By on February 2, 2016

CTS-V front

Best & Brightest, you certainly didn’t disappoint in the last installment of Ask Bark. While some of you seem to be confused about the difference between asking for friendly advice and asking for a full evaluation of one’s values, I know that Greg appreciated your advice almost as much as he appreciated mine. Well done, B&B.

Now, let’s examine this week’s e-mail from a man whose remarks I resemble.

Jordan writes:

Hey Bark,

As a family man, you understand the balance between the needs of your children (chocolate milk, corn dogs, shelter, etc.) and the needs of an enthusiast trying to maintain sanity. I’ve owned a number of sporty cars over the years and typically move on to something different every 12-18 months (my kind of guy —Bark). My “dad shoes” have heel-toed in the likes of a Volkswagen GTI MkV, Honda S2000 AP2, Mini Cooper S and, more recently, a ’14 Ford Fiesta ST.

I am looking to get into something different; perhaps more mature. The proposed dad-mobile would need to serve as occasional kid hauler (two booster seats), summer commuter, and track day toy (three to five weekend events a year). With a budget up to $40,000 and an eye toward a more serious car, I would love to hear your insights on balancing the conflict between the inner boy racer and the outer family man.

Boy, do I ever. I tried to turn a Boss 302 into a family car — and failed miserably. Luckily for me, I currently have two vehicles to help me satisfy my need for balance. Between my 2013 Flex and my 2015 FiST, I have a nice combo. But what would I do if I had to have one vehicle for two jobs? Luckily, I have some ideas for you, Jordan.

You didn’t specify new or used, so I’m going to look at both. We’re going to consider the daily driver and track rat aspects, as well as what it will cost you to track it. At the end, we’ll have a solution that’s palatable for everybody (except the B&B, of course).

NEW
Ford Focus RSAssuming that you could a Focus RS (which you can’t) without every option ticked (which you can’t), this would really be the perfect car for you — that is if you hadn’t said that you have “an eye toward a more serious car.” Having seen the FoRS in person a few times, I have to sadly admit that there’s nothing about it that looks like a serious car. I mean, it’s seriously kickass, but it’s not going to be taken particularly seriously in the parking lot at Goldman Sachs. So, while Focus RS might be the car I would choose for double duty, I can’t give it full marks for you here.

Dodge Charger R/T Scat PackThere are enough incentives right now available on 2015 models to make buying one of these a serious bargain. 485 horsepower in a four-door sedan, and under $40,000 to boot? It’s hard to beat that. If you want to stay a little bit further under budget, a 5.7-liter HEMI R/T is a nice option as well. However, it won’t be the most fun thing to track; you’ll have a blast on straightaways, but turning might be an exercise in patience (and tire-chewing). Also, you seem to like imports a bit more than domestics, save for the FiST (which is really an import with a Ford badge on it, anyway).

Subaru WRX STIAgain, the STi is not the most “serious” of cars, but it’s hard to go much faster for less money. You’ll have a hell of a good time on the track with it, too, easily smoking some cars with much, much higher price tags. The brakes alone are worth the extra cash over the regular WRX, and you can always remove the giant spoiler … I think. At least, that was an option on older STIs. However, I just recommended a WRX to somebody a couple of weeks ago, so let’s table that idea for now and look for something else, if only for the sake of variety.

Lexus IS 300: Sssh … I’m about to tell you a secret. The Lexus IS is the best car in its class. Yup, better than the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and Infiniti Q50. I drove an IS 350 F-Sport up the California coast about a year or so ago, and it was just magic. It’s also surprising good as a track rat. You might get a snicker or two when you pull up for Track Night in America, but you’ll quickly wipe those smiles of their faces. For some reason, maybe because Lexus is better known for the ES than for anything else, the IS gets slept on a lot. Don’t make that some mistake. The 300 might be juuuuuust a bit outside your budget, but the IS 200t, especially in F-Sport trim, wouldn’t be a bad choice either. Finding one that isn’t optioned to the gills? Well … be prepared to make an order.

USED
BMW E90 335i: Maybe you don’t believe me, and you think the 3-Series is the undefeated champ of cars. No worries. There are beautiful, clean, low mile, BMW-certified examples of this car well underneath your budget nearly everywhere. Oh, look — here’s one. Criminy, that’s cheap. I think I might beat you down to Nashville to pick it up! There’s a lot of tuner support for these cars, too. Just make sure you get a certified warranty, and ensure the high pressure fuel pump recall has been performed (or look for a 335is). Even so, the warranty is only for two years, so caveat emptor; you haven’t owned anything that’s as expensive to fix as an E90. While the coupe might be preferable for track day duty, you’ll be glad that you have four doors the rest of the year. Also, having the cold weather package gives you folding rear seats, which are all the better for putting your Hoosiers in the trunk.

Cadillac CTS-V Sedan556 hp? Ok, I guess that will do. These freaking things are fast, and they’re fast everywhere, too: on the road and on the track. Here’s a nice example of a certified V with a clean CarFax. It squeaks inside your budget, and I am sure that there’s more room to be had. Damn, man. Now I also want one of these. At the track, you will be considerably faster than just about everybody in anything short of a purpose built racecar, and you’ll have a pretty pimp ride for the street. Reliability? It’s an LS motor, but it’s also supercharged to the hilt. That’s what GM Certified warranties are for.

Audi S4: Since this is going to be your daily driver and you live in Canada, I assume you’ll experience some nasty weather conditions. This all-wheel drive option might be a nice fit for you. It also probably has the smallest backseats of any car on this list, unfortunately. That being said, you’ll have a pretty nice, livable combo of a track rat and a daily driver with an S4.

VERDICT
So what do I actually recommend? For your particular set of requirements … a Pontiac G8 GXP. No, not really. Although, come to think of it, it’s not a bad choice, so long as you don’t mind paying between 70 and 80 percent of sticker for a car that’s seven model years old that you must import from the United States. But seriously, for your particular set of circumstances, I’d go for the CTS-V sedan. It’s already pretty well depreciated, so when you go to sell it in 12-18 months, you might break even. As long as you get a certified example, you’ll be under bumper-to-bumper warranty the whole time, too. You’ll have a car that’s just about as grown up as can be (what’s more adult than a Caddy?) and a track rat that will blow the doors off of even some cars with “super” in the description.

You know the drill, B&B … have at it!

If you’d like Bark to answer a question for you about anything from “Which car should I buy?” to “Which John Coltrane album is the most ‘authentic’ Trane album?” (the answer is Giant Steps), then send him an e-mail at [email protected], or find him in the Twitterverse @barkm302.

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260 Comments on “Ask Bark: What Car Should I Buy For Double Duty?...”


  • avatar
    doctorv8

    I’d add the 6 speed manual Chevy SS to the list. Like a GP GXP with 2015 levels of interior refinement.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Good call.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      I’d love one of these very very much.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Yep. The SS fixes almost everything that’s wrong with the GXP. If I still wanted a performance car I’d probably own one right now, or at least be within the 6-month wait to take delivery.

      • 0 avatar
        ChiefPontiaxe

        What’s wrong with the G8 GXP?

        • 0 avatar
          doctorv8

          Mostly just an interior devoid of any modern car features, IE no nav, touch screen, heated/cooled seats, etc………

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          The interior is utter crap, in terms of material quality, assembly quality, and included features. The SS totally fixes the material quality and included features and mostly fixes the assembly quality (it’s no Lexus LS but it’s acceptable for a 2016 Chevy).

          When I sold it, my car had 37,000 miles on it, a symphony of rattles, and something loose way inside the dash causing a fan buzz at high speed that I never had the energy to take apart the dash to isolate.

    • 0 avatar
      suspekt

      NAILED IT!

      Its quite possibly the perfect car for a dad.

      It’s on my very short list of cars I would be willing to part with cold hard cash for.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      “Ask Bark: Me can’t think smart. Me need help from strangers. Me need motor vehicle that make me happy. Me want group of people to pick next vehicle.”

