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Help Me Choose!



  • Kirstie@EdmundsKirstie@Edmunds Posts: 10,677
    In my opinion, no. It's fun to drive, but I would never own a VW out of warranty. Though you may purchase IN warranty, that won't last too long. No VW dealers nearby definitely would kill the deal for me.

    At your price point, I'd consider the Optima the best value (still). The other options you mentioned are very likely to be closer to $20K than to $15K.

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  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,284
    edited April 2012
    If I were going to go VW I'd go for the GTI. It has pretty much been perfected, as it hasn't changed much in lots of years.

    It's way more fun than a Jetta, and it's not all that expensive either.

    In my experience, VW, while far from reliable, is still FAR MORE reliable than a Dodge.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,708
    The big deal with manuals in Los Angles is that they actually are not a problem at all. I live here and the thing is, that they are easier to drive than an automatic in most cases because you just drive like a truck driver. That is, instead of trying to follow at a set distance like a good little drone, you ignore gaps and just keep the thing in 2nd gear the whole time. You have to un-learn your automatic driving style and re-learn for manuals.

    Note that this takes a week at most. I hate shifting and during the typical Los Angeles traffic jam, my average number of shifts is well under ten in half an hour. You just have to not care and stubbornly creep and grind along letting the engine rev up and down in 2nd gear, with the occasional shift to 1st. (my vehicle drives fine in 2nd gear from about 5mph to 40mph, giving me a huge range to play with - the trick is to leave yourself enough space to slowly rev down and coast before the car in front moves and stops again. While they are going and stopping constantly, you are more like a yo-yo behind them

    Having to hover over the brake because your car wants to creep forward constantly is far more annoying to me, actually, in heavy traffic. And, there is also the issue of darting into gaps and making lane changes. Automatics are pretty much a slam the pedal and pray affair, while with a manual, you're already most likely in the right gear and can simply go - no lag, no worries.

    What matters most in all of this is the ease of the clutch itself. Some vehicles like the Celica and the Accord/Civic are almost video game easy. Some are like a bench press. Most of this is not the clutch itself but the over-sized spring that they put on the pedal, combined with the fact that many clutches are set to engage when you're nearly at the floor. Ideally, the clutch should move 20-30 degrees. Most are set up from the factory closer to 45-60 degrees, which is very tiring.

    Back to car recommendations:

    The Lexus IS300. It's as close to that classic late 90s "BMW" feel that Japan ever got, IMO. It feels great. Reliability is, well, it might as well be a Corolla, since they share a lot of the same DNA. (this is a good thing, mind you) They made an is300 wagon in manual, which is a blast to drive. The automatic is also fun if it has the paddle shifters. Unlike a lot of these, this is an earlier design, so it really does stay in the gear you tell it to.

    Also, add a mid 2000s Mercedes C230K to the list. Note - manual only, zero options model (ie - manual seats, even, if you can find it that way). These are famous for getting 30+mpg and driving, well, like a Mercedes. Manual because you don't want a Mercedes automatic and no options because even in base trim, it's a nice car - and there's nothing to break. Note that you might be looking for a while to find one as nobody wants to sell theirs. Well, except for the 3 door coupe. These are everywhere and nobody wants theirs, apparently. Great cars, though - like a modern take on the BMW 318Ti.

    The first generation Rav-4 while funky looking, is a good choice as well. Get one with 4WD, though, as it allows you to do a lot more things in the mountains surrounding Los Angeles, and is actual 4WD - not all wheel drive. So you get 2WD gas mileage but when you need to go off-road, you have options. (and resale value is much better) The automatic is reliable but boring as paste.

    If you want new, a good option is a brand new Jeep Patriot with manual. Why? Because year-end incentives make these go out the door for close to 14K. That buys a lifetime of repairs (what with new Corollas and Civics approaching 20K?), and the factory warranty is there as well. It's a big cheap box, and perfect for just getting around in a city where your car will get dings and dents. Also, the 4WD option is quite decent off-road. I know nobody things of Los Angeles as "off road", but it is surrounded by a few hundred thousand square miles of mountains and deserts. Plus, it's great if you want to go skiing in the winter - AWD vehicles still require chains and mostly fail anyways.
  • rustumrustum Posts: 100
    edited April 2012
    Not sure, if it is the right place to ask. My daily driver is Accord. We do have 2001 V6 sonata. Wife is using Sonata once in a while for quick trip to kid school or grocery store. We can definitely live with one car time being. I am just wondering, if it is a good idea to get rid of old Sonata. It suspension is making all kind of noises. I would like to get rid of it before it breaks down.
    We might need a second car once she starts working down the line. Do we get any incentive from TX state for giving up 10years old to purchase small car?
  • rustumrustum Posts: 100
    Any help regarding this?
  • Kirstie@EdmundsKirstie@Edmunds Posts: 10,677
    You probably haven't gotten an answer because no one here is familiar with what Texas offers. I will say that I do not know of any incentives offered by states to trade in a vehicle, other than the tax break offered by some states - you only pay tax on the difference between trade-in value and new car purchase price, not the whole purchase price. But I don't know about Texas.

    It is also a personal financial decision. A 10-year-old vehicle will eventually have issues. If you think the issues are too much to live with, you should get rid of it.

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  • rustumrustum Posts: 100
    Thanks for the help. Carfax offered me $700. I am trying to see if I can find a private buyer for little more.
  • Kirstie@EdmundsKirstie@Edmunds Posts: 10,677
    You might hop over to our Real World Trade-In Values discussion, post the details about your vehicle, and see what experienced members think about a good private-party asking price.

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  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,284
    Having to hover over the brake because your car wants to creep forward constantly is far more annoying to me, actually, in heavy traffic. And, there is also the issue of darting into gaps and making lane changes. Automatics are pretty much a slam the pedal and pray affair, while with a manual, you're already most likely in the right gear and can simply go - no lag, no worries.

    You can shift an Automatic into neutral if you are tired of pushing the brake. Most brakes have a lot of power brake behind them, so the effort is minimal. However, shifting to N just like in a manual risks rolling forward or backward and causing a collision if you don't have your foot on the brake anyway.

    As for darting into gaps with an automatic... it is not a slam and pray affair if you choose wisely. Competent Automatics will shift fairly quickly, and the best ones actually have two clutches and shift faster than the world's best race car driver could with a manual. My '03 Accord's 5-speed auto was adequately fast. My '06 A3's DSG is lightning fast. Choose your automatics wisely!
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    With gas prices approaching $5/gallon again, I would not get a manual. Most modern automatics do a very good job of maximizing gas mileage; there simply is not need for a manual and the sales figures of manuals vs automatics bear this out.

    I drove a manual for 12 years and eventually grew tired of the 10 mile backups in heavy traffic. On the clutch, off the clutch etc.

    Although I have to say since I got rid of the manual the state DOT did a great job in reconstruction of the major portions of the 10 mile ride where these infamous backups used to occur. Getting through the bad stretches is not much, much easier.
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    Why not get a few year old Prius, which has a nice interior big back seat and trunk area, gets 50mpg and it very reliable. You can probably get on in the mid-teens.
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    Yeah and in a couple of years he can spend several thousand on battery replacements. :sick:
  • rustumrustum Posts: 100
    That is how exactly I am feeling with my 2010 Accord purchase. MPG on Accord with city driving is not good. Prius could have been better purchase. Only thing I noticed is insurance premium. Prius insurance cost seems to be higher (My colleague pays 70% more for his Prius compared to Accord).
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    The insurance for my Honda Fit and Prius are the same. So your colleague has both the Accord and Prius of the same year and pays 70% more for the Prius?

    And it's a myth that you'll pay "thousands in a few years" for batteries in hybrids. The Prius has been in production for over 10 years and there are no reports of expensive battery replacements. Just the opposite in fact with Prius's at 150,000 to 200,000 miles on the same battery pack. And when a there is a battery issue, it's normally just one or a few cells and not the entire battery pack needing replacement.

    Considering the reliability of the Prius on all the various components, long-term the maintenance costs are actually lower. What if you have a VW Jetta, Malibue, or any other less reliable car for example with 150,000 miles and you're paying thousands to replace various electronic components, AC pumps, water pumps, alternators, power steering pumps, etc... Even if you did have to replace some Prius battery cells at 150,000 miles, you'd still end up with less maintenance costs than with comparable vehicles.

    Plus if you drove a Prius 150,000 miles at 48mpg average as compared with another sedan only averaging 28mpg at $3.75/gallon, you'd save $8,370 in gas with the Prius. Plus you'd have a more reliable car.
  • dc_driverdc_driver Posts: 712

    I think you make some excellent points. And when gas hits $5 a gallon (which I am sure it will in the next few years) the Prius will be even more of great commuter car.

    I really like the Prius and have known several folks that have owned them. I think they are a great value. That said, they are just not for me (obviously everyone has an opinion). I prefer a car with more pickup/acceleration, and less electronic/numb steering. I have been driving sporty cars and sedans the last 23 years and it is hard to adjust.

    But I agree with you that reliability or resale should not really be a concern with the Prius. I myself used to question longevity with the batteries and potential repair and resale, but we clearly have enough data now to know those concerns should not affect a buyer.

    So, for me, it just comes down to sacrificing acceleration and overall ride quality for gas savings.. I ended up meeting in the middle with a 4cyl turbo that meets my demands of acceleration and handling when I want it, but can still hit mid 30's on the highway for gas mileage on regular unleaded.
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    How much are you getting batteries for then? What's the replacement cost of a worn-out battery system on a Prius? I'm reading anywhere between $2000 and $6000 depending on where they source the batteries and which generation Prius. Which definitely qualifies as "thousands."
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    I completely agree that the Prius has no sporty flavor and is more of an appliance car. Like I said in my previous post, ANY car can have a few thousand dollars of repairs after 150,000+ miles, but here's more info for you: he-environment-and/

    And here it says from a 2008 article, "The carmaker isn't doing much business in replacement batteries though - with some 500,000 Priuses now on the road in this country fewer than 300 battery packs have been replaced, and many of those were batteries damaged in accidents." teries-says-business-slow---for-now.html

    It really depends on what the alternative car you're buying and the reasons. I was more interested in space, reliability and MPG, so I choose the Prius. If 5-10 years down the road I need to spend a couple thousand on a new battery, then I'll look back at all the gas I've saved, and know that I still came out ahead.
  • lisalizlisaliz Posts: 5
    I am looking for a good, solidly built small car that handles well. My #1 priority, due to my medically heat sensitive son and our brutal climate, is a strong A/C - preferably one that can put a frost on you. I also want firm, supportive seats.

    My current car is a 2001 Jetta, which is just about perfect. Unless you consider the dreadful reliability. I decided to unload it years ago but never found anything I preferred, and now the elderly A/C is forcing my hand. Unfortunately the latest version of the Jetta is a downgrade - I'd rather move up than down.

    I'm not big on cars as status symbols. In fact when I had the chance to test drive a used Mercedes the hood ornament kind of bugged me. And whatever I buy now will probably be passed down to my boys when they learn to drive in 6-7 years, so there's that. I don't really need teenage boys driving a Mercedes to high school. However safety features might be good.

    Price? I tend to be frugal, but will also pay for quality/value. So I'm not specifying a price point; what I'm willing to pay depends on what I get for my money. I chose a Jetta over a fairly comparable Audi last time.

    I am apparently style blind. I actually think the Prius is a good looking car. I know, I know, but it's not fair to criticize someone who just admitted being blind. So feel free to recommend something that is butt-ugly.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,629
    edited April 2012
    How about a CPO Rabbit or Golf? Solidly built, reliable (much better record than past VWs), factory warranty, and a lot of car for the money. Since you like VWs e.g. 2001 Jetta, you should like how the Rabbit/Golf ride and drive. And more practical (esp. as a school car) than a sedan. And very strong on safety--look for a Rabbit with ESC (standard on later Rabbits, and the 2010+ Golf).

    The Golf is arguably the highest quality compact available for a reasonable price. It hasn't been de-contented like so many other compacts have been in recent years (e.g. the new Jetta). And it isn't even ugly! :)

    Another other good choice IMO is the Mazda3i (with Skyactiv for great fuel economy). The Focus is a nice car also, good blend of ride and handling, but as a brand new design reliability is not yet proven. A used Civic is another possibility--handles better than the new ones, and a proven design. I doubt you'd like how the Corolla and Elantra handle. The new Impreza is a very nice car also, not quite as crisp handling as the Mazda3 or Golf, but you are paying extra in multiple ways for the AWD, which if you don't need it doesn't match your frugal nature.
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    If you'd rather go up then down, I'd test drive a Passat or Fusion.
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