By on August 3, 2015

IMG_0703 (Large)

This week’s “Ask Bark” comes from a reader who wants to know if he should prolong his Volkswagen-related madness or start new Volkswagen-related madness.

Bark,

I have read your articles. I like your style. I know about the fact people ask you for advice on what car to get and then completely ignore it. You’ve said you won’t respond to that question anymore. I’m about to ask the same question. (WHY GOD WHY??? — Bark) But I really do want your answer.

Fine … here we go.

About me: I’m 32 years old. A lot of my friends and colleagues have BMWs (I’m a software engineer). Most of them don’t use their BMWs for all that they could be; it’s mostly a badge engineering thing.

I consider myself knowledgeable about cars, but fairly relaxed about them as well. I know how to drive a manual, but I’m not great at it.

I live near downtown Seattle and spend a lot of time in traffic commuting to work (20 minutes to an hour away).

I’m 6’3″ and 200 lbs with a physically fit frame. In cars, I tend not to be able to see traffic lights when I’m the first one in line. Trucks tend to not fit in the parking garages nearby me in downtown.

I’ve owned a lot of vehicles (some old and some brand new) and, while I’m very fiscally conservative, I find I go through vehicles every 3 years, so I haven’t really done all that well financially with automobiles. My cars in order have been a 1996 Prelude SI, a 2005 Acura RSX Type-S, a 2007 Toyota Tundra, a 1992 Nissan pickup, a 2007 Honda Pilot and a 2001 VW Passat GLX 4Motion. I liked the RSX the best as it was actually very roomy (love hatchbacks!) and the engine was great, but really didn’t have it all that long because I bought a boat that I needed to haul around. Then I lost my job and started over for a bit before buying the Pilot in an attempt to haul my boat but get better gas mileage (it didn’t). I went with the Passat because the Pilot was actually a lemon, the boat has long since been sold and I wanted something cheap that could get me to the mountains for snowboarding while I paid up my 401k.

Now onto my question (Whew, I was worried that I had missed it in there somewhere).

Fast forward to today, my 401k is happy with my current slot in life and I’m comfortable in the Passat, but it’s getting a little long in the tooth. While it has been fairly reliable, unlike what most people think of when they think of VWs, it is still a VW and the maintenance is not cheap. I did the math and it has cost me $3,600 in maintenance over the last 12 months (an engine leak, new tires, spark plugs, wires, brake fluids, transmission flush and oil changes/filters at independent shops rather than the dealer). The previous 12 months (actually 15 months) I owned two vehicles so I don’t have good math as it wasn’t a daily driver. Over the next 12 months I expect a little less, but it’s coming up on needing new brakes all around and what if the old VW curse comes for me.

So, being a guy who likes to try new things, getting a newer car that costs the same or less than I’m spending already makes a ton of sense for me. I’ve come to the realization that I’m never going to be the guy that buys a car and keeps it for 10 years (me either). I’m too fickle for that. I’m not opposed to leasing but I’m also a cheapskate when it comes to leasing. I’d rather pay more a month to consider something mine and be able to sell it later.

I’ve heard multiple sources say you can lease a Jetta for $100 a month right now. A Jetta doesn’t really excite too much (AWD, hatchbacks, all electrics, roofless vehicles and Apple car play excite me much more), but it’s brand new, the reviews aren’t terrible on the 1.8T, the gas mileage is way better and the maintenance should be null. I’m really into the idea of the Model 3 coming out but that’s not for a while longer and I’m tired of being patient.

Doing the math of $100 a month plus a few grand down seems cost-effective from my current standpoint. So all this wordiness being said: Is the Jetta 1.8T with a few added options a better car than a 2001 VW Passat V-6 4Motion? Are there any other cars you would suggest based on my desire to own it for three years and keep the costs lower than $3,000 a year? Should I go buy another RSX and relive my ricer days without any mods this time around?

Sincerely,

A Man Who Should Be Committed (He has a real name, but that’s what I’ve decided to call him based on this letter)

All kidding aside, thank you for your e-mail, sir.

OK, there’s several things to consider here. First of all, thanks for demonstrating the reality of the Modern Day Car Shopper. You’ve owned a hatchback, a couple of pickup trucks and an all-wheel-drive, 14-year-old sedan. Now you’re considering an econobox, or maybe another older hatch. People think that most car shoppers have it narrowed down to just one or two models, but all of the research available today suggests otherwise. In fact, most people actually expand their search to more cars and models as they get closer to the actual purchase event — which is exactly what’s happening here.