      • 0 avatar
        formula m

        Seriously, I get these questions have to come from somewhere but…. If you are smart enough to accumulate the $40k to spend on transportation/track car. I would think you would be able to make this type of choice for yourself without wanting 200 people giving you their opinion

    • 0 avatar
      johnny_5.0

      Good luck finding one, I tried. I looked once a few months ago and of 600+ new SS sedans available, friggin’ 6 were manuals. None were anywhere near me. I looked again more recently and there was one manual SS in the entire country for sale.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        You have to order. Find that rare dealer who wants to help with an order, and prepare for a long wait. Customers have been waiting 6+ months.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I know at least three Detroit area Chevy dealers that would be happy to order it. Canadian customers are welcome!

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Good thing I’m stuck in a lease for two more years and saving up/working towards awesome things, or I’d be looking at flights to Detroit.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            My first comment above was admittedly a d!ck comment.

            On a serious and non-d!ck note, come to the Detroit area and I’ll get you employee pricing on a sh!tty GM vehicle if that’s your thing.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      1972 El Camino with LS1/4L60-E swap is the ONLY correct answer.

      http://ls1tech.com/forums/conversions-hybrids/1631831-1972-el-camino-ls1-swap-4.html

      #OnlyOneCorrectAnswer

    • 0 avatar
      agent534

      Chevy SS and G8 are so close to the best answer- Caprice 9C3 PPV. The extra wheelbase is what makes it the best choice. I’m driving a 9C1 and it is perfect. No trouble at all climbing in and putting the kid in the car seat. Expect to get one from a dealer with under 10k miles, many with only around 1000 miles, for around $27k. They can only sell them to non-fleet as used cars, so if one is on the lot too long they drive it enough to qualify as used.
      I’ve sat in the Chevy SS at the dealer, and the Caprice rear seat space makes a big difference. I can get 26 mpg Highway on mine, but getting to the highway drags the average mpg to 20.

      • 0 avatar
        pb35

        I just traded my 2015 SRT 392 for a 2015 SS 3 days ago. My wife can’t drive a stick so it’s automatic for me which is fine as there are no 6MT SSs anywhere to be found in NA.

        • 0 avatar
          NoID

          I find your lack of faith disturbing.

          Care to share with someone who is completely totally not invested in the SRT programs why you switched so soon?

          • 0 avatar
            pb35

            The SRT was a great car, I owned it for 4 months. I’m on a quicker update cycle than Bark and the OP apparently. I’d rather not discuss my reasons for trading it on a public forum but I do feel comfortable saying that Dodge wasn’t at fault.

            With that, I’ll leave you with this chestnut: Happy wife, happy life. We’re not quite there yet but unloading my SRT was part of the process. The SS is a great car in it’s own right even though it’s lacking some features that I enjoyed in the SRT (heated steering wheel, cap-less fuel filler and Homelink to name a few). It’s definitely not a consolation prize, I’m really enjoying it so far. The SRT was loud and a bit of a boat. I’m sure my neighbors are happy that it’s gone too, it sounded like an M80 going off on my quiet street every morning when I left for work.

    • 0 avatar
      LastCar

      I have a ’15 SS, even though it was only an auto, I got it at just 40k with 9 miles. It is really a great family car in every way without sacrificing the fun.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Lex LS460.

    NEW

    Ford Focus RS: No, just no.

    Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack: Interesting choice, and you’d certainly have the other dad’s attention through gocking and high fives. I don’t see you tracking whatever you buy much since you don’t mention wanting to do this and the reality that you have a family depending on you to not take unnecessary risks with your life and all. This would be a pure “daddy show me what it can do” type of purchase. Chrysler LX seems like it would be large enough for two car seats, I’d certainly consider it and if going LX get the Scat Pack or whatever the ultra ridiculous trim is called with their 6.0?. I realized some time back the Chargers and Challengers in the 500bhp region are in the gentleman car’s league with things like Corvette from a resale standpoint. However standard LX turns ghetto fabulous pretty quickly.

    Subaru WRX STI: I just saw one of these in the showroom, I would literally pick up a car seat and attach it into the rear seats before I made a purchase. The Impreza may have gained size in the last refresh but its not a large car. Subaru will give you the luxury of AWD which is great in the endless winters of Canada and resale here is quite good. M’eh, if it were me I’d want something larger for my children but certainly in contention.

    Lexus IS 300: Bark’s points aside apparently you have too much money to spend, if going Lex its GS or LS in my book with a preference to the latter in LWB. The IS always struck me as this “whoa look at me” redheaded stepchild in the lineup which tries to be “too kewl for skewl”. I just dunno, I was never a fan of the IS300 (I think its 350 now?). I do like the brand very much and think it would be an overall wise purchase, I just like the next up models in sedans.

    USED

    BMW E90 335i: I dunno, years back I was hearing “E36 is where its at” when the E46s started to have issues. Later it was “E46 is where its at” when the E90s had their issues. The 3 series strikes me as a product which got progressively worse in some way as generations go on, to the point where sub series were created to mimic the driving effects of the earlier models. Bark also points out: “Even so, the warranty is only for two years, so caveat emptor; you haven’t owned anything that’s as expensive to fix as an E90.” and boy is it true. My old boss in two years had her new M series 335 E90 in the shop twelve times and this was as recent as 2013. When I think used BMW, I think B.O.A.T. When you’re throwing money away on a lease, I do understand the driving attraction but when you’re owning it doesn’t seem to make as much sense to me.

    Cadillac CTS-V Sedan: This accomplishes the same thing as the Charger R/T Scat Pack only it does it in an even more obnoxious way. Cadillac woooo racetrack racetrack racetrack. Long term I don’t know much about them, yes LS goodness but as usual in a sh*tty GM car and this time in an especially sh*tty Cadillac. My thoughts aside, who is buying this? There are these old retired/near retired guys who will buy nice Corvettes, Camaro SSes, Mustang GT500, top level Challengers/Chargers and prob in the future Chevy SSes to usually sit and look at them or cruise around at 25mph. Those are the old guys who have the cash/credit to do private party deals no hassle when its time to unload. You know what I don’t see them buying? Cadillac CTS-V. Seriously. You know who does buy it? Doug Demuro. Hedge accordingly.

    Audi S4: Same issues as the E90 but now with VAG to boot. Pass.

    MY SUGGESTION:

    Lex LS460 LWB used because its basically the best game in town overall with the noticeable caveat of less zoom zoom (can be had in AWD).

    OR

    Infiniti G37 or perhaps the Q50 with normal steering, probably both used to ride the nice curve. Won’t break the bank in the shop, reasonable reliability and performance, not to tough to sell. Probably better TCO than the Lex IS due to lower price at acquisition but similar in other metrics (maybe tier II to tier I but so what, kids are gonna puke all over the inside anyway). Can be had in AWD.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      Or import a Toyota Century, my secret dream ride.

    • 0 avatar
      brenschluss

      Those have always been known for their prowess on track. Very useful and relevant advice.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I don’t even have children but I know as a man ages and he has a family his priorities change for the most part. There will always be outliers such as the Baruth brothers but for the most part today’s once a month “tracker” goes to once every six, to once a year, to why do I have this car?

        • 0 avatar
          brenschluss

          I can’t think of a way to say this without sounding like a jerk: You have no idea who this person is, so your projections are meaningless.

          Not everyone will want what you want. Recommending a Lexus LS460 to someone looking for an occasional-use track car tells me you just wanted to say something.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I see children and sedan and I think large sedan. Not too many of those these days and of those, which can comfortably haul a family for many years of reliable service.

            You’re right I don’t know him, and I don’t know you. Tell you what, why not spend twenty minutes or so coming up with your own thoughts on the subject as we all would be curious to read them? (no sarc)

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            ” see children and sedan and I think large sedan.”

            Why? OP said “OCCASIONAL kid hauler.” Too many internet arm chair QBs turn that into “has to transport the brood across the country in supreme comfort every summer.

