By on January 17, 2014

phaetons

Those were the days, B&B; the days when cash flowed like rain upon me every morning and I had not a single responsibility in this world and if I thought it would be fun to have an extra Phaeton, I just got one. Alas, 2014 is a year of unvarnished reality on the hoof, coming my way. I’ll have medical expenses from my accident that would probably be sufficient to buy a new Siebener. Thrift and responsibility are the watchwords here, dear readers. So let’s set the “Expectations” knob on our car-choosing app to “Minimal”, and let’s de-select all those tempting silhouettes of 1988 BMW M6es and whatnot, and let’s begin.

Meet Your Buyers

IMG_7861

It’s really just the two of us for right now. This might change, but we’re not expecting any new friends to hang out with us who have more than one daughter (or son), and many of the candidates for that position have none. So there’s no Brady Bunch in our future. Four seats would do nicely.

John’s primary requests for the new car, when polled, are that:

  • The car be a Porsche
  • And also a race car
  • And faster than police cars
  • And that it play loud music

Let’s assume he’s going to be disappointed on all or most of these counts. John’s dad’s primary requests for the new car are:

  • Four doors
  • Brand-new
  • As reliable as possible
  • Above-Town-Car fuel mileage (defined as >23mpg in mixed us)
  • Manual transmission if possible
  • Not a penny above $30,000

Yeah, Dad’s all poor now. How they’re laughing over at the various forums. I have a ton of medical bills to pay and I’ll have very little time in which to pay them. While it would be nice to have, say, a CLS63, and I think I could probably make the numbers work in my head, this year we’ll err on the side of caution.

The Existing Cars

We have some cars already, which is good news:

  • 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera 2
  • 2004 Porsche Boxster S “550 Sypder Anniversary”
  • 1988 Mercedes-Benz 560SL

We also own some or all of a few four-cylinder race cars with numbers on the door. So we don’t need anything that fills a slot that is already filled. In other words, while a 335i Convertible would be nice, why not have a car that works better at the every day stuff, knowing that we can drive these other cars?

I should also mention that, regardless of the absurdly literal interpretations taken from my Z06 article by Jalopnik readers, I could not care less what I’m seen driving or what it says about my public image or my status in the neighborhood or anything like that. I used to roll a bubble wagon around the city while both of those Phaetons were sitting in my driveway.

Meet The Candidates

These are just some that come to mind. Please feel free to suggest something else.

Honda Accord Sport 6-speed
accord1

By all reports, the Accord’s gotten its act together this year. That would be a good thing, because I didn’t like the previous one much. What do we get for our $23,515? Well, there’s the ironclad expectation that we’ll get some of it back, to start with. A five-year-old Accord with a manual transmission is a rare and desirable vehicle. The buff books like the car. It should be spacious, nimble, reliable, and probably pretty noisy. It also doesn’t actually come in any colors — black and silver are all you get with manual-transmission Accords, whether in “Sport” or “EX” trim. Incidentally, this car is already the winner of a mini-shootout that saw it put up against the 2014 TSX Special Edition 6-speed. For seven thousand dollars more, the TSX offers Japanese assembly and a better dealer experience but not much, if anything, else.

Mazda 6 iTouring 6-speed
mazda6

The Mazda comes in three colors — blue, white, and red — in addition to the Honda palette of non-colors. It appears to be equipped similarly to the Accord. Why get this over the Honda? Well, it has more panache, it’s more interesting, it’s not a Honda which in Ohio is a plus as everybody in the state feels compelled to own something from our hometown automaker. (This, incidentally, does not extend to actual Honda factory employees, who prefer the Ram 1500.) But you know the thing’s gonna rust and selling it will be a hassle.

Ford Fusion SE Plus 6-speed
fusion

Ooh, this is the best color yet — “Dark Side”, a green-flecked take on metallic black. And the Fusion is the best-equipped choice I can make. This is also the first car in our group of prospects that looks like a car that someone might willingly purchase, you know? The Accord would make you wince every time you looked at it, the Mazda would make you nod your head, but the Fusion would make you smile. I also suspect I can find some employee-level pricing on the Fusion if I look deeply enough into my family tree. What’s not to like? Well, there’s the Mexican assembly factor — and since this would be a factory order, I’d have no way to know if mine was coming from Flat Rock or Hermosillo. There’s also the matter of the rather under-stout 1.6L Ecoboost pushing a whole lotta car around. It would be nice to have confidence that the car would last for the duration of my ownership period, and the jury still seems to be out on the little Ford power-puffers.

The Dark Horse — Dodge Caravan R/T

2014_Dodge_Grand_Caravan_RT_1198940

My experiences with Chrysler’s current Pentastar minivans have been so positive I’m tempted to put my money where my mouth is, purchasing either this or the Chrysler Town&Country “S” equivalent. I’d get a vehicle that’s considerably less interesting in daily driving but which would have a lot more capability for band trips / school events / possibly living in if my insurance squabbles on some of those charges I racked up in the ICU last week. On the negative side, it would cost more to buy, more to insure, more to operate, and might be harder to sell.

Those are my current front-runners. Feel free to offer your suggestions as well. No doubt some of you have noticed the total lack of “hot hatches” in the group. Speaking frankly, I’d rather put a little more metal around the kid most of the time and if we’re feeling sporty, we’ll take the 911 out. Any experiences any of the B&B have had ordering or purchasing these specific vehicles would also be highly welcome. Thanks!

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498 Comments on “Alright, TTAC, Help Me Pick My Next Car...”


  • avatar
    DubTee1480

    What about the CX-5 that you seemed to like so much in your review? From above though, the Accord or the Mazda 6.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      +1 – you can also get AWD if that is important on the CX5. It is more spacious and practical than the sedans. So it could handle kid and band stuff and still seat 4.
      Do modern Mazda’s rust or is this an older urban legend. We all know how reputations can stick around even when no longer appropriate or relevant. Is this one of those cases?

      Jack – do you prefer the Fusion’s looks over the Mazda’s since the Mazda has better fuel economy and at least as good driving dynamics and safety.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Maybe Baruth really wants a manual. You can only get the stick CX-5 with the 2.0L Sport FWD model. It’s not a bad vehicle but you give up the option of any options for that stick.

      I like the Mazda 6, too. Perhaps the rust issues are behind them; the neighbor’s sedan is over 10 years old and looks nearly new.

      • 0 avatar
        DubTee1480

        He did say he prefers a manual and I recalled the CX-5 he tested to be a manual but I was unaware of (or had forgotten) it’s forsaken stripper model only status – so you may have a good point. I drive a pretty base LX Civic and came from a loaded Impala SS, most of the things I missed about the other car could be retrofitted in – leather, heated seats, etc. And insulation, God I miss the sound insulation.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Good point about the manual – at least they offer on though. Subaru Forester is about the only other CUV that I know that offers a manual.

        Do you live in the snow belt? I ask since you said your neighbors car was in good condition.

      • 0 avatar
        69firebird

        My Mazda is an ’03 Protege5 and doesn’t have any rust anywhere.It’s been cheap to own and unbreakable as well.I do like the Fusion/Focus/Fiesta/Aston faced Ford though,so it would be a tough choice.

      • 0 avatar
        Demetri

        I thought it was just the Protege/Mazda3 that has rust problems. I don’t think I’ve seen a rusted Mazda6. Seen plenty of rusty Proteges though. Haven’t seen a rusty Mazda3 yet, but I’ve heard it’s happening to older models. My 2008 looks good so far.

    • 0 avatar
      eManual

      The CX-5 only comes in black interior and the non-color exterior (gray, black, and silver), otherwise I would consider buying one today. The Mazda 6 has a tan (sand) interior with a real color (blue, white, and red) exterior which makes it my number one choice. Honda used to have tan interiors with red exterior, a great combination.

      • 0 avatar
        DubTee1480

        My Civic has a tan/brown interior, it’s very nice. Shame that the exterior is white, though white has aged better than some of the other colors of the same era I’ve seen running around.

        • 0 avatar
          eManual

          DT, you’re correct about the Civic. The manual still comes with a real color (white, red, blue) exterior and tan interior. But I would prefer an Accord – the manual used to come in tan with red or gold exteriors around 2006. I should have bought one then, but instead received a free 1995 Buick Regal that still runs great.

    • 0 avatar
      Scott_314

      Jack liked the CX-5 for a crossover. He’s a car guy. (I don’t think the van is where he’ll end up).

      • 0 avatar
        DubTee1480

        I see you edited your comment for the van, I started to reply earlier but couldn’t find a way to really say anything about that wouldn’t sound snarky or asshole-ish so I just withheld my comment. The reason I suggested the CX-5 is his inclusion of the minivan as it would handle better and deliver better fuel economy. My money is on one of the sedans though.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      My Buick Encore with a Trifecta Tune on the ecu and tcu will run rings around the CX-5. Knock down the front passenger’s for similar cargo capacity as the zoom-zoom, making it is look so-so. I’ve seen almost 40 mpg one tank during my 118 mile commute…with AWD. And that was during break-in this summer.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Also, a CUV would fill a niche not occupied by his other vehicles.

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    All good/bad choices as you’ve noted. For me it would probably come down to Accord vs Caravan. Once I reconciled whether or not the utility of the van is worth it, the Accord is the best sedan choice. The main point in its favor vs the other 2 is resale. Assuming you don’t plan to drive this car forever (which, based on your record, is almost a given), ease of resale AND resale value become important.

    As for the negative of seeing “yourself” around every corner, that’s much less painful than rust, no?

    A final additional point I didn’t see mentioned that puts Accord over the other 2 sedans: ease of purchase/inventory availability. No hunting for in stock model or color choice. If you set out at 9 AM tomorrow morning, the a black Accord SE 6MT could be in your driveway by lunch. Doubtful to say that for the other two.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I see your logic although ease of resale – got o Carmax and they would buy any car. Resale value is a different thing, but a standard midsize, mid market sedan like the three listed would sell easily enough.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      If Jack likes the “greenish-black” of the Fusion, but wants the Accord Sport (which I recommend as a confessed Honda fanboi and 2013 Touring owner (slusher only)), the rarest color I’ve seen is called “Hematite Metallic,” and is really good looking. (Would have gotten this myself, but that color isn’t available on the Touring, and being almost black, my OCD couldn’t cope with the upkeep!) Jack, treat yourself to an EX, and you can still get the stick with the nice DI K24 with a few more toys, then do a Honda accessory plus-1 wheel upgrade and have a dual-exhaust put in! Until I tested a CVT Sport, I hadn’t driven a four-cylinder Accord since my Dad got rid of his 1997, but, even while being careful not to hoon a test car with 8 miles on it, I found the 2.4 was still nice and responsive.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    I would get the Chrysler T&C. I rented a caravan for a road trip and it was a revelation. You still have a Porsche for picking up Ohio MILFs, get the van.

  • avatar
    Short Bus

    You have some great options laid out.

    Without having test driven a single one of those cars, based only on reviews and reputation, I’d go with the Accord. A test drive could easily swing my opinion towards either the Fusion or the 6.

    I’d choose the Caravan if there was any need for space versatility, as in the frequent need to move large items. If you didn’t have that need more than once or twice a year you might be better served with renting a cheap U-Haul.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    Dodge Dart 1.4t/6 speed manual.

    1) Great engine noise, and a real, nonlinear turbo powerband.
    2) Handling that’s right there with the Focus despite being bigger.
    3) Good gasoline mileage.
    4) Available in the same color as an autocross cone.

    • 0 avatar
      AlternateReality

      The poor man has suffered enough already.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      I’m going to second the Dart 1.4T/MTX recommendation. No suffering required – the car has great seats (nice leather in the limited), an agile chassis and great tech. Plus the back seat is surprisingly roomy. Tons of airbags too….just in case another accident looms in your future.

      Seriously though, I’d love to see a review of the Dart from Jack. I’m sure he’d find the handling quite entertaining. Just be sure to drive a turbo model (and keep it in the boost range) or a 2.4L model. The 2.0L is the “slug” of the group, even though it is more powerful than some of the competition’s base engines.

  • avatar

    Whelp, I think if we are putting the Caravan in there, you need to let the Toyota Sienna enter the conversation. You won’t get as much car for $30k, but it has a great safety record, and holds value well. The fact that you might end up with a Fusion from Mexico shouldn’t bother you, I get the impression that they know what they’re doing in Hermosillo. That said, I don’t know if it will be as easy to sell a manual Fusion as your other two car choices? For what it’s worth, I was going to suggest the Mazda before I even saw it listed…so maybe that is the answer.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      I felt some timidity by Toluca cars prior to owning one. It’s bolted/screwed/pop-fastened/glued together better than my old Belvedere car.

    • 0 avatar

      Sienna does not have a manual transmission, or at least I wasn’t able to coax Toyota website into configuring one. Denied (well, I know Jack once said that manual is worth very little on racetrack, but he clearly wants a manual for this car).

      • 0 avatar
        Brawndo

        WOAH, HOLD THE PHONE! HOW IS THE CAMRY NOT ON THE LIST? I’ve read it’s an absolute monster on the track AND it has four doors and you can buy it new, etc. You can’t say that about a Sienna. Also, the new Sienna is about 40 feet long, or roughly the size of a World War II aircraft carrier-probably inappropriate if you’re carrying max four people.

        For things that are on Jack’s list, I’d say it would be a difficult choice between the Accord and the Mazda 6. The Accord wins for all the rational reasons, and the redesign is the best looking it’s been since the early 90s. I have a soft spot in my head for the new Mazda 6, especially in red, but would have trouble recommending it to others over an Accord.

        I know some of the other B&B suggested the Charger. I got to drive a hemi Challenger recently and I think a four dour version would be just smashing, and though you probably won’t recover much at resale time, the acquisition price will be a lot less than an Accord. Also, the Charger would be a good fit for the “I like Towncars” set.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Good point on the Camry, since he liked it on the track; don’t remember how that translated to the street.

        On the minivan front, at least give the Odyssey EX a look; my sister-in-law has had four years and 50,000 trouble-free miles. And the following (and current) generation is better yet.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, but the Caravan doesn’t have a manual transmission offering either? I think Jack indicated he was making an exception there. I think he will be dissatisfied with the minivan anyhow, and sell it in a year or two, so he might as well get one that holds value well.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The Sienna is vastly overrated as compared to the Chrysler Group minivan twins. While the Quest is shaped unfashionably like a dust buster, I think it’s better than the Sienna, and on par with the T&C and GC. The Odyssey might be at the top with its nicer list of features (for 2014), but you won’t find them on a model priced under $30K.

      • 0 avatar

        There is no question that the Caravan offers more for the money at any level, though the R/T is a bit overpriced for what it offers in return. I was looking at it from the perspective of safety and resale value, and the Sienna is tops in both. The minivan twins are still very safe rides, of course.

    • 0 avatar
      gsnfan

      He reviewed a Sienna a while back. Found it underwhelming, especially with the 2.7 four-cylinder (IIRC it’s been discontinued and Sienna is now V6 only). After being in both, the Chrysler T&C feels way more upmarket than a Sienna Limited. The Sienna has the same quality leather and materials as you’d expect in a loaded Corolla.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Get the van, and start a Spec-Caravan racing series.

  • avatar
    ant

    cute kid.

    the Honda Accord really does offer a lot of value.

    Otherwise, there is the Acura ILX, which offers more colors, and comes with a hand shaker.

    And also too, also, there is the Buick Verano, available with a stick.

    Civic SI. But you prolly hate that Instrument panel.

    I’d definitely test drive all those cars if I were you.

    • 0 avatar

      Good suggestion on the ILX, if it has enough space. This year of ILX (at least in Canada) it comes exclusively in the 2.4l/6-speed manual/TECH trim. The ILX has problems, but they are most packaging problems, and the above model is the ideal trim. I liked the interior, and it felt very well put together and reasonably quiet.

      The Verano Turbo w/stick is an interesting option. But I think the rear seat would be challenging for a car seat.

      • 0 avatar
        tubacity

        ILX? Doubtful choice according to CR subscriber owners. Only about 50% surveyed said would buy again. Unusually low for a car only one year on the market. The Versa was lower. But that does not say anything good about owner satisfaction with ILX. Tesla was above 95%. Other generally well thought of cars mid 70′s.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      I second the Verano 2.0T with 6MT. It has similar MotorTrend figure-eight times as the Mazda6 and Accord, many owners report mid-to-upper 30′s on 87 octane, losted repair costs and best warranty of most above mentioned cars. With roof and NAV the only thing the Verano Premium is missing is memory seats and dimming outside mirrors. Add in a Trifecta Tune on the 2.0T and it’ll be faster than any Japanese V6 this side of a GT-R. Used with 15K miles can be had for $21,000-23,000 range. Ebay and yahooauto searches for Premium Verano will yield the best results.

      Let us know when you are out driving these cars I can bring the Verano 2.0T down as I’m just north of I-270 and visit famliy in your area. Find me on Buickforums.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        You are wrong. Owners of the Verano report 23 mpg average and CR finds the car like the Encore, kinda at the bottom of its class.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Uh he has magic tune. 40 mpg uphill with AC on, AWD in a desert sandstorm.

          • 0 avatar
            69firebird

            The Verano block’s are all hand-carved by a monk with an x-acto knife out of a solid block of unobtanium.
            I thought everyone knew this.

          • 0 avatar
            thornmark

            Ask the man who owns one:
            http://www.autosavant.com/2013/09/18/long-term-test-2013-buick-verano-turbo-update-1/

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            The guy bought a Verano over the GTI?

            http://buickforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=33296

            Nice thread in the Verano section showing mid-30″s Verano 2.0T with auto trans and 87 octane too.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          @Corey

          His car spits in the face of Newton.

        • 0 avatar

          Okay, look, let’s get this straight. A tune can’t funk up the mpgs to the tune of 17+ over stock. He’s obviously using hypermiling techniques (normal sane drivers would never contemplate).

          I had a ’94 Taurus wagon around 2008 that consistantly returned 33 mpg from Canton, OH to Charleston, WV year round. Best was 38.1 all hwy from Mineral Wells, WV to Strasburg, OH exit gas station. Gotta love that good WV gas. Ohio has no regulation on what octane is actually sitting in the fuel tanks, and as such, is a dumping ground for bad gas. WV sometimes actually tests the gas that they dump down in the tanks. You can see astounding mpgs by just keeping your goddamn foot out of it and setting the cruise control at 55-60.

          Proof? I had my first car, an ’88 Crown Vic (with true dual exhaust, cherry bombs, and 1000w amp and 4 12″ subs in the trunk) go all the way down to visit mom AND grandma in the Charleston area AND make it all the way back to the in-town gas dispensary on ONE tank of gas. 420 miles on the trip odometer for a real-world mpg of 28.5 miles per gallon. I had the cruise set at 55 and probably pissed off a lot of truckers on that trip, but who cares? 28.5 out of an ’88 V8, and 38 out of a ’94 v6, bitches.

