By on January 19, 2016

2015-subaru-wrx-002

In the latest installment of the worldwide internet sensation, Ask Bark?, we hear from Josh, who’s struggling with deciding what to buy for his family of four.

Josh writes:

I need advice. I’m looking for a new car. I’m 40 and married. I have a good job and two kids. I’ve owned old Volvos, Saabs, VWs (and paid those bills) and even a black 1969 Lincoln. (I’m sure this will be relevant at some point —B.)

We currently own three cars:

– a nice 2013 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited (my wife’s car);

– a 2007 Kia Optima with nearly 200,000 miles used as my commuter to and from Columbus every night for several years. It’s paid off, but just plain worn out and has nearly no trade-in value at this point. I was considering keeping it strictly as backup;

– and a 2000 Cherokee Sport 4.0L 4×4. My unkillable snow car. It’s awful on gas.

I’ve got a 40 mile commute each way, four times a week, primary on back roads.

These are my final four contenders:

MQB GTI. Test drove one (S non-PP DSG), loved it, but I’m scared to death of the VW clusterfuck reliability boogeyman shit.

Accord V-6. Drove a 2013 Touring with the automatic (checked out the coupe) and it was sterile, but quick. Jack likes his. I understand why. It makes great noises. Personally, I’d feel like I settled picking this.

New WRX. I like the idea of this car. I’d buy a new Levorg if I could. I haven’t driven one yet, but I get the impression I’d be let down.

– New Mustang Coupe, V-6 or Ecoboost. I’ve rented both. The kids fit. The insurance won’t kill me. The six makes better noise and full power with regular gas. The EcoBoost makes more torque and I could chip it or whatever. Love the looks, but I’m a grown-ass man in Ohio and sometimes this choice feels a little on-the-nose. If I could swing a 5.0 (and didn’t have to daily it) …

What am I missing? Help me out.

Josh

Let me get this straight: You’re 40, you’ve got two kids, you live near Columbus, and you want a sporty car. Holy shit — did I write this in my sleep to myself in order to spur on some interest in Ask Bark? 

Maybe.

I’ve often thought that if I had an alternate personality, I would name it “Josh.” But my alternate personality would probably be more like an ass-kicking white version of Wesley Snipes in “Passenger 57 instead of just another Midwestern, suburban dad like me.

Well, Bark/Josh (okay, I’m not 40, but I’m staring at it hard), you’ve named some interesting choices. However, I think each one has a bit of a fatal flaw.

The GTI is a great car and I’m not as worried as you are about its potential unreliability. It would undoubtedly make a fun little hatch for the backroad commute you’ve got every day. Still, I feel like the GTI is just not as much fun as the FiST. I’m not sure how old your kids are, but if they fit into a Mustang, they can’t be that big. I’ve yet to find the reason to recommend at GTI over a FiST, unless you really love plaid more than most people do.

The minute you said “settled,” I drew a virtual black line through your Accord choice. The overarching theme of Ask Bark? is that we never fucking settle. Like, not never. Don’t try to talk yourself into liking a car. That’s like marrying the sensible girl and then asking yourself three years later why she won’t do that thing that you really want her to do, not even with the blinds drawn and the kids over at your mother’s house. If you’re settling for a car, you’re making a bad choice. Next.

The WRX is a fine and interesting choice. That’s, of course, assuming that you’ve decided that you’re okay with being a two-Subie household and all of the stigmas that go along with that. I won’t go any further down that path, as it tends to get people fired around here. I tend to think that the WRX is a great performance bargain, and it will definitely accommodate your family’s needs from a kid-toting perspective. I’ve seen owners report 26-28 mpg, which fits your commute nicely, too. The only real problem with the WRX is that it just isn’t very grown-up (says the man who drives a FiST). It’s over styled to a fault, and it looks a tad goofy in the parking lot next to Camcordimas. It’s also a bit short on features that one expects in a car in that price range. I know, man — the struggle with being a 40-year-old dude who still wants a cool car is very real.

Mustang? I think you’re going to really like having a heavy, rear-wheel-drive car about eight months out of the year in Ohio, and you’re really going to hate it the other four. If you’re planning on holding onto that Cherokee for the Ohio winters, this makes decent sense. However, you might find yourself doing what I did, which is cursing a lot every time you walk past the new Mustang that you’re making a hefty payment on to drive something else any time that there’s a hint of snow on the ground. I figured that I was paying about $3,200 a year to walk past my Mustang. And while a V-6/EcoBoost isn’t nearly as expensive as a Boss, it’s all relative to what your budget is. Would you love it that much in May to make writing the check in January worth it?