Now, let’s talk about your actual question. Is the Jetta 1.8T better than a 2001 VW Passat V6 4Motion? Only in the sense that nearly any 2015 car is going to be better than a vehicle from 2001. The new Jetta is not a particularly fun car to wheel, but the 1.8T at least makes it bearable.

The problem is that I can’t find anything like a $100 a month lease on the 1.8T (I’m sure the B&B will prove me wrong immediately) — it’s the base 2.0 liter engine, manual transmission variety that has the $139 a month lease special with $2,199 down, $1,000 VW cash, and a dealer contribution of $2,167. Trust me when I say that you’re not going to want anything to do with a 2.0. I had that same motor in my MkIII Jetta back in 1994, and it’s not any faster today than it was then.

The 1.8T looks closer to $197 a month with $2,000 down (which is the approximate value of your trade). To get it down to the magic $100 a month, you’re going to have to float a couple grand of additional cash above and beyond your trade. However, VW dealers aren’t exactly ringing the register with any great regularity nowadays, so they might be willing to increase their dealer contribution a little more than usual.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of putting money down on a lease. I’ve done three leases in my day, and I never put down a single dime above and beyond whatever customer cash and/or rebates were available at the time. There’s not much, if any, financial advantage to doing so unless you’ve come into some money and you’re prone to letting cash burn a hole in your pocket. I’d put your trade on the table (or, if you’re not in a hurry, sell it privately for a few hundred more) and that’s it.

The second part of your question: Are there other, better cars that would cost you less than $3,000 a year for the next three years? Abso-effing-lutely, especially given your preference for hatches. At the very same lot where they’re struggling to pay the electric bills, the Golf 1.8T is leasing for $219 a month with the $1,999 down. If you like hatchbacks and VWs, why not get the Golf?

Or how about a Focus? They’re putting $2,000 on the hood right now. You can get a Titanium hatch for less than three grand a year with your trade-in. In fact, you can damn near get an ST. Or, if you’d rather buy, you can get a Focus SE hatch for about $235 a month on a 0 percent, 72-month buy (which is exactly what I’d probably do — whine away about long-term loans, haters).

So here’s the Tough Love portion of this post: Life is too short and money is too precious to spend a freaking cent of it on a car that “doesn’t excite” or of which the reviews “aren’t terrible.” You make good money, you have a good job — why are you punishing yourself? Spend some of that money on something that does excite during that dreadful Seattle commute (my office used to be in Bellevue, so I totally get it). You’re going to be in your car upward of two hours per day sometimes. You like hatchbacks. Why not get one? Besides, the Jetta interior is not a particularly pleasant place to spend that much time, even if it does come with modern conveniences like Bluetooth. Your purchase history doesn’t suggest that you’d be happy in one.

Regarding your RSX idea: When I was your age, making what was probably similar money to what you make now, I realized that I needed to grow up a bit and get a sedan. So I bought a Pontiac G8 GT. If I’d had even the slightest bit of patience with that car, I could still be driving it now and it would still be worth about what I got when I traded it. Alas, I wasn’t. Sometimes I see a G8 GT on the road and I get a little sad that I don’t have one — until I remember that it had major mechanical issues that caused me to be without it for months at a time. Yet, the further I get away from actually having had to drive a Chevy HHR rental for a month because of a parts availability issue, the more I romanticize the idea of the G8 in my mind. Sigh.

Where was I? Oh, right. Buying an RSX. Yeah, don’t do that. The amount of money those things pull on the used car market is downright mind-boggling. Your monthly payment over 36 months for what is now a 10-year-old car would be equal to or greater than a 36-month lease payment on any number of hatches that are just downright better. Yes, at the end of it, you would own it, but at the end of it, you’d also now own a 13-year-old car.

So, here’s the Bark-approved final answer: Don’t get a Jetta 1.8T. Don’t get another RSX. I am really trying hard not to recommend leasing a Fiesta ST, mostly because I don’t think you’d enjoy the harsh suspension and the manual transmission on that commute. So here’s what I’d do: Go drive both a Golf 1.8T automatic (since you apparently have a little VW thing going on) and a Focus Titanium automatic — which are two very different cars — and pick whichever one suits your driving style better. Or, if you can’t stomach the idea of leasing a car for that much money, drive the Focus SE hatch and work the numbers on buying one of those over 72 with 0-percent financing.

Over to you, B&B!