    • 0 avatar
      Andy

      ILX 2.4 MT is going to break $30K. Verano Turbo would be within budget. But he seems determined to have a midsize, which I agree with given the frequent backseat usage.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      You are right with the last point: nothing beats test driving.

      I can configure cars on the internet all day and then go to the dealership and the choice becomes blindingly obvious.

      It could be seating position, visibility, the shifter, suspension damping, road noise, engine note, interior, whatever – but it pretty cleanly separates the car that’s right for me versus the ones that are not.

  • avatar

    The van is good for family trips and hauling and I love mine, but if it was just me and the son I think it would be a bit on the large side. The truth is I think that sooner or later you would get tired of being one of those people who haul your lone ass around in a vehicle built to haul 8. You need room for two most of the time, streching to four on occasion, and the occasional band trip. I think you’re going to find that it is just too big most of the time.

    I’d probably go with the Mazda because I have always liked the 6, but I think you should seriosuly consider ordering a Fusion like the one Bark M wrote about a couple of months back (maybe you could swing a deal and even get that one used because it sounds like it’s owned by a friend). Additionally, a woman I work with who has a lot of back trouble bought one and she says it is very comfortable. That might be something to think about since you probably have some aches and pains in your present and future. Something to think about…

    Also, I haven’t really said it in any of my posts but I’m glad you’re on the mend, Jack. I’m a huge fan but I try not to be too cloying about it. All the best to you and to everyone involved in the accident.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Man Van, or the T&C S. However, getting those out the door for under $30k might be a challenge. As a current shopper of these, I might suggest a used 2013 model for the low $20s with mileage under 15k. There are plenty out there. Finding an R/T or T&C S will be a tall order, but if you’ll settle for a T&C Touring (or Touring-L) you’ll probably be fine.

    As the father of a precocious 3-year-old, I can assure you that a 287-hp van is going to seem just as fast as a Porsche to him. Plus it has DVD in the back and the seats can all fold under the floor for an instant play area, or for car camping (with your son or with another consenting adult). It’s like a mobile treehouse, but without all that pesky carpentry. I just built a treehouse last fall. In hindsight, buying a minivan would have been easier.

    Further, impressing women of a certain age is going to have less to do with your car and more to do with you personally. Something about a single dad in van gives a middle finger to societal norms, which in a roundabout way makes you a rebel without a cause, even if the only James Dean you know are the microwaveable breakfast sandwiches.

    I just had one this morning.

  • avatar
    Feds

    So I _JUST_ went through this exercise, and I came out the end of it with a 2013 Grand Vitara. It meets 3 of your criteria, maybe 4 or 5 (mileage might be iffy, reliability is TBD), and has leather, sunroof, nav, bluetooth, 1.5 zillion air bags, and all kinds of ESP/BFD/ETC.

    It also has an engine that goes in the right direction (Front to back), 3 kinds of four wheel drive, and a door that swings out instead of up (Kids, esp young boys, think this is awesome).

    Of course, you can’t buy one, since Suzuki left the US LAST year, and is only leaving Canada THIS year.

    I did consider many other things: 300/charger, Fusions, camcords, Wrangler Unlimiteds, full sized trucks, etc, but none of them matched up with price/features like the Suzi.

    Being that you are a US American, and things are cheaper for you (except healthcare), why not the CX-5? And get the AWD. As a guy who has gone very many winters in everything from a ’71 Chevelle on bias plies to a Mazda 323 on bald whatevers to a Delica on 31″ snowtires I can tell you that you don’t need AWD but you do want it. It just makes tricky conditions easier.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    well, Jack…I thought the Mazda6 comes with diesel and standard this spring. I guess I would use all your contacts with The Man in the corner office at Mazda to see when this car comes.
    And when you are talking to the The Man…BEG FOR THE MAZDA6 WAGON!!!!!!

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    Civic SI
    Fiesta ST
    VW Golf/GTI (reliability may be questionable)

    • 0 avatar
      Short Bus

      My GTI has been the most reliable vehicle I’ve ever owned. Only one unscheduled repair stop over 75,XXX miles for something that didn’t cripple the car, just disabled the sound system. Granted, I had to make a couple more stops at the dealer after that repair, but that was no fault of the car (problems with the repair that the mechanics caused).

      Your mileage may vary, but I would trust a newer VW to be a solid car.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      I’m sure in the back of Jack’s mind are crash standards. How do these hot-hatches fair?

  • avatar
    Slainte72

    First of all – best wishes to everyone for a quick recovery. Love your writing.

    Cars…
    Any consideration for a Subaru Legacy? AWD, good resale…
    Of your choices;
    #1 Honda
    #2 Mazda
    Even though you’ve got a stable of fun-to-drive vehicles there should be no excuses for having a daily-driver you actually look forward to driving.
    Too bad there were no Mazda6 shooting brakes anymore…

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The GF has a 2012 Forester. Compared to my Encore AWD in the snow while turning from a stop the Suby rotates too much before electronics kick in looseing forward momentum. Where the Encore AWD spins for a second then claws in and maintains steering direction. Fun but not the best. It also has the weird Japanese car throttle tip from a stop that propels the car, but once rolling is gone. It is like some torque converter spike that is only available from a stop.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    Another option to consider would be a new Legacy, which of course gives you AWD. I’m not sure about the US, but in Canada you can get a reasonably nicely equipped Legacy with 6MT within your price range. It probably varies by region, but it might be easy to sell when you’re done with it – my tired old 5MT Legacy Wagon sold in one day. I’m not crazy about the styling of the new ones though, and the CVT would be a deal breaker for me.

    The minivan is a solid choice, hard to beat the utility / price if you need the space.

    The most direct new Town Car replacement would be a loaded up 300C – but that’s more than $30k, and doesn’t sound like what you are looking for.

    • 0 avatar
      JonS.

      I’ve never commented before, but this post inspired me. A year ago I bought (and think Jack should consider) a new Subaru Outback “2.5i Premium” Manual. It averages 23.5 (!) MPG, makes cool loud boxer noises, and it’s fun to drive. It has a lot of airbags and room for my wife and son. It is slightly Spartan (no nav, manual climate, etc), but I had the dealer put in a leather kit for a thousand bucks and I was out the door with a brand new, 4WD, stick shift wagon for $26K + tax. I hope to keep it a long time.

      It’s the right size, right price, right mileage, very safe – gotta get it on the list! I’ve owned another Outback, an A4 wagon, and a very high-maintenance 2006 325xi wagon (traded on this car), and in a year and 15,000 miles I have had no disappointments. The only downside is that my (Mini-driving) wife doesn’t think its as cool as the BMW. But, no BMW repair bills, and she lets me drive the Mini on the weekends.

      Have a speedy recovery!

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I SAID THIS ALREADY FIFTEEN MINUTES AGO.

      • 0 avatar
        Madroc

        I should have scrolled down before I posted upthread but that’s exactly what we went with when our now-three-year-old was en route. My wife insisted on a stick because she’s cool like that. A 2.5i Premium with every option checked except the CVT is decently equipped for a family-hauler. I doubt it’s as much fun to drive as some of the sedans he posted but that’s what the 911 is for.

    • 0 avatar
      Andy

      edit: what John said…

  • avatar

    No love for the Volkswagen Jetta wagon TDI? 4-doors? It’s got five! Manual? Check. Available in colours? Check. You get all your demands except for power (which wasn’t one but we assume some things). You know what they say…it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast…

    And if you get it in brown BCAS will probably elect you for sainthood.

    • 0 avatar
      trackratmk1

      Second the notion to add this into consideration. TDI or also available with the new 1.8t motor and a 5spd manual. A 500 dollar APR flash would get well over 200hp and one of the best handling and solidly built wagons on the market. Mid30 mpg at least with gas motor. And the cargo space is huge.

    • 0 avatar
      Albino Digits

      As much as I like the idea of a manual, diesel wagon, these have known reliability issues. Diesel is also usually 20 cents higher than premium per gallon here in Columbus.

  • avatar
    roadscholar

    I was also going to mention the Dart 1.4T/6 MT. You can probably get a Limited trim (no options) for $20K or less if you can find one languishing on a dealer lot. You already have some fun-to-drive cars so the logical choice is the minivan.

  • avatar
    jaje

    VW TDI which gives you a choice of a sedan, wagon or 5 door hatchback with either 6 speed manual or DCT. Starts from $21k to $29k. Leases from $219 (sedan) to $299 a month (wagon). Expect ~ 60 mpg highway and high 30′s in town.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    Jack – I own 2 of the cars you’ve listed – a 2014 Accord Sport 6MT and a 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T.

    When looking for the Accord, I agonized over the Mazda6 vs Accord. Tilting my balance in favor of the Honda were:
    - Significantly better manual transmission. All 3 manual Mazda6′s I drove had notchy and somewhat rubbery MTs.
    - More compliant highway ride (a new job means I now drive ~70mi a day)
    - Interior is and felt more spacious
    - Better in-car entertainment – Alex is right, the 6′s system is junk.
    - Lower entry price
    - Larger rear door openings make wrangling a combative 3 year old into a bulky car seat substantially easier (for those non parents, a sheriff friend would much rather ‘assist’ a surly 6’5″ 300 lbs drunk into the back of his squad car than try to strap down his 3.5 y/o in a car seat).
    - I paid less than 22k for one.

    One thing you should know about the Accord Sport is that the factory audio quality is nothing special…some say it’s terrible. All Accords – even top-end Touring models – have crappy sound. Forums indicate a simple speaker replacement (plus a straightforward slim-line sub install if desired) make a tremendous improvement. I typically listen to NPR, the Economist, books on tape, or talk on the phone, so I haven’t found a need to upgrade yet.

    I cannot competently advise on whether the Accord understeers at the limit. But it’s been great so far and is returning a real 33 MPG on my commute riding on a set of Blizzaks with winter gas. The DI engine makes a ton of torque and it is much faster than its predecessor. It will ‘walk’ a pentastar Caravan. Driving it – with the exceptional manual – it is a true pleasure.

    The Accord is extremely comfortable and quiet at speed, feels very controlled, and is an all around great performer. We can get 2 kids in rear facing car seats and a ton of luggage in the trunk. Its cheap to insure, own, and run.

    Most importantly, it is a crash-test superstar.

    The Caravan also has been good. We got it slightly used and saved a pretty penny. However, don’t expect more than 18-19 in mixed driving. While they’ll get 25-28 on the highway, the Pentastar + 6 speed can’t overcome the physics of motivating a 5000 lbs vehicle through traffic. Like you, I thoroughly enjoy driving it. But, I’m not expecting to sell it in the next 5-10 years so accelerated depreciation isn’t a worry for me. It may be for you.

    If I were in you’re shoes, the Accord and 6 would be at the top of the list. With me spending a lot of time on the highway, the Accord worked best for our situation.

    • 0 avatar
      carrya1911

      As the owner of a 2013 Accord “Sport”, I’ll second most of that. I don’t feel the car is as fast, but it’s not pokey either.

    • 0 avatar
      Andy

      Ditto. Sound quality from digital sources is fine. FM sucks. The sweet, sweet MT sold me. I’m doing about 28 mpg in mixed driving, but I’m really not trying at all, and I never put it in Eco mode.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      For Accord sound quality, make sure you have all the upgrades done at the dealer under the TSBs — it seems to help somewhat.

      That being said, the improvement to this Accord from the 8th-Gen (2008-2012) from the 6th-Gen (2003-2007) was not as great. A speaker upgrade and the addition of a subwoofer where the OEM one goes in the higher trims would help significantly.

      (I’m going to have this audio upgrade done when I take my Touring in for my first oil change this coming Monday. If that doesn’t bear fruit, there is a hidden DSP setting on navigation-equipped Accords which is like a “loudness” setting on an older stereo; just don’t blow the factory speakers in that case, or the warranty may not be honored!)

  • avatar
    ant

    It really is a shame that Nissan doesn’t offer anything with a stick……

    Wait a minute, how bout a Juke?

    lol

  • avatar
    catachanninja

    Ford focus st, fast manual and if you get the right sound system loud!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    2.5i Premium trim manual 2014 Outback? 24/30 mpg, and you can add lots of little options and still be under $30k. Space and AWD for the winter, since you don’t have a winter-type vehicle in your sports cars. Big and safe as well.

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    As much as the Mazda 6 is the ‘enthusiast choice’, when it came to my own money I just couldn’t do it. Not sure what it was exactly, probably a combination of excess dealer stock, lame salesmen, huge discounts which actually cheapened it in my mind, and the interior colors/design which had gone from ‘cool for a 25 year old’ to ‘trying too hard for a 30 year old’. This was for the prior model so your mileage may vary.

    The Accord is basically a late 90′s BMW 5 series. I’m serious, it just feels solid and good, not a sports car but capable, with some clever features and technology. My choice.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s an apt description. I recently helped a friend by one of these sedans (automatic) and it came down to the Altima and the Accord. She actually preferred the look of the Altima more, as well as the price and packaging (An interior that isn’t black?! A colour that isn’t grey?!?) but the Accord just felt so much tighter, better built and drove much more nicely. I’ve known numerous high mileage Accords and they all feel the same way. Just about as good as they day they were purchased, 10 years later.

      • 0 avatar
        carrya1911

        I agree with that as well. The Accord feels nicely put together and very solid.

        It doesn’t iron out the bumps in the road like my old Charger did, but it’s weighs half a ton less and has thinner profile tires. (Sports come with 18″ wheels)

        It rides very well and feels like a quality product with every drive. The infotainment stuff works very well, the shifter isn’t as nice as an Audi R8′s but still feels good…it’s a nice car for the money, IMO.

        • 0 avatar
          Nick 2012

          +1 from me on the ’90s 5-series description, too. While the Accord Sport doesn’t have many bells and whistles, for the price its tough to beat and you’re not missing anything important.

          The Sport’s unique seat fabric also may be a selling point for someone with a young kid – its like a mix between cloth and neoprene. Breathable and fabric-feeling, but so far it seems to be resistant to foot prints and spills without a problem. I’m hoping it wears like good ‘ol MB-Tex.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            If he wants a couple more toys, he could grab the EX, then plus-1 the wheels and add the dual-exhaust from the Sport. That would get the sunroof, keyless-ignition, LaneWatch, and a couple other goodies.

            That fabric seemed weird when I test-drove a Sport (and the neoprene-esque description is apt), but Honda cloth seats wear better than they appear they would, so my guess is it will last the life of the car and still look new.

    • 0 avatar

      The Mazda drives great, but the engine is a bit coarse and there’s more NVH. I would be ok with it, but Jack would be better off with the Accord IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      tooloud10

      Wait, what? A wrong-wheel-drive Asian commodity car is “basically” a late-90s Bimmer sport sedan?

      Anyway, since Mr. Baruth’s taste in cars matched mine almost perfectly right up until he started talking about buying a new (strike one) boring (strike two) sedan/minivan (strike three). Seems like he should decide whether he needs something the size of the minivan before moving forward, but…here’s my list:

      1) Focus ST
      2) Subaru WRX
      3) VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI
      4) VW GTI 5-door
      5) MINI Countryman

      I don’t mean to be a smartass, but so far Jack’s list looks exactly like what my elderly mother would be looking at if she went shopping for “something sporty to make me feel young”. There’s no reason to drive boring cars in this day and age, and while I think buying them new is exactly like tossing money right down the toilet, I guess I’m glad that someone takes the depreciation hit so I can grab them a few years later and drive the wheels off them.

      YMMV…

      • 0 avatar

        Why would he settle for one of these things when he’s got two Porches and a M-B to drive on the weekends. There is a time and place for things that are comfortable and quiet and just work. He’ll have both. The VW wagon is the sole useful candidate here, and it’s not wholly more exciting than a stick Accord.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        “Wait, what? A wrong-wheel-drive Asian commodity car is “basically” a late-90s Bimmer sport sedan?”

        If you never drive it hard, then I can see how it would be comparable.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      As a former owner of a late 90s 5 series and someone who test drove the new Accord when figuring out what to replace it with, I think this is a ridiculous comparison.

      The Accord is a good car that is hard to find fault with, but had no where near the feel of the 5 series. I decided I would rather continue repairing the 5.

      I won’t rule out an Accord Sport 6MT in the future, but I won’t have any delusions about it being as good as a late 90s 5 series.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    You are going to buy an Accord Coupe. Because:
    1. Getting the boy in and out of his seat is actually easier in a 2 door car,(in my experience,but it’s been 10 years) because you are in front of him when fastening his belts, instead of stretching over him from the side.
    2. You know where he is at all times, you don’t have to lock any rear doors, and you will be holding the door for him whenever he gets in or out of the car, reducing the chance of unexpected door dings, or him running into a road or worse.
    3. Manual is standard (for the EX-L V6 , but by then you are a few 100$ above your limit…)
    4. It comes in actual colours.
    5.It weighs slightly less than the sedan.
    6. It just looks so much better…

    By the way, does it really have to be a brand new car?

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      Will this link be useful?
      http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip=43222&endYear=2015&modelCode1=ACCORD&showcaseOwnerId=55782018&startYear=1981&makeCode1=HONDA&searchRadius=100&maxPrice=30000&bodyStyleCodes=COUPE&showcaseListingId=363180411&mmt=%5BHONDA%5BACCORD%5B%5D%5D%5B%5D%5D&listingId=363180411&Log=0

    • 0 avatar
      Scott_314

      This is not that crazy. Your reasons articulate why my mom preferred two-doors despite a bit lower convenience.

      Any parents or in-laws simply can’t get back there though, so it could be tough for a single father.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      This is ridiculous, and I know it’s ridiculous as I write it, but thirteen days ago I pulled my son out of the back window of the Lincoln because the doors were crushed in.

      I want back doors and the big windows that come with them.

  • avatar
    Wacko

    http://limaohio.craigslist.org/cto/4227150126.html%3C/img%3E

    This scout only has 2 doors but I think you will like it

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    The Accord is the easy choice. But, like you said, no one on this site would want to live with it long term.
    Does the Dodge come with a stick? Or are you making that concession? Because I don’t think you’d ever be able to sell a manual Dodge Caravan.

    Others to consider:
    Buick Regal AWD – Starts at just over $32k and I’m sure you could get it out the door well under $30k. Also comes in red and blue. No manual though.

    Ford Flex, again no manual.

    Subaru Forester or Outback – I may be mistaken, but I think you can get both with stick. At least you could recently.