            In reality it means “I can cram my kids in the back on the odd chance the family truckster is in the shop or the wife gets stuck at yoga and I have to pick up the rugrats once every 6 months.”

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You make a valid point. I would prefer not to cram my children into anything but I won’t argue with the best teacher, experience.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            I don’t typically contribute to these exercises because I know my preferences are irrelevant and generally out-of-norms, and also because other people’s purchases are none of my concern. I know posts like these are meant all in good fun, I just have no opinion to submit. This person asked Bark a pretty straightforward question, and Bark gave a perfectly fine answer which pretty much covered the bases. Those are my thoughts on the subject.

            I wouldn’t have gotten involved if I hadn’t seen that one response to “moderately comfortable, track-capable, can hold 2 kids” was “LS460,” which was so tone-deaf it gave me the vapors.

            Though it’s besides the point and I’m certainly beating a dead horse, there’s nothing wrong with or difficult about putting a family of two into a car smaller than a “large sedan,” (especially so for occasional use,) nor any dissonance between holding an “adult” job and having a car that isn’t a grey Lexus. (Frankly, if your upward mobility is affected by a spoiler on your car, your work environment sounds awful.) Here’s a guy who wants a trackable, $40k car that can hold 2 kids in a pinch and only needs to last less than 2 years, so you recommend a retirement yacht and tell him he’ll soon tire of all this immature “race track” nonsense. I just could not let it escape comment that this advice is from a perspective which ignores all stated preferences and substitutes your own.

            There were worse recommendations on this page, but they seem to come from people who simply didn’t read the article at all (rather than only disregarding half of its purpose,) so I have no froth for those.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      28 brings a shark jump to the fold! :(

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      “The proposed dad-mobile would need to serve as occasional kid hauler (two booster seats), summer commuter, and track day toy (three to five weekend events a year).”

      I don’t think the object of a track day is to grind the shoulders off of your front Goodyear Assurances and finish last.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, at least he’d be super-comfy when he got his ass kicked at the track!

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Yeah, the LS is a great car (I own one) but not the answer to this request. I think it would be kind of a hoot on track with the right tires and pads — and either Baruth is welcome to try mine out there if the schedule ever works out — but only in a “I took this luxobarge on track and it wasn’t that bad” kind of way. When forced to change direction quickly it does so with aplomb, but also clearly tells you you should be more civilized.

      The Lexus to buy if you want to track something is a used IS F. Or a new GS F if you want to stretch the budget.

    • 0 avatar
      MeJ

      Interesting comments.
      But how do you arrive at the big LS460?
      He wanted a car that cool, could go to the track occasionally and also used as a kid hauler.
      LS460 does not equal track…well, anything.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        In retrospect my argument was predicated on the fact a dad with two kids doesn’t really need a track car, he wants it, and what will actually happen is he’ll get something Fast and Furious later wondering why he bought it when priorities change in his near future.

        Bark attempts to answer his question well, but when I think solid car large enough for car seats now, can be owned well into the future, plenty of power, and could be used to run around a racetrack the few times it will realistically happen, I came to Lex LS and then I also threw out G37/Q50 which I also think are fine choice(s). If this guy were literally an amateur racer say prior to a family, he wouldn’t be asking us this question. He strikes me as a guy who wants to run around a track so he can feel like he’s not a father with responsibilities for a spell.

        Lex LS is something like a 390HP V8, RWD or AWD, in SWB configuration offers some kind of semi-sport suspension, and be had for under 40K relatively new. The GS would also be acceptable but is a V6, and I think the GS-F used and new is above 40K. I think the Subaru WRX isn’t going to be large enough for rear facing car seats but is otherwise a fine choice. The Chevy SS also fits well into the criteria except it lacks an AWD capability. The Dodge Charger does however offer AWD but I’m not sure you can get it in the Scat Pack config (but perhaps the 5.7?). People want to poo poo what is a decent value, that’s fine I just ask for their own feedback to contribute to the conversation.

        FWIW Bark’s brother took a rental Camry around the track last year in a review, your “track” car doesn’t have to say NISMO down the side of it, in fact maybe it shouldn’t be a traditional kind of track car – I’d much rather have a sleeper myself.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          I simply cannot understand how anyone would pick an LS or GS over the IS for anything “sporty” related. Even if the car ends up never being actually tracked, the simple fact that the owner entertains the idea, indicates he will be infinitely better of with the IS.

          Like most others, I love the LS. Every iteration. It’s the best car available in America, for picking clients and others you care about up at the airport (military airports in the middle of the Nevada dessert excepted), and for just wafting around (sub)urban environs. And the GS is as good as it gets if you just want a “nice” car. No issues, no nonsense, no baggage. But even compared to Bimmers’ 5 & 7, and Audi’s A6,7,8, the Lexi are simply not built to satisfy sporting pretensions for those with a history of heel and toeing the likes of an S2000. But the IS, aside from the slushbox, is. more so than the latest Bimmer and Audi 3&A4, even.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Bark made similar arguments and you both have valid points. The only IS I have had personal exposure to was the original IS300. I didn’t dislike it, I just didn’t say OMG I gotta get me one of these (this one was an auto as well). Others have commented on the newer ISes (pre-13) and their shortcomings to which I personally have no reference. The latest one might be worth a hard look, but I know what I would do with my money (or just find a clean G37).

        • 0 avatar
          Reino

          All of the ‘executive’ class cars (7-series, S-class, LS, etc) exist for one reason: transporting FOUR ADULTS. Hence their target demographic of 65+ year olds–people with friends who can no longer drive themselves.

          The midsize sport sedans (5-series, GS), handle better than the executives, for a trade off in ride comfort and tech. Hell, if your kids are small, then a 3-series or IS is just fine.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    The CTS-V, in my opinion, has not aged well at all and now looks at least five years older than it is, but that may not be as big an obstacle for others as it is for me.

    I realize the OP wants something more mature than his succession of rice-able hot hatches, but if he just wants something more trackable and a move upmarket, is there a reason he’s not considering the Golf R?

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    I like the CTS-V idea. I’m guessing, but I would bet Jordan’s stomping grounds contain hills and winding roads with his prior choice of nimble manual transmission cars. If that is the case, the highway sledge Scat Pack would be unhappy.

    A friend has a 2013 S4 and is dissatisfied due to its choppy ride reliability issues (anecdotal evidence, I know). He bought it more for the image rather than out of any desire to use its capabilities, so take that for what its worth.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Something WITHOUT perforated leather seating (you’ll just get crap in your seat foam).

    I’d suggest a Ford Flex ECOBOST AWD – that is the BOSS wagon of our generation. You’ll be able to haul quite a bit of people and stuff and do so in a hurry.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    From what I can tell there are currently 0 2015 Charger Scat Packs available on Autotrader in the entire country so the odds of buying one new on the cheap seem pretty low if you ask me. Probably all the good deals got bought by the dealerships themselves to sell as “used” cars.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      But there are plenty of Challengers with the Scat Pack. As long as the kiddos are small they’d fit fine in one of those (better than any Mustang, that’s for sure).

    • 0 avatar
      johnny_5.0

      I looked for these a bunch over several months. Zero in my reasonably large city. Some within a 2 hour drive. Rarely much of a discount compared to the Scat Pack Challengers which are plentiful. Some dealerships were even charging an ADM of ~$2K.

  • avatar
    davewg

    I was going to suggest Chevy SS, but alas they’re not available in Canada (darn you GM!).

    Bark’s list is pretty solid. As much as I don’t like used I think, in this case, I’d pull the trigger on a CTS-V.

    I am surprised to see the IS300 on the list. I might have to put the next generation on my list in a couple of years.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I’ma stick with Lex too, and recommend a very lightly used GS F-Sport. Nobody will snicker.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Lexus-GS-F-SPORT-SUNROOF-NAV-REAR-CAM-19S-/191796811777

    Plus it’s got lemony leather. And also is available with red leather. Considerably more roomy than the IS, and is a proper size!