Based on all of your choices, it sounds like your budget is just south of $30,000. So what have you missed?

The Acura ILX, perhaps? It’s in your range and is basically a Civic Si that a grown man in Ohio would feel comfortable driving. It has all of the reliability that you’d want from an Accord, but there aren’t as many out there. The internet collectively scoffed at the ILX when it was introduced, but it makes more and more sense to me as I approach the halfway point of life. Or you could just wait for the new Civic Si, too. But if you felt like the Accord was settling, you’d likely feel ever more settled about a smaller, slower Honda.

Of course, you missed the Ford Focus ST. It’s a nice balance between practical and sporty, but it’s not as quick in a straight line as the WRX, and it’s no more adultish.

The new Camaro V-6 has its share of admirers, and it’s probably a bit better sorted than the EcoBoost ‘Stang. However, we both know that you’re not really going to be happy unless you’ve got a V-8 under the bonnet of your pony car.

So, What Would Bark Do (WWBD)? Fuck it.

I’d endure the stares from the other office drones and get the WRX. It’s going to be the best possible combination of everything you’re looking for in a car: straight-line throttle mashing, four doors, and all-wheel drive in those Ohio winters. They sell all of them that they can make, so you’re not likely to get a rip-roaring deal on one, but they do offer 2.9-percent financing on them as of today. No, it’s not the most refined car out there, but it might be the most fun car you can get for the money and they don’t blow up like they used to when you and I were admiring the bug-eyed versions in the early aughts. Get the WRX. You’ll be happy that you did.

And now we’ll turn it over to the B&B so they can tell you how wrong I am!

If you’d like to Ask Bark something, just email me at [email protected], and I will be sure to respond as soon as humanly possible.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

165 Comments on “Ask Bark: What Would You Drive If You Were Exactly Like You?...”


  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Sell everything else. Buy one minivan for everyday use and one Miata for top down driving in good weather.

    You’re welcome.

    • 0 avatar
      Chris Tonn

      In other words, be me.

      I’m just 37 though, and live IN Columbus, so this isn’t me ghostwriting Josh either.

    • 0 avatar

      Because nothing says “settle”…no, make that S E T T L E!!!!!!!!!!!”…

      …like a minivan.

      ANY minivan.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @Budda-Boom: “Because nothing says ‘settle’… …like a minivan”

        I disagree.

        Using the right tool for the right job is a pleasure.

        Change cars when you need a different tool.

        Don’t confuse your tools & toys with your identity.

    • 0 avatar
      Coopdeville

      But what if the good weather fun drive requires more than 2 seats? Then you’re stuck driving the minivan to the local cruise-in/ice cream stand/dog park (I never said they were kids) and that just. plain. sucks. when the fun car gets left in the garage because your spouse won’t go without the whole family.

      For the record, the answer is always classic DeVille Convertible.

    • 0 avatar
      twotone

      If I was exactly like me, I’d drive a car exactly like mine – E36 328i sedan, RWD manual.

      If I was 40, married with two kids, living near Columbus, I’d pack up the car and head somewhere I could not be easily found.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-Iron

        Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack
        I went out for a ride, and I never went back
        Like a river that don’t know where it’s flowin’
        I took a wrong turn and I just kept going

        Or if you speak Canadian:

        She had a new way of living
        new way of looking at life
        He had an ’84 International
        and two kids, he left back home with his wife

    • 0 avatar
      e30gator

      This. Two cars are the way to go. I drive a Nissan Quest to work and to haul the kids around in…and I like it (better comfort/utility than my wife’s newish Malibu). Plus, do you really want to ruin a new WRX/GTI/Mustang by driving it in the salt/slush all winter?

      My ’98 BMW Z3 is my weekend car. It’s fun and cheapish to buy (and own)as a second car. Of course, I live in Florida so the roadster sees a lot more action than its rustbelt brethren, but still. If more seats are needed, e36/46 verts are a dime a dozen.

      Bonus: variety is the spice of life.

  • avatar
    ajla

    If possible, I’d wait and see what that new Fusion V6 comes in at.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I considered that briefly, but this guy sounds like he wants something smaller! The Fusion is so big and so heavy.