    (Yes, I am a firm believer in AWD)

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      I disagree that no one would want to live with an Accord long term. I’m biased because I own one, but it’s a great car that I can reasonably expect to provide many years of trouble free service. From a car guy POV, it provides a lot of fun when I want it. I think of it as a model wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Nobody pays any attention to it, which is nice.

      With the highway driving Jack does, dragging around an unnecessary set of driveline components will dent fuel economy and rarely – if ever – provide much of a benefit. In most climates, good winter tires > AWD in my experience.

      • 0 avatar
        Dweller on the Threshold

        Preach it. I live in a mountain state, over one of the snowiest passes in the US, up near the border, and AWD is not worth much at all in a passenger car. Certainly isn’t worth its own costs.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I’m on my third Accord V6 Sedan!

        This latest one, a 2013 Touring, is a wolf in sheep’s clothing!

        • 0 avatar
          Land Ark

          Granted I haven’t driven either, but I suspect the V6 Accord is a different animal than the Accord Sport.
          But I stand behind the fact that *most* TTAC readers would rather be stranded on the side of the road with a grey market Peugeot 205 gti than drive an Accord, if for no other reason to be different. So you can finish the answer to “what do you drive?” without an explanation and with a sh*t eating grin.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      You can get both with AWD for the Forester and Outback. But the Forester is only VERY VERY basic with the manual. The Outback allows you to move up to Premium trim level and keep the 6M.

    • 0 avatar
      eManual

      I have one of the last Chrysler built stick shift 1992 Plymouth Voyager) mini-vans with a 2.5L. They stopped making them about 1994.

      • 0 avatar
        Madroc

        My avatar is inspired by the car I grew up driving, a 1987 Ford Aerostar. V6 (such as it was), RWD, and a five-speed stick. If they still made minivans like that today I might be driving one.

  • avatar
    Keith Kostecke

    Get the Caravan. Last spring, I needed to start regularly hauling a fair amount of stuff. I was all set to buy a pickup truck but after realizing the limitations of a pickup – poor to mediocre handling and cargo exposed to the elements – I came to the conclusion that a minivan would handle most tasks and be a better drive to boot.
    Based on Jack’s review of the base Grand Caravan – and the availability of Stow & Go go seating – I didn’t even test drive competing minivans, even though many reviews say the Odyssey is the best driving minivan. I had rented a Pentastar Town & Country a couple of times and was generally impressed at its power, comfort and features. While there are some features available on the T&C that I would have liked, the R/T had most of the features I wanted and handled better. (The T & C was sloppy going into turns, the R/T is buttoned-down.) It still has a good ride, so I’m contemplating upgrading the 17″ all-seasons to 18′s this spring. The 3.6 has good power and cruises easily at 80, while still returning decent mpg. Biggest negative:the transmission is too busy shifting between 5th and 6th at higher speeds. Even when not hauling stuff, it’s great daily driver.

  • avatar
    Øyvind Birkeland

    I really like that Fusion, especially with the 1.6 Ecoboost/6MT drivetrain. Since it seems like you already have the equipment for the occational hoonage in your Porches, the ~180hp in the Fusion would probably be more than enough for daily driving. But then I know how much you Americans love displacement!
    Has there been more problems with the Hecho en México cars than the Flat Rock ones? I would think the Hermosillo plant would have made more progress than Flat Rock in fixing these issues since they have made more Fusions there.
    I believe turbocharging has come to stay in the midsize sedan market! I have a 10 year old Skoda Superb TDI with a turbocharger and not once have I had an issue with it.
    Add the fact that the Fusion is by far the best looking one, and I believe you have a winner! Too bad the station wagon isn’t available over there.

  • avatar
    Windy

    First of all jack let me wish you both a speedy and total recovery from your crash….. As well as some success with your insurance fights.

    From your short list I would think the ford would be interesting as well as provide fodder for a long term ownership series of reports on the experience at regular intervals.

    But given the three toys in your stable can’t you manage with just the parade of press testers you must have access to? Or have a series of long term testers assigned?

    And do what your Physical Terrorist tells you to do… Especially all of your homework stretches and exercises

  • avatar
    22_RE_Speedwagon

    The mazda6 is stunning in person, the trunk is huge and the rear seats fold down, the fuel efficiency is great. Of course, one thing I’m learning through my own recent exploits is that car shopping based on specs often disappoints when it comes time to drive.

  • avatar
    carrya1911

    I went with the Accord Sport for the following reasons:

    - It could be had with a manual
    - It was roomy and comfortable enough for most of my needs
    - It’s a Honda, and I’m reasonably certain the drivetrain and electronics will not die on me prematurely like they were doing in my previous daily driver
    - It actually handles reasonably well for a FWD family hauler
    - At the price I could get one it was only about 3 grand more than a 2011 Accord with 30,000 miles. Plus 0.9% financing on the little bit of money I did finance…so why not just buy new?

    After a year of ownership, all of that has proven to be true. I get a little bit less than the advertised city mileage because I tend to use the lower gears more than the higher gas-saving gears. The car easily exceeds the highway mileage figures in my driving, though. On a mostly highway journey I’ve averaged 45 MPG.

    Things that you may not like when going with the Accord Sport:

    - The stereo in the Sport Accord is the cheapest thing imaginable. The cost for the speakers from Honda is something like 5 bucks a piece. Sound quality is pretty poor and if you like your tunes figure in having to spend some money for the upgrade.

    - The more expensive stereos in the higher trim level Accords (the ones that come with the second little screen) aren’t much better. Before buying my Sport I drove all the Accord trim levels in sedan and coupe form, and the sound systems in all of them were sub-optimal. Eventually the aftermarket will fix this, but for now accept that the sound system will suck. Even the expensive one. So you might as well get the cheaper one and save the money.

    - The 2.4L engine in the 4 cylinder will probably be very reliable, and when I need to pass something or to muster a burst of speed I can get it if I put it in the right gear. That being said, it’s not exactly what one would call a “fast” car. It’s adequate. If you want more grunt, you need the V6.

    - Unfortunately you can’t get the V6 with a stick except in the coupe. I tried the coupe hoping to like it more since they had a pretty red one with the V6 and a stick and the nice sound system and leather seats…and after trying to get into the back of it and experiencing the fully loaded car I ended up buying the cheaper “Sport” sedan because I didn’t find myself in love with the blinged out coupe. I’d love the V6, but after experiencing my share of auto transmission issues a manual was a must for me, and I found the coupe body style to be enough of an inconvenience that I stuck with the sedan.

    All of that being said, you should check out the Accord coupe because as two doors go it’s more practical than most and getting in the rear isn’t really all that bad if you’re not 80+ years old with sciatica and arthritis.

    - Over on the Accord forum there seems to be some indication that Honda may have changed the type of fabric used on the Sport seats. I love the cloth on my seats, but it’s a 2013 so check it out carefully.

    My overall impression of the Accord Sport after having owned one for a year:

    It’s reliable transportation that’s more fun than your average appliance car. The handling is better than expected, and will likely improve even more with a bigger sway bar in the rear and some better tires than the eco-friendly ones that come from the factory.

    It feels light and nimble, but that may just be my experience since I came from a 4,200 pound Charger.

    Predictable understeer appears to alert even the most clueless idiot that they’re getting on the car’s nerves well before the point where the car tries to kill them.

    The lack of low-end torque is sometimes sub-optimal in city driving. On more than one occasion I’ve said to myself “Self, if you bought a 2013 Mustang GT you wouldn’t lack low end torque.” Then the other part of myself says “Yes, Self. You’d also be another 8-10 grand in on a car that gets worse gas mileage and that costs a lot more to insure and you couldn’t haul the people and stuff you need to haul.”

    “You know, Self, you can really be an asshole.”

    “That’s my job, Self. Quit being a whiny little bitch.”

    I’m happy with my purchase. Aside from the sound system (which I immediately set about upgrading because it was just atrocious) I think it’s a clever bit of engineering and while I won’t be setting new Ring lap records with it, it’s still faster and handles better than lots of “fast” stuff from the past.

    Reasons for choosing the Accord over competitors in the class:

    Camry –

    I loathe the Camry generally and I think Toyota is selling more cars on reputation than engineering these days…so that’s out.

    Mazda 6 –

    Tempting, and the best looking IMO…but I didn’t trust the reliability. Perhaps it’s buyer’s bias, but I’ve driven the 6 with a stick and didn’t feel that it was really a superior driving experience to my Accord.

    Fusion –

    I chose the Accord over the Fusion because while the Fusion is very visually appealing from the right angles, I trusted Honda to get a first model year car more right than Ford. Especially since Ford is turbo-ing everything now. Honda’s engine is still NA, and since I intend to keep the car until the wheels fall off I wanted the best long term prospect I could get. A Fusion often parks next to me. The more I look at my Accord next to the Fusion the more I think that my Accord will “age” better, too.

    Could just be buyer’s bias.

    • 0 avatar
      Andy

      Self, that was an excellent comment.

      I was shocked at the prices for used Hondas. It’s why I bought a new Mazda3 in ’08 for less than a 40K-mile used Civic. This time, I could spend a bit more, and decided to get what I really wanted. In 10 years with 120K it’ll probably still be worth $12K and make a nice down payment on the next thing.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      I think they upgraded the seat fabric on the LXs. Everything else for 2014 was carryover.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Accord – recalled for fire risk
      Mazda – recalled open door risk

      2006 CTS-V(sub $18,000) would make a great track car and with 400hp and manual transmission would be icing on the cake. Gas mileage fall short but you usually rent when you go out of town. Plus your son could drive it to prom in decade or so.

  • avatar
    abhi

    Accord for the car.. IF you’re going the minivan route then the T&C shouldn’t be a hard resale(i think).

    What about an impala.. i remember you liking it in the review, I think they may get you under 30 well equipped..

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I tend to agree with the above comments.

    The TC will provide the most versatility, the worst mpg and if a quick resale is possible, the highest loss of cash possible. Figure half.

    I guess I am unsure why a used TC would be taken off the table? The fleet issue vans often have the DVD heated seats etc, fairly well equiped rides. The R/T version will be a resale paperweight, their only two people in America looking for a sporty minivan, you and a another guy that I have not met, but probably reads this blog.

    If you need to safe and secure, I would think the Accord is the way to go…..

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      I’m not too concerned about the resale of an R/T vs any other ChryCo van. The R/Ts are loaded past the T&C “L” model (remote start, heated seats/steering wheel, premium sound, nav etc) but have a much lower entry price. The % depreciation was the same for T&Cs and non-R/T vans when I bought. R/Ts have a mildly stiffer suspension that you have to be looking for to notice, but other than that, they are just a nicely equipped van. You could probably get a slight premium in a private sale.

      Evidence supports that an R/T van won’t be a rock. KBB says a 2011 RT with almost all options and 35k miles is worth $21,300,

      For a T&C “L” with identical options, KBB says its worth $22,020.

      However, the T&C “L” has a 2-3k higher entry price.

      • 0 avatar
        ash78

        Yep — rare versions of cars can sometimes hurt, but as my local Carmax guy confirmed, he has a personal waiting list of 3 other customers waiting on an R/T. He said the only four he’s seen on the lot have gone within a couple days. They have 20+ other Caravans and T&Cs out there.

        If I had to wager against bad depreciation on a van, it’s Caravan R/T or Odyssey (obviously). Similarly, the best thing to do on a van is just buy 1-2 years later for 2/3 the original price.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “Evidence supports that an R/T van won’t be a rock. KBB says a 2011 RT with almost all options and 35k miles is worth $21,300,”

        If they actually trade in that range at 2-3 years old, that’s very good depreciation as a new one with current rebates can be had for ~30k.

    • 0 avatar
      69firebird

      They have an R/T minivan?

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    Just to throw something else out there…. here in SC near my house, they’re offering 2014 Charger SXT’s for $19,999. If you throw some options at it, a Charger is a REALLY nice car- and it drives the correct wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I was really satisfied with my 2013. I could see Jack in one, they have a “cool dad” vibe.

    • 0 avatar

      Challenger R/T has a manual transmission (but MSRP is $30,495 – misses Jack’s window). Charger, I think, is automatic only. I would be happy to be mistaken, because this is nicely unconventional suggestion.

      • 0 avatar
        CoastieLenn

        You’re correct. The Charger is automatic only… but will have the 8 speed backing the V6 this year I recall. Still, its a great car with a ton of potential for not much money.

        Honestly looking back on it now, I think I would have purchased one over our new Fusion had I taken my “I love Ford” blinders off and test driven one.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert

        I have to agree that the Charger deserves consideration. The 3.6L 8-speed auto is nice and the TMV over at Edmunds is under $29K. It will get you to 31MPG (rated) on the freeway.

        IIRC from prior posts you’ve used them as rental cars. Any reason it doesn’t make the cut?

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      High HP? At the rear? With fatter tires? I wouldn’t suggest that to a guy who’s just survived a collision caused (if I understand correctly) by a spinout on ice.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        RWD vehicle with traction & stability control + dedicated snow tires > front wheel drive car with all seasons and by a significant margin.

        I’m running a rwd 6MT sports car with iPikes and most front wheel drive vehicles that I see in inclement winter conditions on the roads around me struggle in comparison to my vehicle.

        I really don’t think many people who have not run true, dedicated snow tires (with the mountain symbol on the sidewall) appreciate how incredibly effective modern snow tires dispatch with the snow regardless of which vehicle’s wheels are propelling the vehicle. It started with Blizzaks and has only gotten better in the last two decades.

        BTW, I second the 300/Charger recommendation. They are solid, comfortable cars that represent fantastic value for the money, especially in the volume trim.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        I’d go for the safest choice after a wreck like that.

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/avoidable-contact-color-my-world-the-case-for-front-wheel-drive/

        I don’t enjoy driving RWD vehicles on icy highways. I’d rather relax in something that is incapable of drive-wheel-induced instability. RWD is fine on winter city roads. Quite fun even, though very slow compared to AWD.

        I can’t imagine what a stability control system would be doing while the car dances around underneath me on an icy/snowy highway at 70 mph. I really don’t want the brakes to interfere in that situation, under any circumstance.

  • avatar
    bfisch81

    Caravan/Town and Country: The Pentastar is a beast of an engine, it’s comfortable, versatile and its a huge amount of car for the money.

  • avatar
    JKC

    Hope everyone involved is making a speedy recovery. Of the three cars, I’d go with the Fusion: you can probably swing a better deal, and most new Fords are pretty fun to drive.

    I’m betting, though, that the sheer bloody usefulness of a van is going to be too tempting in the end. Fold the third row of seats down and you’ll have more cargo room than you’ll know what to do with. And go for one with heated seats if you can afford it. They’re money well spent on a cold morning.

  • avatar
    mhickman73

    I love the Mazda’s aggressive design…it stands out. Can’t say the Accord’s design inspires much of anything…besides apathy.

  • avatar
    vikast

    Take a look at the Infiniti G37 – I know it’s retail is a bit higher than you’re looking for; however, True Car is quoting a price of $30.1k. Unfortunately it only comes in Automatic, but it is a significantly different car than the other cars you’re considering due to a RWD layout, etc. Moreover, it is pretty reliable, quick, decent mileage, and well built.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Get a 2012 Volvo XC70 as a CPO vehicle.

    You’ll have a 100,000 mile warranty and all the opportunity to hoon through your daily drives. Nothing you have mentioned above comes anywhere close to it as a daily driver.

  • avatar

    Jack, Canada has your Accord (or at least it did in 2013). The Touring model is/was available with the 4-cylinder in manual form. That means you could get the premium audio, nav, and could choose a dashing red or blue, for just a tick over $30k CAD.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      4-cyl Accord Touring have the CVT and more ‘gingerbread’ – It might be good to pocket the almost $10k price difference to use for winter tires, upgraded speakers (from what I’ve been reading the Accord’s premium system isn’t very premium), and other Jack-specific improvements.

      • 0 avatar

        Well, that was my point. The 4-cyl Touring used to and may still have 6-speed available, or else I wouldn’t have suggested it. And yes, the audio system isn’t great but the resale would be even stronger and he would get an interesting colour.

  • avatar
    jaybird124

    Jack – All are respectable choices. Ford Fusion SE would be my recommendation. It’s a little more unique while still being practical. While I wold be willing to believe QA/QC at Hermosillo, a lot of manufacturer inventory systems allow you to know which plant it will be ordered from (this helps with time of arrival).

  • avatar
    mu_redskin

    What about the Dodge Durango? Three rows, same great red color as the Caravan. When not driving around this kids, the minivan does get a little old.

  • avatar
    ...m...

    …the caravan’s only available with an automatic transmission, non?..

    …i’d look at the mazda 5: their quirky little semi-minivan makes mazda the only manufacturer still offering a stick-and-clutch gearbox stateside, and its driving dynamics are really without peer in the class…plus minivans are just cool, and would complement your stable nicely…

  • avatar
    Matt Betts

    How about a new WRX? The base price is 25, an even with all the goodies it is 29. Plus, the new one gets the updated drivetrain, comes in a manual 6-speed, has a good size back seat which does hold various kid seats, and is fun to drive. Resale is also superb.

  • avatar
    DeeDub

    If thrift and responsibility are the watchwords, why is “brand-new” on the list of requirements? Wouldn’t a nicely depreciated 2 or 3 year old car be the better choice?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Or sell some of the play toys and get a nicer, new car. But that’s not in the rules list.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Depending upon the car, a new car with incentives may not be much more than a used car. Used cars don`t seem to depreciate as much as they used to. Unrealistic to expect 30% off the real purchase price (not MSRP) after just a year or two.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    In case you’re a little safety conscious, this…

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s top 6 cars under $30,000 with five-star safety ratings

    Chevrolet Malibu
    Chevrolet Sonic
    Ford Taurus
    Honda Civic sedan
    Kia Sportage
    Toyota Prius

    Yeah, I know I wouldn’t want any of them either, but they’re the safest

  • avatar
    Sobro

    If you knock two doors off your requirement then the answer is V-6 Mustang. If you don’t then Fusion.

    • 0 avatar
      Madroc

      Exactly. You can get a new Mustang for about $7K off sticker right now, so a GT would barely meet his criteria and a V6 would blow it away. But were it me (and I just bought a new GT), if I had a 911 in the garage I’d probably go with a midsize sedan or CUV with a stick as my daily.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    Going by what you have listed the Accord Sport 6MT would be my choice. Yeah, it’s a shame it only comes in black and grey but it is what it is.

    Others to consider:

    1. 2015 WRX- I don’t know it it’s as large as you’d like but it covers everything else.

    2. V.W. GLI- good car, lots of features, reliability may be a concern. Then again, it may not.

    If you’re willing to go slightly used, consider a 2012 TL SH-AWD 6MT. Should be very reliable, has AWD, and offers a lot of bang for the buck.

