In reply to:
In purchasing a used SR20, what should one look for? What mods are considered essential?
Without being to glib, the only “mod” which is “essential” is the car necessary to get you to the airport.
Flying is rarely “essential”. Even the least expensive SR20 will outperform any other aircraft in its price category on the market (IMHO). Given the fundamental quality of the aircraft, and I can only speak for myself, I am a very happy owner. AND, that doesn’t even include the great trips, good friends, and this forum.
As to the differences. Many owners, have an Arnav MFD, some with engine monitoring. Newer models have the Avidyne system. Even the Arnav has had a major software and hardware upgrades. In my case, the updated soft and hardware cost an additional $2000+ Even inflight weather is now available. Additionally there are many other extras which could be added, such as leather seating, stormscope, TCAD 2 or 3 blade props, 3 different versions of autopilot, several variations on transponder, different Garmin models, etc. Many owners have also added their own extras. Heaters, covers, and other special items.
In short, you tend to get what you pay for. Just make sure that you understand and want the equiptment that you are buying.
The aircraft frames and engines are all similar, but the avionics alone can vary by over $70,000.+/-
EXAMINE YOUR MISSION
Buy what you need, or buy what you want, or buy both.
Don’t buy what you don’t need (unless you just like to have the gizmos and braging rights.
Do you need TKS or do you just want it.
How fast do you need to go.
An SR22 will get to Talahassee from Miami 15 min sooner than an SR20, but burns 40% more gas, and insurance.
3 blades are sexier than 2 but it is also heavier thereby decreasing your payload.
Just look carefully at the “toy factor”
Every car dealer knows that they make more on the “extras” than they do on the car.
If we all had any sense, we would buy 5 year old cars and planes. Let someone else take the depriation. I prefer to take a better price.