The timeless appeal of base models and a la carte options – Terry McGean @Hemmings

The timeless appeal of base models and a la carte options – Terry McGean @Hemmings

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While seeking a momentary reprieve the other day, I stole over to the Ford Motor Company website to see what the upcoming new Bronco was all about.

It’s been a hot topic among enthusiasts lately, and though I’ve generally been more of an on-road kind of guy, the prospect of a four-door Jeep alternative that could double as the family SUV seemed pretty appealing.Once I got into the “configurator” on the website so I could spec out my dream Bronco, I was able to verify one of the things I’d heard about the new truck: That among the broad spectrum of trim levels being offered, the lineup begins with one Ford actually tags simply as “Base.” I imagine a lot of excited would-be Bronco buyers skip right over that and on to the more elaborate packages, but that Base offering was the one that got my attention.

The concept of the à la carte option menu is one that seems nearly dead in today’s car market, where upgraded equipment is most often grouped into increasingly larger packages that require consumers to take lots of stuff they might not have wanted just to get the one or two items they did. Not only does this make the prospect of new car shopping more expensive, it also snuffs the buyer’s ability to tailor-make a vehicle expressly to his or her particular tastes.

I’ve lamented the passing of those days when you could go into a dealer and select each individual order code, in part because I’ve long been a fan of base models ordered with just enough extra bits to make them unique and interesting. So, while today that might mean a new Bronco “Base” with the Sasquatch off-road package, back in the day it could have been a Chevy Biscayne with a big-block, or a Ford Custom 300 with a factory four-speed.

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