My wife and I have a 6-month-old girl. Hurray, she’s a joy! While all is cool with my wife’s 2006 Accord V6, my 2004 Scion xB just does not seem, well, safe anymore. I love the small-on-the-outside-yet-cavernous-on-the-inside quality of this car (I’m 6’4″), but feel it would not bode well for my daughter if there were a bad accident. Plus, the 108hp engine is getting boring.
I want something safe and fun to drive. By “safe” I mean solid and meaty, and AWD would be nice too (we live in eastern Massachusetts); by “fun to drive” I mean quick and with a manual transmission, or at least a manumatic. We have lots of stuff to cart on weekend trips to the in-laws, but I like wagons (hence the Scion). And we definitely don’t need/want two sedans.
Price range is mid twenties, but less is always better. Might go high twenties for the right car. I figure I can get about $7500 for trading my xB (only 34k miles). Also, having a good amount of remaining warranty (1.5+ years) is important to me, so it can’t be too old. Some certified pre-owned makes are okay.
Here’s what I’ve considered, and why I’ve ruled them out:
2010 Subaru Outback: manual tranny only available on 4 cylinder, which has about three miles worth of clutch travel; I prefer the 6, but it seems over-priced and the only manual option is paddle shifters. Yuck.
2009 Subaru Outback XT 5M: these are going for a premium price right now. I don’t need a car THAT badly!
2010 Subaru Forester XT: was kind of fun to drive, but no manual tranny on the XT, only a lame-ass 4A (at least it’s a manumatic)
2010 Mazdaspeed3: awesome but too small. (I would sacrifice AWD on this one)
2010 Mazda CX-7 turbo: waaaay too much turbo lag.
2009-10 Subaru Impreza WRX: awesome but too small.
2009-10 VW Tiguan: manual tranny only available on the base model (no AWD)
2009 Toyota Venza: meh. (and overpriced)
2007-08 certified pre-owned BMW 328xi wagon: AWESOME! But come on, $32k for a used car??
2008 certified pre-owned Volvo XC70: just cannot bring myself to buy a Volvo.
Sajeev Mehta replies:
How about a 1-2 year old Jetta Wagon? Oh wait, you probably wanted the money in your daughter’s college fund safe from a mechanic’s hands: we hammer the Europeans for their cost-per-mile expenses for good reason, ya know. The same is true for Subies, to a lesser extent. So the Scion xB is right up your alley. A brand spankin’ new one, that is. Get it with a stick, a few tasty options and be well under budget. Enjoy a new car warranty and low interest rates too. Sure, the new xB it’s an unholy degredation of everything we enjoy in the original xB, but it’s certainly bigger and safer under the laws of Physics. And it is still a great wagon for growing families, realistic about what they need and can afford. And with Toyota’s current troubles, wait a little while to find a good deal and maybe even a Hyundai-like warranty to boot. You can’t touch this.
Steve Lang replies:
Toyota generally over-engineers their first generation models. The Lexus LS, SC, RX and all the Scion models (including the Xb) were initially released with thin profit margins and loads of content. However since you seem hell bent on shoveling thousands of dollars in hard earned savings down the tailpipe, why not splurge. Buy yourself an 2007 Audi A4 with as many trimmings as you desire. Make it a CPO model so that you don’t have to pay as many bills as Audis generally inflict.