  • avatar
    Andy

    I got a new Accord Sport last summer. Coming out of a Mazda3, I wanted to love the Mazda6, and it is beautiful. But the Honda eeked out the win as it felt more powerful, unbelievably nice MT, better interior materials (I hear the MZ6 is due for an interior refresh soon). Just a more refined piece overall. And the expected future resale value was attractive. It’s been a great vehicle so far. And surprisingly very quiet inside. I was somewhat worried about the Honda road noise I’ve always read about, but they must have really done some serious sound deadening. At any rate, it feels like a dang Lexus compared to my last car when loafing along, but it’s responsive and handles great when you jump on it. To me (and most enthusiast mags), the best overall in the segment. And in Sport trim, it looks pretty cool. I still double-take when I see the new 6 on the road, but I’m satisfied with my choice.

    • 0 avatar
      carrya1911

      Honda really did an excellent job upgrading the interior on the Accord. A friend has a 2012 CRV and sitting in my car vs. his CRV shows how much effort they put into revising the interior in the Accord. It’s one of the better interiors you can get in that pricerange, IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      The Accord Sport is an attractive car. I’m sure I’ve double-taked more in favor of the Sport vs. the Mazda6. IMO, you really can’t go wrong with the Sport.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        The Sport is attractive, especially the alloy wheels. The front end is also very well done, my only concern with the design was the boring, Hyundai Genesis style back end. The Mazda 6 in my opinion is very cohesive and attractive all the way around. Most people who have commented have found it to be the stop and stare car – in part due to its rarity.

    • 0 avatar

      Andy:
      Thank you!
      I’m driving a 2011 Mazda3 Hatch and looking for a new car, so far, my first choice is the Accord sport, I drove it 2 days ago and I was in a little shock, I could not imagine an Accord drives so good, this is after a week with a rental 2014 Camry SE that I liked, and a week with a rental Altima that I hated.
      To be honest, my first choice was the new 2014 Mazda 3s, 2.5 but that was until I heard the price, 25k!
      Second choice was the 2014 6, I did test drive it, I thought it was too noisy for such large car and dealers are not going crazy to own your business so it was too expensive.
      I’m positive 99.9% I will go with the Accord, specially after reading all these comments!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Kills me that the second requirement is new, and people still recommend a 40 year old IH Scout or a CPO this or that or a prior-gen so and so. Follow the rules.

    And one of the requirements says 4 doors, so don’t recommend anything with two.

    It’s like people can’t read.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    Trade in the Crocs (all four of them) for a used BMW.
    .
    .

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    To all the younger ones among us who think they don’t need health insurance…

  • avatar
    86er

    I’m usually loath to participate in these social media endeavours, although sometimes I can’t help myself…

    I do recall a video from a few years ago with you being very impressed with the 300. I think it was for Leftlanenews.

    Too bad they still don’t make Town Cars*, although under $30 grand would be a tall order.

    *let’s face it, nothing made today is going to have the feel of a Town Car. A 300, however, will at least give you the similar layout and footprint.

    Maybe rules were made to be broken…

  • avatar
    Cubista

    Get one of the last 2013 Mazdaspeed3′s if you don’t mind FWD; with the Technology Package the car is remarkably well-appointed (ESPECIALLY with this year’s SAT-NAV upgrade), Mazda3-practical in terms of room and storage space, and bonkers-fun to drive when you need feel the need to unleash your inner 15-year old.

    If FWD is that much of a turn-off, get one of the last 2013 Subaru WRX’s. It’ll cost more to spec up, and you get what is universally derided as one of the worst gear levers in a modern production vehicle (and 5 cogs instead of 6), but hey, AWD.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Caravan or Mazda 6.

    Why? Get the Caravan in a nondescript color like silver and tint the windows as much as the law allows. Put your Valentine 1 detector on the dash the “soccer mom” color will make you nearly invisible to the police.

    OR get the Mazda 6 with manual and practice what you preach as an enthusiast. Manual trans, good handling, and Mazda “added lightness” in this generation. Reward them with your purchase.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I know it is gauche to reply to yourself but let me add one you haven’t considered.

      Cruze LT2 turbo 1.4, 6 speed manual, and heated seats. I know you dissed your Cruze rental but that was a base model with automatic and 1.8ltr naturally aspirated gutless wonder of an engine.

      Manual trans, large on the inside, and quiet.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    That’s a great list of candidates so far—much better than we can expect from either party for the next couple decades (Clinton, Bush, Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush, Fibonacci, ad nauseam). The T&C is nice, but no reason to break your price ceiling for a minivan.

    Of your choices, I think the Accord is your best bet. The Fusion and 6 beat it in looks, but I think it beats them both in size, value, and long-term reliability. Don’t worry what other Ohioans think. I’d also give the Camry and Optima a quick glance.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    Matching Crocs… awesome.

    I really like the Caravan, but those things depreciate like a rock. I would never buy one new, you can get $6-7k off for a year old model. Honestly the Honda is looking like the solid choice here, the Mazda and the Fusion are both “yes, but..”. The medical bills will hopefully be a memory in 5 years, and you’ll maybe be in the market for something less pedestrian and at that point the Honda will be looking like the best choice due to resale alone.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised the Camry SE didn’t make the cut. It sorta meets your son’s race car requirement…

    I own a 2013 Fusion SE with the sport package and would definitely recommend it. Nice ride/handling trade off and is a great long distance car for up to four people. I picked it over the Accord and Mazda because I thought it offered the best balance of value, performance, and features. My only complaint is the 1.6 is only adequate, but it is on par with the other 4 cylinders in its class. But I can live with adequate power, since the car itself looks stunning and feels like a solidly built, premium car. Derek’s “game changer” comment from his review wasn’t far from the mark.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I know what you SAY you want, but I gotta be honest – if you’re inundated with medical bills, you don’t want a car payment. I’ll be a heretic and recommend a nice, inexpensive, used car.

    The obvious candidate is a Crown Vic. Or, you could look at a nice example of the car I drive – a last-gen Buick LeSabre. I bought mine in 2010 for $6200, and aside from regular maintenance and regular wear items, I’ve spent all of $500 or so on repairs. The car is big, comfy, roomy, sufficiently fast, proficient on the road, and gets decent mileage. and is a great family hauler. It’s no CTS-V, but then again, neither was your Town Car, and you have two Porsches to get your ya-yas out in anyway.

    Drive it on the cheap until you get yourself back on your feet financially, THEN trade it on something cool.

    My two cents’ worth.

  • avatar
    michal1980

    buick verano turbo.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Chevy Cruze 2LT manual w/RS pkg. Color is your choice.

    Lose the Crocs…

  • avatar
    CopperCountry

    Caravan: just about one of the most versatile vehicles available today. Tows, hauls, quiet, efficient, and smooth (no jarring bumps to upset those tube amps you’ll be hauling to the next gig.) And in R/T trim, not too shabby dynamically.
    Accord: Home-state favorite, invisible to the OSP (but they’re on the lookout for MI, KY, and ONT plates anyway) and among the best in resale value. And with the 6-speed, it’s probably satisfying to flog (when conditions allow.) A true sleeper, yet with a $/mile value and ownership experience that’ll have you arguing with yourself whether or not to sell it 4 years from now.

  • avatar
    Luke

    For me it would come down to the Fusion or the Accord. The Accord still has one of the best feeling manual transmissions in the world. The new ones have a better visual presence than the last couple generations too…it’s a bit bland, but not objectionably so as in the past.

    The Fusion is close behind. My buddy bought one last fall (with an auto, he doesn’t do the stick thing) and it is just such a nice, high-end feeling car. They don’t look like other midsizers and I take notice when I see them on the road. I’m probably in the minority but I also like how My Ford Touch (or whatever they call the infotainment system) works.

    Drive ‘em both as much as possible with the specific features and powertrain you want before you decide. Like you, I’m a tall guy. For me the tie breaker is usually the geometry and comfort of the driving position, how I can adjust the seat and wheel, and how well the pillars and mirrors and stuff work for me on the road. I’ve driven cars that were otherwise perfect, but were ruined for me by a lack of adjustment range in the tiller or an awkward reach to the shifter.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      My feeling exactly. Over the long haul, finding a good driving position is so important. Visibility is a close second. I sit tall, with shorter arms and legs, so it’s a tough fit. How low will the seat go? I set mine to the bottom and leave it there. For daily drivers, no amount of cool tech or performance can redeem
      a bad-fitting car.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Someone that feels my pain. Long waisted with a short reach is a tough fit for the majority of cars. I usually end up sacrificing a bit of visibility by reclining the seat more than I would like to get enough headroom.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Chrysler 300 base and pit snow tires on for 5 months the out of the year.

    You can get a base model for around 23k if you bargain hard (trust me on that).

    Yeah, it doesn’t have a manual, but you’ll forgive that quickly given how plush and solid the ride is, how quiet the interior is, how immense the rear seat is, and how safe the car is if – god forbid – you’re involved in another accident.

    The car has enough equipment for any sane person even in base format, and a base engine and transmission that will put all but the T&C to shame (since it shares the motor & transmission).

    For the price of the candidates you suggested, you will ride in a plush, quiet, solid, safe car, with gobs of interior room, and have a 5 year/100k mile factory powertrain warranty.

    You’ll kick yourself if you don’t do it, Jack.

    • 0 avatar

      I was thinking the same thing. A 300 with the Pentastar/8 speed auto is a fine automobile. JB likes big RWD sedans so other than the lack of a clutch it fits the bill (though with Jack’s injuries, I think that something without a third pedal might be easier to drive during his rehab).

      • 0 avatar
        pb35

        Third the 300. I have a 2012 Charger with the V8 and my 4 y.o. twins love riding in “daddy car.”

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Ronnie, good point about how the severity of Jack’s injuries may impede his ability or eagerness to drive a stick – I’ve know people who had relatively minor injuries compared to Jack’s and they either couldn’t or wouldn’t drive their manual anymore.

          pb35, I failed to mention the Charger, which essentially a 300 in most respects that matter, but could probably be had for even a grand or so less than the 300 similarly equipped. Good call.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      How’s that going to give him better MPGs?

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    Jack and everyone else here – self included – is way off base.

    What he must purchase is this 2001 Bentley Arnage, white on “super” black, with a mere 70,000 miles for $29k.

    http://goo.gl/Hvu3hI (points to cars.com listing).

  • avatar

    Okay, here’s a shot in the dark: Is it still possible to get one of those never-moved-off-the-lot new-gen 9-5s?

    If they do still exist, you might be able to get yourself in a stick 4-cyl Turbo with leather, decent sound system, and lots of room. As far as I can recall, the 9-5 aced safety tests. I feel like its just weird enough it might appeal.

  • avatar
    The Heisenberg Cartel

    If you want fancier:

    Acura TSX and TL, depending on discount size, plus the TSX wagon
    Mercedes CLA250 (long shot since it’s small and at the top of the price range)

    If you want big:
    Chevy Impala
    Toyota Avalon
    Ford Taurus

    If you would consider crossovers or hybrids:
    Ford Escape (my wife’s cousin has one and likes it)
    Ford C Max
    Toyota Prius (or Prius V) (a coworker who owns a GT-R and a steroid-injected Trans Am daily drives a brand new Prius, FWIW)

    Otherwise:
    Toyota Camry (I remember you liked it in your review)
    Subaru Legacy/Outback/Forester (don’t know if the price is right on these three though)

    Out of your three, they are all extremely good looking, so for reliability I would go with the Accord and for steering feel and familiarity I would go Fusion.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    Why not wait until you’re healed up enough to know if you want to lower yourself into a sedan and then shift gears ON A DAILY BASIS. A crossover might be what the new Jack wants to get around in. And why not cut loose one of the Porkers, the money hungry schweinhunden?

    • 0 avatar
      Kinny

      I agree with Mitch.
      Don’t get a stick Jack. Get a nice comfy automatic. A nice CPO Avalon wlll be perfect. You’ll get a lot of car for the $$$s. Super comfy. Super reliable.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Are you trying to bore the poor boy to death. Dear God. A Lincoln is bad enough, but at least they are so dynamically feeble they are fun in a perverse sort of way. Until they try to kill you evidently.

        Of the list, I’d probably go for Fusion. If the Accord came in decent colors that would tip it to the Accord. WTF is wrong with the Japanese and color selection on manual transmission cars? Baffling.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Based on your criteria, its Accord FTW. The minivan sounds tempting as well, but then you lose the “stick” criteria, and unless something changed, minivans in general have crappy resale, esp the Chrysler and Kia variety. If you’re willing to start losing criteria, I’ll throw CPO Charger V6 AWD out there. MY13 SXTs are doing mid 23 to low 25s at Manheim (SXT Plus package only knocks it up about two grand, whatever “SXT Plus” is). I’m sure Steve can pull you more of the pertinent auction data and pull one off the block for you, they may be even cheaper in Georgia.

    I base this recommendation on (1) the glowing review either you or Bark gave it, (2) “Good” crash ratings from IIHS including side, and (3) I’m under the impression the Chrysler AWD system is user configurable, so you could disable it most of the year for fuel savings and enable it in poor weather conditions. Assuming this is true, you have a sport sedan when you want it and something safer to drive when you need it for inclimate weather.

    http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/dodge/charger

    Additional: Bball threw the Taurus out there, while I couldn’t recommend it per se, if you want to go for extreme safety, wrong wheel drive, and feel like a trip east of Columbus, this dealer has an ’11 S80/22K otc for $25K.

    http://www.billgrayvolvo.com/used/Volvo/2011-Volvo-S80-6f1dec70404638da0094e4f47f166fd0.htm

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Minivan. Ingress and egress will be much easier as you heal, and young John will enjoy the spacious interior. No problems with hauling stuff.

    And you’ll have no problem selling it, even if it depreciates more than you want.

    Having owned a 96 GV, 05 Oddy, 99 GC, and 09 Sedona, I’d go for a Sedona. They’ll be willing to deal, and it’s a really nice vehicle.

  • avatar
    Toad

    Instead of a sedan, have you thought about a compact hatchback?

    A Kia Soul or similar car is great for running errands, easy to park, cheap to buy and own, has a higher seating position, a kid proof interior, and the hatchback allows you to haul a surprising amount of gear. Plus the Soul offers a manual, is fun to drive, has a bevy of airbags, and even looks good. Well under $20k would put one in the driveway. Save the other $10k+ to rent a car for the occasional long road trip.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    John’s primary requests for the new car, when polled, are that:
    •The car be a Porsche
    •And also a race car
    •And faster than police cars
    •And that it play loud music

    The apple does not fall far from the tree.

  • avatar
    7402

    Mazda5 Sport 6MT (brand new 2014 for about 20K). Not much info on safety yet.

    Subaru Forester Premium 6MT (brand new 2014 for about 22K). Excellent safety record and phenomenal on snow-covered highways.

    Done.

  • avatar
    Dweller on the Threshold

    First: man, if Mazda can’t get the 6 over on this crowd, they’re truly doomed. It sounds like the main reason the 6 is suffering, from this sample anyway, is that no one is buying the 6. Which makes it much harder to move the 6. So folks are less interested in buying it.

    Second: I’ve driven several new Accords. The stereo is a big deal for me in a car. Is it really true that the main problem with its sound quality is radio and BT streaming? And that with a direct digital source it is OK? If true, I was hard pressed to determine this, but I’d love to hear others’ impressions. All I know for sure is that it was a major step back from the one in my ’04 Accord.

    Third: please allow me to blow your mind:

    Nissan Maxima. No manual, of course, but in base trim it can be had for mid-20s and JB is already on record as sort of liking it. Yeah, that’s lukewarm, but then the competition in this segment isn’t necessarily setting the world on fire. No MT, sure, but rather thrifty to buy and highway mileage approaches 30.

    • 0 avatar
      carrya1911

      The main problem, in my view, is the crappy speakers they put in the car from the factory. I’m not kidding about them. When you look at one you see that it’s about as cheap as a speaker can be manufactured. It sucks.

      On the plus side, it’s fairly easy to install new speakers. The door panels are a cinch to remove and just by putting in a decent set of components in the front doors (you can buy the “Touring” sail panels from Honda and they’ll accommodate a tweeter) the sound quality is dramatically improved. I tested this out side by side, doing one side of the car and listening. It was night and day compared to the unmodified side.

      The FM quality is pretty poor, as whatever they have processing signal doesn’t seem to be good at it. The quality of BlueTooth and direct digital is certainly better.

      The sound system needs more power and better speakers…and a decent sub. Just installing better speakers (I used Infinity components) makes a big difference. A proper setup with an amp would do even better. The door panels and rear shelf will easily take bigger speakers and even a sub-woofer without actually doing any violence to any part of the car beyond drilling a couple of small holes.

      • 0 avatar
        Dweller on the Threshold

        Did you have to disconnect the active noise cancellation? Seems like what’s going on is the low frequency potential of the crap speakers is being bifurcated between sound reproduction and noise suppression.

        Can adding power + speakers solve this but keep ANC operative?

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          ^ This exactly! I’d like to know! :-)

          While I don’t think that my Touring’s stereo is complete crap (and music from a USB stick is excellent), the improvement in stereos from the 7th-Gens (2003-2007) to the 8th-Gens (2008-2012) was leaps and bounds better.

        • 0 avatar
          carrya1911

          I did indeed have to disable the ANC, but that’s because the ANC didn’t play well with the 2 ohm Infinity components I put in the car.

          If you add more traditional 4 ohm speakers you can keep ANC. If you add an amp, you’ll have to disable ANC.

          Simply disabling the ANC (as that was the first thing I tried) didn’t really make a significant improvement to my ears. Listening to the difference between the stock speaker in the passenger door and the components I put in the driver’s door told the tale for me. It was night and day.

    • 0 avatar

      Just thinking of the Maxima. And you’re right–you can buy one in the mid-20s with all the cash on the hood.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I’m sure those Maximas get moved at significant discounts, seeing as how most buyers will either stop at the more-value-oriented Altima, or step into an *actual* full-sized sedan, like the 300, Avalon, Azera or Impala…

    • 0 avatar
      Scott_314

      Good post, the Maxima is a good idea too.

      On the stereo front, I think the default settings have been screwed up on newer cars (Toyota and Mazda at least in my last couple rentals, Ford wasn’t too bad).

      Maybe since most pop music sounds like crap, a lot of people crank the bass and treble to compensate, so now the car makers have cranked the bass and treble by default and otherwise messed with the equalizer.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I can remember the stereo in a 1994 Achieva I had as a body-shop loaner when my Honda dealer’s porters backed into the outside of their building with my 1994 Civic–even with bass and treble centered, the thing probably could have rattled fillings 300 feet away if I would have rolled down a window and cranked it. (Basic Delco ETR AM/FM cassette–nothing fancy.)