Send your “Ask Bark” questions to [email protected] Bark really has nothing else better to do than answer your questions. I mean, there’s the whole “parenting” thing, and there’s also his actual job. So, maybe he has couple of better things to do than answer your questions, but he’ll do it anyway.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

85 Comments on “Ask Bark: Should I Lease a Jetta?...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Should I Lease a Jetta?”

    No. Btw how do you go from straight Japanese to VW? No seriously how does that even happen?

    @Bark

    “I mean, there’s the whole “parenting” thing, and there’s also his actual job. So, maybe he has couple of better things to do than answer your questions, but he’ll do it anyway.”

    Geez kids parent themselves these days with the internet and all. Oh and “actual work” Pwleeze, when’s the last time it did anything for you?

  • avatar
    hf_auto

    My recent car purchase experience might be relevant as I also partake in the dreaded Seattle commute (from Ravenna to Renton through downtown).

    I initially wanted something fun & sporty (e.g. my old R32 and E90 328i). To shorten an 18 month odyssey, I came to the conclusion that a fun car in 5mph Seattle traffic is just frustrating. My search turned to finding something comfortable, with a good stereo where I can just sit and relax for an hour. I eventually landed on the Mercedes W212 E350. Good reliability, good mpg, massaging seats, great stereo, panoramic roof, nice old-school style and they’ve depreciated like crazy. My fully loaded 4matic 2012 with 28k miles and 2 years of CPO warranty set me back $31k (msrp was $68k). The commute has been awesome- recline the seat a bit, turn on the massage, and enjoy some music. It’s probably the most relaxing part of my day.

    I can drive my wife’s GTI for fun, or grab a Miata someday.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Nailed it!

      Having driven in Seattle traffic, don’t kid yourself with a MT as a DD. I would go with the most comfort you can afford that works within the boundaries of your finances.

      Two hours a day in a Jetta = I hate myself. Go rent one for a week and get back to us on how you feel about spending the next three years in stop and go traffic.

      You might consider a hard loaded near new Buick Enclave as well, not sure if it will fit your price point but they are not a bad place to spend a lot of time doing nothing.

  • avatar
    omer333

    I second that emotion about the Jetta interior. When i was car shopping before getting my Dart (sigh), I test-drove a base 1.8T/5MT and despised every second I was in the car. It was an unhappy place to be.

    And what’s crazy is I test-drove a base-model Mazda3 sedan with the 2.0/6MT (I believe that’s the SV trim), in what is essentially the automotive equivalent of “four walls and a roof” and loved being in that car. Yes it had A/C and a stereo and not much else, but it didn’t matter, the interior wasn’t depressing and the way the car drove, you didn’t feel like you were being punished for going with the cheapest car you could afford.

  • avatar
    slance66

    I concur with @hf_auto. I’m still trying to replace my E90 328xi. Comfort matters. It’s the whole reason I’m getting rid of the BMW. Pothole explosions are maddening.

    To prove Barks point about shopping, I’ve driven over 15 different kinds of cars. My wife calls the car I’m shopping for a “unicorn”. The reality now, is I’m down to two, a Lexus GS350 awd or a Grand Cherokee Limited. Used in 2013 and 2014 vintages respectively the price is the same. I guarantee you I’m not the only one cross shopping SUV/CUVs with sedans or luxury models with non luxury names.

    Since the OP goes to the mountains to snowboard, I’d suggest a Mazda CX-5 touring, lightly used (but with the 2.5). It’s a hatch too.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      It would seem that unless you’re shopping for a vehicle with a certain seat capacity, you’re going to cross shop vehicles that wouldn’t make sense on paper.

      For example, you’re single and look at the new Miata, C-class, 3 series or a Jeep.

      Cross shopping for many people is more about lifestyle than it is about a sedan or 4 x 4.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    This dude is insane, insane but most importantly, 32 years old!

    Go try a Golf and enjoy one of the last cars with an actual greenhouse.

  • avatar

    Most of the $100 and lower advertisements for Jetta’s include a higher amount for cash down and specify exactly 1 stock number which is stripped completely and has the 2.0. Once you divide out the higher down payment, it comes in closer to $145-150 per month and that still requires excellent credit which many buyers that are looking at a car like that may not have. A combination of a lower credit rating and wanting 12k or 15k miles instead of the 10k that’s included in the deal will usually bring the monthly payment north of $200 which is in the same territory as the vehicles mentioned above which will give you a much less miserable ownership experience.