      Someone will be along shortly to jump shark and recommend an 87 Bronco or a restomod Grand Wagoneer or an old CL500, and ruin everything. And when they do I’m going to yell at them.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Yes, but is also said Accord. Plus, the Fusion Sport will absolutely murder any non-GT Mustang. They probably need to put the 2.7TT in the Mustang soon.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        On the subject of jumping sharks, I was going to say buy a truck.

        A twin turbo “zero lag” 2017 Raptor super crew could jump a shark.

        One could get a sensible Duramax Colorado crew 4×4 or just go straight to the real big boy dually 3500 Duramax crewcab 4×4 with 8ft box.

        Nothing says midlife crisis like one of those babies………….

        oh and you can tell the sensible wife that if “she does that thing” then you won’t buy it………

        win win for everyone!

      • 0 avatar
        rocketrodeo

        My Fusion 6MT is 3340 lbs, FWIW. It doesn’t feel any larger than the Accord it replaced.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “– New WRX.”

    40 miles each way on back roads in something buzzy with a rather uncomfortable interior? I think I’ll pass on that one. You already have a Subaru, you don’t need two! The interior room in the back isn’t great, really. Yeah it has four doors, but nobody wants to sit back there for long. And again, you have a V6 Outback which is larger and better in every way.

    You’re going 40 miles on back roads, so you don’t want something huge – I get that bit. I think you’ve got the XJ for bad weather days or whatever, so you don’t need another AWD vehicle (since that’d be three).

    I think the ILX calls to you, it’s much improved in current form over the original version, and is what you could use to have fun and also look like an adult man. The kind without a free trade sticker or a backwards cap.

    The ATS is nearly within budget, and if you like that sort of thing I’m sure you can haggle and get one for $30.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Ah. Man wants 4 door, some bad weather capability, some fun and some power. Get a nice used G37x/Q40x and be done with it

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        The new extended wheelbase EX35 known as the QX50 is being sold at relatively reasonable prices and since nobody ever remembers to even test drive it, discounts are probably available. Proper ATTESSA AWD (RWD then transition to front as required, tank-like build and out-of-date infotainment that’s easy to use. A bit of a minor hulker with that VQ six, but at least if the engine is braying loudly, you’re really on the move. Different and a bit interesting. Gas mileage, well …

        http://m.caranddriver.com/infiniti/qx50

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        slavuta, I agree entirely with your suggestion. The Infiniti provides driving engagement without the GTI’s reliability concerns, doesn’t feel like a compromise the way an Accord or Camry V6 does, and it is more civilized and “adult” than a WRX.

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      If you even consider a ilx. Just buy a loaded civic. It actually looks nicer without the Acura ugly nose.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      When I hear backroads I think twisty fun. I’m not sure how accurate that is in this case, but I feel like that’s where a WRX would be right at home.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        At the risk of doxxing myself: I live in one of the only two counties in my state that has no lakes, so “backroads” to me means a perfect grid of gravel and pavement with essentially no interruptions.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      The problem with the ilx is that the focus st, wrx, gti and fist are all much more fun to drive. I’d say the gti also has a nicer interior, the wrx and fist encourage much more back road sideways fun, and they all give you more car for your money overall.

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    Accord Coupe. It’s the natural enemy of the WRX like the grizzly bear is the natural enemy of Leo DiCaprio. It fears no EcoBoost or V-6 Mustang.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I was just thinking this. If a coupe is fair game the Accord V6 is a great choice.

      Real shame they killed the Legacy GT as that would probably be an awesome fit. As I jog my memory it looks like there are pretty much NO midsize stickshift sedans besides the BMW 3 and Mazda 6. Maybe there is something to the whole “dying manual” thing.

      • 0 avatar
        omer333

        The Honda Accord Sport with a 6MT would like to have a word with you.

        I had a chance to sit in a few cars at the Utah Auto Show yesteday, and I can safely say a WRX STI’s seats are actually more comfortable than a Focus ST’s Recaros. But Mazda3s have them both beat.