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      I have to confess: I just don’t get this car. A buddy of mine has one, and after spending a decent amount of time in it I just don’t see where the money goes. The metaloid interior is anodyne, it rides like an Accord with a drop kit, and the steering feel is just weird. Why does this car cost $56k? What am I missing?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        -RWD
        -Lexus badge
        -F-Sport badges

        I’m with you on metallic interior trims, but the car isn’t for me. Having owned a GS, I can guarantee you it’s a better drive than the Accord.

    • 0 avatar
      GS 455

      Try saying red leather yellow leather 10 times real fast.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    I would say a Focus ST instead of the RS, simply because good luck being able to get an RS.

  • avatar
    omer333

    Previous-gen Honda Civic Si sedan ain’t no slouch. Although, you can’t get a jogging stroller in it…

    Accord Sport with the manual’s not bad.

    I’d agree the WRX in regular and STI flavors would be muy bueño. Along with an A4/S4.

    I’ll go against anything FCA due to my recent history with their products.

    Hey, if you’re willing to go with a car from a company that’s dead or dying, a Saabaru or an Evo would do the job nicely.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      Dead? Subaru can’t build cars fast enough to meet record demand. I just wish the WRX still came with a hatch.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      @omer333

      I know how you pine for a WRX and know I know why. I recently drove a GTI, a Buick Regal GS, and a WRX. All on the same day within hours of each other.

      It seems many people dismiss the WRX for being crude. I didn’t get that impression at all. The interior isn’t as nice as a GTI but for me it’s fine. The big difference is the drive. The WRX is just more eager and that’s something I like. For me, it was the best all around car and performance-wise it isn’t even close.

      The GTI was nice. Really good interior and I love the panoramic moonroof. Didn’t enjoy driving it as much as the WRX. Still, it’s a great all around performer.

      The GS isn’t quite sure what if it want’s to be luxury car or a performance car. Nice interior but the driving experience is kinda muted. It would probably be a great highway cruiser.

      All the cars were manuals and my nod goes to the WRX and for me it really wasn’t close ( and I like and have owned many VWs).

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Plus the WRX has AWD, which would be nice around here (10 inches of snow in Denver today), and it’s not a VW. As much as I love the Golf and the GTI, I’m not crazy enough to put my hard earned money down on either.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      I feel like people are conflating booster seats with car seats here. Kids in boosters are in more like the 4-6 range, definitely old enough to not need to be in a stroller anymore.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Lexus IS is a good call, Bark…I haven’t driven one of the new ones but I did try out a last-gen IS350, and it was darn good. Not crazy about the interior on the new IS, though – looks like a Mazda3 with (slightly) nicer materials.

    I’d also suggest a Golf R (heck, why not).

    Also, how ’bout a Challenger R/T Scat Pack? As long as your kids are little they should fit pretty well in the back (a LOT better than any Mustang, that’s for sure). Apparently they’re much improved handling-wise. And that Hemi exhaust note is pure sex.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    You caught my attention with track day.

    No on the CTS-V. Just not a fan personally. I like the Audi S4 and BMW 335. The Lexus is a possibility, but I am not a fan of the body style and if you want to track it, the weight of the IS will become a distraction. I owned a BMW e92 335i. In my opinion, better balance, less understeer issues present in the S4. It was a great car for me. Ran flawless and mine kept it’s value very well. If you want to do any mods, that 335 can push into the 400hp range with little effort.

  • avatar
    See 7 up

    I don’t understand how people live with sedans. Do you not do anything or carry anything, ever?
    I’m in the same boat, but I’m just keeping a track car on the side as nobody really makes a wagon track car (hatches are too small for kids, dog combo on backpacking trips)

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      CTS-V wagon?

      • 0 avatar
        See 7 up

        Considered. Drove one. My wife loves manuals more than I. Power is great but when you aren’t using it you realize it’s generally a pos. Seats that rock back and forth, poor switchgear, fit and finish. And it’s very small for its exterior dimensions. Visibility sucks. Used values on manual wagons are insane imo. I like fast cars, but there is a usable limits on the street. So anything over 400hp isn’t worth paying for (imo)

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I don’t get people who claim they need a giant vehicle just to “carry” stuff or because they “have kids.” My parents managed to cart two kids around in a Plymouth Horizon and a ’72 Duster. WTH do they have that needs at least a wagon to cart around?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Kids have more sh!t now. Have you seen people with a baby?

        -Car seat
        -Diaper bag
        -Giant independent suspension stroller
        -Beach-sized bag of toys
        -Ipad
        -DVDs
        -Food bag
        -Allergy medicine bag
        -Epi-pen fanny pack

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          “Allergy medicine bag and Epi-pen fanny pack”…LOL

          Yep, it’s a different world these days. I have NO idea how I survived my childhood without multiple closed-head injuries. We did stuff like 40-mph bike races down our street with no protection, swimming unsupervised in the back yard, sitting cross legged in the back of our Custom Cruiser flipping people off, and (my favorite) fireworks wars, highlighted by shooting bottle rockets at each other (they did draw the line at Roman candle wars, tho…).

          Favorite ’70s “kid endangerment” story:
          My mom once had a ’72 Malibu with a big block, and it cooked. We were going down the street one day, and came to a red light, when Mom found out she was not stopping. Quite distressing. She slammed on the brakes but the car slowed down very little. Turns out my kid brother, who was four or five at the time, was on the floor mashing the accelerator down while Mom was trying to stop

          My poor folks would probably have ended up doing time.

      • 0 avatar
        See 7 up

        A small dresser? Bikes? Carpet cleaner vac
        Basically anything taller than a normal sedans trunk that I can’t put in the backseat cause my kids and their car seats are in there.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          I have a wagon, with something like 35 cubic feet in the back. With my two kids in the backseat, bikes don’t fit. The dresser had better be damn short. I’ve never carried a carpet cleaner vacuum. I mean, ever. So I don’t foresee that driving my vehicle purchase. Yes, wagons have more seats-up capacity than sedans, but they aren’t amazing super-duper stuff haulers unless you fold the seats down.

          And what wagon do you have? There are what, 3 on sale in the US with two of those being German luxury marques? That kind of limits the OP’s choice.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        After they turn three or so you need way less $hit. We have a giant wagon/CUV/hearse thing because we go up north almost every weekend in the summer. We have a lot of stuff to carry.

        Typical Northern Michigan trip cargo:

        Beer
        Clothes for everyone
        Cooler with things that need to be refrigerated
        Food (because that grocery store up there is terrible)
        More beer
        Tools (because something is probably broken)
        Boat parts (It’s one of the boats that is probably broken)
        Even better beer

        Maybe we can step down to a smaller vehicle once I get a kegerator up there. Still, I am often transporting a bunch of stuff back and forth.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “I don’t understand how people live with sedans. Do you not do carry anything, ever?”

      I carry things in my trunk.

      I can honestly say I have never been in a situation where I needed to move a dresser, bike, or large vacuum in my vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        See 7 up

        So nothing taller than say 20 in?
        How about a 4 dining room chairs I picked up last weekend in my wagon? Can all that fit in your sedan with a kid in back?
        Or 2 mountain bikes because I don’t want to always have a roof rack or hitch rack?

        Maybe you never do any of these things. Or have a truck on the side. If wagons gave less performance I’d understand, but there is no downside compared to a sedan. Just upsides

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          If we agree with you will you stop ranting?

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          While I’m in the wagon camp with you in that I’ve now had two of them, they’re not for everyone. Besides, some would say that the wagon is compromised compared to the crossover. We’re getting to the point where there’s not much of a handling compromise for choosing a crossover’s raised ground clearance…but a crossover does provide the benefit of easier ingress/egress for most people and that all-desirable commanding view of the road, versus a wagon.

          So, again, to each his own.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Edge > Fusion wagon. It just is.

            Many current wagons are garbage because they are shorter than they should be, or the rear window is raked (because sporty!).

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “So nothing taller than say 20 in?”