        It seems like GM head-units, in particular, are more prone to this.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Of those choices I would go with the Mazda 6. However, I find the mid size sedan to be not big enough to have a decent trunk and too big to get real gas savings. The Mazda 3 Hatch is cheaper, 3 times more practical, has as much room, is even more economical, easier to park, more entertaining to drive and every bit as safe as the 6.
    VW Golf TDI would be on my radar to.
    Another choice would be the Subaru Forester. you can get the 2.5 (non turbo) premium with a manual for just under $25K. Super practical and nice to drive. BTW This will be my next car, for what that is worth :-;

    BTW awesome crocks!

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    I’d say the Accord, but they’re freakishly huge compared to the ones I grew up in and then drove as I got older. Get a manual Fit and you’ll be at half your price for something that has four doors, gets good mileage, will be reliable hold its value and can take your son’s hockey gear, model train module, or double bass.

  • avatar
    gessvt

    Focus ST or a WRX hatch. Black seems to tone down the boy racer vibe on both of these models.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Neither one of those is particularly accommodating in the rear (they both are actually on the smaller side of the compact segment in this regard), and since Mister Baruth already has a fleet of cramped but sporty cars, I think he should maximize the space-to-money ratio on this purchase by at least getting something as large as a midsized sedan, such as the ones listed here.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      No compact hatch, per article.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Why doesn’t the Accord offer split folding rear seat?

    • 0 avatar
      carrya1911

      Good question. Offhand I’d say that they thought that if you needed the seat down, you’d be trying to use the whole rear as a truck bed.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      A question that has puzzled Honda cognoscenti for decades! :-)

      The last few generations of Accord have had trunk pass-thoughs for narrow objects like skis; Honda demurred that the omission on the new ones was for NVH, but later added the thing back to ASEAN and Australia-market Accord. Ju$t a co$t-cutting move on Honda’s part for N/A!

      As it is, the hole between the trunk and seat is only about half the size of the one from the 7th-Gen Accords, most of that taken up by a MASSIVE cross-car beam for impact-resistance.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    You’ve already got, what, four or five “fun” cars?

    Adding the minivan to your quiver will give you the most range.

    I feel lucky enough on the home front to be cheerfully granted two vehicles. One is an absolute hoot, and one is an AWD minivan (skiing is as big a part of my life as music seems to be of yours).

    Your sportier choices are going to infuriate you, because they will inevitably be compared at least partially to your Porsches. That will not happen in the minivan. As Popeye says “I am what I am!”.

  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    Not to get too political, but Jack’s situation underlines why the American health care system needs a true overhaul, and not just deck shuffling. Spending a few days in the hospital should not cripple you financially.

    As for the car..vans are awesome. Especially now that all the soccer moms have shifted over to crossovers. If you look at who drives vans these days, it’s almost always a dude.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Waingrow

      Exactly, as I suggested above. Until it happens to you, you have no idea just how financially ruinous, as you say, just a few days in the hospital can be. When I was younger, I too was pretty oblivious.

    • 0 avatar
      carrya1911

      This isn’t “spending a few days in the hospital”. Jack required serious medical intervention. In another age his injuries would have been fatal or permanently debilitating.

      Now we have treatments and medical strategies that are vastly superior and give options that never existed before. That’s one of the reasons why he’s not dead or stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

      These options do not grow on trees. It takes years of training to produce a minimally competent surgeon, and many added years on top of that to produce a good one…and at a pretty high expense. His tools do not come cheap, especially since they all have to pass all manner of FDA mandated trials and bureaucracy that can take 10 years or more to clear. Not to mention the liability insurance the surgeon must carry and that the company making his tools have to carry. And the companies making the medications…

      There is much to reform in our medical system…but I have news for you, folks: Quality care is going to be expensive regardless. It’s going to be expensive because new tech and new knowledge allows us to do things that were impossible before.

      We’re on the verge of 3D printed organs. There’s a realistic possibility that one day soon we’ll be able to “print” out a human heart and transplant it into someone who needs it. That isn’t going to cost a buck fifty. It’s going to be rudely expensive, but it’s also something that was impossible just a couple of decades ago.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        I was insured going in. I’m expecting, after all the rebilling and whatnot, to have to cover maybe $40,000 of a $150K tab, and to have 120 days to do it.

        • 0 avatar
          Nick 2012

          You’re hospital – especially if it is a non-profit – should extend terms on what probably comprises the bulk of the bill for at least a year with zero interest. Its tough to turn down, and they don’t ask for any information.

          With most docs being employed by hospital systems now, hopefully you can get a global bill that is easier to understand and negotiate with rather than a bajillion little ones.

        • 0 avatar
          sobamaflyer

          You are making my HDHP look better and better :) You are surely aware by now but hospital billing departments WILL negotiate time lines at the very least – I wish you luck in your recovery!

          That said, and I didn’t really see it in the comments above (because you didn’t ask :) ), but why do you need a “boring” car? The Carrera hauls a kid and a lady just fine, the Boxster hauls you and the kid just fine (done it, still do it) and the Benz should do the same. Why not hold till after you get past the medical nightmare and go for the 63?

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Why doesn’t your auto insurance cover that $40K?

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            My guess would be that his health carrier might try to subrogate from the auto carrier. The money wouldn’t necessarily go back to Jack.

            Any insurance experts here? I’m not one, and don’t play one on TV.

        • 0 avatar
          carrya1911

          I don’t doubt it. A relative recently died from a stroke. The out of pocket costs were ventricle-popping in and of themselves…but they were the only shot she had at life.

          It’s expensive. With some reforms I think we could make it less expensive…but I don’t think politicians are a good bet for making the situation better, as they have a particularly poor track record of improving problems. Quite the opposite, I’m afraid…

        • 0 avatar
          Toad

          This is not The Truth About Finances, but my two cents is that if you are staring down a $40k bill that is due in 120 days the last thing you need is a new car payment obligation. If ONE other shoe drops you could be screwed, and you (and your kid) need some margin for error. Bad things usually happen at the worst possible time.

          My suggestion: do a Murliee Martin and buy a 8 to 15 year old Lexus LS with under 150k miles ($5-15k.) You will roll in style safely in a bulletproof car that is even more comfortable than your Panther. Pay for it by selling the “fun” cars; you can always buy replacements when you are not so close to the edge.

          Put your financial cushion back together and buy anything you want in 24 months.

          And yes CoreyDL, I know that was not on the options list. I’m sure Jack thought that getting T-boned was not on his options list a week ago either.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            I’m working within a tight set of requirements.

            One of them is that the car must be actually problem-free, not just known for being problem-free. I have nine separate bone fractures at the moment. I can’t be in a situation where I’m off the side of a two-lane at 10pm with my kid in the car because the nine-year-old coolant hose in an LS popped off. I’m not going to be able to swap the hose roadside right now. I don’t have the physical ability to f*** around with an old LS or anything like that. :)

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Maybe an all inclusive lease deal with lower payments for the first 2-3 years of PT? Then you could rent whatever you want for road trips.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          That is amazing/horrifying to me that even with insurance you are on the hook for almost 1/3 of that tab.

          Unexpected medical emergencies like car accidents are exactly the sort of thing that insurance is supposed to protect you from.

      • 0 avatar
        Nostrathomas

        Quality care is expensive everywhere, yet every other 1st world nation (and many poorer nations) provide it for their citizens. Here’s the kicker though, the US aready spends more on health care as a percentage of it’s GDP than any other 1st world nation. And what exactly are you getting out of it?

        Look at this:
        http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013/07/23/u-s-health-spending-one-of-these-things-not-like-others/

        And it’s not just about insurance. Even if you have insurance, it can be crippling. 60% of all personal bankruptcies in the US have a medical cause. And of those people, 3/4s of them HAD health insurance.

        3D printed organs won’t solve any of that.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Other countries offer equally qualified and skills staff but at a fraction of the price. US Doctors are closeted by their union (the AMA is a union) and competition is limited by restrictions on number of medical schools, number of students per school and availability of residency places after getting the M.D.
        It has been shown that a sizable portion of healthcare spending in the US goes on paperchasing for money – co-pays, cross charging etc., Which do not add nurses or doctors who actually care for patients.

        • 0 avatar
          Wheatridger

          The big hospital down my street completely rebuilt itself five years ago, with bigger and better all-private rooms. I’d happily share a room, for half the price. Foreign hospitals aren’t so architecturally aspiring, and they don’t have expensive art on every corridor. We’re paying for all that bling, and hospitals compete for well-heeled clients. There’s plenty of money to be trimmed from marketing and billing departments as you’re tracking down the reason that asprin pill cost $5.

  • avatar

    Can you get an AWD Chrysler minivan for $30,000?

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Subaru Legacy 6MT. Or the new WRX.

  • avatar
    dude500

    +1 for the minivan. More than the comfort and space, a minivan is *invisible*, which many people forget is a huge benefit for high speed cruising. Need to travel 400mi in less than 5hrs? No problem! You don’t need that Valentine One.

    I have to thank Baruth for his GC/TC reviews, as it contributed to my decision to buy a Town and Country recently. I haven’t regretted it one bit.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    You hit on a good point. One of the distinct advantages of the Accord is that it holds its resale value better than almost everything else in the segment, and honestly it’s the one I’d recommend out of your midsized sedan choices (especially the Sport). But really—depreciation be damned—I think you should just go for the Caravan. You seem to travel a lot, it’s got plenty of space, and I think it’s just the best value here.

    But as far as the Hermosillo assembly goes, why should that be a penalty? The new Fords seem delicate enough, but that has far less to do with assembly and far more to do with the bleeding-edge engineering that was put into the car. Standards of assembly in general can be replicated all over the world, especially when luxury automakers like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche build world-class cars in nations other than the ones in which they are based. Moreover, I would think that the Hermosillo plant would be more likely to produce a properly-put-together car since it has been building the Fusion. for a while, while the Flat Rock plant would still be experiencing teething issues.

    Oh, and I love the Mazda6 in red. But I wouldn’t recommend that car, especially because I think Mazda needs to first update it with the 3′s nicer infotainment system.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I would expect for the 2015 Mazda 6 they would use the Mazda 3 system. Same for the CX5.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Or maybe they’ll just swap it in during the middle of the production year. I remember that BMW added the then-new “CIC” iDrive to the very last batch of E65 5-Series’, or the 2010.5 model year. But that didn’t require an entire console redesign, as would be the case for Mazda, and the “CIC” unit just needed some programming preparation in order to be retrofitted in place of the older iDrive system, which is why people with the older system will often swap in the new one. That will not be the case for Mazda.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The unasked question is: what exactly is he going to use this vehicle for? If he’s going to spend his days bombing around from hell to breakfast when he’s not pooping blood, then one of those stripper Passat TDIs should do the trick.

  • avatar
    gsf12man

    The Fusion.

  • avatar
    Ion

    The Accord was the first thing that came to mind when i saw the 4door & manual request. The 6 and Fusion will be more premium and you’ll be able to get a better deal on them.

    Somebody already suggested them and they are step down in size but the Focus ST, GTI, and Impreza hatches are closer in utility to the caravan. Its too bad you need a 4door because the Mustang V6 can be had in an interesting shade of green.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    Given the cars already in the garage, something practical like the minivan or a wagon/SUV makes some sense. I’d personally prefer the Forester or a Jetta wagon over the minivan but you can’t get any more practical than that.

    If it is to be a sedan, the Honda checks all of the right boxes as a real world purchase. Again and especially seeing how you can get your driving enjoyment fix from the other true sports cars in the garage, the looks/drive-ability of the Fusion or 6 that reduce the family sedan stigma is less significant.

  • avatar
    Windy

    First, the response in this thread is heartwarming and I think a reflection of the genuine respect and even feeling that the readers have for Jack.
    Next be careful of any big ticket purchase choices you make while still medicated. ( btw a bit of premedication right before your physical therapy sessions can be a BIG help.)

    I went for the ford in your short list for the Main reason that I would love to see what your long term experience would be like in a modern North American designed and built car. With the exception of the 1948 CJ 2A in the barn and jeep station wagon I owned for 2 years in the mid 80s every car I have owned since 1967 has been built in Germany (most of them) or England (the 2004 MINI Cooper S I have owned since new and which is a car with a lot of German input)

    Now that I am retired I have to be a lot more proactive on the penny pinching front and I am selfish enough to want to see how someone who also likes the dynamics of German cars would adapt to a main line Ford NA car over the long haul.

  • avatar
    TWHansen

    Absolutely the Fusion, and for an interesting reason. It’s a car that deserves to exist. The manual is a special order only option on those cars, and to get another one out there (and in an actual color to boot) makes the world better.

  • avatar
    stodge

    It’s a shame that Suzuki has left the US – the manual Kizashi would be a good option, especially as its crash ratings are really, really good.

  • avatar
    cartunez

    I am absolutely in love with my T&C. Great gas mileage, hauls everything my two sons and I throw at, and it was way less than 30K brand new.

  • avatar
    andyinatl

    2014 VW Passat TDI with manual transmission. I test drove one when my sister in law needed a car and was very impressed by the driving/handling behaviour of the car. And i do not think there is a car in this group with backseat legroom larger than the Passat. Did i mention 45+ MPG on the highway?

  • avatar
    smartascii

    If resale value in a mid/large sedan is what you’re after, and you want to have a stick, might I recommend a Passat TDI? You’ve owned VAG product before, and you know what you’re getting into here, but go have a peek at the transaction prices for TDI VWs on eBay – especially the sticks. For whatever reason, TDIs seem to be one place where a manual actually *increases* resale value.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Jack,

    There is only one choice, according to you – CAMRY SE.

    Great to see you in good spirits so quickly.

  • avatar
    Windy

    And yes that Ford paint with the flecks of green is just stunning. But then I seem to like colors that are totally out of fashion to the extent that many makers do not even offer dark green for paint or red leather for the inside…

  • avatar
    Vojta Dobeš

    I think it was suggested before, but I think you NEED to roll in an American-made, full-size sedan. And since you mentioned that although you’d like a 300, it’s outta your price range, I think you need a Charger. A 300hp Pentastar with an 8-speed auto, cool looks, RWD (or AWD, if you want to play it safe)…

    And, since I’m driving a Town Car now and would like to upgrade to Charger in a few years, I’d love to hear your opinion about the Charger.

    Also, you can have it in bright orange!

  • avatar
    gmichaelj

    My mother and step mother both have (had) Accords. I hate/ed getting into and out of them: I’m 6’4″ and felt like I was going to bang my head every time. Also, the back support in the seats is lousy.

    I also had a Caravan and loved driving it. Decent gas mileage for a car with great road trip capabilities.

  • avatar
    gmichaelj

    Why when I “click to edit” does it tell me I don’t have permission???

    Was going to add that the Caravan’s seating and rear A/C are great for kids.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Oh, just for fun, let’s think outside the box.

    RAM 2500 “Tradesman” Extended cab (or, for a few $$ more, crew cab)4WD pickup, with the Cummins 6.7 liter turbodiesel.

    Pluses:

    You can get it with a 6-speed.

    It comes in brown, among other colors.

    It has a diesel.

    It carries 5 people in considerable comfort (if you get the crew cab)_; and six if you get the front bench.

    It carries about 2500 lbs of stuff.

    If you find yourself out of house and home, it will easily tow any trailer that doesn’t require a chauffeur’s license to pull.

    If you find yourself sideways on a country road again, with someone about to T-bone you, unless the someone is driving a big truck, they’ll wish they hadn’t.

    The sound of the big engine is awesome; your kid will love driving around in a junior Kenworth.

    Going through a foot of fresh snow is just pure fun (remember, they put plows on the front of these things.)

    It’s intimidatingly BIG.

    Now the minuses:

    Considering its size and weight, fuel economy is pretty good. In absolute terms, not so good — probably a little worse than the TC; much worse if you’re pulling your home behind it.

    Probably busts your budget: consider the used market, however.

    It’s intimidatingly BIG.

    OK, end of frolic and detour.

    Of the candidates, the Honda is the obvious choice for reliability, resale value, price, cost of ownership. I think it’s nicer looking that the previous generation Accord; not so nice looking as either the Mazda or the Fusion.

    Minivans depreciate like rocks falling from an uncovered dump truck at speed. So, if you really think you could use the capacity, look for one that’s a year or two old. I’ve been out of the minivan market for 13 years, so I don’t have much information on the current choices.

  • avatar
    rdchappell

    Dark horse pick: Jetta 1.8T

  • avatar
    Prado

    I would recommend adding the GLI to the list of candidates. I prefer the way it drive over the Accord …. having said that, I was close to buying an Accord myself. It’s hard to find fault with the Accord, a great overall package and value, but it also lacks anything that would make me love it. A heavily discounted TSX wagon might also work nicely for hauling your gear, although they seem rather expensive for a last generation Accord wagon.

  • avatar
    crm114

    I seem to remember that when faced with a similar situation, Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens just bought a newer Town Car.

  • avatar
    VenomV12

    Seeing as you already have the sports cars taken care of, I would get a minivan, but a Toyota or Honda minivan.

  • avatar
    badcoffee

    take a good look at the Ford Escape, and even the Edge. You’ll be stuck with a slushbox but it should check the other boxes.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    By the way, since we are having a pick the car party for the at fault driver, how are the people whose lane you crossed over into doing?

    • 0 avatar
      Dweller on the Threshold

      That could have been expressed a little differently, I think.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        If it makes a reader happy to think he’s making some hard-assed point about something, I’m happy to let him. I’m fundamentally in the business of serving the reader.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Much, much better than I am or my passenger is doing. I’ve spoken to the driver extensively. They were both released after a day for observation.

      Their collision profile was much better than mine; if you ever T-bone anybody, you want to be the person doing the boning.

      • 0 avatar
        Monty

        You always want to the one doing the boning…sorry, couldn’t resist.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        I am glad they are doing ok. Accidents are accidents. But you caused this accident.

        Some innocent people just driving down a road and one that was your passenger are going through a lot of hassle right now because of you. Even if it is not as much as you. I am not trying to be an internet hard ass (however I will defer to your internet hard ass expertise), but whenever a famous or internet famous person gets involved with in an incident with regular people I think it should be remembered that regular people’s lives were impacted. Not just be a pitty party for the more relatively famous person.

        Which is not to say you need to live in guilt for the rest of your life, but that the taste of the “hey guy’s, what fun new car should I buy” post is questionable. Like you will listen to any of our advice anyway.

        • 0 avatar
          86er

          “Like you will listen to any of our advice anyway.”

