Shopping For A New Car? Comprehensive Option Checklist

Posted: February 16, 2012 in Option Lists
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2012 Dodge Charger with the Blacktop package. What options would you choose for your car?

Choosing options and option packages for a new car can be a daunting task. Some manufacturers simplify the choices while others offer long lists of things; some that should be standard while others are more fantastic than ever.

For example, Honda makes picking the Civic that fits your needs very easy. You simply choose a trim level (DX, LX, EX, EX-L, EX – Nav, EX-L Nav), manual or automatic transmission and the color (no charge for metallic colors). There are no option packages, only accessories that are dealer installed. You can’t even choose the interior color as it’s preselected for you depending on the exterior color.

2012 Honda Civic EX-L Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation. Standard on this model is the leather interior, navigation and automatic transmission. There are no options, just a few dealer-installed accessories.

The top trim level is the EX-L with Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation – MSRP $23,445.  The “L” means it has a leather-trimmed interior and it obviously has Honda’s navigation system. When I built one, the only accessory I added was the $284 Automatic Day/Night rear view mirror.  Add the destination charge of $770 and the total price comes to $24,509. Slap that “Easy” button at Staples!

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the new 2012 BMW 328i is a lesson in decontenting a car to come to a base price that the marketing department can advertise.

The base MSRP for the lovely, all-new 328i sedan is $34,900.   For 2012, you can choose from three “styles” to fit your personality: Sport (+$2,500), Modern (+$2,100) or Luxury (+$2,100) – or you can just build your own “base” sedan, which is what I did.

Metallic paint – $550; Dakota Leather – $1,450;   Cold Weather Package – $1,350 (includes heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, split-fold-down rear seats and retractable headlight washers); Premium Package – $3,600 (includes power front seats with driver’s side memory, auto dimming interior and exterior mirrors, lumbar support, keyless entry/ignition, universal garage door opener and a moonroof); Premium Sound – $950 (Harman Kardon  surround sound and Sirius Satellite Radio with a 1 year subscription); Technology Package – $2,550 (includes navigation and a head-up display); Rear-view camera – $400 which requires the addition of Park Distance Control – $750.

2012 BMW 328i Sedan. Base $34,900 + $895 destination. Just add $10,000 and you have a nicely-equipped car.

Throw in a destination charge of $895 and suddenly your car costs $44,945 – a cool $10,000 more than the base. And there are still many more options and packages available that easily push the sticker price over $50,000 – a far cry from $35,000.

I’d like to point out that a rear view camera should be part of the navigation package – it is on much less expensive cars. BMW makes you pay extra for folding rear seats, something standard on inexpensive subcompact cars. And why do I have to get four heated seats and a heated steering wheel as part of the Cold Weather package when all I wanted was heated seats. It’s maddening.

However, as I’ve railed about in the past, no one has more egregious prices or an option list longer than Porsche with its sports cars. These days, you’re lucky you get an engine, transmission and power windows for the base price.  Lime Gold Metallic paint? Ja – $2,580! Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) automatic transmission? Ja Ja – $3,200! Achtung, Baby, get ready to pay.

The 2012 Porsche Boxster in Lime Gold Metallic paint.

Below is my latest condensed list of options to consider or remember when you’re car shopping. (Option_List download)

1 All-wheel drive (if needed or plan to drive in snow/off road areas)
2 Aluminum alloy wheels (no wheel covers)
3 Ambient/outside temperature display
4 Auto-dimming rear and power folding side view mirrors
5 Automatic headlights
6 Bi-Xenon/HID headlights (high and low beam)
7 Blind spot and cross path detection
8 Cruise control – adaptive if available
9 Convertible top – fully-automatic operation
10 Cup holders – heated and cooled
11 Digital compass
12 Dual-zone, digital automatic climate control
13 Floor mats – color matched front and rear (should be included)
14 Fog lamps
15 Heated and cooled front seats
16 Heated steering wheel
17 Height adjustable tailgate (if a wagon or SUV)
18 Hill assist (no roll back)
19 Infotainment System:

( a ) App-enabled system – e.g., Pandora, Stitcher, etc.

( b ) Bluetooth 2.0 for hands-free phone & streaming audio

( c ) Backup camera

( d ) HD Radio

( e ) Hard drive music and media storage

( f ) iPhone/iPod/Smartphone integration

( g ) Navigation (hard drive), real-time traffic, TravelLink

( h ) SiriusXM Satellite Radio

( i ) Steering wheel-mounted controls

( j ) Upgraded power, speakers, subwoofer

( k ) USB charging port(s)

( l ) Voice control
20 Keyless entry and ignition
21 Lane Assist (watches for signs of driver fatigue)
22 Leather seats/interior or leather with Alcantara inserts
23 Mirrors – power side, folding, heated, auto-dimming
24 Mirror – rear view, auto-dimming
25 Parking Sensors front and rear
26 Power seats, 8+ position driver & passenger with 2+ memory settings
27 Power trunk/hatch/tailgage open and close
28 Power windows with one-touch up/down, all windows
29 Power folding rear seats (for SUVs)
30 Rain-sensing wipers
31 Rear HVAC vents
32 Seats, Power 8+ position, driver & passenger
33 Seats, 2+ memory settings
34 Seats with adjustable thigh support
35 Smart high-beam system
36 Spare tire – real, not run-flat tires
37 Split folding rear seats (if a coupe or sedan)
38 Sunroof, power open and close
39 Tilt/telescope steering wheel (power)
40 Universal garage door openers – HomeLink
  1. APRIL BARBERA says:

    I am searching for a vehicle that can seat at least 7, has a towing capacity of at least 5000lbs, can charge items while the vehicle is off (such as cell phones) and has adjustable pedals. Does this even exist anymore?

    • Todd Bianco says:

      There aren’t too many SUVs that fit your requirements. Perhaps a Dodge Durango or Chevy Tahoe/Suburban. I’m pretty sure the Duango has adjustable pedals, but I don’t think any of them charge cell phones while the car is off. There may be an accessory 12v plug or even a 110 v home-like plug, but I think the key has to be on for it to be “live.”

      The 2016 Honda Pilot fits 7 people and can tow up to 5,000 pounds… but it won’t be as roomy as something really large like the Chevy Suburban, GMC Yukon XL or Cadillac Escalade ESV.

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