  • avatar
    meefer

    TL:DR Top Gear maths: Get a Fiat 500 Abarth.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      @meefer – obviously, I love me some Abarth. But even I would not drive a stick through Seattle every day. Of course, what I would do is buy the Abarth and figure out how to work from home!

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Cannot second any recommendation for a Focus automatic. The automatic in a Focus is a bad DCT. Jerky and likely maintenance-intensive. A manual Focus Titanium would not be a bad recommendation for someone who liked his RSX.

    But my thinking is that this guy is really a Golf 1.8T buyer. He likes hatches, keeps cars about the length of a warranty period, and has a nasty commute which warrants some degree of comfort. The Golf is bigger inside than the Focus and more comfortable, although it’s not available with the same level of goodies as the Titanium.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    The Golf has been racking up “location car of the year” awards left and right. Jetta…. not so much. The choice is obvious.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I HAVE GOT AN ALTERNATE IDEA.

    You’re clearly okay with VW, and German cars. And you’re okay with hatches and enjoy that idea as well. So my recommendation is something else Euro and affordable, and hatchy and cool, and suitable for single software dude living in Seattle.

    Volvo C30.

    Don’t lease a Jetta, that’s gross.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Only trouble with the C30 is you cant get it with 4-doors, they are fine looking cars though.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Hmm, really? I feel like the transverse Haldex AWD is where you get into trouble with Volvos. That, and V8 engines.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          That’s what you get for practicing voodoo.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          (Original unedited post was something on FWD Volos being unreliable, for the curious)

          I can’t speak from personal experience other than one ’96 850.

          But I have a friend whos had a later 850 turbo model and just this year a Volvo S80, both cost him an arm and a leg for countless electrical issues, AWD system not working of course. suspension, stuff like that.

          Between Swedes its all kinds of other turbo cars, after the S80 he grabbed a used Audi TT so we’ll see how that works out.

          In the end the keys to get the right one though, one thats been serviced, even HondaYotas can become moneypits (good cars, very shady flippers).

    • 0 avatar
      zaxxon25

      I have a ’13 C30 with ~24K on the clock so far, it’s been a fun and reliable ride so far. However for this gentleman’s dimensions the interior space may be too limiting, it is very tiny inside. Haven’t had any mechanical issues other than the brakes being a little weak for my taste. LTQI likes the nearest comparable (S40) and the forums don’t point out any consistent mechanical weaknesses so I think you’d be safe, at least for an additional 3/36K to 4/48K on a lightly used 2/24K version.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    For a cheap ride-$129/mo- 2015 Fusions are in excess supply and since 2016 Fusions offer no real improvements the 2015’s offer a better deal.
    http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/best-car-deals/Ford-Deals/

    At least they did, thru 7/31/15.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Yeah, but who the hell wants put money down a lease, besides the first month’s payment?

      • 0 avatar

        Freedmike,
        You’re spending the same(maybe)whether you pay up front or not.Why not spend a chunk up front and have lower monthly payments. Interest rates on savings and CDs are miniscule, and chances of making money in the stock market w/a couple thousand dollars are just that-pretty chancy.
        Think gas,groceries,taxes,rent,cable,internet,insurance,etc are going to go down the next few yrs? Having an extra $4–50 a month can get real handy.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          The big reason not to put money down on a lease is because in the event of a total loss accident, that money is GONE. The insurance generally pays out only what you owe on the lease. You have no equity in the car, you literally are only lowering the payments.

          • 0 avatar
            derekson

            Yeah, exactly this. If you total the car while leasing it, especially early in the lease, the gap insurance plus collision insurance will pay off the lease and residual but you aren’t going to get back what you’ve already paid. So why would you want to risk throwing away that money instead of sticking it into a bank account and just paying a bit of it per month as a higher monthly payment?

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            This.

            Putting money down on a leased car is like making home improvements to an apartment.

            Zero financial upside.

    • 0 avatar
      JREwing

      2016 Fusions have the potential for an infotainment system that actually works. Not so much on the 2015 models.

      Otherwise, a 2.0T Fusion would be solid – and solidly expensive. Not sure he’s going to be happy in a 2.5 or 1.6T.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “it has cost me $3,600 in maintenance over the last 12 months”

    Stop right there. This is the part of the movie where you switch brands.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Lol, if someone told me they spent that amount, I’d think they owned:

      Phaeton W12
      W220 S500
      CL600
      Cayenne Turbo S

      …Not an old Passat.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      ““it has cost me $3,600 in maintenance over the last 12 months”

      Stop right there. This is the part of the movie where you switch brands.”

