You’ve seen a vehicle you really like in person or on a dealer’s website, and it comes with a fantastic price. You visit the dealership only to find out that the price and photo don’t go together. The price you saw was for the base model while the photo was of a model with extra vehicle packages.
You decide to go for the base model or maybe even a higher trim that still fits in your price range. As the salesperson discusses your options, you see the dollar signs adding up. How do you know which packages and options to add and which to skip?
Trims vs Packages
You may not realize that many of those packages that are extra for the base model are included in higher vehicle trims. When you visit a manufacturer’s website and look at the specs page, you’ll see all the features listed that are included on any model. They usually have one mark for standard, meaning the feature automatically comes with that trim. The specs will list other features as optional, meaning you can add them for an extra cost.
If you pay close attention to the specs, you’ll see certain features listed as optional on lower trims and standard on higher trims. For instance, you may be able to add an option or package that includes heated seats on the base trim. On a higher trim, those heated seats are already included.
So, what does this mean for you, the buyer? Before looking at packages for your car, you’ll want to see which features are included with each trim level. Look at the price difference between the trims to know how much you’ll be paying to get those bonus features.
Some of the lower trims will include options that you can purchase separately. One common example is with color. Base trims may be offered in four colors while higher trims include six or eight. You can usually change to one of those “special” colors at a cost of a few hundred dollars. If you’re only interested in one or two options, purchasing them as extras may be the best way to go. Even with the added options, the lower trim is likely to be less expensive than a higher trim.
The one big downside of buying options is that the dealership may not have a model with the exact options you want, especially if you have a long list. The only way to get those options may be to custom order your vehicle and wait for a couple of months or longer to get it.
Manufacturers often put options that are similar together in one package. Some packages are available for all trims while others are limited to specific trims. For example, a technology package may have a larger touchscreen, rear-seat entertainment, and extra safety features.
Buying packages is often cheaper than purchasing each option separately. However, you could also end up buying several more features when you only wanted one or two. For example, you may want heated seats, but the comfort package includes heated and ventilated seats, power reclining rear seats, and ambient lighting.
Choosing the Right Packages
Packages often have a better resale value than adding options in individually. However, they are also often more expensive with a package adding a few thousand onto the sale price.
With so many choices and different prices, it can get overwhelming to try and select your vehicle. Just remember that you must balance cost with the amenities you really want to make your new vehicle affordable and enjoyable to drive and own.