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> Cheap, reliable, fun, family-friendly..., Toss out some suggestions
Mitlov
post Jan 26 2009, 12:59 PM
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As discussed in the Maxima thread, after five years of relatively good reliability, the electronics gremlins are now coming out in my Jetta in force. If the car proves to be very expensive to maintain through 2009, I'm going to swap it out near the end of the year. Certain criteria for a replacement are not flexible:

(1) Priced between, say, $12,000 and $19,000. I'm estimating that the Jetta will be worth about $9,000, and I want to put less than $10,000 cash into a new car. And the less I spend, the better, so don't hesitate to make suggestions at the lower end of that price range instead of just the upper.

(2) Reliable. If it weren't for maintenance costs and hassles, I wouldn't be thinking about replacing the Jetta. So reliability is very important. For me, this means European is almost certainly off the table, and I have question marks about GM and Chrysler.

(3) Family-friendly. For me, this means both convenient (four doors, decently roomy) and safe (side-curtain airbags for both rows, preferably no "poor" or "marginal" IIHS crash tests or three-stars-or-less NHTSA crash tests).

(4) Fun. Manual transmission is highly preferable, but I guess I'd consider an automatic if it was still sporty and fun to drive. The better it handles, the better I like it. Straight-line speed is my lowest priority.

So far, the only real option I've figured out is a first-generation G35. It's at the upper end of the price range, but otherwise meets the criteria pretty well. Any other suggestions?
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nismo
post Jan 26 2009, 01:15 PM
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I had a 2004 G35. It was auto, but it was still loads of fun for being a 4 door sedan.
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Mitlov
post Jan 26 2009, 01:18 PM
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QUOTE(nismo @ Jan 26 2009, 01:15 PM) *
I had a 2004 G35. It was auto, but it was still loads of fun for being a 4 door sedan.


How long did you own it? Any unscheduled maintenance or unusually expensive maintenance?
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stuffthatsgood
post Jan 26 2009, 01:24 PM
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2009 Impreza?
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Mitlov
post Jan 26 2009, 01:32 PM
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QUOTE(stuffthatsgood @ Jan 26 2009, 01:24 PM) *
2009 Impreza?


The car that I owned before the Jetta was a 2006 Legacy 2.5i. It should have been great--it was on paper--but it just didn't suit me. The seat was uncomfortable, the ride was simultaneously harsh and wallowy, the steering was artificial, the shifter was notchy, the stereo and AC were both weak, and it picked up rattles very fast. It didn't blow up on me or anything, but I just didn't like it. I might test-drive the Impreza to see if it's radically different, but I've got a bit of a once-burned, twice-shy attitude toward Subarus.

Also, considering that I don't tend to own cars for a really long time (three years with a Civic, 18 months with the Legacy, and 16 months so far with the Jetta), I'm more inclined to buy used to avoid taking a depreciation hit.
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nismo
post Jan 26 2009, 01:35 PM
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QUOTE(Mitlov @ Jan 26 2009, 04:18 PM) *
How long did you own it? Any unscheduled maintenance or unusually expensive maintenance?


I owned it for 4 months. It was a great car, the only thing that ever happened was that the hood latch broke, so I couldn't check the oil level. I took it to Infiniti, and they replaced it for free.
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dukenukem
post Jan 26 2009, 01:55 PM
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09 Forester
Hyundai Sonata
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fiber optic
post Jan 26 2009, 02:06 PM
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QUOTE(dukenukem @ Jan 26 2009, 03:55 PM) *
Volvo V50/ 70 (dont think they come with manual box though)


V50 can be had with a manual trans, V70 had it in the R trim but not sure about the others.
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Mitlov
post Jan 26 2009, 02:09 PM
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I should make clear. The first three factors (cheap, reliable, family-friendly) are absolutely mandatory. The fourth, fun, is a "the more the better so long as the first three are met" sort of thing.

QUOTE(dukenukem @ Jan 26 2009, 01:55 PM) *
G8 GT.


Great car on paper. Too expensive. Reliability and maintenance costs are two huge question marks for me.

QUOTE
Volvo V50/ 70 (dont think they come with manual box though)


Fails the reliability and price criteria. And while they came with manuals during some years, good luck finding any.

QUOTE
09 Forester


Once burned twice shy with Subarus. Plus, given that it's more expensive, heavier, and taller than an Impreza, if I'm going to pass the Impreza by, I'll certainly pass it by.

QUOTE
Hyundai Sonata


Absolutely excellent for the first three categories (particularly used, given their high depreciation), but I don't see how "fun" would factor in at all. It's at the wallowy-end of family sedans. If I was going to go the midsize family sedan route, a used Fusion is probably how I'd go. They drive very well for the segment, have class-leading reliability, and are depreciate like rocks (I found a 2006 i4 MT near me on AutoTrader for about $12,000).
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goota
post Jan 26 2009, 02:14 PM
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Taurus Fusion
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duality
post Jan 26 2009, 02:18 PM
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Americans seem to love their Camry's and Accord's...your cup of tea? I imagine they aren't very fun to drive.

Put reliability, price and safety in one sentence..Japanese comes to mind. Or maybe the Ford Fusion?