          Nope. I have no children right now and do not foresee me picking up any dining room sets in the near future. I am not arguing that your wagon is not more convenient than my trunk, but I don’t require that convenience.

          I aesthetically prefer the three box look to the two box and becuase I have such light cargo needs I might as well buy what I find visually appealing.

          Obviously as my siutaion or desires change I may start looking at different vehicle classes.

        • 0 avatar
          fvfvsix

          Dude – I can’t even fit 2 mountain bikes in my X3 without disassembly. What wagon do you drive?

          • 0 avatar
            See 7 up

            X3’s are tiny length wise.
            e350 wagon. Take off front wheels (easy – thru axle), lay them down but a blanket between.

            I don’t mind people driving sedans if they meet their needs. But I always look at a sedan and see a compromised wagon and ask, why would I buy that (probably helps that I find sedans a boring/common design). And its not the same argument with CUV’s since there is really no sedan equivalent – although most CUV don’t offer much other than ingress/egress and higher ground clearance.

        • 0 avatar
          duffman13

          I will rent or borrow a pickup truck for the 3x a year I need to do that rather than buy a vehicle that I’d rather not own.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @Ajla, you don’t have a wife and/or kids do you?

        Within a few weeks of purchasing my Highlander (which I did because of the impending birth of my daughter) I had hauled a crib, a glider rocker, one giant dresser, and two nightstands. Where I live few places are willing to deliver that far out without significant charge and I could have hauled them with my truck but the 300 mile round trip to Albuquerque is much more pleasant in my Highlander.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          You live in the middle of nowhere though. High desert between Albuquerque and Flagstaff, right?

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Yes.

            Honestly I know a minivan would be even more useful but m’lady has an aversion to put it mildly. Given all the other pros of being married to her the deep hatred of minivans is a drop in the bucket.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Isn’t that similar to where HDC lives?
            Hasn’t he also got a Highlander?

            Are you secretly the same person, just 25 years younger?

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            No no no… HDC has a 1st gen he passed on to his kids and brags endlessly about. He has a Tundra and a Sequoia he loves and brags about the tax deduction he gets for them and the illegal aliens he employs to keep his landscape neat.

            He’d look down on my Highlander because it was built in the Princeton, IN Toyota plant. The HORRORS that it wasn’t built in Japan.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Oh. You must be a poor idiot without immigrants and having a US-made Toyota!

        • 0 avatar
          Occam

          This seems like more an issue for buying secondhand things from private sales and/or living in a remote area.

          I’ve had two instances in the past five years where I’ve needed to haul something (one a seven piece dining set from Craigslist, the other a fully assembled propane grille). In both instances, I was able to simply buy beer for a friend with a truck. He had the pleasure of seeing his truck bed actually used, and drinking beer. I didn’t have to suffer with a truck the other 1800 or so days.

          When my kids were little, we had a sedan. Strollers fold, bags can be stowed around them. The biggest issue with kids is that carseats are massive, and vehicles that substitute vertical legroom actual space between rows of seats or space between the front seats and the dash don’t fare well with carseats (particularly when installed rear facing). A number of CUV’s fall into this trap.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      My wife insists on a CUV. My DD sedan hauls a briefcase, and in the summer, golf clubs. Why do I need a wagon?

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        You don’t.

        What will you ever do if you buy something from Home Depot?!?!?! It’s not like they have free delivery if you spend enough money or trucks/vans you can rent for $20….oh…wait…

    • 0 avatar
      Reino

      I don’t understand why people think SUVs and Wagons allow a whole lot more stuff than sedans. If your car choice is about hauling as much kid stuff as possible, you’d buy a minivan.

  • avatar
    Rday

    Don’t get any Detroit trash!! Any of the major Japanese brands will work great.. for kids the Sienna or Odyssey are great and bullet proof too. They will carry all kinds of extra goodies and have FWD to boot. The Sienna is AWD if you want that option. The vans have great ride as good as most luxury cars.
    But if you are a ‘poseur’ and want to impress adolescents or people of lower intelligence then a detroiter is your best bet. Some people just never learn and keep going back for more abuse. I finally learned my lessons but in some cases the Japanese don’t offer all of products one might need. So there are still areas where we have to bear the unbearable and suffer the insufferable and deal with the jerks in Detroit.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Folks, there is no longer an IS300. There’s the IS350 and the IS200t. But if the IS is a bit extreme for you, even the larger, slightly-more-conservative GS350 dances better than a 5-Series, E-Class or A6, IMO, and used examples with the F-Sport package can be had under $40K. I think the IS350 and the CTS-V are solid recommendations. The SS is too; can you buy one of those in Canada?

    Failing those, I’ve grown fond of the Infiniti Q50, especially the exterior styling. Or you could get a lightly-used version of the latest Genesis sedan with the 5.0-liter.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      There is an IS300. It is an AWD-only IS with a detuned V6.

    • 0 avatar
      davewg

      No SS in Canada..

      Q50 could be interesting. Maybe the new Red Hot version (or whatever damn fool thing they’re calling it).

      I was going to suggest Genesis too, but can’t see that on a track…

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        The Q50 Eau Rouge was cancelled, unfortunately.

        The new Genesis’ suspension was tuned by Lotus. Who knows? Maybe they’d let him take a really spirited test-drive.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I was never sure they were going to -use- that name, I kinda thought it was just the name of the concept sport trim, and they’d go with IPL like they have before.

          PS. I think IPL is a stupid sports trim name.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            It sounds like a beer label.

          • 0 avatar
            aycaramba

            @Kyree: “It sounds like a beer label.”

            You’re right. It is a beer label. Leinenkugel’s makes an IPL–India Pale Lager.

          • 0 avatar
            tedward

            There’s a serious problem in the industry with three letter acronyms (TLA’s). It’s not that there are too many of them, it’s that all of the topical yet cool sounding combos are usually taken already. I imagine the selection process is basically down to finding a TLA that sounds the least like a venereal disease (Which is ironic because STD does in fact sound like a performance trim level).

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            “You’re right. It is a beer label. Leinenkugel’s makes an IPL–India Pale Lager.”

            Well, what do you know. That’s a fine name for a beer, but a dumb one for a performance division.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’ll throw one out for the Lancer Evolution. End of the line for a legendary performance car. Mitsubishi has been making them so long, I’d assume they are somewhat reliable these days. If you keep it mechanically stock depreciation likely won’t be too bad. It might be more hardcore than he wants though.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Nothing says “family businessman with taste” like an Evo. And I wouldn’t even want to sit in the interior if I were wearing gloves to avoid hard plastics from 2004.

      Awful! Just say no to poor build quality from Chrysler-Mitsubishi products :D.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Our Chrysler-Mitsubishi 2007 Dodge Caliber SXT didn’t serve us well…but we should have seen that coming, in retrospect, and bought a Toyota. The thing looked as cheap as it was.

        The newer FCA products are a lot better, although I’ve heard lots of horror stories about the electronics—especially on 2014 and later Grand Cherokees—that rival my experience with the cursed E70 X5.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Ajla has hated his Charger for build quality reasons too.
          And everyone hated Mitsu-Chryslers.
          And everyone places all Fiats at bottom of reliability, below LR.
          Plus, they’re on the verge of belly-up again.

          If the GC was made by someone who was good at making cars, I’d be intrigued by it. I like the styling (save for most recent LED thing change) and think it’s a good size for normal use without being too bulky.

          But I’d buy a GX first anyway, though it’s more car than I’d need.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            I love the GX, even with the spindle-grille. It’s so delightfully old-school, and you just know it’ll last. Of course, a GX will run you much more than a Grand Cherokee.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I’d have a 3 year old GX without spindle before I’d purchase a new GC! All day long.

        • 0 avatar
          davewg

          What I can’t figure out…the Durango built on the same line as the GC and with much of the same electronic infrastructure does not seem to have the same ails…

          We have a ’14 and no real issues to speak of.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            You’re right. That is weird. The Durango is on the same Benz platform and everything, just with a longer-wheelbase. One thing the Durango may not have is the Grand Cherokee’s series of semi-rugged 4WD systems.