      Yeah – because a 15-year-old DD of unknown mileage, driven in stop-and-go traffic should never have anything go wrong with it…if it does, then that brand is junk.

      Probably 0.3% of the people who designed and built that Passat are even still working at VW today – you act as though a new 2015 Golf rolled off the assembly line a week after his Passat did.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Fordson, I don’t think that’s what he’s saying.

        “Yeah – because a 15-year-old DD of unknown mileage, driven in stop-and-go traffic should never have anything go wrong with it…if it does, then that brand is junk.”

        It CAN have things wrong with it, but $3600 worth of said things in a 12 month period isn’t great. Even if it’s 15 years old and unknown mileage. Comparing this vehicle with other vehicles from 2001, the VW likely has more expense tied to it.

        • 0 avatar
          Wheatridger

          Look at what’s included in that Maintenance tab: “new tires, spark plugs, wires, brake fluids, transmission flush and oil changes/filters…” A set of good tires mounted and balanced might have cost $650-800, same as for any midsize car. The rest are standard maintenance items, dependent on how many miles are driven. Some folks skip those fluid flushes, but this owner didn’t. We don’t know how much his engine oil leak cost, but it’s probably a big-ticket item, and the one job I’d fairly term a “failure” of the car.

          Bottom line, it’s a heavy, complex car of undisclosed mileage that’s 14 years old. That’s why it was costly last year, not because it’s a VW.
          Folks here wind themselves up in a tizzy fit about VW reliability, and they seek any evidence that confirms their opinion. But how much maintenance will he have to pay for a new car under factory warranty? None, I’d reckon… but the wiper blades might wear out, damn you VW!

          • 0 avatar
            mm3204

            You are right Wheatridger. Minus the leak which cost a grand, the rest were maintenance and would have cost the same with a Honda. I live in Seattle where things aren’t as cheap as everywhere else and I’m not going to drive an hour into the country to get 20 bucks off my hourly rate. I’m counting on a new car to not cost me anything in maintenance for the first few years of ownership.

            And it has 123k miles for everyone that is wondering.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            Forgetting about the $2000 engine leak?

            Plugs, wires, and a couple of fluids aren’t $3000.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            By contrast i happen to have a lexus es of the same vintage, with the same mileage. I have it serviced at the Toyota dealer in suburban metro west boston, just as expensive as Seattle. I had the timing belt done around 90k as well as all those other fluids flushed and vale cover gaskets which were leaking. Minus plug wires,(VW still had plug wires in 2001??). So pretty much the same stuff. That cost $2k and i get a loaner to drive.

            So maybe the VW problem is ridiculous service prices…

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            By the way, never EVER get a transmission flush. Drain and refill, change filter (if applicable).

            Surely VW isn’t “sealing” their transmissions, right?

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “Or, if you’d rather buy, you can get a Focus SE hatch for about $235 a month on a 0 percent, 72-month buy (which is exactly what I’d probably do — whine away about long-term loans, haters).”

    This.

    The Focus, even in SE trim, is better to drive than the Jetta, and has a hatchback.

    And with 0% APR, the whole long term loan thing becomes less problematic – if you’re paying interest, even if it’s a good rate, then the bank is front-loading it. That means you’re pretty much stuck with the thing for five or six years. But at zero percent, all your payment goes to principal. Plus, no mileage restrictions.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Just an observation: Except for that leak, everything you did to the Passat was a regular maint. item; it doesn’t appear to be hassling you at all. If you dump the Passat now, you will essentially be giving away all that maintenance for little-to-nothing.

    While there’s no absolute guarantee that the Passat won’t fail you soon, it looks like you’ve maintained it well, and not really any financial reason to dump it at the moment. It’s not likely to cost you $3k again this year in maintenance. I’d just wait until the car has something major/expensive go wrong with it. It’s not like the trade-in value will net you much, even when it DOES work just fine.

    Of course, the fact remains that you are driving an old car and can afford a newer/better one (and there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of that and actually getting one), but don’t pretend that just holding on to that Passat isn’t the right thing to do financially. All those shiny new cars will still be around when the B5 does die.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Ok, but here’s the counterargument: what’s a dead Passat worth at trade in time?

