might not think is important until you have it, then would be hard to go 'back'
I’d add power trunk/tailgate. The ability to open the rear hands free is worth any price.

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by tomd37 » Mon Jul 29, 2019 4:35 pm

Regarding leaking sunroofs - I had a 2001 vehicle for sixteen years with no leaking issues. Just sold a 2010 vehicle this past weekend with no leaking issues. I am not convinced sunroofs have a leaking issue.
Tom D.

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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by Socrates » Mon Jul 29, 2019 4:39 pm

I am just the opposite. I do not like leather seats so I go for a trim that is not bottom line, but not top as it always has the leather. As someone pointed out to cold in winter and too hot summer.
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by lazydavid » Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:01 pm

tomd37 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 4:35 pm
Regarding leaking sunroofs - I had a 2001 vehicle for sixteen years with no leaking issues. Just sold a 2010 vehicle this past weekend with no leaking issues. I am not convinced sunroofs have a leaking issue.
Agreed. Our extended family has had exclusively vehicles with sunroofs or convertibles for 20+ years and never a leak of any sort. The last person I personally knew with a leaky sunroof was my aunt's 1982 Datsun Maxima.

Back on topic, we usually--but not always--buy a high trim if not the highest. But we don't necessarily go fully loaded. My wife's new car (an '18 Q7) is the top trim Prestige with a few additional options, but there are another $19k in options we didn't get. We wanted the Prestige because we were going to get the V6 and Virtual Cockpit anyway, and those items are standard on the Prestige but $$$ on other models. This also let us get the larger 21" factory wheels that I wanted (not available on other trims), and the soft-close doors that my wife wanted (standard on Prestige, not available otherwise), as well as ventilated seats (standard on Prestige, only available as a custom order on other trims, so you'd never find it on a lot).

But it varies. We considered (but eventually decided against) replacing my car earlier this year, and one of the top contenders was the Accord. I would have gotten the Sport trim for sure, as it is the highest trim available with the 2.0T engine and 6MT. Missing a couple of features (notably leather) that I would like, but transmission is the deciding factor for sure.

Trader Joe
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by Trader Joe » Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:16 pm

adimoron wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 8:31 am
Hi All,

I plan to buy a SUV soon and would be buying a new car. I see that the price for trim levels varies drastically. Do you guys buy the highest trims ?

Cars I am considering:
1. Hyundai Palisade
2. Subaru Accent
3. Honda Pilot

I want to stay below 40k but see that Leather seats are available in only higher trims.

Has anyone here gotten the katzkin leather installed ? Reviews suggest that you can buy lower trim and get custom leather fittings done for 2k.

Wanted to know your opinion on:
1. Buying higher trim cars
2. Katzkin leather installs.
No, buying the "highest trim" is not what I do. Best of luck.

WhiteMaxima
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by WhiteMaxima » Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:23 pm

Buy only your need.

DVMResident
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by DVMResident » Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm

We usually buy the lowest trim with the features we want. Last purchase, we were aiming for a Limited Outback (3 of 4 level trim) in late 2017 and they had one 2017 Touring left (4 of 4 level trim). There were no more Limited left at the 3 nearest dealers. The dealer was trying to clear inventory for the 2018 models and sold it to us for the Limited price point. Bonus upgrade. :moneybag If you can hold out a few more months and are a bit flexible on things like color, you might be able to get a discount.

The trims are smartly bundled to make you want the next level. It's rather annoying. But all that said, if you keep your vehicles for 10+ years, I don't seem any issue with buying a trim that matches your needs and wants.

sport
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by sport » Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:22 pm

Nowizard wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 2:36 pm
Not on purpose, but there are some safety items or other items you may want such as navigation that are only available with a higher trim model. LE trim for Camry is 4-cylinder, LE+ is 6-cylinder and has some other features that one may or may not want.
I believe this is incorrect. I own two Camry XLE 4-cylinder models, a 2010 and 2013.

mervinj7
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by mervinj7 » Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:28 pm

RootSki wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 4:28 pm
wilked wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 3:23 pm
upgrade enough to get keyless entry. Something you might not think is important until you have it, then would be hard to go 'back'
I’d add power trunk/tailgate. The ability to open the rear hands free is worth any price.
+1 For our Honda CR-V, we choose the EX-L trim since it came with this option and leather seats. It was invaluable when SO was pregnant. Buy what you want/need.

itaos
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by itaos » Mon Jul 29, 2019 8:50 pm

Aftermarket leather is awesome if you want to select your own color, and not prohibitively expensive (compared to manufacturer price). I have seen Katzkin and purchased Classic Soft Trim with great results. There are not enough Saddle Brown interiors these days...

I purchase whichever trim gets me the mandatory options I have set for my search. Higher trims bring back less relative value in resale, which will not likely be an issue if you run your car til the wheels fall off.

carolinaman
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by carolinaman » Tue Jul 30, 2019 7:05 am

We bought a Hyundai Sonata years ago and got leather installed although it was not an option for the trim we chose. They did a good job and we were happy. We did not need all the bells and whistles of the more expensive trim cars.

sschoe2
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by sschoe2 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 7:07 am

I went with the lowest trim (with automatic transmission) when I bought my Honda Fit. I did a couple long trips where I wished I'd of sprung for the cruise control but otherwise I buy a car that reliably gets me from place to place and serves my needs nothing less nothing more. Not sure it was worth another $2k for just cruise control for the handful of long trips I've taken.

a_movable_life
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by a_movable_life » Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:27 am

I don't know if anyone mentioned:

You can install an after market radio/nav system and better speakers if you want or pay a stereo shop to do it for you. My 2012 Mazda 2 radio is having issues so I might have to do that soon. They have modules you can buy to keep the steering wheel buttons working.