            But I’ve seen lots of electronics complaints and poor ratings regarding the Dart, Charger, 300, Cherokee and 200, too. Of course, that’s not to say that every unit will be unreliable, so I’m glad yours has served you well.

        • 0 avatar
          ItsMeMartin

          Hey Kyree, what went wrong with your X5? You seem to have gotten rid of it quite fast, if I remember correctly.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            It was all constantly broken, like used BMWs tend to be.

          • 0 avatar
            ItsMeMartin

            So I thought. I just wonder if it was just the electronics or were the mechanicals just as bad.
            It’s interesting to me because if it was just the electronics then you could somehow mitigate the problem by buying the most basic version (the only reasonable way to have a large European car, in my opinion) but if it’s the powertrain that’s acting out then there’s not much you can do.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            It was all electronics. The iDrive system needed to be completely replaced, for example. But those electronics are integrated into the car’s mechanical functions. Like, it would constantly lose connection with the steering-angle sensor, which would throw up a 4×4 error, and deactivate the chassis and stability control, as well as the power steering…and put me in limp mode. I also had the electronic tilt-telescoping steering column drop to the seat and refuse to move. Once the radio went on full-blast and I had to disconnect the battery to get it to stop. And the key would first lose Comfort Access functions, then the car would completely forget the key and wouldn’t authorize a start. There were, like, 12 other things.

          • 0 avatar
            ItsMeMartin

            Damn, that X5 gives a new meaning to the term “unreliability”. Luckily you had the VW to fall back on.
            I pity the dude that has this sick puppy under his roof now.
            Makes me wonder why the German big three is held in such high esteem here in Europe.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            The X5 has never been the paragon of trouble-free motoring, nor has anything else graced with the blue-and-white propeller logo, but I do think there was something particularly wrong with that individual X5, because the issues I experienced were outside the norm. And it had low miles, too. If it weren’t for the CarMax warranty that covered all the repairs…

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    Must… resist commenting… on… insane 12-18mo car turnover…

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Infinity G37 or Q40, whatever they ended up finally calling it. Good performance, reliable, up-gradable for track day.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      I think Cgjeep has a winner, also I assume this is 40K Canadian which does change things as Cars are very pricey up there. , car can fit kids, and be tracked, fun to drive comes in AWD and looks good a serious grown up car and that sounds like what he is looking for, and in 18 months he should be fine selling it esp if he went CPO and had someone else take the first hit. I would also suggest the newest GTI, not sure which one he had in teh past front wheel drive w snows fine for Canada, they can be tones down w a color choice and room for kids and w a 18 month time line he will be in warranty for all the VW haters out there.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    335i is available in AWD with the 6 speed…. better balanced than the S4 and better looking too IMO.

    Here is a dark horse though. How does an E90 M3 handle with snow tires on the fluffy stuff?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The S4 and 335i x are both out of his price range new. Maybe used – and maintenance is no issue if he changes cars that often.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      ” How does an E90 M3 handle with snow tires on the fluffy stuff?”

      Don’t know but what a good pair of snows it should be fine. The E90 M3 is a dark horse but I think it could be a really good choice. No direct injection, so no HPFP worries. Powered by a NA, high revving, race engineered V8 so it will be stout enough to handle track days and whatever else you can throw at it.

      It’s the most reliable M in recent history. That being said, it’s still an “M” and if it has issues they most likely won’t be cheap.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        Here’s the ding on the E90 if you’ve got kids in booster seats – the space between where their feet are and the front seats is basically enough for them to wind up a good soccer kick.

      • 0 avatar
        Reino

        All BMW cars handle incredibly in snow with proper winter tires. Any slip that makes it past the tire is taken care of by DTC. I have a 5 with sport suspension and it mobs.

  • avatar
    tedward

    I think it all depends on transmission preference. Judging by the previously owned cars I’d guess the op is a manual driver, which removes a few of your recommendations from consideration. Great list though, I almost entirely agree.

    Focus rs or golf r. These are basically same same. The ford has more advertised power, a software suite set up for sideways and non-esp torque vectoring on the rear axle. The golf has a way nicer interior and exterior, a greater rear torque bias and will be less expensive for the forsee able future. No wrong choice there, I just wouldn’t want a first few months allocation on the rs, because common sense (old block but new turbo).

    Wrx not sti. A guy I know is literally trading down to a wrx bc he hates the sti during normal to sporty real world driving. He only enjoys it at full felony attack.

    Scat pack. Well sure if the op likes big, but previous cars don’t support that guess. Great car though.

    Lexus, manual available?

  • avatar
    Fordson

    New IS-300? With a detuned 3.5L making 255 hp and 236 lb/ft pushing 3,737 pounds of sedan through the last-gen 6-speed autobox/AWD driveline that will subtract 20% driveline loss?

    That IS-300? Yeah – great suggestion.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Petulance!

      Fordson, we all know each other’s online personalities enough by now that I feel comfortable in asking whether your primary problem with Bark’s suggestion is that it wasn’t German. So how about a lightly used IS350 AWD to solve the hp problem? Good enough? Or still not German enough?

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        Actually, while Lexus has been soldiering away with the IS-350 for like 10 years with no improvements in engine output, a RWD IS-350 would not have been a bad choice.

        The IS-200 has proven to be an under-performer. It lags the 300 by 14 hp, but beats it by 22 lb/ft of torque, but the engine is lighter and the car can be had in RWD form, which makes the whole car lighter and with better weight distribution, and comes with two more ratios in the transmission, as does the RWD IS-350. Meh…not horrible.

        The problem with the suggestion of an IS-300 to this guy with an occasional kid-carrying need and who is a track-day enthusiast is that it’s the heaviest, slowest, worst-weight-distribution, version of the IS line. It’s a reduced-power, market-place-holder that makes less power and torque on premium fuel than the same basic engine does in a Camry burning regular.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          That’s fair enough.

          The IS200 holds as little interest to me as the equally slow and overpriced 320i. But has anyone formally tested an IS300? With AWD to quell wheelspin, I wonder if it is closer to Camry V6 acceleration than the hp numbers would suggest.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      I’ll actually agree with you on the IS300. It does seem like a bit of a placeholder. If I’m going to suffer the gas mileage penalty that the car comes with, I’m gonna need all 306 horses. I’ve had my RWD 350 for nearly a year, and I’ve never cracked 19MPG on a single tank of gas. But I’ve had a crap ton of fun driving it.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Do we have to pick just 1 vehicle? I am proposing he find a Buick Roadmaster and a Miata – both in the best shape he can find/afford, plus a trailer. If Miata doesn’t float his boat, maybe a C5 Corvette?

  • avatar
    hubcap

    What the fiddlesticks is wrong with you people. The OP stated what he owned previously and what he wants and some people just can’t help themselves.

    We’ve had suggestions of a LS460?, a Ford Flex?, a minivan?, to remain clear of Detroit trash?, and even a pseudo comment from a financial adviser.

  • avatar
    tremorcontrol

    Volvo V60 R Design with the optional built-in booster seats (until the kids get big and that stupidly short back seat space no longer works). Not going to be hauling super-large items, but it’s got some flexibility.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    New AWD Ford Fusion Sport with 2.7L ecoboost. Don’t know, but can’t imagine it’s track ready out of the box, but it can’t be worse on a track than a Charger.

    New car warranty, not embarrasing to park at work, AWD, fast, room for kids.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    I will offer the same observation as last time – the OP seems to be trying to use his choice of a ride to signal to the world that he is a serious adult.

    From the description of his general station in life, I’m seeing a thirty-something guy, so why the need to look like Mr. Solid Citizen?

    As old(er) farts like me know, the need to signal maturity by one’s choice of car shows that one’s maturation process has not completed yet. Which of course is not a crime.

    OP, if you need a larger car than the Fiesta ST for your kids’ booster seats, I’m with ya – but just get the best car for the task you have at hand, as you’ve described it, and forget about the serious-and-mature deal. Nobody cares – really.