      That’s the problem with “driving ’em till they die” – they’re worth nothing at time of death. And then there’s this: I did that with an old Protege, and the thing stopped running, requiring me to RENT a car to go car shopping in (alternative was like $750 in repairs, which I wasn’t going to do). I ended selling it for a couple hundred bucks for parts.

      • 0 avatar
        derekson

        Plus if you drive it till it dies, you put yourself in the position of HAVING to buy a new car right away, which means you’ve lost leverage in negotiating and have less time to find the perfect car and the best deal.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        It ain’t worth much even if it’s traded-in today as a working vehicle. It’s old and it’s a VW from a notorious time in VW reliability. (Some justified, some not.) I just priced my ’04 1.8T M/T wagon with 145k this past weekend, and Edmunds suggested it was worth all of $1,300 as a trade-in. And this is for a vehicle in smooth running condition and no major cosmetic or mechanical issues. (Okay, to head off the snark, maybe I should say “No major mechanical issues other than being an 11-yr old turbocharged VW.” *grin* )

        The drop in value for it being Very Broken at trade-in time just isn’t that much. (This is one of the advantages of driving a more-or-less fully-depreciated car. The engine could explode tomorrow and you can just send it to the crusher only having lost a little bit vs. its value before it died.)

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        You might get two grand for it running. Dead, rounds to zero.

        Two grand is, at the outside, 8 months of renting a tolerable new car. Figure on taxes, insurance hike, tag fees, etc. and it’s probably closer to 6.

        If it dies in 3 months you’re down a grand. If it goes a year you’re up two grand. Life goes on either way.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    Used FWD:
    A 2008 Acura TL Type S 6spd manual

    New FWD:
    Honda Accord 2.4 manual

    Used RWD:
    2003-2005 Lexus GS 430.
    – I loved mine dearly. Still regret selling it
    Except for gas mileage, it’s possibly the finest car I’ve had in terms of build quality and specialness

    Used fun AWD:
    Subaru WRX hatch with STI widebody

    New Fun AWD:
    WRX???

    In all sections was.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The GS430 was available 01-05, but those are getting a bit old these days. I do agree they felt special and were excellent though. Not something I’d look for today as a primary driver in high traffic though.

      That 18mpg on premium is gonna hurt. Just get a newer GS with the V6.

      • 0 avatar
        suspekt

        I say 03-05 because those models had all the updates including strengthened lower control arms which were known to wear out prematurely.

        I know the newer GS350 is better, but there’s just something about the V8.

        Now, if one was going newer gen GS route, there really is only one to get…. The GS460 complete with 8 speed transmission however not available with AWD.

        I digress.

        Lots of fun cars to choose from for this gentlemen.

        I prefer paying cash and selling before 60,000 mile mark.

        I gotta say tho, a new Accord V6 is quite the beast. With ECU now cracked, people are going to be running around with a total Q ship capable of 105mph trap speeds.

        Let’s see:
        – good looks that will age well
        – utterly reliable (no direct injection on V6)
        – very fast
        – excellent resale value

        Personally, if it had to be new, I would buy the Accord in V6.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I didn’t know about the control arms. Those may have been bad in mine and got replaced, I can’t recall now. We did some joint work at the front, it was wandering on the highway pretty badly for a while.

          The GS430 was available in the newer model as well! And RWD, for 06-07.

    • 0 avatar
      JREwing

      An Accord Sport would be a solid choice, aside from not being AWD.

      I’ve been very happy with my 2012 Accord – it makes me drive like a delinquent.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    My only issue with leases is having to pay through the nose for a decent number of miles on the lease. But then someone driving 20,000 miles per year (like me) doesn’t have any business leasing anything.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      That’s one of the less obvious points of urban commuting. The most miserable, hours a day commute that grinds down car and driver alike is only putting 30 or 40 miles on the clock. Leases were made for that.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      Worth noting that it you prefer VWs, as I do (call me crazy, but…), you needn’t worry about excess mileage on a lease. My VW dealer offered to waive any charges on my expiring lease if I bought another new VW. Even if I had to pay, I’d owe $1000 on 5,000 miles of excess mileage, so I still would have saved over making 36 larger payments for more mileage.

  • avatar
    Der_Kommissar

    Long time lurker, first time poster. Like the reader, I’ve developed a car habit, but can make it about 5 years between cars before I get the itch. Last car was first fun one- ’07 E90 328i that I sold last year before it started to bankrupt the family (and, honestly, because I had the itch). I used that trade to get my wife into an Odyssey, and have been driving her 4 cyl toyota highlander until the 1st of the new year when I plan to retire it and get back into something fun but still somewhat practical. This year in car person purgatory has reinforced for me Bark’s comments above.. “Life is too short and money is too precious to spend a freaking cent of it on a car that “doesn’t excite” or of which the reviews “aren’t terrible.” You make good money, you have a good job — why are you punishing yourself?”