You can also get the better seats from a Junkyard and install them yourself.

Disclaimer I like playing with cars, and eventually I want a truck that looks old with all the modern safety equipment.

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dm200
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by dm200 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:32 am

DVMResident wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm
We usually buy the lowest trim with the features we want. Last purchase, we were aiming for a Limited Outback (3 of 4 level trim) in late 2017 and they had one 2017 Touring left (4 of 4 level trim). There were no more Limited left at the 3 nearest dealers. The dealer was trying to clear inventory for the 2018 models and sold it to us for the Limited price point. Bonus upgrade. :moneybag If you can hold out a few more months and are a bit flexible on things like color, you might be able to get a discount.
The trims are smartly bundled to make you want the next level. It's rather annoying. But all that said, if you keep your vehicles for 10+ years, I don't seem any issue with buying a trim that matches your needs and wants.
Things may have changed since we bought a new car, but our experience often was that we could get the features we wanted by going to a higher trim level at about the same cost - then we got some added features as well. You cannot do this accurately in the car showroom - with a sales person. You need to find the detailed choices in a book or, now, online. For the new cars we purchased as well, when we got the higher trim, we did not end up with anything we really did not want.

Today, perhaps, it is more complicated with models and trim levels that are more complex.

Growing up, my father bought the most basic car - no power steering, manual transmission (on the column), no carpet, no radio, and so on. In the mid 60's, though, he bought a car with an automatic transmission, radio, and the higher trim level. As an older teen driver, I was happy with the better trim. Not sure, but I think the only reason he bought an upgraded car (with automatic transmission) was due to my mother's being ill and having trouble shifting the manual transmission.
Last edited by dm200 on Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

a_movable_life
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by a_movable_life » Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:33 am

White Coat Investor wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:34 pm

No, I think they set them up this way on purpose because people are more likely to buy middle trim levels. By offering something higher (even though almost nobody every buys it) people feel good about buying the middle option. It's a well known marketing technique and I think it's used for trim levels.
Lowest trim level is also sometimes for fleet sales. Rental cars for example. I wonder how many Toyota Yaris super base in white Labcorp goes through. Same with the E250 that gets turned into Wheelchair Vans.

Nowizard
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by Nowizard » Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:25 am

Sport: My error. I meant a Highlander.

Tim

msk
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by msk » Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:46 am

My 4 most recent purchases. I keep all our cars 10+ years:

Ford Expedition: top trim available at the dealer. Wanted navigation (rather useless compared to Google Maps) and leather seats
Toyota Camry: bottom basic trim, grandkids make a mess. Too much % cost difference between basic and top trim (approaches Lexus territory).
Lexus S500: penultimate trim. I thought airline-reclining rear seat over the top in two cars, see next
Mercedes S560L: special order. Loaded with almost all options available, including recliner rear seat. Stupid, but probably the last car I'll buy. age 75.

rankl
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by rankl » Tue Jul 30, 2019 12:00 pm

We recently bought a BMW X.3 with highest trim level because I am interested in the latest tech that comes with Highest trim level.
This also helped us to negotiate much higher discount literally getting the top tier for free.
This Was a custom order, If you are picking up from the lot, You could negotiate much higher discount with higher trim levels.

S&L1940
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by S&L1940 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 12:28 pm

Just sayin... wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:47 am
I am at odds with most car manufacturers. I like a good stereo and want all the advanced safety features, but don’t want a sunroof. However, almost every manufacturer forces you into a higher-end model to get what I want, but won’t sell you a non-base model without a sunroof! I know....first world problems.
Over 30 years with sunroofs, which has become our must have. Sadly, the sunroof always comes with higher trim package.
Can't help it, feel so boxed in when riding in a car with a solid roof :annoyed
Current car 2008 and figuring next one will be our last and will probably lease because into our 80s and we aren't expecting to be driving in our 90s...
Don't it always seem to go * That you don't know what you've got * Till it's gone

DaftInvestor
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by DaftInvestor » Tue Jul 30, 2019 12:44 pm

We typically go for the highest trim levels - sometimes with additional packages.

I don't think I could ever go back to cloth seats again. After having leather for so many years they just feel cheap to me and less comfortable. I agree with others - heated/ventilated seats take care of the heat problem some complain about. And if you get a lighter color like a tan (versus black) they won't be as hot anyway. There are often additional safety features and other luxury/convenience features (Memory seats for example) that are only available in the higher trim levels. Not to mention the upgraded stereo/sound. We keep our cars for a long time so we like to buy what we like versus compromising.

This is one of those areas where you have to decide what's right for you and how you want to prioritize spending your money. If you can afford it and want it - why not.

DaftInvestor
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by DaftInvestor » Tue Jul 30, 2019 12:50 pm

WhiteMaxima wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:23 pm
Buy only your need.
Do you own a White Maxima? The Sentra or Altima would be cheaper choices and likely all you "need" :)

z91
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Re: Do you buy the highest trim car ?

Post by z91 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 1:43 pm

I don't. I buy what I need, but be flexible upwards. If I get a higher trim at no additional cost or something ridiculously low, then I get it. This has happened to me a couple of times where it was end of the quota earning period. They would agree to the price in writing and when I get there they have a slim number left that has a bunch of options pre-installed. I have gotten those options for free in the past, and also negotiated to get the price down so low that it would be silly not to buy it.

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