If "car twins" are virtually the same car, why the different prices?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1995

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a question about the difference between "twins." You know, like the Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable twins, and the Plymouth Voyager/Dodge Caravan duet. Are these twins exactly the same? If so, why the price difference?

RAY: They ARE basically the same, Tom. The price difference is mostly a marketing tactic. For example, Mercury is positioned as more "upscale" than run-of-the-mill Ford.

TOM: The way they make the Sable more upscale is to include a bunch of options in the base model that the Taurus does not include in its base model. The most significant being air conditioning. But when you put the same options in both cars, and add up the costs, the Sable ends up costing about $400 more.

RAY: And for that $400, you get slightly different styling, you get the name "Mercury" on your car, and you get a tachometer.

TOM: Of course, your neighbors will also think you're very successful when they see you pull into the driveway in a Mercury, as opposed to a plain, old Ford.

RAY: Either that, or they'll think you're a knucklehead for spending an extra $400 for a tachometer.

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