          Hey, I know what’ll work: pouting.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          Wow – first he isn`t asking what FUN new car he should buy unless you class mainstream midsize sedans and minivans as fun. Second as you said it was an accident and if those people had not been driving or had come 10 seconds later, Jack would have spun but no real damage done. It was a true accident from the sounds of it, no speeding, good visibility just ice and the unpredictable nature of it.

          God forbid you get into an accident that you couldn`t prevent (are you suggesting Jack could have prevented this one?) and we will see how sympathetic people are to you.

        • 0 avatar

          It seems to me that what caused the accident was ice on the road, not either driver.

        • 0 avatar
          DC Bruce

          I’m gonna call a foul on this comment, too. While it is certainly true that, in a technical sense, Jack was at fault because his car was in the wrong lane, in the absence of more information about why Jack was in the wrong lane — and under the circumstances that indisputably existed at the time — there’s simply no basis for any moral condemnation or moral posturing.

          Reduced to its essence, your argument is that Jack shouldn’t have been driving at all that night, because of the hazardous conditions. If that’s true, the same could be said of the other guy . . . for the same reason.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Assigning fault is more of a legal maneuver to assist the insurance companies with pay out and is not necessarily a judgement on someones driving skill. Until it happens to you you can’t fully realize that no matter how prepared you are to deal with most driving situations, you can’t possibly prepare for them all

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          “the taste of the “hey guy’s, what fun new car should I buy” post is questionable”

          Foul.

          It would be questionable if the other people suffered serious injury, or if Jack was at fault in some egregious manner. Icy roads, summer tires, and normal speeds conspired to cause the accident. Could have happened to anybody, just like it does every day.

          • 0 avatar
            JKC

            None of us were there, and none of us know what happened. If black ice was the culprit, then even winter tires mounted on an AWD Volvo wagon might not have helped. Speculation without information is for fools.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            “If black ice was the culprit, then even winter tires mounted on an AWD Volvo wagon might not have helped”

            . . . unless they were studded. :P

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          You were lucky enough not to be there. You have no idea what happened during the accident.

          When everybody is out of the hospital and the last bill has been paid and everyone has had their say in and out of court, I’ll offer my precise and detailed description of the accident — one that, in my opinion at least, is manifestly well-supported by the evidence at the site of the accident — and you can Monday morning quarterback it to your heart’s content.

          It’s obviously not as simple as my crossing a centerline and plowing some innocent bystanders. Had that been the case, you can be well assured that I’d be hiding behind my attorneys and a wall of silence right now.

          Everybody will come out of this accident healthy. My passenger had the worst of it, but I assure you, Sir, you haven’t the slightest license or right to speak on her behalf.

          • 0 avatar
            Kevin Jaeger

            So your passenger is expected to recover? If so, that is extremely good news. From the looks of the pictures and the early reports her condition sounded very grim indeed.

            If she is going to recover that’s another prayer answered.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            Well, first I have been seriously injured in a bad accident where I was a passenger (months in a cast, surgery, more surgery to come), so I been in situations where was there. Second, Monday morning quarter backing an accident that someone was lucky enough not to be at? The nerve. I hear that kind of behavior gets a person a lot of blog hits:

            http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/famed-non-automotive-journalist-michael-hastings-turns-a-c250-into-a-bomb/

            “It’s obviously not as simple as my crossing a centerline and plowing some innocent bystanders.”

            I would not hold it against you as a writer if that was that simple, except that you keep writing about this incident like you were wronged, not just a guy that drove without snow tires in a RWD car in bad snow (hey, I’ve done it) and got unlucky. If that’s the case don’t just cast aspersions, have the nerve to back them up.

            “Had that been the case, you can be well assured that I’d be hiding behind my attorneys and a wall of silence right now.”

            A lot of people have given you that advice. I would respect if you took it. But you repeatedly aren’t.

        • 0 avatar
          Frank Galvin

          “You caused.” That’s a crock, got any proof for your baseless assertion counselor?

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            The local reporting on the incident:

            “Witnesses at the scene report that a 2009 White Ford Lincoln was traveling west bound near 5708 State Route 229 when it lost control on a curve about 12:18 p.m. The vehicle traveled left of center and was struck broadside by a Maroon Hyundai Sonata.”

            http://goo.gl/a5rPxV

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            racer-esq, you seem to have a very mean-spirited ax to grind here, why? Is all this a way to make you feel better about you, because that’s the way it looks?

          • 0 avatar
            Frank Galvin

            So witness observation of an accident is per se evidence of the driver being the legal and factual cause of the accident? So I should disregard any evidence of ice, or environmental conditions, that the driver was operating in a safe manner given the road conditions, the lack of citations. If that “Esq” does in fact represent your profession, please stick to transactional work and away from the courtroom.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            “racer-esq”,

            All the “witnesses at the scene” were in the two cars at the time. Nearly empty rural road and all that.

            One of the witnesses, incidentally, says that the other car crossed the centerline to hit my Town Car broadside.

            The difference between what I wrote about Michael Hastings and what you’re doing here is that I clearly identified my speculation as such, whereas you’re relying on a quickie news post from a rural newspaper to provide you with enough wood and nails to crucify me.

            My commitment to the principles listed when I took the wheel at TTAC continues to apply. You are permitted, encouraged even, to continue to run your mouth. It doesn’t help the other parties in the accident, and it doesn’t hurt me. Totally permitted and safe. I won’t ban you for it, and insofar as I can’t even walk right now I won’t bother to even vaguely threaten you personally. Shine on, you crazy diamond.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            I am not crucifying you, I am questioning the tone of your coverage of the event. If you don’t think you are at fault that explains the tone of the coverage.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            racer-esq, Maybe it helps Jack to look forward to something and not relive what happened. You say you were a passenger in a bad wreck, so you should have a certain level of understanding, but when you’re the driver, whether at fault or not and there’s serious injuries to those you care about, you are saddled with the burden of reliving the accident over and over in your head wondering what you might have done differently to avoid what happened, asking yourself a million stupid questions trying to find answers that don’t exist. It takes a long time to get past this

            Your comments are not enlightening nor are they a comfort to anyone and just make you look like a dick

        • 0 avatar
          Frank Galvin

          Jack, so glad to see your on the mend. I own a 2013 fusion see with the 1.6 6m. I live in the hills of western Massachusetts and can’t think of a better car for my 120 mile daily commute. Great on the highway, great on the twists, and not to bad in the snow with its reaction control, but it does need snow tires. It’s too light up front in my opinion for a car of its size. I’m with the Caravan camp. You’re going to schlepping little Jack around with all of his stuff, your ever growing guitar collection, etc. The other consideration is your comfort. After extensive rehab, you may find the driving position of the Caravan the best match for your actress and pains.

  • avatar

    Considering all the responses, in Jack shoes I would’ve bought a Forester with a stick. One of the factors is that Forester is uncommonly safe in impacts. True, it’s a typical Subaru AWD, which may be undesirable from standpoint of mileage, but if it makes Jack’s cut-off number of 23, then it should be fine. The only thing I’m concerned about is that it may not be sporty enough. That it is considered an “SUV” does not bother me at all. It has 4 wheels, it’s a car.

    P.S. You know what’s funny. The new Pentastar-equipped Wrangler makes the requirements by about a hair. My 2010 does about 20 mpg in daily driving, 21 if coaxed carefuly. Surely 2014 would make 23 with Pentastar and manual. Everything else matches: it’s not unduly expensive, has 4 doors, etc. Now obviously it does not match Jack F-in Baruth’s iconic image, but hey, specs are what’s written in the article above.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    The Caravan, without question.

    Your son is at the age where his interests activities are about to explode — exponentially.

    Sports: It might be baseball. Or soccer. Peewee football. Hockey. Even BMX. Each with bags and bags of gear. Or a bike or two. No doubt, he’ll be a goalie or a catcher, which means really big bags of gear. Along with boy and equipment comes his teammates, all needing rides to and from games and practices. What if Little John takes up carting? You’ll need to be able to haul a light trailer, and have room in your vehicle for tools, tires, helmets, race suit, etc.

    Music: Being surrounded by guitars, amps and musicians, he will no doubt take up an instrument of his own in the very near future. Which means carting him and his gear to rehearsals, lessons. He looks like a drummer, and I need not remind you of how much room a cased Gretsch kit requires while in transport.

    Then there’s your own interests. Guitar trading and collection — you need room to cart your booty to and from guitar shows and music shops. And haul you and bandmates to gigs: Cargo capacity enough for drums, a keyboard and amp, bass and cab, guitars and amps, pedal boards, maybe even a small PA with mixing board, mic’s, cables, etc.

    Plan out four-five years, all this stuff is on the horizon for both of you. A minivan with a dash of sport is the only logical answer.

    • 0 avatar
      AoLetsGo

      Yes one word “CARPOOL”
      You already have some fun cars – good for you.
      The kid will have friends and sports/activities and you will need to get involved in a carpool so you have time to work and live and not drive JR to every, single practice and event. When it is your turn to drive you can take more little Johnny’s per trip and less total number of trips. Plus all the stuff “Domestic” said above.
      It is simple math but it will make your life easier.

  • avatar
    Loki

    Ford Transit Connect!

  • avatar
    mjz

    Jack, just priced this out on the configurator. Jeep Cherokee Latitude AWD with the 3.2 Pentastar V6 and Cold Weather Group. $29,280 (net price). You can choose from 8 exterior colors (two were just added) including ECO Green Pearl Coat. There are 3 interior colors including the newly added Grand Canyon (Jeep Brown). You will have a vehicle that lets you sit up high (your family too) for safety sake, has AWD and has the Pentastar V6. Although no manual, you would have the ZF 9 speed auto (like the Range Rover Evoque). Check it out. By the way, glad you are feeling better and hope your lady friend is recuperating well also.

  • avatar
    rentonben

    I’m in same boat a Jack two years ago – rich to poverty with a small family.

    Wound up with a Buick Regal – ok performance, ok gas milage, available stick, and best of all, I can turn up my noses at the camcords.

    Frankly, as a 40 year old male who craves reassurance (but pretends not to need it) – I was surprised that the unwashed youth like the car. If you get a 2011, some of them were made in Germany – so you can get a German car with cheap American parts when the kroutwerk fails.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Jack – so glad to see you are on the mend! I have really fallen in love with my Outback, and with it being the end of this gen’s run you can get some serious comfort and tunes for well under 30k. I mentioned trading my ’13 in for a Forrester because of the bench-seating position (I broke my back in an accident many years ago…), and my 12 year old gave me THE LOOK and said she didn’t think so. She loves the stereo…

    The only downside is the manual is only available on the base model.

    BTW, Crocs rock. I have leather ones. Get on with your bad self…

  • avatar
    mistermau

    Ford. Transit. Connect. Wagon. (Short Wheelbase, of course.)

  • avatar
    TheAlmightyMe

    From the days of the ‘winged vagina’, I’ve been reading this site. And now I’ve created an account just for this article.

    I can’t comment any on the cars, but I can certainly relay my experience of owning a 2013 Caravan R/T.

    My wife and I bought a new 2013 Caravan R/T in June of last year with every option available, including the WiFi hub, dual screen BluRay DVD, and load leveling suspension. MSRP was around $37 – $38,000. We walked out the door with a final price, including tax, title, and the such at $31,237.13. And this included four additional headphones for a total of 6, and rubber floor mats added in.

    In six months of ownership, we’ve put over 20,000 miles on the ‘Van. After initial break-in we’ve averaged 21.5 mpg. Our daily commute includes 80 miles round trip on the 405 parking lot in Los Angeles. On road trips, I can average 33.7 mpg at a steady 75 mph.

    During our ownership, the only issue we’ve encountered is the textured tape covering the front door window frames has bubbled and shifted. We had it replaced under warranty, and it is happening again 3 months later.

    Jack, as you know, this van drives great! I really do enjoy driving the Caravan R/T. Coming from high powered sports cars, I didn’t expect the power and handling the Caravan R/T has. I can haul ass down Topanga Canyon on a Home Depot run and have almost as much fun as I would in one of my sports cars, and still have enough room to come back with more than one light bulb! The only thing truly holding back fully exploiting the full capability of the Caravan are tires. The R/T should have come from the factory with tires with more of a performance bent, as opposed to the economy design Dodge currently equips R/T’s with.

    When shopping for the ‘Van, I was impressed with how well it was assembled. We were looking at all new vans on the market. My wife hated the Toyota. On the test drive, my wife didn’t even leave the lot before she said “no!” I really liked the Odyssey Touring Elite, but was really let down by the assembly. While the materials seemed higher quality than those in the Caravan, they were assembled poorly. I actually cut my hand on a piece of left over flash on the door pull! The Gaps were inconsistent, and in one of the multiple Odyssey’s we looked at (3 to be exact from two different dealers and they all had poor quality and fitment issues), the DVD screen fell off the ceiling onto the floor during a test drive.

    With the Caravans and T&Cs we drove, we experienced none of these issues. Granted the dash isn’t soft, nor is the seat leather. But it all seems durable and thick and gives us, the owners confidence that it will hold up well to our rambunctious three boys currently under the age of 6.

    As for cargo room, the Caravan is hard to beat. No removing seats (Odyssey/Sienna). No consoles left protruding from the low, flat, load floor (looking at you Quest). And a well-shaped space all lends itself to being able to pack an amazing amount of cargo into the ‘Van. Your band equipment/mates should all be able to fit in reasonable comfort. I’ve easily packed a reclaimed 7 foot by 4 foot by 3 foot TV stand and two Eames loungers and stools with plenty of room left. My wife has transported multiple X-Ray and mammography machines in it for work without issue.

    The Caravan R/T is a great overall option, granted there’s no manual transmission, but the manual shifting on the auto, isn’t too bad. It’s a lot quicker and much more responsive than the auto in the Mazda6 wagon we once owned. But you can pack in more people/equipment in it than the sedans you’re considering, is a serious sleeper (who would expect a minivan to have this much performance capability). It is slightly over your budget, depending on how well you negotiate. Above all it is, surprisingly, a truly fun automobile to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      dude500

      Tires truly transform the handling behavior of the GC/T&C, as the Michelin Energy Savers are crap. My T&C corners flatter and feels firmer even with Continental snows.

      The Quest is a good choice too, especially if performance is your primary focus. The 3.5L/CVT combo is absolutely amazing, especially with “OD” off. I would have bought the Quest if not for its quirks (e.g. why is the 2nd power outlet all the way in the back?) and the much smaller interior volume. I do like that the Quest’s instrument cluster can be completely blacked out at night.

    • 0 avatar
      JKC

      We’ve had a 2012 T&C in the family fleet for almost two years now. My experience with the van is pretty much the same as TheAlmightyMe’s. I recently schlepped my wife and four inlaws from upstate NY to Dover, Delaware, and got 28 – 29 mpg. I can’t imagine a better vehicle for a road trip with multiple passengers.

  • avatar
    Ihatejalops

    Since you’re a grown man wearing crocs, it’s safe to assume that you’ve given up on life. Mini Van it is Mr. Baruth.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    I know you said new, I know this… buuuuuuuut,

    I think the perfect car for you is….. drum roll….

    ****2012 Acura TL SH-AWD 6 Speed Manual***
    ****2012 Acura TL SH-AWD 6 Speed Manual***
    ****2012 Acura TL SH-AWD 6 Speed Manual***

    I think you might just find a CPO within your price range. All it needs is a couple of bolt-ons, and you are running 320-330hp with the thrill of a sensational 6 speed transmission and torque vectoring AWD setup. With some sticky rubber, I think it would turn some interesting lap times.

    I have been waiting since 2009 to buy one, but with the 2012 MMC refresh, I had to reset my clock so I really do plan on buying a 2012 sometime in 2015….

    I really hope you are doing well and wish you a healthy recovery.

    I thought about your accident and really did wonder right away, would things have gone differently in a vehicle like the SH-AWD TL where traction likely would not have been lost especially with the trick differential….

    Best of luck Jack!!!

    • 0 avatar

      This.

      I’m not sure how easy the TL SH-AWD with 6MT is to find, but (other than being slightly pre-owned) it ticks all the boxes (and more). Definitely deserves to be on the shortlist (along with the Accord, 6, and VW Jetta GLI I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this thread).

      If we’re going to talk used — and I know this is breaking the rules — a loaded ’12 or ’13 Buick Regal turbo or GS with the 6 spd would be a great choice. So Euro!

  • avatar
    doublechili

    Not sure if anyone else mentioned it, but if/when you test drive the Accord ask for a spin in a Civic SI 4dr sedan too. It’s not that much smaller and has a good-sized interior. Best of all, the high-revving engine with the 6MT makes it a LOT of fun to drive when you want to go there. Otherwise, you can keep it lower in the band and it’s a docile little sedan. Excellent handling in either case.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    Jack – can you let us know who compared the Accord Sport to the 2014 TSX Special Edition 6-speed?

  • avatar
    david42

    Jack, I hope this doesn’t become an issue for you, but for some of my friends who have had injuries, seat comfort becomes the overriding priority. If you’re not a teenager it can be hard to achieve a full recovery. I think the VW Routan has better seats than the Man Van, so maybe you can find a lightly-used example. But it’s such a body-specific thing; you may find yourself considering/denying all sorts of vehicles on the basis of comfort alone.

    Other than that, I’ll join others in voting for a Subaru Forester. If it weren’t for their unfortunate reputation, they’d be nearly perfect non-premium cars.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    I haven’t driven the Honda, but I would vote for the Mazda. The Fusion’s styling and more sophisticated road manners do not offset its real world mpg deficit to the Mazda and the fact that I expect the Mazda to be more reliable. Are the Mazda 3 and Focus too small? 4 doors mean not interested in a hatchback? I would have voted for a Focus Titanium, Focus ST, or 2014 Mazda 3 over any of your 3 choices here.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Pros/cons of Jeep Cherokee AWD 3.2 Pentastar:

    Pros:
    - State-of-the-art CUV.
    - Sits up HIGH for safety sake if god forbid ever another accident (think about how the injury outcome might have been different if you were in a Navigator instead of a Town Car with its higher stance).
    - Crap load of the latest safety tech.
    - Peppy, but efficient 3.2 Pentastar V6.
    - AWD.
    - 9 speed ZF designed auto (good enough for Range Rover).
    - Controversial (like you, Lol), not run-of-the-mill design.
    - Interior utility without mommyvan stigma.
    - NOT a Subaru, but a RUGGED Jeep.
    - Under $30,000 with AWD AND Pentastar. (Can get AWD with 2.4 also).
    - Good choice of colors inside and out.
    - Good initial reviews from new owners regarding performance, build fit and finish, interior design/quality.