  • avatar
    NoID

    2015 Mazda5 Touring with the optional manual transmission. Use the money you save to purchase and install select Mazdaspeed3 bits to make it more track-able. if you’re feeling especially wild and foolish, import a folding middle seat from Europe or Japan to make it a 7 seater.

    Live my dream.

  • avatar
    01 Deville

    AWD V60 T5

    Might be able to find a polestar used under 40 but they are harder to ge.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    For under $40K, a NEW Mazda CX-9 AWD or a USED Grand Cherokee SRT8 AWD. Both are a blast to drive!

    • 0 avatar
      johnny_5.0

      Can’t tell if serious about CX-9…

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I am serious. My #2 son was in the same predicament and opted for a CX-9 as the family mobile, while at the same time trying to hold on to his 2006 Mustang 4.6GT, which he did by trading off his wife’s Toyota Corolla for the CX-9.

        He had two cars and living in San Diego, CA, on a CHiP’s pay, with a mortgage payment, was all he could afford.

        He told me the CX-9 (back then) was a blast to drive, Zoom Zoom, and the new one is supposed to be even better.

        • 0 avatar
          Fordson

          A CX-9 or an SRT8 GC? So is this to TOW the actual track-day car to the track? Or is the transition from 2600-lb. Fiesta ST to a 5000-lb SUV with 425 hp supposed to signify his emergence as an adult?

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Yup, HDC is back.
            It’s been a tough week for us without the usual comments out of right field, off-topic anecdotes about his time in the service, anti-immigrant rants, claims of love for Toyota pickups, exposes on the issues with owning a JGC, and tips on buying Hyundais and abortions for grandchildren.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Huh? We were supposed to read those?

            Crap, probably on the test, too.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Jordan wrote,

            “I am looking to get into something different; perhaps more mature. The proposed dad-mobile would need to serve as occasional kid hauler (two booster seats), summer commuter, and track day toy (three to five weekend events a year). With a budget up to $40,000 and an eye toward a more serious car, I would love to hear your insights on balancing the conflict between the inner boy racer and the outer family man.”

            The JGC SRT8 would satisfy that want and need.

            The CX-9 has got to be one of the most fun-to-drive “mature” SUVs on the road. If too big and bulky, how about the CX-5? Or and even smaller 3.

            Those Mazda cars are engineered with driving fun in mind – ask anyone who ever owned a Mazda product.

            And if Jordan trades every 12-18 months, why not sample shop? Try them out for size before deciding.

            It would be interesting to learn what Jordan finally ends up deciding to buy.

            My money is on the JGC SRT8.

    • 0 avatar
      johnny_5.0

      There’s a world of difference between being quick and being legitimately fun on a track (or even a spirited drive on a good road). A BMW X6M would absolutely rape a FiST in almost any performance metric. Even it’s peak cornering capability is insane for what it is due to the ludicrous size rubber it wears. The FiST is the only one of those two I’d want to track or take up a winding pass. Fast SUV/CUV != track car.

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    We have three children and solve this problem with 3 cars. We have a 7 seater that waits forlornly for its occasional use – none of us like to drive the whale. We have a Prius C that we fight over because its small, maneuverable and economical. Three kids fit in the back seat fine for short trips. And we have an old M3 for track duty and fun, which can also carry three kids.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    If you want to spend MUCH less than 40k and you’re ok with driving a wagon, check out a 2008 or 09 BMW 535xi wagon with a sport package. And a manual. You may have to wait for one to hit the market, but it’s worth it.

    A few reasons why you might want to consider spending less than 40k on the part time family hauler. Despite all intentions and your best efforts, your kids will eat raisins, M&M’s, Joe’s O’s, apples, gummy bears and all assorted treats in the back seat. Those treats will petrify like a California Redwood and will permanently affix themselves to seats, floor mats and the carpeting underneath the mats. You will also not likely wash this car or have it washed and cleaned as often as you think.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      Great car, but I’m not sure how much fun it would be at a track day unless you’re using it to tow a go kart.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “…your kids will eat raisins, M&M’s, Joe’s O’s, apples, gummy bears and all assorted treats in the back seat.”

      Yeah, I remember those days. Though you didn’t mention the wonderful odor that comes from a dropped bottle of milk that leaks between the seats and roasts in the Florida sun. Joy!

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      I dunno – my best efforts resulted in my kid not being allowed to eat or drink in the car, and he never missed it.

      Now, if the kid is making the rules, this strategy won’t work.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Bingo. My toddlers didn’t eat in my car unless on road trips. Therefore the upholstery looks new, the car doesn’t stink, and the infrequent vacuuming brought on by busy parenthood isn’t a big deal.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    Subaru WRX/STI or Golf r. Both are extremely faat

  • avatar
    Arminius

    Golf R – First it has hatchback practicality which is important if you have to haul around two kids and their stuff. I had a GTI with two little kids and had no issues with car seats. This puts it in competition with the STI and RS. Both of which have more HP and are more track focused than the R. However the R strikes me as a car for grown ups with a more understated exterior (big wings looks silly at the country club) and nicer interior.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    Subaru WRX/STI or Golf r are both extremely fast, safe, and fun to drive. The Subaru will have a better resale value in 3-4 years. But, both are Street legal race cars. Both can also be used for track day or family day. The Lexus models are also a good option. Yet they seem a little to over weight and old man like compared to the WRX/STI and Golf r.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      +1 for the WRX. Great car and a great value. If you don’t want a moonroof you can get one in the mid 20s in the U.S. (not sure about Canada).

      They’re fast, fun, and safe and you get Subie’s AWD for those Canadian winters.

      Some say it loos kinda juvenile. I don’t agree.

  • avatar
    pghmike

    +1 on the 335.

    I picked up an ’08 335xi manual in ’11. It fits 2 convertible car seats and still a blast to drive. It’s been on the autocross track a bunch of times.

    Only expensive to fix if you pay someone else to do it. Two things:
    1. Dump the runflats
    2. Wastegates will turn to crap, so make sure has been or can be fixed under the 8yr/82k warranty extension for the wastegate rattle.

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    Problem solved .. it’s PERFECT.

    http://www.holden.com.au/cars/commodore/sportwagon-range/ss-v-redline

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      As usual, your recommendation is irrelevant.

      Not as usual, it’s not even available on the continent in which the OP resides.

      • 0 avatar
        Alfisti

        No shit sherlock, ’tis was a post in jest.

        obvious solution is a CTS-V wagon but severely over priced.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          It’s hard to tell when you’re 50/50 sincere/trolley all the time.

          • 0 avatar
            VW16v

            Corey, I would not be pointing fingers are others trolling. You are basically the definition of the website troll.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Cool story. Tell me more about how using the word love in a sentence implies gayness.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            “You are basically the definition of the website troll.”

            More Corey Trolls, please!

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Corey,
            That’s not true at all. Just because my best friend and I both tell eachother that we love eachother, that doesn’t make us gay. I mean, sure, we like to wrestle sometimes, and I’ll admit that it’s led to some extra-curriculars once in a while, but it wasn’t in a gay way at all.

            Not that there’s anything wrong with that! I mean, it’s fine. It’s 100% fine. I just don’t happen to go that way.

            Wait. Why are we talking about this?
            Corey!!!!!

          • 0 avatar
            VW16v

            Corey, its OK. If trolling someone down for their comments gives you pleasure. Keep it up. I like the site and every click keeps this site going.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            There are two things of which men can never really be convinced:

            1) When our snoring is constant and horrendous.

            2) When we’re being dumb as mud.

            We’re just not conscious of either happening. Fortunately, one of those can be cured with a CPAP.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          He said he didn’t like the CTS-V wagon.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        The version of this car that is available here was the first recommendation in this thread.

  • avatar
    stroker49

    S60 Polestar

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    Volvo V60 CC, XC70, XC60, XC90…OR a used Mercedes Benz E Class AMG wagon.

