Sajeev and Steve,I’m a 19 year old college student in the market for a car. I used to drive a 2006 GLI, but it has since been sold because it wasn’t really needed at the time. I’ll be living off campus next year, so I’m trying to decide on a car that I would purchase sometime in the next couple of months. It has to be under 18k, practical, at least as reliable as my GLI was, somewhat sporty, and a stick shift. I’ve been looking at Volvo S40 T5s, GTIs, IS300s, and Mazda 6s (the last being my dad’s idea, not mine). I would consider a Ford, but the other domestics are pretty much out of the question. My dad drives German and is fully aware of the “quirks” that come with it, which is why I’m a little hesitant to suggest an A4 or 3 Series. The GLI was an angel when we owned it though, and he has a soft spot for VAG and BMW, so I’m not completely ruling those out. We’re both car nuts and are pretty knowledgeable about what’s on the market, but I wanted to see if there was something that I missed or haven’t considered.
$18,000 can buy a lot of car. In many areas of this country it can also give you a healthy down payment on a house.
You’re sure you wanna blow it all on some wheels? Maybe a good $5000 car that will last you five years can be coupled with a $13,000 bump in your net worth.
Oh wait. I just realized that you’re 19. Forget what I just said. You now have a golden opportunity to buy a new set of wheels which should last you until an advanced degree yields the proverbial Yuppie union card and a six figure salary. Nothing wrong with that. Especially since you’ll likely have a debt free life by the time you get ready to settle. So with that in mind, you need a reliable car that is sporty, practical and fun.
On the new side…. Scion Tc. It bumps right near the 18k mark and comes loaded up with all the features you would want ever want in a sporty coupe. It’s quick, fun to drive, and I would be very confident of it lasting well past the 200k mark if you take care of it. Much more so than a VW Beetle, Mini, Kia Forte or… well… I don’t see a VW guy moving to a Civic.
On the used side… you have more four door sedans, hatchbacks, and wagons than I can mention here. Over the years I’ve known a lot of young folks who have benefited from the hard labor of their parents. If you want to spend 18k on a car, do it! They worked hard so that you can enjoy your life. But whatever you decide, try to find a vehicle that will truly last you a good 15 years.
That way you can enjoy the times to come without any stress or hardship from your ride. Good luck!
Your Dad sounds like a sharp dude, mostly because he suggested the Mazda 6…and you did not! Look, I understand the allure of these VWs and other imports, but you are a young guy who has better things to do than put up with the bullshit of a money sucking sedan.Stick with mainstream. Parts, labor and insurance is cheap. You can have money for stuff that really matters in college, like dressing sharp to impress chicks, having nice stuff in your apartment and generally focusing on things that will actually make you a better person in your future. That said, don’t have too much nice stuff in your apartment, those are the units that get broken into by inside jobbers.
No gigantic TVs and nothing except for a Mazda 6 in your assigned parking spot! Enjoy college, get good grades but don’t be an anti-social, endlessly studying/wrenching stick in the mud like I was back in the day. The Mazda 6 will help there too. Or maybe a Chevy Cobalt SS, that’s totally worth considering.