        • 0 avatar
          omer333

          “And lo, it was then Omer realized his mistake, for it was the vizage of SportyAccordy he addressed:

          ‘Hast thou forsaken the Earth Dreams, O Lord?\'”

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          Ha! I was recently comparing 16 Clubman, Golf GTI and Mazda3 2.5L. And when you poke long enough, you may realize that Mazda3 is almost that much fun for much less money and on top of that, with truly superior fuel efficiency – more MPG and no premium fuel. Plus, much better projected reliability and -turbo, which is always a potential risk.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    If money and being able to find one in good condition were no object I’d be driving a 1993 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham with the towing package.

    As for our OP? Get a WRX – life is short.

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      Bingo. A WRX is only buzzy if you put a muffler on it and with the current exhaust routing it’s not worth it. A plain WRX is still a super bargain and won’t look too out of place since it won’t have the wings and other accouterments you see on more expensive trims. Just try one; you should have one manual transmission in the household, anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      Oh man, a tuned B-Body Fleetwood speaks to this early 30s father of 2 in naughty ways. With a small block Chevy under the hood, you could do everything but shibari rope bondage.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Bertel?

        • 0 avatar
          Nick 2012

          Sadly, I didn’t buy my wife on Rakuten.com.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            One of the beauties of being in New Mexico is the number of guys with lowriders. There’s a young vato (under 30) who shows up to the same mass I do with his wife and two kids in tow. Always wearing t-shirts that celebrate the lowrider culture.

            His ride? A 1992-1996 Fleetwood (currently stock) diamond white, factory aluminum wheels, deep tinted windows, and so clean you could eat off of it. I have NEVER seen that car dirty regardless of what the weather was the week before.

          • 0 avatar
            Nick 2012

            That sounds amazing. I’d keep mine 100% stock on the outside, and probably only lightly mod the suspension to not compromise the ride.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            NM has like what – rain 3x a year and then sun the rest of the time?! Where’s the dirt come from!

            Dark tints are not appropriate on B-body Fleetwood in white. Medium tint is more suitable.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    “The minute you said “settled,” I drew a virtual black line through your Accord choice. The overarching theme of Ask Bark? is that we never fucking settle. Like, not never. Don’t try to talk yourself into liking a car. That’s like marrying the sensible girl and then asking yourself three years later why she won’t do that thing that you really want her to do, not even with the blinds drawn and the kids over at your mother’s house. If you’re settling for a car, you’re making a bad choice. Next.”

    This is a strong contender for the 2016 TTAC Baruthism competition. Good job, Bark! This is how to live life!

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    “The minute you said “settled,” I drew a virtual black line through your Accord choice. The overarching theme of Ask Bark? is that we never … settle. Like, not never. Don’t try to talk yourself into liking a car. That’s like marrying the sensible girl and then asking yourself three years later why she won’t do that thing that you really want her to do, not even with the blinds drawn and the kids over at your mother’s house. If you’re settling for a car, you’re making a bad choice. Next.”

    This is a strong contender for the 2016 TTAC Baruthism competition. Good job, Bark! This is how to live life!

    EDIT: Hilarious! I cannot quote your profanity.

  • avatar
    david42

    Used Chevy SS. Not sure if they depreciate… But if not, it actually makes more sense to splurge on it since it won’t lose value.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Sort of but not as much as you’d think. I think dealers are going to put a stupid premium on used models, and probably get it. Because they love you.

      MY15 Chevy SS

      12/28/15 ORLANDO $37,800 55 Avg BLACK 8G A Yes
      01/11/16 ORLANDO $38,600 62 Above SILVER 8G A Yes
      12/28/15 ORLANDO $38,000 102 Avg BLACK 8G A Yes
      12/29/15 DETROIT $38,400 413 Avg RED 8G A Yes
      12/29/15 DETROIT $38,600 2,899 Above BLACK 8G 6 Yes
      12/29/15 DETROIT $37,000 6,577 Avg WHITE 8G A Yes
      12/29/15 DETROIT $35,800 8,281 Below PURPLE 8G A Yes

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Big V8 + RWD + Ohio winters = ????

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I almost called him out for shark jump, but it was new enough and unusual enough that I allowed it.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Ditches love Mustangs, so I assume they love SSs in the winter too.

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        = awesome fun (when equipped with snow tires).

        I do the same combo, my wife does it more so since her V8 RWD monster has a supercharger. It’s really not bad and popping off the traction control before stabbing the gas around a snowy corner is a great way to liven up your commute. It still makes me giggle like a 14 year old. 10/10 would do again!

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “Big V8 + RWD + Ohio winters = ????”