    Again like the reader, I’ve been looking at a wide range of cars explore when the time comes, from the mentioned Golf 1.8t and Jetta (SEL or GLI), to the Golf SportWagen, the Mazda 6 and CX-5, and the Buick Regal Turbo (I keep dreaming that they’ll sell it for a ton under invoice). I’ve owned Golfs before (2.slow) and loved them- thing that makes me think sedan or small performance CUV is that it’s still harder to justify hatchbacks to loved ones- even the wagen seems an easier sell. When buying just for yourself, I would think most people here would get a GTI. When you have to get something passed a spouse, hatchbacks become more difficult.

    Oh, and I drive too much to lease (well over 20k miles a year), so I tend to prefer to sell my cars while they still have some value left in them to roll over to the next car.

  • avatar
    mm3204

    I love the comment that I’m insane, my dad says that all the time but he’s also not having as much as me. But seriously, all very good advice. I now promise not to get the Jetta. Thank you Bark and everyone else.

    I personally don’t like the looks of the Focus (I test drove the ST a few months back and loved driving it but I’m not looking for a manual for a DD). I think the Focus looks more like a wagon than a hatchback (in the RSX/Model S sense). Sounds like I should go take the new golf and GTIs for test drive.

    Buying will be easy for me as I have access to a lot of forms of transportation and I’m not in need of a quick trade-in to make buying anything new work financially.

    Keep the suggestions coming.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Lots of good choices to lease for zero out of pocket…I know it’s bigger than you were thinking of but check out the Honda Accord.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      I love that you randomly tell people your age and body height! Do you say these things when you’re shopping?

      “Would you like some fried with that?”

      “Yes, but first off I’m 32 and weight 220 pounds, I’m 6 foot tall and tend to not see over trucks while in traffic”.

      You may be insane but you’re wise to shop brands other than Toyonda, actually now that I think about it, you’re quite sane. You don’t have random GM hating outbursts.

      Get a Golf, and use your programming skills to unlock its secret +100hp. Lifes too short to be bored.

  • avatar
    read_to_acheive

    One thing to take into account when leasing a VW is the dealer ship experience & the actual price. I recently tried to lease a 2015 GTI with Sports Package in Socal, test drove it and absolutely loved it. The car had a MSRP of $31,000 with a dealer mark up of $1,500. The offer I got was $576 + tax a month with $2000 down and 12k miles a year. I walked out of the dealer immediately and picked up a 2015 328xi wagon (msrp $47,000) for $410(tax included) a month with 2000 down and 12k miles a year.

    Sure, it’s not as fun to drive as the GTI, but I really can’t justify paying that much more for a cheaper car. Maybe they wanted me to bargain for a better price, but who has the time for that?

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      GTI leases seem to be obscenely expensive compared to the purchase price of the car, as well as compared to BMWs, Audis, etc. Being in California probably doesn’t help either.

      I’ve been considering a GTI, and the only way I’d do it is to buy.

      Cool wagon though!

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Look at a Mazda3 hatch, too. In the fall of 2012, we looked at both a Focus SE hatch and a Mazda3 hatch. The Mazda3 was a close second to the Focus even though it was an old design compared to the Focus. Since then, the Mazda3 has been redesigned. If we had to make the decision today, I suspect we would pick the Mazda3.

  • avatar

    I second the Golf (which I have, in wagon form) and the Focus. But I’d also add the Mazda3. In my area, Mazda has a $2K down, $149/mo deal on the 3. It may be 50% more, but I guarantee you, that extra $49/mo—really, less than that, because the Jetta 2.0 $100/mo special is only available in certain limited markets—will be worth it.