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    I fit 3 car seats across the back of my 2016 Challenger Scat Pack.

    *drops the mic*

    Seriously though this car has two front facing seats, one at each side, and an infant seat in the center with no problem. My wife and I still have plenty of room in the front, and the trunk is enormous to boot (see what I did there).

  • avatar
    pulverizer

    2012-13 MB C63 Sedan?
    Can be found just under 40K CAD, so can 2010-2011 IS-F.

    Doesn’t sound like it needs to drive in the winter or very many miles, so RWD and low fuel economy might not matter much. Both “Serious” cars that would work on the track and hold kids in safety.

  • avatar
    johnny_5.0

    Basically any 2+2 your heart desires. If your needs are really as listed and this is just an occasional kid hauler and they are already in boosters, there are plenty of coupes that would qualify. A Mustang with a rear facing car seat is terrible. Two boosters is easy. The reality is probably that this needs to be much more family friendly than described.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Bark took the good answers. FoRS or STI if you can get whoever defines “serious” on board, IS 350 if not. If I can join the shark jumping contingent I’ll say used Prius & used Miata with spare $ spent on safety for the track car. Even when the kids aren’t in the car, thier only dad is.

  • avatar
    meefer

    Last gen IS-F, M5. Current M3.

  • avatar
    tedward

    I feel like an idiot for not thinking of this sooner. How about a nicely kept 996? It is nearly a perfect car to daily/track, it’s massively undervalued, it’s successor (despite the hype) is not really much better, and they are not actually unreliable. Best of all it represents a clear escalation of your past vehicular lineup but still stays on theme.

    The ims stuff is a rare issue that is easily dealt with as a second owner and the reputation issues largely stem from an owner base unused to mechanical change at the time of its release.

    A buddy of mine dailies a cayman s in co, texting him today reminded me of this thread. Plus you can always get awd if you must. All versions are available with a manual.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    Buy RX-8 with blown motor for $2000.

    Remove Renesis and front subframe.
    Sell engine parts/gearbox/random stuff off car. $1000 credit.
    Sell subframe to mentally unbalanced MX-5 owner who wants a RX-5. $500 credit.

    Install NC MX-5 subframe. Direct bolt-in so no fab necessary. ~$800

    Install 2.3L Ecoboost (or 2.3L L3-VDT from MazdaSpeed3, less power but cheaper) with your choice of MX-5 or Mustang gearbox. ~$5000
    (Take a hammer to the firewall to clear the high-pressure fuel pump. May need 2.0L MZR or custom oil pan to clear subframe.)

    Figure out exhaust, intake, power steering, ABS, ECM. $5000

    Tune. $1000.

    Suspension by Shaikh at FatCat Motorsports $2500.

    Total cost (pulled out of my ass but probably not too far off) < $15000 for daily-drivable track toy.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Buy Rx8 with blown engine.

      Pull engine and toss it, sell trans for $500.

      Purchase LSx with trans, computer and harness from wrecking yard. $3000

      Purchase LS swap kit $2250. http://www.ls1rx8.com/ls-conversion-kits.html

      Misc parts $500

      Spend 20-30 hrs removing old and installing new and bam you have a daily driveable track toy for under $7500 and those are not numbers I pulled out of my ass.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Cobalt SS Turbo Sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Hey isn’t there a Verano Turbo six speed manual up for sale at the right price?

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        There just may be!

        But remember how the Cobalt SS Turbo was the surprise auto-journo handling darling, punching above its weight at the annual VIR Lightning Lap? Yeah the Verano is a fat, wallowy, highway car. It wouldn’t suit track day duty one bit.

  • avatar
    SOneThreeCoupe

    E36 (1997 and 1998) M3 sedan.

    Bulletproof engine, large aftermarket, known problems that don’t cost an arm and a leg to fix. Fun to drive, great steering, good brakes.

    They’re not stupid fast, but they’re well-known to make decent drivers look good and good drivers look great

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    This post and thread is rapidly turning into a TTAC classic.
    .
    .
    .
    Just do what Jack did.

  • avatar
    SaigonDesign

    Look at a CPO 2013-2014 GS350 F-Sport or even an IS350 F-Sport. Don’t let them sucker you in with the 200t or even the 250 – they’re dogs.

    Get the 3.5L – it’s a gem.

    The GS is a nice luxury car that’ll give you cred at formal situations, but the F-Sport will give you sport cred (and it looks better than the standard GS, in my opinion). I recommend the RWD version but spare some change for the staggered wheel/tire setup (the AWD version has 4 standard sets). If you can, look for the Variable Steering Package for added track oomph.

    You can get a CPO 2013 GS350 F-Sport (RWD) for $35 – 38k (quoted to me by my Lexus guy 2 weeks ago in Maryland. YMMV). A 2014 should be around your $40k ballpark.

    Why a Lexus? Dead reliable (the 3.5L has been around for a while), luxurious, gorgeous inside (huge 12.3″ infotainment screen, shame about that Lexus Enform suite though), big enough for 2 kid seats (I checked), and will hold its value, and hold together, for years.

    Biggest downside – no manual, but the flappy paddle gearbox works well in S+ Mode, and it’s not the most engaging of performers. BUT, it will never leave you stranded by the roadside a la used German stuff, and it should pass muster with the wife.

    Good luck!

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Bark,
    Even though your selection of vehicles are nice they are quite restrictive.

    First the best possible vehicle would be a diesel Colorado in a short wheel base. It will more than exceed the speed limit and you’ll be able to educate your kids and offer them a lifestyle no self indulging hot rod could ever offer.

    You can take them camping, fishing, off roading, down to the beach. It can also be used to move the many items that a typical middle class life entails.

    If a pickup isn’t your “thing” then the next best is a Porch Cayenne. With a twin turbo V8.

    This will still do pretty much what the pickup will do except lug a fridge in the back.

    It will do 0-60mph in around 4 seconds as well.

    So, overall the Cayenne is your best possible bet, not one of those vehicles you listed above. If the Cayenne is just to expensive then the diesel Colorado.

  • avatar
    swissfreek

    As an owner I admit I’m biased, and I know that VW is somewhat persona-non-grata these days, but I can’t help but wonder: you recommended both the Focus RS and the STi, then said that both of them are a little boy-racer and not exactly “serious” cars. So what about the Golf R? Price and performance-wise it’s right there with both of the other two, it’s a hatchback so you’ve got usable space, it fits two cars seats (that’s how mine is set up). And it definitely looks more grown-up than either of the other two.

    I bought my R looking for the exact same thing the OP wanted: something I could use as the daily driver that was sporty (more than a little but not necessarily mental) but could also take the kids around town and so on, and not look like a HotWheels toy. I think it meets those requirements perfectly, especially in “sleeper” gray.

    Just saying. Yeah we are all hating on VW right now but if you’re looking at that class of car (STi, Focus RS), you should at least take a gander at the Golf R. These days I’m betting it’ll be the easiest of the three to find in stock, too…

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      The Golf R would be a good choice. IMO, a better one would be a WRX. Some say they look boy racer. I don’t see that. If anything they’re a bot restrained.

      A WRX can be had in the mid 20s. A lot less money for a little less performance. The OP could take that extra cash and do something interesting, like learn to fly a plane.

      Just a thought.

  • avatar
    Sam Hell Jr

    Somebody at Acura read this and had a good cry. So I’ll try to make them feel better and suggest something in the SH-AWD family. A used late-model TL would be a good fit; lots of luck finding one with a stick if that’s your bag.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      The SH-AWD TL was a great car mechanically, but it takes a lot to get past the aesthetics, and I’m not sure it would ever sate the appetite of someone who wants to take their car to track days.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    I think VoGo has the right idea with multiple cars, though I’m not sure about a Roadmaster. $40k is a generous budget, does this really have to be one car to do it all, or is that only to make this more challenging?

    It’s a short-term ownership period, so what about leasing? I’m not sure how Jordan’s $40k budget for purchasing would translate to acceptable monthly lease payments, but maybe an M235i?


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