    Cons:
    - No Manual.
    - NOT a Subaru, unknown reliability.
    - Controversial styling.

    Jack, hope you will take a look at one and take it for a test drive.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Add to cons:

      Poor cargo space (24 cu ft vs 34+ for a forester/crv/rav4)
      Unknown reliability/build quality, just look at the dart:(linkhttp://www.edmunds.com/dodge/dart/2013/long-term-road-test/2013-dodge-dart-beware-of-trunk-spikes.html)
      I’d expect mediocre real world fuel economy from the 3.2 Pentastar. Rated for 27 on the EPA highway test as they make it barely idle along in 9th gear on flat ground. A 3.2L V6 hauling around 4000lb curb weight will never be efficient in mixed driving, no matter the transmission.
      The Cherokee and its pricing makes a used Grand Cherokee a most compelling buy.

      • 0 avatar
        rdchappell

        Unless you get the specialty off-road packages (in Ohio? HA HA!) there is nothing more rugged about the new Cherokee than your average Subaru.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          The trailhawk strikes me as the most pointless vehicle for the money, ever. If I actually need an SUV for offroad use, I will either buy a 4Runner trail ($36k) and save myself $2k compared to a 3.2 Trailhawk (can’t decide what’s uglier though, the toyota’s maw or the Cherokee’s?). Or I’d buy an Xterra ProX4 and save even more, while getting a much more durable and capable vehicle. Heck in Jeep’s own lineup $38k will probably get you a pretty well outfitted 4 door Wrangler.

          I appreciate them innovating and creating a fwd crossover with a legit 4×4 system with a locking rear diff, that’s like me creating a sky scraper out of popsickle sticks. Mildly amusing but wholly pointless.

          • 0 avatar
            mjz

            Yes, I guess that’s why the Trailhawk is making up an unexpectedly high 21% of Cherokee sales, and how can you comment on the assumed durabilty of the new Cherokee when it just came out?

        • 0 avatar
          mjz

          Sorry, but where I live, Subaru has the reputation as the Lesbian car of choice. I have two straight female friends that are teased about it all the time. One in Michigan, one in California. Please note, no offense intended to any TTAC LGBTG readers. Must be PC.

      • 0 avatar
        mjz

        Yes, those “trunk spikes” in the Dart prove the Cherokee has terrible build quality and reliability. Have you read any of the unsolicited reviews on the web from actual Cherokee owners? Probably not, because you would find that the Cherokee is getting RAVE reviews from the people who have actually BOUGHT one. They like the performance, build quality and interior design. Who cares what you’d “expect” about MPG’s, that has no basis in a real world reality. As for the Cherokee vs. Grand Cherokee pricing. Maybe you didn’t understand Jack’s parameters. Under $30,000 and BRAND NEW.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          The trunk spikes are just the beginning, they also had the electronic throttle malfunction:

          linkhttp://www.edmunds.com/dodge/dart/2013/long-term-road-test/2013-dodge-dart-sxt-rallye-throttle-malfunction.html

          Cherokee is built on the same platform, by the same company. I would not consider it a stretch to be somewhat suspicious of its build quality, especially given its first model year status. New car with a new engine (3.2 pentastar), mated to a new transmission and a new transfer case, made by a company with very recent history of subpar quality… we’ll see how this plays out.

          Looking around some other threads I highly suspect that you are simply “billbuckhead” or whoever that allpar mouthpiece was.

          • 0 avatar
            mjz

            The Cherokee has different powertrains than the the Dart you cite. And it was the first off the new platform, they may have learned a thing or two since then.

            I am not “Bill”, he is MOPAR rainbows and bunny rabbits guy. I will confront you when I think I sense bull$hit. I have no connection to Chrysler, don’t even drive one in fact. My dad was involved in racing cars in his day and was a big MOPAR guy and I have a soft spot in my heart for them. Don’t like people ripping them when it isn’t YET justified. Like you say, let’s see how it plays out.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        I have a Dart and it doesn’t have these “trunk spikes”. One vehicle in a road test does not make a trend. Also, the Cherokee doesn’t have a trunk, so therefore no possibility of trunk spikes!

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Well then keep an eye out for your door handles breaking, loose hinges, and random windshield cracks! Not to mention the electronic throttle and possible engine stalling.

          linkhttp://www.edmunds.com/dodge/dart/2013/long-term-road-test/2013-dodge-dart-sxt-rallye-questionable-build-quality.html

          linkhttp://www.edmunds.com/dodge/dart/2013/long-term-road-test/2013-dodge-dart-flimsy-door-handle.html

          linkhttp://www.edmunds.com/dodge/dart/2013/long-term-road-test/2013-dodge-dart-mysterious-windshield-crack.html

  • avatar
    Monty

    I was very happy to see this post from you, Jack. You must be on the mend faster than anticipated if you’re already thinking of how to replace the TC.

    It’s too bad you won’t be able to fulfill John’s short and concise list; however, your set of parameters for a replacement vehicle are wise, and should gain you a vehicle that will get you 2 to 3 years of use.

    Quick question for you. Is the spending limit the insurance payout on the TC? If so, then I suggest the following. Please, hear me out on this, it may be worth it.

    You’re in Ohio – a short jump to the Canadian border. Why not buy a Dodge GC Canadian Value Package? Starts at $19495.00 CDN (which is like what, $2500.00 US right now?) but you can get one fairly well equipped and get quite a bit off the out the door price. Plus, even the SXT is still well under your transaction limit.

    Keep it for 3 years or less, unload it before the warranty runs out and you’ll get an almost Town & Country with cash left over.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    All this talk of Accords is making me drool for fall 2015 (when the youngest turns 16.75 and gets the KIA). I’m forcing myself not to even test drive until the time is close, but the itch is STRONG.

    But WTF is up with “software updates to fix sound quality”??? What happened to the days of flat amplification with bass and treble knobs?!? I am not a fan of signal processing at all. Some of this crap is too “advanced” for its own good.

  • avatar

    As per Jack’s own writings, I feel I need to give a shout out for the Sport Camry and the Charger SE 3.6 — sadly. however, you’ll miss out of the manual with either of those. Given that: VW Jetta GLI Autobahn with Nav package and 6 spd = $28,855.

  • avatar
    CopperCountry

    Oh, and I forgot to mention, thanks for the “stringy hair” and “dress like Jimmy Buffett” remarks about the ‘Vette demographic in your Z06 article. Now, every time I see one of them on the road, I’m going to burst out laughing like a stupid teenage kid (which I think will be about 50% of the time.)

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    Vintage Daewoo Maepsy. It’ll make you forget your aches and pains.

  • avatar

    Logically speaking the Honda Accord Sport is the one to get. Reliability, fit and finish, resale value all play a part in long-term ownership that will keep you happier in the long run – long after the edgy looks and style fade away. Besides, the new Honda Accord looks really good (BMW 5-series from a distance – good).

  • avatar
    George B

    Jack I’d recommend the Mazda6. It’s folding rear seats have a huge pass through so you can load larger musical equipment, but it can also works as a sedan. While I like the Accord, it’s trunk shape isn’t efficient for large rectangular objects and it’s pass through is narrow.

    Did you consider the Volkswagen Passat? It’s available with a manual transmission for several different engines and trim levels.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Glad you’re feeling well enough to take this on, JB. If you really want a lump of sedan-shaped steel around you and yours (and who could blame you?), I hear a guy named Niedermeyer has a lime-green LTD to sell! I fell for his little charade, and to show how little I learned, I’ll offer you the same advice I gave him.

    Of your pet choices, I’d prefer the Mazda. The driving experience is good, and the styling isn’t as frantic as Ford’s. The dash doesn’t look like it’s being sucked into a black hole, like the Escape and Focus. I wouldn’t worry about rust; it’s a new car! As for the Chrysler van, my father-in-law likes his. he’s 84. Though (or perhaps because) he worked for Chrysler his whole career, he thinks one car’s pretty much as good as another. Your other candidate sedans are close enough as makes no difference. But you already have two sports cars and a sedan. What does another sedan add to the mix? How many guitars and amps will fit in the back of today’s sedan, enough? And what will you do when, already overloaded, you find Mom selling Junior’s Marshall stack at some yard sale, listed to move?

    I’d recommend two cars – not hot hatches — with tailgates. There’s the VW Sportswagen TDI, as comfortable, versatile and sporting a car as 90% of us require. Nudging 50 mph on a road trip is another kind of driving thrill, just as valid as 0-60 times, and the pleasure lasts longer. Cons: it’s an old design, with drab styling that looks to improve with the next model. Unless VW reads US blogs and learns “America hates wagons.” You’ll pay more to get into a TDI, but the resale will reward you later.

    My next suggestion will earn me great ridicule here, but maybe you should consider a Tiguan. A base Tiguan is the best value VW offers today. They all come with the same GTI engine, and the base FWD S model is offered with a manual 6-speed. It’s German-built, in VW’s home factory. Crash protection is impressive; my wife was convinced to buy one for our only child’s first driving years when she saw the IIHS video on rollover safety, where the Tiguan was a best example: under a 15,000-pound force, the roof deformed only a couple inches, with no glass breakage. While I hate to admit it, the Tiguan’s higher stance is a significant safety factor on local roads, were SUVs, CUVs and pickups predominate.

    Cons: Tiguans are “uncompetitive,” that’s the dominant cliche means. Sure, you can buy a V6 with three rows for less, but that only matters if you want those things. Tiguans can be expensive, and I have a window sticker to prove it. Pano sunroofs and steerable headlights and AWD are delightful features, but they can almost double the price of the car. CPO’s are a great deal– It takes some looking, but I just located a 2012 Tig with 15,000 miles for $17k, factory warranty included. That’s the price of a Mexican Jetta with the base engine!

    My only beef with the TIg is the high-rise driving position, but that’s just my pet peeve. I wasn’t looking for an SUV/CUV experience, but I’m getting a lot of the GTI experience, too. Plus, it can easily tow a one-ton travel trailer up to Leadville, 11,000 feet in the clouds. And deliver 30 mpg on a similar trip, sans trailer. And carry home the Christmas tree, inside.

    Check it, out, if you wish. Cars are so functionally similar these days, but so different in style. It all comes down to taste and details– the headrest that shoves the back of your head, the sase of the controls, the dash light reflections in the windshield that you won’t notice a daytime test drive. Good luck, amigo.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      My wish is that I could get the Tiguan, manual AWD. I feel the Subaru Forester is considered cheaper (better value) but… The base Tiguan is a 2.0 turbo and the base Forester is a 2.5 non-turbo. The 2.0 Turbo Forester is not even close to base line. The AWD confuses the comparisons.
      I to agree the Tiguan is a great choice. Base features are actually quite nice.
      Good call!

  • avatar
    zamoti

    Ignoring rules, I do not wish to see Jack Baruth driving any of those cars, they are for the proles.
    Taurus SHO/Lincoln MKS Ecoboost
    Yeah, can’t get one new for under 30, but you can get close. Now that you’re wearing crocs, just sell off the custom shoes to get the extra scratch.
    Yes, also not manual transmission, but a shit-ton better than an Accord.

    Charger/Challenger–breaks rules many ways, wanting rear windows, not having an MT, etc. However, this seems to suit the man far better than the original choices. Jack in a MFing Caravan-no. Jack in a black on black Chally-yes.

    If JB buys anything on the list provided, I predict a trade in within 12 months. Also, my recs at least can fulfill one of the requirements: faster than a cop car.

    You are welcome.

  • avatar

    Two phaetons! Nice. Underestimated car. Now to the point. several years back (2009?) I was in the US for a holiday. At home, I had a 99 Chevy Transsport, which I loved dearly. Over here (the Netherlands) it was a huge car, and it had a ton of space, never left me stranded, and carried anything I ever needed to. Including kids, strollers and all that, family vacations to southern france and whatnot. In the US I asked for a minivan. I received the voyager. I was there for 3 weeks or so, and I must say, that car is great. All the storage space, decent handling, I personally liked the styling, in short, a pretty cool van/car to own. Voyagers have always been popular here. I understand Voyagers. Maybe if you have grown up in the US, things are different. But I’m still a car guy. I’d probably never buy it here, because I don’t need it, but I know it’s good. And I only had the rental. For three weeks. Mr Baruth, if you put a van next to the phaetons, I’ll understand.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      If only the Phaeton could be easily serviced and be of at least average reliability, I would have purchased a low mile, cherry condition one for the price of around 30k from that huge VW place in Chicago back in 2009.

      As it is, there are few VW dealerships ANYWHERE that have technicians who are “certified” by VW to even work on the Phaeton, and I cringe at the thought of replacement parts.

      It’s a damn nice vehicle, but its complexity and relative rarity will swallow your wallet whole on a continual basis.

  • avatar
    bergxu

    Jack, Jack, Jack….

    You, sir, own THE original Panzerwagen, and you’re wanting something else? Well, let me be of some assistance;

    How about:

    450SEL 6.9
    Euro-spec W126 500SEL
    Cossie 16V
    400i Stramann convertible

    Coincidentally, all of the above are in my stable and are for sale ;)

  • avatar
    dartman

    2014 Subaru Impreza WRX – 4 door, 5 speed, AWD. Well under $30k.

  • avatar
    F-85

    I’ll cut right to the chase –

    Mazda6 Sport. 6-spd manual; and with the belief that Mazda has long-since addressed the rust issues cited for the Protege5.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Those rust issues are as relevant for the Mazda3 of even fairly recent vintage. Some ’06s are starting to see some quarter panel rot, we’ll see if later cars of that same generation (ignoring facelifts) will do better. Mazda CX9s seem to be doing decently enough, I believe the oldest ones are 2007 MY, I’ve yet to see one with any rust bubbling up.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        Say what you will about VW’s problems, but they seem very rustproof. VWAG were pioneers decades ago in double-galvanized steel, whatever that means. It’s just not something I’d even think about in the first five years of a car’s life. But I’m outside the rust belt, what do I know? The only rust I’ve ever seen consumed my 1970 NSU 100TT. Later I learned the cars were built with low-quality Russian steel.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Oh for sure. I helped with some suspension work on a ’96 A4 that had lived an abused life in Central Pa, and the underside of that car was incredibly rust free. Not only is the body well protected (even deep scratches never started to rust), but all of the bolts and fiddly brackets were immaculate. On a Japanese or American car of the same vintage these pieces are normally barely recognizable lumps of rust. I gotta give credit where it is due, the Europeans spec-ed out some much more corrosion resistant alloys for hardware, and didn’t skimp on galvanization and thick paint.

          Flip side is, your non-rusty car has a plethora of other stupid issues. Alteast those worn out bushings aren’t too bad to replace since none of the control arms or bolts are that rusty!

  • avatar
    readallover

    O.K. everyone, let`s talk about the car that is everybody`s guilty pleasure pick and nobody will say it: The Dodge Avenger. Sure, it is crude and rude and nowhere near refined. On the other hand, you can get it with the Pentastar and it is a pocket rocket with acceptable mileage. It is safe and in the final year of production, all the bugs have been worked out. Who cares if the kid pukes or spills his juicebox? So what if you drag the shopping cart down the side? It will be worthless in 3-4 years anyway. Plus, in most places you can get 0% financing AND money on the already hugely discounted hood. So there, I said it.

    • 0 avatar

      Hmm. I recently rented a nicely optioned 2.4L Chrysler 200. I’m sure they’re better cars with the Pentastar, but the V6 still wouldn’t change the absolutely atrocious handling. The limits were ridiculously low, the steering was numb at any speed over 20 mph, and highway ride is in that unfortunate gray zone (where somehow manage to feel both uncomfortable and disconnected from the road, all at once). I can’t see that the Avenger would be much different.

      Not a manual, but is it still possible to get a dealer-fresh 3.6L W-body Impala? They’re safe, fast, spacious, and very reliable. Jack’s spoken well of them in the past, so it could be just the car to nurse a body(and budget) back to health.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Yeah if my goal was 300hp V6 as cheaply as I can get my hands on one, regardless of the car it was attached to, I’d be getting a W-body Impala from the 2012-2013 time frame. You can get a used LTZ with all the toys pretty cheaply with low miles.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    2009 A4 3.2 v6.

    Any recent A6 with 3.2 (unless CVT) or 3.0T.

    I think this conversation was over before it began – it’s the Accord. But you may be a little shaken right now Jack, which is natural. So you tend to think of radical changes, which you might actually regret once you’ve overcome this phase. Keeping that in mind, my recommendations are closer to your comfort zone, knowing (some of) your car past. They would obviously have to be used.

  • avatar
    RV1458

    Jack’s band equipment hauling reminded me of this: http://www.teslamotors.com/customers/story-mike-johnston

    But I suppose that might be disqualified for being a penny or two over $30,000.

    My favorite car on that list is the Mazda6, I’d give second place to the Accord.

    I am curious about the rust comment. We have a 2 year old Mazda5 with on rust to be seen anywhere. My impression is that the current and immediately prior Mazda generations have done well with rust. Anything older than that though seemed to have issues. I suspect the 2014 Mazda6 wouldn’t have any more rust issues than a 2014 Fusion.

  • avatar
    Hemi

    I would pick either the 2.0T Fusion, though I think comes in auto only.

    Otherwise might I recommend a Charger RT, 4 doors, under 30K with incentives, around 25mpg highway, roomy inside and reliable. Very similar to the Towncar, except safer, faster and nicer in every way.

    Otherwise I would get the Accord I guess. I almost bought a 13 Accord sport I4 with the CVT and was very uninspiring to drive, my wife didn’t like it either. Perhaps the manual trans is a different story?

  • avatar
    Atum

    Before I give my suggestion, woah, this has a lot of comments. And I have those same Crocs (yours, of course. I don’t think they make Men’s 13 versions of John’s.)

    The Accord and 6 are good, but I don’t trust the Fusion and the Grand Caravan. CX-5 Sport with the manual? Add on other options aftermarket, such as a sunroof, leather, rear entertainment, etc.

  • avatar
    Hemi

    Oh yes you loved the Camry on the track, granted no manual trans. Wonder how that compares against the Accord? I’m personally not a fan of the Camry, though in NYC it reminds me of your towncar. They replaced most of the livery Towncars with Camrys… Also almost all yellow cabs are now Hybrid Camrys…

  • avatar
    ajla

    Well I would get a Nissan Juke, so that is what I will recommend. I remember you liking the one you drove in Sebring.

    It even seems to meet your criteria.

  • avatar
    Offbeat Oddity

    You can’t go wrong with the Accord or 6. They’re both sporty, agile, and give impressive performance considering how fuel efficient they are. The Accord has a classy, timeless look while the 6 is downright sexy. I’d lean more toward the 6 since it seems a bit sportier and has an interior that was clearly inspired by BMW/Audi, but the Accord makes a lot of sense and, particularly in the Sport, should still be pretty fun.