    • 0 avatar
      Der_Kommissar

      I’m planning on looking at the Mazda 3 hatch, but I suspect the back seat will be too small for easy access to car seats.That was one of the things that convinced me to sell the e90. We’ve got one booster, and another two years or so on a front facing seat. Other than the back seat, I love the 3- they’ve really upgraded them into baby bimmer status. All of the VWs I’ll look at have better 2nd row space and seats. I’ll be waiting until 2016 either way, Kyree, so I should be able to get the better infotainment system if I go VW, but I do fear the process of finding the model I want in the color I want on a lot somewhere. VW seems to do a piss poor job of making all of their models actually available to be purchased by Americans.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        We have a previous gen Mazda 3 hatch and I’ve sampled the newer ones at the annual DC and Baltimore car shows. It’s a smart move to skip it if car seat space is an issue – the seat-to-seat distance is fairly small all things considered and belting a kid in would be a pain in a car seat. As a new dad, I couldn’t imagine the pain of trying to fit a rear-facer in it, and we’re still on the infant seat now, haven’t had to upgrade to a dreadnought-class convertible.

  • avatar
    MUSASHI66

    The myth of $99 lease…it is NOT a $99 per month lease when they are asking for $2000-4000 down. Heck, with that logic, I can lease an M3 if I give them $30000 down. That particular Jetta would cost $139 + $2000/36 + tax, so $210 per month give or take at 8% tax.

    When I am calculating my lease payment, I calculate down payment / term, plus monthly payment plus tax. Only then can you have something close to comparing apples to apples, and even then, cost of maintenance comes into play.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      My local dealer is offering $69/month for a Jetta S with $2999 down or $147/month sign and drive.

      They’re also offering Golf S 1.8T for $149/month with $299 down or $239/month sign and drive.

      I guess they are better deals then most dealerships have, but there are some good deals out there. The Golf deal actually looks really good ,considering it’s for a 4 door automatic Golf vs the 2.slow manual Jetta at the quoted price.

      • 0 avatar
        derekson

        Holy crap, I looked at another dealer near me and they’re offering a Golf SEL (the top of the line one with navigation etc.) for $199/month with $0 down ($119/month with $2999 down). That deal seems hard to actually believ

  • avatar
    EAF

    I can easily envision $3600 in yearly maintenance and repair costs for that incredible POS 30v V6. I can guarantee, without ever speaking to the reader, that his oil leak was a combination of valve cover gaskets, half-moons, and cam chain tensioner seals. This is not an inexpensive repair nor one that you can simply “live with.”

    I know TTAC isn’t fond of it but I am, and since you owned an RSX in the past & (enjoyed it), I think you ought to at least test drive the ’16 ILX.

    K24 engine is 200hp & 180ft-lbs, some luxury and comfort, decent MPGs, 8 spd DCT w/ a converter should be good in traffic, reliable.

    • 0 avatar
      Der_Kommissar

      Yea, but have you seen the infotainment on the base ILX? It’s the Civic LX screen in the space for the honda 8 incher. It looks ridiculous. No one tests the base model, so you don’t see anyone talking about it. You have to upgrade to the premium package to get rid of it, and that moves you into the universally loathed two screen setup- looks great, has the software of a speak and spell. I agree that the engine and the space are good, but once you get beyond the base model, you might as well get a base TLX. I really want to love Acura, but they don’t quite have their feature packaging right.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      Doing any major repair on a front wheel drive V6 is a challenge. Everything’s packed in so tightly. I prefer an inline four for that reason. Even with a turbo, it’s much more accessible for service. V6s take 50% more oil, too.

      • 0 avatar
        EAF

        It depends on the V6 TBF. I’ve always hated working on the transverse Nissan’s VQ. The Toyota 2GR is slightly less cumbersome. Acura/Honda J-series are simple to work on. The V6 in this 2001 Passat, complete nightmare. GMs Northstar is likely easier to wrench on.

  • avatar
    Frylock350

    I’d consider holding out for a bit and waiting for the Buick Regal’s price to drop or picking up a used one. They’re fun to drive like your RSX was and they’ll give you that “German” feeling of the Passat minus the expensive repairs.

    Have you considered a smaller truck like a Tacoma or Colorado? I can’t imagine there’s a parking garage that a Colorado wouldn’t fit in.

    Or buy a Coyote powered Mustang; they’re crazy fun! They’re wicked fast without you needing to tune or mod anything.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • ajla: “I wonder why more manufacturers don’t do this.” Personally, control knob systems (including...
  • DenverMike: Do you know what a pacifier is? Ford can’t call it what it really is (in a statement). Mama Drama,...
  • kcflyer: our local taco joint has had a big sign out front for over a month begging people to interview for and...
  • NormSV650: Which Cadillac made today looks like Chevy? When was the last time your eyes were checked?
  • mcs: Another automotive feature that can kill if it’s abused by idiots. Not nearly as high as the Fiesta or the...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber