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What Car is Right For Me? Help Me Choose!

patpat Member Posts: 10,421
edited April 2018 in General
Need help choosing your next vehicle?

Tell us your price range, are you thinking New or Used, buying or leasing, what features are must-haves, what other thoughts are on your mind, and let us give you a hand! Tell us your criteria as specifically as you can.

You'll find lots of helpful folks here who can give you useful suggestions.



  • willow25willow25 Member Posts: 2
    I'm buying a "new" car by the end of the year and my first choice is a Nissan Maxima. I've read that they are very reliable and hold their value well. My budget is probably going to allow for a 98-99 and I was wondering if it's worth buying a car that's almost 3-4 years old. Any suggestions or comments would help a lot.
  • dindakdindak Member Posts: 6,632
    Buy a 2001/ 2002 Oldsmobile Intrigue. It's one of the best sedans on the market with great handling and one of the best V6 engines around, a 3.5L DOHC producing 215HP. The deals should be great this year as it's the last on for Intrigue and the warrany on them has been extended to 5 years. The car is recommended by most magazines (including Consumer Reports), but is unfortunately over looked by most consumers. It is the sleeper of all sleepers on the market in my opinion.
  • peteri1peteri1 Member Posts: 21
    Am looking at 1 of 4 choices to replace my 99GS400. I've read everything here and on other forums and have seen much conflicting info:
    4 options:
    Lexus LS430 with custom/luxury package
    Infiniti Q45 with premium pckg
    Audi A-6 4.2 loaded
    Audi A-8 not stripped, but not loaded

    Chicago winters--had Blizzaks on the GS--worked fine. My 95Q was pig in snow, but I'm sure 2002Q is a world away from that. I've heard Audi has some QC problems, but I like their maintenance being included. I'm a happy Lexus driver. The Q appears to offer the most for the $$. Will lease and in this economy, I would think I could command an attractive package. Can I go wrong with any of the 4? Am I missing something?
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Member Posts: 1,118
    Generally a 3-4 year old car range is a good one because they are basically sound. If possible get one that is still under warrenty. But if not, make sure that a trusted Maxima mechanic goes over it thoroughly. Their V-6 is one of the best rated for over 10 years.

    Personally I am amazed at the great strides in American Quality recently, so the Olds may not be a bad idea other.
  • dindakdindak Member Posts: 6,632
    Maxima and Intrigue are both excellent choices for midsize sedans.
  • canadianclcanadiancl Member Posts: 1,078
    If I had that kind of budget, I would go for the A6 4.2 - - best combination of sport and luxury amongst the 4 choices.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 32,613
    Actually, I was about to agree with the A6, but I just looked at the specs here on Edmunds. Both the A6 and A8 are 4000 lbs, and considering the A8 gets a bump in HP over the A6, I don't think performance difference is an issue. So, considering that and the fact that the A6 would possibly be to small for you based on the rest of your list, I say go for the A8. I think you'll find the AWD to be the best addition to a car you could ever have hoped for.

    Fairly steady: '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '01 Xterra, '20 S90 T6, '22 MB Sprinter 2500 4x4 diesel, '97 Suzuki R Wagon; '96 Opel Astra; '08 Maser QP / Rotating stock, but currently: '96 Daihatsu HiJet, '97 Alto Works, '11 Mini Cooper S

  • black_tulipblack_tulip Member Posts: 435
    I'd pass Intrigue only for one reason: crash test results are terrible...
  • paulo3paulo3 Member Posts: 113
    I would recommend the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry as my choices for a sedan. The new Nissan Altima looks impressive but I would wait until the reliability of the 2002 is proven.

    The new BMW 525 is another nice car and is rated highly by many auto publications.
  • kostamojen2kostamojen2 Member Posts: 284
    The only way to figure out what car you like is a test drive. And theres no reason to not test drive every car on the market :)

    But dont just test drive one car and say "oh, i like it" cause if you dont test drive the best cars and all the cars in your price range even (or out, helps as well), then you dont have any reference :P
  • peteri1peteri1 Member Posts: 21
    LS, A8 and the Q feel larger than the A6. To get an A8 similarly equipped to the Q or A6, the sticker would balloon to $73,000. The LS would come in at $63,000, the Q at $59400 and the A6 at about $56,500. Also, the A8 interior, although classy, looks dated compared to the others. It looks like for 2002, the A6 has dropped its ambitions, atmospheres options.

    The Audi's best color combination (in my opinion)is limited to the S6 Avant Wagon. After re-reviewing all the specs, I'd rank them A6, Q45, A8 and LS430. However, I consider them all great. Whoever deals will get the nod.
  • jdbtensaijdbtensai Member Posts: 122
    i'm thinking of getting an audi s4 in the near future. anybody have one? what did you compare it with? anybody think of getting one and not get one? why? what did you get?
  • stgreenstgreen Member Posts: 74
    I looked at S4 and 330xi. i liked s4 interior and exterior better, but ride was harsh as a daily commuter (17" summer tires and wheels) and sport suspension as well. also, as a lease, i was going to have to purchase 4 snow tires (actually 5 - one for the trunk), because i live in new england...

    but, i really liked driving the s4. if it was for around town with little commute day in day out, i would have opted for s4..
    hope it helps.
    ps- i may ultimately get out of bmw lease early due to car having VERY little space and go for loaded passat GLX - what some call an audi A5...
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 32,613
    So why not go for the S6 Avant? I think that is a great car. Are you just not ready for that switch to a wagon? ;)

    Fairly steady: '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '01 Xterra, '20 S90 T6, '22 MB Sprinter 2500 4x4 diesel, '97 Suzuki R Wagon; '96 Opel Astra; '08 Maser QP / Rotating stock, but currently: '96 Daihatsu HiJet, '97 Alto Works, '11 Mini Cooper S

  • peteri1peteri1 Member Posts: 21
    My wife's got a Trooper and two of three kids are gone and the one left has his own wheels, old, but running. My mid-life crisis mentality won't let me get a wagon. A four door is a business need, which I don't mind--wouldn't get a coupe anyway.

    I can't understand why no one's buying the new Q. It's got the most equipment for the dollar, although Motorwerks in Barrington, Illinois claims to be selling their Premium-equipped Qs at sticker. Their Lexus mindset isn't putting many Qs on the road. There is always 3-4 Premium Qs on the lot.

    I hope to have a couple brands competing. When I got my GS400, I ended up travelling 40 miles for the best deal and never established a relationship with the dealer. The local Audi dealer is building a huge new showroom. They'll have to sell a lot of steel (or aluminum) to pay for it.
  • dindakdindak Member Posts: 6,632
    This topic is way too broad. People are in at all different price points and vehicle types.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 32,613
    Well, considering yours is only the 17th message in the last 2 weeks, I'd have to say that breaking the topic up would be downright silly. I wouldn't worry about the diversity until it starts getting out of hand. Its more than manageable now as far as I can see.

    Fairly steady: '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '01 Xterra, '20 S90 T6, '22 MB Sprinter 2500 4x4 diesel, '97 Suzuki R Wagon; '96 Opel Astra; '08 Maser QP / Rotating stock, but currently: '96 Daihatsu HiJet, '97 Alto Works, '11 Mini Cooper S

  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 32,613
    Well, obviously, you gotta get what you'll be happy with. You can't fight your urges, I certainly know that.

    Personally, the sheer power and performance of the S6 would make me overlook the fact that its a wagon. My conscience would keep me awake at night if I chose a slower sedan just because its a sedan. But that's me. If it bothers you then stay clear. You have to be happy in your choice.

    good luck.

    Fairly steady: '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '01 Xterra, '20 S90 T6, '22 MB Sprinter 2500 4x4 diesel, '97 Suzuki R Wagon; '96 Opel Astra; '08 Maser QP / Rotating stock, but currently: '96 Daihatsu HiJet, '97 Alto Works, '11 Mini Cooper S

  • silvercrownsilvercrown Member Posts: 237
    I'm thinking of trading up to a new car next spring. Although that's quite some time away, I'm considering my options now in preparation for my decision. I have a Camry LE V6 that I'm reasonably happy with, but I would like better handling and more attractive (and less common) styling. I'd also like a few more "luxury type" features than I have now. I haven't had any problems with my Camry so far, but I'm drawn to the Passat, which has everything that I'm looking for. My only concern with the Passat is reliability, which the Camry has without a doubt.

    I recently test drove the Passat GLX and the Camry SE V6 and while I liked them both, I liked the ride of the Passat better. I also drove the Camry XLE but it felt heavy and sluggish, with even softer handling than my LE. The SE (having a sport suspension) had better handling than my car but a rougher ride than I'm used to. The Passat's handling and ride was between the two. Better handling than my Camry LE and a smoother ride than the 2002 Camry SE. However, the Camry SE comes with a certain assurance of better reliability. Pricewise, the Passat is more expensive, but it seems to have better lease terms. The Passat may also be a slightly safer car, I don't think the 2002 Camry test results are in yet.

    I have plenty of time, which is good, because this is a hard choice if I decide to trade my current car. My husband thinks I'd be crazy to trade in my reliable Camry for a Passat. However, I really like the Passat better, even than the newly redesigned Camry. Whatever car I'm driving, I would like it to be reliable (of course).

    How does one choose between two excellent automobiles? I have posted on the Passat forum as well as the Camry forum, but I would like to see what comments this topic generates, given the title.


  • merckxmerckx Member Posts: 565
    Silvercrown,trading in your Camry anytime soon will be a bad idea,financially. This might be a little too practical,but how about keeping the Camry for a while longer and be good about saving/investing what would be new car payments? Then,in say 18 0r 24 months,buying your dream car,a BMW525i? If necessary,get it stripped. I LOVE my new Passat. And as much interest as you seem to have in cars,I would really suggest you consider a 5-spd. manual. It really adds a lot of fun to a daily drive. You've really got to master it to understand what I'm saying,and it IS easy.
    I considered a BMW 525i,but the Passat actually has a bigger back seat. The ride has a pleasing softness. And I was a little worried about my first stickshirt car being an expensive one,in case I hated shifting and needed to trade it in.
    But you've been talking of a fairly loaded Passat.
    If you got the Beemer with vinyl and no sunroof,It would be more affordable than you might think.
  • ghuletghulet Member Posts: 2,564
  • merckxmerckx Member Posts: 565
    Yes,but once you get it,I suggest keeping it for so long that all that matters when you sell it is if it rolls. Or,when it's so old you doubt its reliability,it can make a great hobby,weekend car.
  • silvercrownsilvercrown Member Posts: 237
    One of the pluses for the Passat is the Tiptronic clutchless manual shift. I've only driven automatics my whole life, although I've been curious to learn how to drive a stick. I haven't had the opportunity to do that as of yet. But the Passat w/Tip would give me a chance to get used to that style of driving without being "married" to a car that I may not be comfortable driving. It's a great option.

    Although I may not trade my car in next spring, I don't think I'll want to wait 2 years. While I'm fairly practical (usually), I guess I'm just not that patient. :-)

    However, a 5 Series Bimmer would be sweeeeeet ......
  • merckxmerckx Member Posts: 565
    It really is nothing like a manual shift. After most play with it for a week or so,they usually just leave it in D...
    A manual Passat would be fairly easy to sell,as A large number of prospective owners would want the manual shift.
    The pedal modulation might seem daunting,but it really is easily learned.It is a lot of fun!
  • gerapaugerapau Member Posts: 211
    I agree with merckx in that it is nothing like shifting gears yourself. With the Tiptronic you can have more fun then with a regular auto tranny but as merckx said, most who buy Tiptronic (or whatever each manufacturer calls it) tend to play with it for a short period of time and then never touch it again.
    Also of note, most cars with Tiptronic type trannies actually accelerate quicker if you actually leave them in drive instead of trying to change gears yourself.
  • canadianclcanadiancl Member Posts: 1,078
    all these manumatics are a waste of time. Just a gimmick. In the year or so that I've had my CL-S, I think I've used the sportshift 4 times. Somehow, as a driver, you're programmed to either drive an automatic with total non-involvement, or a stick for which you have to invoke hand and foot. A manumatic, being in between, screws up your internal programming. I find when I use it, I have to consciously think about when to upshift, and when to downshift.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 32,613
    Not to defend the manumatic, but not ALL are a waste of time. We're talking about cars that, frankly, are on the low-end when it comes to this kind of technology. I really wish I still had that link, but someone on one of these boards quite some time ago posted a link to a BMW that was being developed with a manumatic that performed better than any previously produced transmission (manual or auto). Microsecond shift times and the ability to rev before engaging first, among other features.

    The Acuras, the Audis, and pretty much every other current mass produced car that can be had by the regular working man offers a manumatic that IS, as canadiancl put it, a gimmick, but that doesn't mean that a good one doesn't exist.

    Fairly steady: '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '01 Xterra, '20 S90 T6, '22 MB Sprinter 2500 4x4 diesel, '97 Suzuki R Wagon; '96 Opel Astra; '08 Maser QP / Rotating stock, but currently: '96 Daihatsu HiJet, '97 Alto Works, '11 Mini Cooper S

  • peteri1peteri1 Member Posts: 21
    After exhausting all of the info in all of the topics and having absorbed as much info as I can stand, I've eliminated the Q45 and the A8. The Q, as loaded as it is, just doesn't hold up to a $59K plus price tag. If you slapped a Lexus or BMW badge on it, you probably couldn't find one. With the Infiniti emblem, they just don't sell.
    The A8, feature for feature, IMO, shouldn't command the added $$ over the A6. Why pay more for aluminum? The interiors are almost identical.
    It's down to the LS430 and the A6 4.2. Two different cars--quattro vs. the Lexus experience. I'll be interested to see if Lexus' residual value will make it price competitive vs. an Audi which will sticker for $6500 less with no cost maintenance to boot.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 32,613
    Ah, I was wondering if you had decided yet. Interestingly enough, there is a comparo in this month's Motor Trend for these "entry luxo sedans" (as they call them). And, they brought up a car that I can't believe I didn't think of (considering I drive one, its even more absurd) - the Volvo. All of the testers in that article picked the volvo as the best. They only used the S60 2.4T in their comparo, to boot. My suggestion is to check out the S60 T5. I think you will be impressed. (I drive a '98 S70 T5 and it is amazing.) And, as they also pointed out, its one of the cheaper of the bunch as well.

    Fairly steady: '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '01 Xterra, '20 S90 T6, '22 MB Sprinter 2500 4x4 diesel, '97 Suzuki R Wagon; '96 Opel Astra; '08 Maser QP / Rotating stock, but currently: '96 Daihatsu HiJet, '97 Alto Works, '11 Mini Cooper S

  • corsicachevycorsicachevy Member Posts: 316
    "I've eliminated the Q45 and the A8. The Q, as loaded as it is, just doesn't hold up to a $59K plus price tag. If you slapped a Lexus or BMW badge on it, you probably couldn't find one. With the Infiniti emblem, they just don't sell" - peteri.

    So what? This sounds like an ideal situation for you. A manufacturer (Nissan) has put together an attractive, capable car that has not caught on with the buying public. Right now should be a good time to deal. Don't be fearful of a product line just because the "masses" don't like it. Be unique and get the new Q (of the four cars you're looking at) - it seems to be quite a pleasant car.

    If it were me, I would look at the new, top-of-the-line Audi A4.
  • canadianclcanadiancl Member Posts: 1,078
    The new Infiniti I35 is one fine-looking car, and seem to be a hell of a bargain.
  • stebustebu Member Posts: 204
    I agree with corsicachevy. You could be missing a golden opportunity. The Q45 certainly lives up to the $59K price tag if you consider what you get from the other cars your considering at (or above) that price point. Also, consider that the Q45 comes from a company that is decidedly on the up swing. The soon to be released G35 can only generate more interest in the whole Infiniti lineup.

    I seriously doubt that you will see a car as good as the new Q depreciate anything like it's predecessor. It's better to choose a car on its merits. You'll have a much better chance of living with the choice down the road.
  • peteri1peteri1 Member Posts: 21
    Thanks for the comments. I do think the Q offers the most technology and packs the most features of almost any car out there. However, here in Illinois, dealers are quasi-stonewalling on the premium package Q's. What they're saying is "we're holding pretty much to sticker, but with low money factors and fair residuals, the leases are competitive."

    My point is soft money is a function of the economy and has nothing to do with the sticker. I've got a few months. I'll take a Q for a spin in what's soon to be lousy Chicago winter weather. If it can handle snow and ice, like the dealers claims and like my 1995Q45t couldn't, I would certainly reconsider. By that time, if their sales are still lagging, maybe they'll spare me the economics lesson.

    As for the Volvo, I drove (extensively) the S80T6 before I opted for the 99GS400. I loved the Volvo seats, but there were nagging squeaks and rattles, loose trim etc.. I think the Volvos have come a long way, no longer quirky, IMO, like the Saabs.

    One more thing about the Q--it IS distinctive. The Volvo S80 looks like the S60. The A6's, except for some fender flaring and emblems, are all identical. The LS430 looks like so many Mercedes models, with a 3.5RL rear end.

    My worst fear is that there will be a 2001 740i Sport leftover available which will scramble all my thinking. If Acura had only come out with their V8 model!!
  • vbnmvbnm Member Posts: 21
    peteri1, why wouldn't you consider a 740i sport? i think this car is one of the best looking on the market, saying nothing of its superlative performance. if you haven't already heard, with the introduction of the new 7 around the corner, dealers are HEAVILY discounting this year's 7-series. people on other message boards have reported driving these cars off the lot for as low as $56k. that's absurd. and a tremendously good deal, imo. if you're shopping an A8, the high-end A6, or the rear-drive infiniti/lexus i think you owe it to yourself to check out this classic.
  • peteri1peteri1 Member Posts: 21
    That's my point.. If they're still around, I most definitely would consider one. That would just confuse the issue even more. The 740i would bump the LS430 off the list and probably run to the top of the list. Since I'm leasing, not buying, I wonder how the 740i, as a 2001 model (being 16 months old at that point), would hold it's residual value in light of the 2002 model being an all new 745i version?
  • vbnmvbnm Member Posts: 21
    sorry, peteri1, misunderstood you. on the one hand, your dilemma about the resale value is a legitimate one, but this is not an ordinary car. more to the point, there are, clearly, many people who DO NOT like the styling of the new 7, and prefer the looks of the current version. this might help the current 7's resale value down the road. the same phenomenon occurred with the current and previous generation porsche 911, which some purists thought became too soft in both aesthetic design and visceral appeal, and with the current and previous generation mercedes s-class, which many thought lost its admirable, anvil-like solidity. anyhow, not to say that the new 7-series won't be a technical marvel, but it's equally certain that, come trade-in time, there will be plenty of people looking for a low mileage 2001.
  • tennisnut2000tennisnut2000 Member Posts: 3
  • tennisnut2000tennisnut2000 Member Posts: 3
    I am looking for a used car for my daughter in the $4,000 dollar range. I have looked at 96 Mazca Protoge (71K) 91 Toyota Corrolla (79k) 92 Toyota Corrolla (79K) and 92 Prizm (98K).

    The Camry is very clean and although older runs great and is a bit more substantial. The Mazda may be the best buy and in decent shape. All have automatic. Corola is clean as well but at same price Camry seems better buy. Any opinions on these cars or other suggestions are appreciated.
  • bigcheezbigcheez Member Posts: 11
    I am new to the message board so here goes.
    I am deciding between the 3 cars for 2002 models. I am leaning toward the Altima, but am not very familiar about Nissan or its reliablity record. I know the 2002 is all new and I have driven all of the cars.
    I know the camry had been the to rated vehicle 4 or 5 years running, but I liked the altima better and felt for the money I could get more. Have had Jetta diesels in the past and my husband is sold on them. But I prefer something bigger and automatic. So if anyone can give me some advice I would appreciate it.
  • whichvwwhichvw Member Posts: 4
    considering the 2002 Passat and the 2002 Altima, but have since decided on the Passat. It is safer (or I assume it is, because of the 2 extra standard air bags, even when the Altima is equipped with the Airbag option.) The interior is much nicer, and I also didn't notice that much difference in the way the two handled. I am interested in seeing what other people have to say though.

    Good luck.
  • cyranno99cyranno99 Member Posts: 419
    tennisnuts - where's the Camry? I'd pick the Mazda because it is a good car and it is newer.

    Passat .... I'd probably pick this one over the new Altima. The VW has a better interior and has a better warranty now. However, if you are into performance then the Nissan would be the way to go.... with its cheesy interior.
  • storytellerstoryteller Member Posts: 476
    With the radical improvement of the Altima, there are now four excellent family sedans to choose from: Accord, Altima, Camry and Passat. Anyone trying to decide which to buy should spend time scanning the discussion groups for these cars and then do as much test driving as the dealerships will allow. When cars are this good, your decision will come down to little factors of personal preference that you have to make based on your response to the car.

    But let me add another consideration. New car dealerships vary FAR more in quality than these cars vary. No matter how nice your new Camry or Altima, etc, might be, if the dealership sucks your experience with the car won't be good. Putting it the other way around, many folks would be delighted with any of these cars if they bought it from and had it serviced by a really outstanding dealership. It's an area well worth taking time to research it.
  • ruskiruski Member Posts: 1,566
    I don't know about Audi or VW or Acura's manumatics, but for the last year I have been driving my Chrysler 300M in the AutoStick mode 90% of the time. It is pretty good in stop and go traffic. The auto tranny would constantly shift up and down and seek gears. With the AutoStick, I can just tell it to stay in 2nd all the time.
  • tikyo711tikyo711 Member Posts: 1
    hello friends, i am new at this townhall. i have been looking around for a good used C280's and C230's. knowing that Mercedes always keep their resale value, i also saw the new Altimas. since the price of a new Altima is about the same as the C230 kompressor w/ 50k miles that i am interested in, which car do you think would still keep their value at the end of 4 years? i will be financing it. will the Benz be a better choice? friends say "yes" but i thought i'd consult Edwards townhall for better answers. am i right?
  • aftyafty Member Posts: 499
    Since cars lose most of their value in the first year of ownership, the Mercedes will hold its value much better than the Altima. Resale value on the Altima is unknown since it's a new model, but because prices for the car can range from $18k to $29k, it might not be good. Then again, if the car is a huge hit, everything could change.

    One thing to consider about the Mercedes is that it will be expensive to maintain and repair. It will probably cost you considerably more to own the Merc than the Altima. Also, 50k miles is a lot to have on a '99 car. Have the Merc checked out by a mechanic to make sure it's in good shape.
  • cyranno99cyranno99 Member Posts: 419
    C230 might be a good choice because it has better build quality. However, I am wary of the supercharger (from reliability standpoint). Yeah, 50k is a lot on a four cylinder with supercharger, but I think most of those miles are on the highway so the stress on the engine is not that bad. Since you seem to like MB then that could be the car for you, but just make sure that you have some good warranties. Good luck!
  • dave330idave330i Member Posts: 893
    will be more expensive than the Altima per visit, but you should be visiting less. I believe MB is on same maintaince schedule as BMW which is every ~15k.
  • anon70anon70 Member Posts: 82
    i have $2500 in rebates from my GM card that's expiring.

    my 93 nissan sentra w/180k miles has started giving me grief within the past 3 months. (battery/alternator/starter/and now it looks like i have to replace the flywheel, which was quoted at $700 at the dealer).

    Anyway, i've looked at the grand am, prizm, sunfire, cavalier. according to edmunds reviews, the prizm is the best of the bunch. But i would like your thoughts?


    ps- Edmunds review on the prism says 0% apr till 1/15/2002???

    pps- anyway i can combine the $1500 cashback w/the 0% apr?
  • storytellerstoryteller Member Posts: 476
    The best car on your short list is the Prizm, and for a sad reason. It is primarily Japanese. The others are primarily American. That means the Prizm is more likely to be well designed, pleasant to drive, reliable and economical to own. If you study cars very much, the evidence is overwhelming that the Japanese are doing a better job than Americans these days with car design and manufacturing. That's the bad news. The good news is that American cars are definitely getting better, and so your chances of having a good experience with a Cavalier or Grand Am are better now than they would have been a decade or two ago. Good luck!
  • bluewolfbluewolf Member Posts: 101
    Trying to stay under $30k, but a couple of my choices will probably be just over. This car would be mainly a commuter and some highway miles on weekends. Safety is paramount, but I'd like some speed and handling to go with it if possible.

    I guess my benchmark for comparison is my Jetta 1.8T. I really like the car overall, enough to consider another VW, but I may want to spend more and get something built better. VWs are nice, but not the pinnacle of quality control to be certain.

    Okay, anybody who's owned or test driven one of these, or just have strong opinions, I'd like to hear it. Thanks!

    -VW GTI: 180HP 1.8T or 201HP 24V VR6 (undecided)
    The new 24V six comes out in spring '02, and I
    like my 1.8T, but would like more punch and think
    a naturally aspirated six might be fun with VWs
    new 6-speed manual. Also the cheapest on the
    list at around $20k 1.8T, $22k VR6.

    -Volvo S60: Great looking car, reputation for
    safety. I'd keep the options list simple, with
    the 2.4L 168HP non-turbo 5-cyl & 5-spd. MSRP is

    -BMW 325i: Good reputation for build quality and
    handling. Rear wheel drive and balance supposed
    to give handling like nobody's business.
    Popular car, probably no bargains out there. With
    sport suspension and HK sound, leatherette
    probably still around $30k.

    -Saab 9-3: I don't know jack about this car. I've
    always liked the style of Saabs, and they're
    supposed to be safe. But they're obviously
    different than everything else out there, and
    Edmunds said they have mucho torque-steer.
    MSRP is $27995 for the 2.0L Turbo/5-speed with

    -Audi A4 1.8T: 170HP 5-speed. I'm thinking this
    is just a nicely trimmed Jetta. Cool options
    like Xenons and Bose sound available though.
    MSRP $25500 Not sure build quality would be up
    there with BMW/Volvo/Saab.

    Thanks for your input, I appreciate it!
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