QOTD: Which New Vehicle is the Worst Waste of Base?

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2014 Fiat 500L Exterior-003

Each week, TTAC’s basic car correspondent Matthew Guy brings you an Ace of Base article. Matt’s carefully selected examples are base models which tick many desirability boxes, proving you don’t need thousands of dollars in engine upgrades, brakes, pieces of trim, or tech packages to have good and enjoyable transportation. Overall, the Ace of Base series is positive and uplifting, presenting us with the best of the best of base. The other half of the basic coin is being ignored, however, and that’s where you come in.

Today we seek your nominations for the new vehicle which best represents a Waste of Base. 

Now, I know it’s hard for you all to be critical of vehicles, so we’ll have to muddle through today. Some food for thought on what makes a Worst of Base is in order.

Value is of course a primary concern for a base model, and a good starting point for considerations. Think about vehicles which, even in base trim, represent not-great value for money. Think about being relegated to wheel covers, a certain too-small engine, or infotainment from a prior generation. Maybe you can only get one or two bland, flat colors on the outside. And speaking of exterior treatments, maybe the manufacturer doesn’t try quite as hard with the exterior trim of base models as they do with higher price points in the model range. I can tell you’re waiting for an example.

Image: 2017 Dodge Journey SE, via FCA

Here it is — the Dodge Journey. The base Journey trim is SE, which I think stands for Somewhat Equipped. And that’s an ambitious title. Hope you like those wheel covers!

This trim also has a different and poorer-looking bumper than higher-up versions, which exchanges this sedate-looking front end for one with a more crossover-like look, plus fog lamps. The price point here is just over $21,000. As you suspected, it’s front-wheel drive, and does not contain a Pentastar V6. Nope, just a 2.4-liter four-cylinder. This engine is not a new Fiat version, but rather dates back to the dark days of the Dodge Caliber. Power heads up front via a four-speed automatic, which is equally archaic and dates from the Chrysler Sebring era.

It only seats five people in this trim (a third-row seat being $1,995 extra), and passengers won’t be making any Bluetooth calls or using any wireless device inside, unless they have a cable. The Dodge Journey SE handily earns a Waste of Base title, and buyers would be well advised to look elsewhere. Perhaps they might look across the showroom at the Grand Caravan.

What’s your pick for Waste of Base?

[Image: FCA]