    I’d avoid the Fusion. It seems like a great vehicle, but it’s a couple hundred pounds too heavy, and the 1.5 Ecoboost engine doesn’t appear to be as efficient or as powerful as the engines in the Accord/6. Reliability is also a big question mark.

  • avatar
    Zekele Ibo

    Another vote here for the Volkswagen Jetta GLI with the 6-speed manual. Perfect for a VW groupie, it comes well under budget (even for the top model with the 18″ wheels and bi-xenon headlights), and you appear to like it:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/volkswagen-2-0t-intramural-league-first-place-2012-jetta-gli/

    Otherwise, from the choice above, I’d take the Mazda6. As for resale, if you were really worried about that you wouldn’t buy a manual.

  • avatar
    Dorky Teacher

    Subaru Legacy 2.5i, 6-spd manual, STI front brace. Snow tires for the steelies. 18″ or 19″ wheels with tires from TireRack.com. Put bumper pads on all four corners. Could always lower it too.

    Accord Sport for resale value.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    New 2014 Camry Hybrid LE, $22,576 plus tax and tag. Toyota of Orlando also has new XLE $23,976. My partner had a close call and her car was replaced with a new 2012 Camry Hybrid LE 13 months ago. I have begun to like this car very much. The money you save on gas could go to a custom music system. Pick up the car and see Mickey and Company with your son.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Actually, your best bet is to go to Florida and pick up another panther. You should have no trouble finding a near-new loaded cream puff with low miles, that never went over 40 mph, and that was in a 65 zone. New? Manual? Face it, your requirements are just as negotiable as your son’s.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Interesting question, Jack.

    I retired a couple of years ago and have been trying out many different cars to replace my ’08 Legacy GT, the initial thought being I need to slow down as the Leggy is just too tempting to boot along at elevated rates of speed. Guilty of rambunctionness again today, sigh. Haven’t found anything to my complete taste yet, and the new WRX is coming out soon, darn it, supposedly with a half-decent shifter this time.

    However, I have driven the Accord Sport 6MT, Mazda6 6MT (those one right after the other as dealers are across the street from each other), Fusion 1.6 auto (soon to be a 1.5), Caddy ATS 2.0T 6MT, Volvo SC60, Mercedes CLA, Legacy, Forester and Legacy.

    My Legacy is auto, simply because I could not stand the Subie manual shift, and the Impreza before it was auto for the same reason.

    I only mention this, because, IMO, there was only one car that drove as a complete whole, and in which I did not flub a shift after 15 years of two-pedalling. The Accord. You don’t even have to think about it at all. The Mazda6 has a pretty good shift, but it’s not quite straight forward and back so I got lost a couple times, plus the driver’s seat gets in the way of my hand on the one-two shift. Low gear drives reverse as well, so it sounds like an old Jag in low, lots of Skyactiv gear whirring. And gun slits for windows; overall a pleasant but tame car.

    It’s not something I ever read about, this sense of wholeness, where you get the sense that the same bunch of people did the whole car. I find American cars miss this aspect completely – they seem like a set of subsystems jammed together to make something that looks like a car, but is just a machine and not very interesting ultimately. Anyway, I drove my friend’s Civic right after the Accord, and it isn’t even close as a totality either, so the Accord may be a one-off lucky confluence of parts.

    I’ve never bought a Honda, because back in the ’80s, they just didn’t cut it compared to VW/Audi as driving machines, not even close, Legends included. But those days are past, and I’m a mechanical engineer who can see it. The underhood quality of the Accord is amazing, so well-made, far better than any one of the other cars mentioned above. Better than Audi, too. Plus the Accord has aced every crash-test and it’s cheap. Don’t know how they make it so well for so little money. Plus it has big windows as well, what a concept.

    So here are the downsides – very jittery ride (tameable with the Hybrid’s two stage shocks, I’m thinking), a huge turning circle and an engine induction roar above 4,000 rpm in second that comes as a big surprise given the car is fairly quiet otherwise. But the intuitive shifting and pretty darn good torque means the engine wafts the car around pretty easily around town. The steering is electric-lifeless but accurate. The Mazda6 has a better ride, but otherwise not up to the Accord. The Fusion – just not me, feels massive. The CLA, just a charming tinny econocar with a bad ride and huge tire noise. The ATS, not well-made, too small, not of a piece having to wrench that shifter around and having to listen to/feel that engine, too costly, handles very well. New Legacy? Rubbish – they lost the plot. Forester, a small ship in a gale – wobbly.

    Not going to trade for the moment, but if I had to, it’d be the Accord of one kind or other. Still a step down for me, but all these new cars are a bit numb.

    Ten minutes behind the wheel will tell the tale for you. Get well as quickly as humanly possible in the meantime.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Jack, I think you are going to find that a minivan or C/SUV is going to have so MUCH BETTER ingress/egress for you with your injuries and prolonged recovery. A low slung midsize sedan is NOT the way to go right now IMO, as nice as the Accord/Fusion/6 are. Caravan/T&C for minivan picks, CX-5/Cherokee for C/SUV picks. But inevitably it all boils down to how comfortable you are when you test drive the various vehicle options. Good luck, I’m sure you will keep us posted.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Jack jack jack jack jack….What are you doing? Do you really want to drive around a FWD midsizer? The minivan I get, it’s like a better SUV. You’re a car guy…for 29,995 you can get yourself into a charger r/t or a hell of a nicely equipped Charger SXT. Nothing else compares. If you must have manual, there’s always challenger r/t at about that price point too.

    Either way, at least consider both of them back to back with the mazda and the honda. Good luck and speedy recoveries!

  • avatar
    photog02

    If you are so broke you are wearing Crocs, I think we need to get a relief fund going in order to get you into some Peals.

    In all seriousness, I would be interested in how a Mazda 6 stood up as a daily driver. But, in your case, I would probably go with the Accord as it would be easiest to dump and would hold the most value after a couple of years.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    How hard can it be to select a vehicle you require.

    1. Diesel powered.

    2. Have utility.

    3. Good audio system, air con, power windows, leather seats, etc.

    4. Can cruise at 80-90mph at 20mpg.

    5. Have enough seats for your projected load.

    6. Hi-lo range and 4×4, hill start, hill descent, stability control, traction control, locking diffs, suitable lift kit and suspension, etc.

    7. Have a range of 600 miles between service stations.

    8. Tow a 20′ fishing boat.

    9. Carry enough gear for a one to two weeks fishing expedition.

    10. Have adequate safety equipment, ie, bull bar, driving lights.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    If someone else hasn’t told you, it would be relatively easy to tell if a particular Fusion was built in Mexico or Michigan: the first character of the VIN. If it’s a 1, it was built in America, if it’s a 3, in Mexico.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s not what the problem is. If Jack walked into a dealer, that’s how he would know if a particular car was made in Mexico. However, if he’s ordering ahead, he has no way to know what’s going to be delivered. And by the time it is delivered, it’s too late to examine the VIN.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    All good options. The cars, that is. Buy whichever one you enjoy driving most.

  • avatar
    rhduff

    For $1100 over the cost of the Accord Sport, you can upgrade to the Accord EX and get a significantly better equipped car, and STILL get s six speed manual. It doesn’t come with 18 in rims, but that’s easy to fix. A 5 up bump in power is negligible at best, so you won’t even miss, and the torque on th EX is down only 1lb/ft . Youwon’t get but two color choices, but you will get a moonroof, Lanewatch, a better stereo, and keyless entry/start. Check out Autotrader and see how many are available. They’re not that difficult to find. And, you’ll be helping out the Ohio economy.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Accord Sport! My parents bought two. Awesome cars, direct steering, super quiet, lots of high-strength steel, feels super rigid over bumps and rough pavement, super safe.

  • avatar
    akatsuki

    Mazda 6 manual

  • avatar
    Austin Greene

    Three Suggestions:

    1) 2015 Tahoe PPV – RWD, BOF, large windows, small block power, indestructible, lowered chassis with pursuit suspension and brakes. Closest thing going to your TC.

    2) 2014 Cruze Diesel – V8 power with four cylinder fuel economy, four doors, large windows, German engine + Japanese transmission = a blast to drive.

    3) 2012+ Impala 9C1 – fast, cheap, virtually indestructible, large windows, pursuit suspension and brakes.

  • avatar
    Burger Boy

    I’m not about to wade trough all of the other suggestions to see if this was mentioned, but the Focus ST meets all of the criteria, is fun to drive and loaded comes in right at $30K.

  • avatar

    JB, I’ve found a left-over 2013 ATS with 11 miles. Dealer is asking $26,336 . I also have a supplier cert that I can forward to you which shall knock a few thousand off their asking price.

    link > http://www.steinlegmccadillac.com/VehicleDetails/new-2013-Cadillac-ATS-2.5L_I4_RWD-Fremont-OH/2081379263

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Great find! But I think the ATS is going to be a little cramped for both the car and seat and for me. When I drove a fully-loaded ATS during the R&T comparison test, I didn’t care for it. Narrow in the shoulders. I sure appreciate the research, however!

      • 0 avatar
        Windy

        Jack,
        I have been thinking about this for a while focusing on injury treatment and recovery
        Back in the early 70s I was working as a pilot in the Denver area ant I drove my 1968 M-B 250SL stick shift to Jackson Hole WY for a skiing week I crashed on a high speed downhill and did major damage to my right hand wrist and elbow and to my left ankle. After 2 operation and a weel in the local hospital I was released and spent another 5 days in a Jackson Hole hotel to recover a bit more and have some of the stitches out and get the arm recast.
        The drive south to. Denver was a nightmare. But I could just manage to drive and shift in the sub zero conditions and light blowing snow.
        About 2 hours south of Jackson the powere steering belt broke…
        After sitting by the side of the two lane for an hour with no other traffic to even come by ( and so no chance to see my help flag and sign) I decided it was time to save my self so I managed to clear the remains of the belt that was fowling the something ( I can’t now recall exactly what it was only that I had to break my arm cast to get it out) I has spare belts and hoses etc as well as my tool kit but I knew I had no chance in my condition to fix it there on the side of the road) I then drove about 20 miles to the next bit of civ. (through all of this over more than 2 hours no other traffic was seen) with no power steering I was glad the road was mostly straight…
        the owner of the garage put me up over night and replaced the belt I called a couple of work mates to come and rescue me and my car…. It was almost 3 months after the plaster came off before I was comfortable with the manual shift and well over a year to be free of pain while driving.
        The point of all this is that, while you have not detailed the extent of your injuries and the length of time for your recovery, you might want to give serious consideration to an automatic for this particular car…. I do not like them either but for that one year of 1972 I sure wished I had one.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Verano Turbo must be worth checking out:
    Manual
    some power
    better fuel economy than the Town Car
    comes in colors
    4 doors
    Split folding backseat
    Near silent cabin, would be great for road trips
    Under $30k MSRP, though just barely. I’m sure you can find one for less

    The Accord looks like the front runner, but I don’t think the lack of split folding seats is getting enough grief. You’ll have to take the car seat out if you need to use the folding seat. Maybe this won’t happen frequently enough to matter, but it sounds like a nuisance.

  • avatar

    A quick “Ctrl F” on this page, word count:

    Accord – 154 times
    Fusion – 52 times
    Mazda6 or Mazda 6 – 36 times

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Your rules: Accord
    My rules: start a kickstarter and let us buy you something that will be more fun to read about.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    Buy the Caravan or a T&C. After an auto accident, rowing your own shouldn’t be a daily driving chore IMO. The Man Van will be much better choice in the long run.

  • avatar
    centennian

    Get the Caravan. Work the Mopar and other appropriate catalogs to bring it into spec such that your band and your son’s teammates sing its praises long after its Lemons and Junkyard features have faded from NSA servers.
    Heal well.

  • avatar
    matador

    I’d go for a Volkswagen Passat. According to VW’s site, a Passat S costs $22,379.

    Checklists:

    Is A Porsche —————-Not Quite. It’s a Blood Relative, though.
    And A Race Car————— Ummm… It’ll beat most Geo Metro’s.
    Faster than Police Cars——You’ll just have to find out!
    Plays Loud Music————-Sure!

    Four Doors——————-Check.
    Brand New——————–Check.
    As Reliable As Possible——Check.
    Above Town-Car Fuel Mileage–22 City/32 Hwy (26 Combined EPA)
    Manual Transmission———-Oh Yeah!
    Not A Penny Above $30,000—-It’s 762,000 Pennies Less

    Perfect.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    What about a midsize, crew cab truck? Pick the flavor you like best (Taco/Frontier/Chev/GMC). Gets you in well under 30k and will still provide some use when your finances improve and you realize you are tired of it. Frontier has the V6 with the 6MT and the truck will be easier to get in and out of. The other trucks all have their merits as well. I think the Tacoma would hold a car seat better than the Frontier honestly. Obviously don’t know about the GM twins yet.

  • avatar
    nova73

    475 posts later, what is left to say? A couple people mentioned the Ford Transit. I have virtually kicked the tires and it seems to combine the utility of the Caravan with a compact footprint.

    Maybe the best option at this point is a short term lease on one of your listed cars to buy time for proper test drives of the many options recommended by TTAC members. Testing all the suggested vehicles would be fodder for scores of reviews.

  • avatar
    JD321

    Honda Accord Sport…The new 2.4L engine is excellent.

    Or check out the new Subaru WRX….

  • avatar
    manbridge

    Glad to hear you’re doing better.

    Does this mean the P-car is up for grabs?

    P.S. I never jumped on the pig pile over on Pelican when you wrote the Deadly Sin piece.

    (Just some humor to possibly lighten your day)

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I’d sell the Boxster, yeah.

      The 911 is for my son; I’d sell my house first.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        A young male driver in a 911? Who’s trying to live up to his dad’s racing legend? That’s cop bait, or worse, ambulance bait. Listen, you have another decade to mull this over, but you should do just that. Promise the 911 as his college graduation present, if you want. In the meantime, help the kid get a start in karting. He’ll have more fun, sooner, in a safer environment, and a better chance of understanding oversteer before he’s discovering it in traffic, at higher speeds.

      • 0 avatar
        cee4s

        Same.. My 10 year old is plotting his first road trip in “his 997tt” . I’m not sure how and when I will hand it over , but it will get to him eventually.

        My late input: g37xs sedan, it’s my daily driver , with a set of coilovers it brings it to a proper height and I love driving it, it seriously checks all your boxes. The new q50s is ok, but till they figure out the steering software is avoid it.

      • 0 avatar
        manbridge

        Good man!

        I can see your mental faculties suffered no ill effects.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I just want to add to the discussion that you are probably not thinking clearly yet Jack. When I had my accident on the 30th of November, I also had to find a replacement car, and I had to do it quickly, as the insurance woud only cover a rental until 10 days after they had decided how much my old car was worth(and it still took them three wees to pay up). It sure didn’t help that I was starting to get attached to the old car, and that my whole family was in the crash either. It was difficult to try and think straight, when all you can think of is a worst case scenario (because something that never happens, just happened)So I ended up with the most boring and safe appliance I could get more or less.
    That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it will be a ‘rebound’-car. I may not keep it forever (and after three weeks , I kinda hate it) but it does have decent resale value, so it won’t be a total loss if I replace it.
    So, if you don’t plan to keep it forever, buy the car that is easier to sell,but if you actually are quite sure that you’ll enjoy a boring car (given that you do have a few fun cars already) buy the one with the best seats. (none of the cars that fit my requirements have good seats)

  • avatar
    mjz

    Jack, don’t know how mobile you are but hope you can make it over to the 2014 NAIAS. It would be a great place for you to narrow down your list, based on ease of entry/exit in the various options and also interior comfort for you. I am still thinking a minivan or C/SUV is the way to go vs. a low stance sedan. A minivan/UV will allow you to sort of slide right into it vs. a sedan that you have to contort your body to stoop and they slide DOWN into. I am wincing in pain just thinking about that, hope you have good meds. From a safety standpoint for you and your family, the higher seating points in the minivan/UV make them more desirable IMO. Thinking about your accident, if you and your passengers had been sitting at a higher point, the Sonata would have impacted lower on the vehicle, per your seating position, possibly causing less bodily harm to all of you. Conversely, if the impacting vehicle had a higher stance than a Sonata, there might have been even more severe upper body/head injuries to you and your passengers. My point is that YOU want to be up as high as you can in the vehicle. From a practicality standpoint, a minivan/UV will allow a lot more flexibility for vehicle cargo hauling, with a rear hatch and much more usable space than a sedan (especially as your son gets into sports and you have to haul a lot of crap around). Regarding the manual, as I said, I don’t know the full extent of your injuries, but it seems there might be the possibility that YOU WON’T EVEN WANT A MANUAL (blasphemous, I know!) right now, until all your various fractures and surgeries have fully healed. I need another Percodan just thinking about it. As far as brands go, it’s all going to depend on your individual take on the positives/negatives of each model you sample. It would be great if you did a series of reviews (and a TTAC favorite I’ll bet, judging by response of this thread) of each of the various finalists in the search process. Wish you good luck in your hunt and look forward to reading more about it.

  • avatar
    2fast4u

    I think the Mazda 6 is the better looking car especially in side profile. The Fusion looks chunky and the accord looks boring, however, the downside is that the 6 has a little less room on the inside especially the back seats

  • avatar
    mr_min

    I can’t believe no-one mentioned a used (cough new) Chevrolet Caprice PPV (OK no manual, and fuel economy might be a challenge).
    The modern Panther, good crash safety, ridiculous amounts of room for the son, stonking big V8
    Instead of outrunning the cops, you can pretend to be a cop :-)

  • avatar
    mcseanerson

    You should still consider the new Mazda 3. Better crash test ratings than the fusion or the 6 and I’ve been in crashes in the last two gens and they both drove away pretty much fine and the opposing cars were trashed. My kids were in the back seat in the last gen and was rear ended at a stoplight by a car doing 40 and we were all fine and the car only had a small dent in the rear bumper.

    Here’s a link to a video of the euro ncap crash tests on the new one with kid dummies in the back seat http://youtu.be/WtsNzVvEDZI

  • avatar
    Svoboda123

    PITA answer:
    -Grow Up
    -Choose between the two Porsches (talk about utility overlap!)
    -Sell the other
    -With your newfound budget of $45k+ buy a 2011 CPO 335i with less than 30k miles and use the remaining $ to mod it out to near M3 performance and install serious audio. Warranty to 6 yrs/100k.

    With that quiver it is the only way to not regret the Accord every single second you are driving it. Oh, and yeti look + Accord = loser, while yeti look + German sports sedan = eccentric. And yeti + van = stalker.


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