        If the car is properly shod, what’s the problem? Take a look around and you’ll see plenty of powerful RWD cars doing just fine in winter… yes, even Ohio winters.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Surprisingly low depreciation because the only people who want these are the sort of people who wait to buy used cars.

      If I lived somewhere rural, I’d probably own one.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    the Mustang’s rear seat is actually pretty comfortable, apart from actually getting into/out of it. And woe be you if the person in the front seat is 6′ tall or more.

  • avatar
    Ian

    I feel like this article fits closely to my current situation, though I have the additional criteria of dog hauler for 2 Boxers. Outback wagon or GTI is where I’m at…might have to check out the FoST as well.

  • avatar
    drewhopps

    My suggestions aren’t as heavily biased towards more power output or high entertainment value, but I’ll throw ’em in anyway. If you want a GTI but don’t want a VW, is the Kia Forte5 SX an option? Is a new Optima any more interesting than an Accord? If you happen to have a thing for wagons, would you dig a low mileage 2014 TSX wagon?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    WRX all day long given the criteria.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    VW Phaeton.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      For the price of a new Altima as recommended by Tavarish over at Jalopnik.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Shark jumped with Jalopnik-style reference! Stop that!

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        “Why buy a new Honda Accord or Subaru WRX when you can buy a 2006 Aston Martin with Christmas Tree Dash & Body/Chassis out of spec for the same price?”

        – Tavarish

        -or-

        – Freddy “Tavarish” Hernandez

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          DDM has a new 07 AM V8 Vantage which is exactly that, in his current news article series.

          Cars You Can Buy But Shouldn’t Because They Are Only Warranty Issues But Look I Bought One So I Can Write 79 Articles About It Then Sell It.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            DW will like this:
            There’s a NEW 2014 Cadillac ELR for sale near me for $49K, which is $30K off list. Plus the gub’ment gives you another $10K in MA, bringing the net price below $40K.

            So, basically, you are getting the equivalent of an old Chevy Volt, without much of a back seat for only $40K. Wait, I just talked myself back out of it. Nevermind.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Oddly enough, the ELR is the best looking Cadillac (even if it has no traditional Cadillac qualities/benefits).

            I’d pay them $27,000 for it assuming I had a buyer for it at $35k.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @DW

            Have your eyes checked there, chief.

            @VoGo

            If you were serious on the ELR, below is a guide. A 120 mile example did 35,0 and it will only go down from there but the range seems to be 30-35. Go to the dealer and explain you don’t care about their holdback or the fact that MY14 is probably a black eye on their floorplan, the reality is the ELR is a dud. You’ll offer 36 and nothing more, which still puts a grand in their pocket vs Manheim and gives them that fat Federal subsidy which they probably don’t get if they wholesale it (I’m not sure how those subsidies work). Even offer to use their financing if it helps seal the deal. Walk if they scoff, f them. If you really want one of these there’s a dealer somewhere sitting on one brand new (or near new) who would love to unload it and not lose money on the block. You’ve got the leverage on this unloved model.

            MY14 Cadillac ELR

            2/29/15 DETROIT $35,000 120 Above GRAY EL A Yes
            12/28/15 ORLANDO $33,000 2,432 Avg GRAY EL A Yes
            12/22/15 GEORGIA Lease $34,200 2,793 Above RED 4H A Yes
            01/15/16 PA Lease $33,900 3,747 Above BLACK EL P Yes
            12/29/15 DETROIT $31,900 4,700 Avg RED 4H A Yes
            01/05/16 PORTLAND $33,000 5,572 Avg GRAY EL A Yes
            01/14/16 TX HOBBY Regular $34,750 7,480 Above BLACK EL A No
            12/29/15 DETROIT $32,700 7,928 Avg GRAY EL A Yes
            12/29/15 DETROIT $32,300 11,140 Avg RED 4H A Yes
            12/29/15 DETROIT $30,800 18,250 Below RED EL A Yes
            12/29/15 DETROIT $32,700 18,608 Avg BLACK 4H A Yes
            12/29/15 DETROIT $30,700 19,857 Below BLACK EL A Yes

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            @VoGo – Thanks.

            @28 – The ELR isn’t a Cadillac, per se, but I find that it has a pleasing silhouette (at the price of severe back seat impairment). It also sold in true ultra-exotic territory (less than 100 per year).

