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Is an Automotive Special Edition Really Special?

In the automotive world, car companies are often coming out with “special editions” of their models. Special editions can have all sorts of names — from something as simple as merely “Special Edition” to names that evoke the automaker’s heritage, or geographical locations, or brands that have a tie-in to that particular model — like, for instance, the Ford Explorer “Eddie Bauer” edition, which was popular throughout the 1990s.

But are special editions really special? In other words, if you buy a special edition car, are you really getting something extra — something you wouldn’t be getting with a normal model? We’re taking a quick look at the “special edition” to find out if it’s really worth your extra money over a normal model.

Usually, They Aren’t

In most cases, special editions aren’t exactly “special.” Instead, most automaker special editions are released when a car is aging, as newer competitors have arrived. If, for example, Car A was released in 2014 and Car B, a rival, came out in 2017, the manufacturers of Car A may create the “Car A Special Edition” in 2018 to try and spur sales — and convince people that they have a new, special version.

In many cases, “special edition” models usually involve little more than a few aesthetic components added to a car to give it a slightly different look — such as a new interior color, a new wheel design or a new exterior color with unique “special edition” badging. Those models are hardly special — but car companies know that some car shoppers may see them and become excited at the prospect of having a new, unique variant that others don’t have.

But Sometimes…

In some cases, however, “special edition” models offer a little more than just cosmetic upgrades. Some automakers — most notably, Honda — debut “special edition” models with a few equipment upgrades for a little less than you’d pay to get those features if you stepped up to the next trim level. A “special edition” version of the Honda Accord, for example, may have leather upholstery and heated seats for an extra $1,000 over the regular model — whereas you’d have to pay an extra $3,000 to get those features in conjunction with other equipment if you went through the brand’s traditional trim levels.

And it’s not only Honda that does this. Several automakers offer features on certain “special edition” models that are either pricey options or unavailable in regular trim levels. One example is the Jeep Wrangler, which offers myriad special editions. While many of them simply involve different wheels and exterior graphics, some include desirable off-roading accessories like a locking differential.

Find Out What’s Involved

Our suggestion to you: If you hear that an automaker is offering a “special edition,” or any other sort of “edition,” find out what’s involved before you get too excited. If the “special edition” includes only a rear spoiler, or some added graphics, or some new wheels, ask yourself whether it’s really worth the extra money to add those features — or if you could make do with a normal trim level and save some cash. Simply put: Don’t fall for the “special edition” without first finding out what it entails.

Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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