If you’re wondering where the real value lies in trim levels across the automotive market, we’ve done the homework and found the top ten for 2021.
It’s vital to understand what trim levels are before we dive deeply into the conversation. Think of a trim level as a version of a specific car. For example, the Dodge Charger comes in 5 different trim levels. The SXT is the least expensive and the most basic while the Hellcat Redeye is the most expensive and the most luxurious. Sit these two next to one another and their differences would be obvious despite the fact that they’re both still Chargers.
So, today we dig into which trim levels throughout the automotive market in 2021 are the best value propositions. These top trim level vehicles will provide the best bang for your buck with high-end features that don’t cost an arm and a leg. We’ve decided to avoid anything in the automotive stratosphere though, so no supercars, no ultra-luxury cruisers, and no SUVs that cost as much as your house.
The Lariat trim level for the Ford F-150 provides perhaps the best balance of power, luxury features, and flexibility. Pricing for the Lariat sits between the mid $40,000s and the low $50,000s. For that, you get the freedom to pick whatever bed size you need, the cabin you prefer, and rear-wheel or four-wheel-drive. It also comes with a 2.7L twin-turbo V6 and can be optioned with all the other more powerful motors available. Basically, the Lariat trim level is like unlocking all the best features in a game, pick what fits you best.
The Kia Stinger is likely going the way of the Dodo bird and that’s sad, because it’s a truly outstanding sports sedan. When you dive into the trim levels here you’ll find that the GT is by far the most value-inducing. The GT offers the lowest price and the best drivetrain. It also doesn’t miss out on much over the $6,000 premium that the GT1 package carries. For those who want the best sports sedan for the least amount of money, the rear-wheel-drive, 365 horsepower, Brembo brake clad Stinger GT is the best available for just $39,000.
We’ve seen a bunch of vehicles come and go over the years, but the Armada is stuck in a sort of in-between phase right now. That means big savings for you and the SL trim level is one step away from the top of the line and only $5,000 more than the base Armada. This trim level gives you all the major benefits of a high-end trim package for just $55,900. That nets you a premium audio system, optional quilted leather interior, and remote start among other things.
The Odyssey is an excellent minivan, even in its base LX trim. Customers should be happy if that’s the one that they go for, but the EX trim level adds a lot more options without much of a price bump. You get a remote start, blind-spot monitoring, tri-zone climate control, and more for just an extra $4,000. When we reviewed the Honda Odyssey we liked it quite a bit.
While 2020 was certainly a drag, it did give us some of the best retro-modern SUVs in history. The Defender was joined by the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, the Hummer, and the new Bronco. Nevertheless, the Defender is likely one that will maintain its value incredibly well. In addition, the 2021 Land Rover Defender SE costs $64,000, which is a lot, but it opens up the options list to truly customize your off-roader without completely breaking the bank the way the top-of-the-line $84,000 version does.
The Camaro is better than it’s ever been and while it’s capable to get a faster trim of the Camaro than the 1SS, we think that’s where the value lies. At only $44,000, this is the most inexpensive and yet track-focused version of the car with high-performance Brembo brakes, better drivetrain cooling, and of course, a big 455 horsepower V8 under the hood.
While it’s still a bit early to tell exactly how Tesla cars will fare in the aftermarket, the Model Y should do well. The Rear-Wheel-Drive Standard Range version can be had with “Autopilot” for $51,990 and when compared to everything else on the market, it’s faster, has more features, and can still take you some 244 miles on a single charge. Don’t want self-driving tech? It’s just $41,990 at that point and you can always add the feature later.
This is the only trim level that’s as top as it gets here, but that’s because it’s only $3,000 more than the other version of the Prime. Of course, the Prime is a trim of its own under the RAV4 umbrella and that’s around $10,000 more than the base, gas-powered variant. Nevertheless, the RAV4 Prime XSE is far and away the best RAV4 to have ever existed. We say that the bump in price is well worth having the most efficient RAV4 and (checks notes) second fastest vehicle that Toyota makes to 60mph in your garage.
As the Ford Bronco is returning here in 2021, expect a number of them to be highly optioned affairs with tens of thousands of dollars in extras. For those wanting a bargain off-roader though, there’s nothing better than the base model with the Sasquatch package which adds 35” inch tires, bead-lock capable wheels, locking axles, more ground clearance, and other off-road goodies. The model starts at just $29,990 before the still unpriced Sasquatch package, but this Bronco will hold its value well.
The Challenger R/T is everything sporty about the Camaro without the harshness of a proper sports car. It’s still got gobs of power with a 5.7L HEMI V8 that makes 375 horsepower but it only costs $32,000. It’s far more comfortable than the Chevrolet while still being well-appointed and highly capable of soaking up a long road trip or some track time. Considering that it sounds like the SRT division has just been dissolved, now is the time to get the last of its offerings.