I believe the Taurus when it comes out might be out of his budget.
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dukenukem
post Jan 26 2009, 02:24 PM
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QUOTE(Mitlov @ Jan 26 2009, 04:09 PM) *
I should make clear. The first three factors (cheap, reliable, family-friendly) are absolutely mandatory. The fourth, fun, is a "the more the better so long as the first three are met" sort of thing.
Great car on paper. Too expensive. Reliability and maintenance costs are two huge question marks for me.
Fails the reliability and price criteria. And while they came with manuals during some years, good luck finding any.
Once burned twice shy with Subarus. Plus, given that it's more expensive, heavier, and taller than an Impreza, if I'm going to pass the Impreza by, I'll certainly pass it by.
Absolutely excellent for the first three categories (particularly used, given their high depreciation), but I don't see how "fun" would factor in at all. It's at the wallowy-end of family sedans. If I was going to go the midsize family sedan route, a used Fusion is probably how I'd go. They drive very well for the segment, have class-leading reliability, and are depreciate like rocks (I found a 2006 i4 MT near me on AutoTrader for about $12,000).

I am out of suggestions. though i am going to take a guess that you will end up with a passat somehow.
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Mitlov
post Jan 26 2009, 02:27 PM
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Taurus is too expensive, and no manual.

Like I said, Fusion i4 MT is a contender, though it's a little light on the fun (still better than an Accord and far better than a Camry, if you ask me).

I guess a used Mazda3 with the optional side airbags should be added in. Like the Fusion, it's at the lower end of my price range. It's a little low on space, but otherwise it meets all the criteria, and it's pretty fun to drive (I've driven a 2.3).

QUOTE(dukenukem @ Jan 26 2009, 02:24 PM) *
I am out of suggestions. though i am going to take a guess that you will end up with a passat somehow.


If I have to sell my Jetta due to reliability and maintenance issues, the last thing I'd do is buy another VW. If I'm willing to live with VW electronics, I'd want to just keep my current car (which I really like except for the maintenance costs and now the gremlins).
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nismo
post Jan 26 2009, 02:32 PM
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What about a nice used MazdaSpeed 3?
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Mitlov
post Jan 26 2009, 02:38 PM
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QUOTE(nismo @ Jan 26 2009, 02:32 PM) *
What about a nice used MazdaSpeed 3?


Ooh, I forgot those things are now a couple years old and are starting to show up on the used market. Good suggestion. Like the G35, it's at the upper end of my price range, but it's a really good option.
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nismo
post Jan 26 2009, 02:39 PM
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You might even be able to get a 08MY, they were discounting them heavily at the Mazda dealership by my house.

And from my personal experience, I really liked driving the few I have test driven. I just don't want the same car as my dad. =b
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b0mb3r
post Jan 26 2009, 02:47 PM
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Mitlov, what's wrong with your car?
Again, not defending VW but MKV has made huge strides in terms of reliability (this has been confirmed by many MKIV owners). Also the criteria that you described MKV Jetta (2.5) fits the bill perfectly :-D.
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Mitlov
post Jan 26 2009, 02:48 PM
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QUOTE(nismo @ Jan 26 2009, 02:39 PM) *
You might even be able to get a 08MY, they were discounting them heavily at the Mazda dealership by my house.

And from my personal experience, I really liked driving the few I have test driven. I just don't want the same car as my dad. =b


Your dad drives an MS3? You have awesome parents.

The local Mazda dealer is a douche and won't let me test-drive an MS3, but I like how the Mazda3 drives, I love turbos, and I loooooved the sport seats in the MS3. So the MS3 seems like a good option.
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Mitlov
post Jan 26 2009, 02:52 PM
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QUOTE(b0mb3r @ Jan 26 2009, 02:47 PM) *
Mitlov, what's wrong with your car?
Again, not defending VW but MKV has made huge strides in terms of reliability (this has been confirmed by many MKIV owners). Also the criteria that you described MKV Jetta (2.5) fits the bill perfectly :-D.


Doors re-lock themselves within 0.2 seconds of being unlocked. Alarm will go off if you try to let yourself in with the key (even though I've never set the alarm in my life), so to get into the car, you have to use the remote keyless entry fob with one hand while you grab the door with the other. Also, the rear left window rolled itself down today for no apparent reason.

So far, the window thing is intermittent, and the door lock thing is constant.

Hopefully they're able to fix it, but if these sorts of things start happening on a regular basis, it's a real problem in my book. As is, I don't feel comfortable carrying my kid in the car because I never know if it'll randomly lock him in.

EDIT: Also, maintenance costs have been very high in general. A dragging brake cost me several hundred dollars, a leaking shock cost me several hundred dollars, the alignment went out once and is starting to feel wonky again, etc.
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post Jan 26 2009, 02:55 PM
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QUOTE(Mitlov @ Jan 26 2009, 03:59 PM) *
Any suggestions?

Yes, this...



QUOTE(Mitlov @ Jan 26 2009, 03:59 PM) *
Reliability, for me, this means European is almost certainly off the table

Still under warranty


QUOTE(Mitlov @ Jan 26 2009, 03:59 PM) *
For me, this means both convenient (four doors, decently roomy)

Check

QUOTE(Mitlov @ Jan 26 2009, 03:59 PM) *
safe (side-curtain airbags for both rows, preferably no "poor" or "marginal" IIHS crash tests or three-stars-or-less NHTSA crash tests).

Check 4 and 5 stars...


QUOTE(Mitlov @ Jan 26 2009, 03:59 PM) *
Manual transmission is highly preferable

6 speed, check

QUOTE(Mitlov @ Jan 26 2009, 03:59 PM) *
The better it handles, the better I like it.

Oh yes, it handles...

Get it for a little less than the buy it now and take the Mitlov family on a road trip to pick it up one weekend....
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