            @Corey – Yep. I saw that (thought it was a 2006). That’ll be the cow Doug will milk for at least 144 articles over the next 24 months (in fairness, I must admit that SOME of Doug’s stuff can be humorous up until the point that it’s beaten like a red-headed whatever).

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    Mazda3 S 2.5 with manual

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      This is also an idea which I hadn’t considered. The 3-hatch is a good looker, and is plenty mature and responsible.

      I wish it had more powerful engine options, but I won’t go there today.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Good suggestion. I quite liked the one I tried and even thought the road noise was mostly tolerable in this generation. The 2.5 is a nice peppy engine in that car, but I’d personally still prefer more.

  • avatar
    dwford

    I’ll go off the deep end and suggest a Buick Verano Turbo. For about $30k, you get a more adult 4 door style, a 250hp turbo motor with 6 speed manual (if you can find one), and fully loaded with leather, navigation, and a 6/70 powertrain warranty and road side assistance.

    You’ll be an “early adopter.” It’s not your father’s…..well, you get the idea..

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      You have to say “Trifecta Tune” 3 times in the mirror for him to appear….

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      DaveInCalgary was an early adopter of a Buick Verano Turbo/6spd. How’d that work out for him?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Oh nooooo

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        Not well. I’ll sell mine to the OP.

        The MT seems to be part of the root cause of all the issues. I know a few people with newer GM 2.0T/6AT cars and they seem to be holding up well.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Between MT Verano and Vegas, I think Dave might have a gambling problem.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Ha. I’m the least gambling type I know. Played maybe $20 in singles over for days.

            No, I bought the Verano partly on the thinking that the 2.0T had been around since 2007, debuting in the Solstice and later the Cobalt, and that the F40 trans had also been around since that timeframe, notably behind the 3.9L in the G6, but also in numerous Saabs. Basically, I assumed that 7 years was enough time to iron out the bugs. This was supposed to be a solid choice, not a gamble. The issue appears to be the fancy dual mass flywheel, which since replacement, I have had no more problems. They finally figured this out by finding an obscure issue in MT Cruzes that was not ever publicized. They think it was causing rather than absorbing excess vibration, lunching the sensors constantly.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Well I’m glad they sorted it all out. $20 shows excellent restraint, so good on you.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Then why do Vegas?

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            As I said in the other thread:

            We bought advance tickets for an event last summer. Came with cheap hotel rates on the strip. The timing of the dollar dropping just hurt us, the trip was planned months ago.

            Gambler or no, its an interesting city to see.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    “What am I missing? Help me out.”

    Well, for starters, you need to drive the WRX. Yeah, it might let you down, then again, it might not. The only way to find out is to drive it.

    After that, go with your heart (just keep your head in mind).

    If I we’re you, I’d think about continuing to drive the KIA, using the Jeep when weather goes below minimums and buying something that would set mu heart a flutter such as a gently used BOSS 302.

    If something with more rear seat room is needed, a GTI is certainly a good choice.

    Two more things.

    1. Why worry what co-workers say about your car choice especially if its something you enjoy AND doubly so when they’re driving something that has all the excitement of a wet noodle?

    2. @ Bark–More space is a reason one might choose a GTI over a FiSt.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Except when the Kia takes its long-overdue $#¡Г and he is stuck with a 15 mpg Jeep or a Boss in January. He’d paint himself in a corner that way.

      I like your idea of a halo car to enjoy, I just think the Kia needs to go no matter what. Id pick up an 2012 or older V-6 Fusion or an Accord I-4/5spd for a commuter, and sell the Kia to a high school kid who will wrap it around a tree 5 days into ownership. Then go pick out a new dream car. Ideally, pay cash for the “new” commuter, and finance the new sports car. Yes, itll suck walking by it every winter morning knowing youre making payments on something not being uses, but itll more than make up for it when sping is here and you can go out and enjoy it. Drive it to work in the summer if you want it to earn its keep, but the real value comes when it plasters a smile on your face for hours on end as you row through the gears on a nice spring weekend morning.

      I whole-heartedly agree with your point number 1: drive what YOU want, damn those who snicker or have a problem with it. Single and want a Ford Excursion? Go for it. 40+ but want a Civic Si/WRX/FoST/FiST? Go get it, enjoy it while you can. Over 50 and want a red convertable? Let them talk: its your life, money and decision, not theirs.

      I have never let what other people think stop me from driving something I wanted. If it made me happy to be in my 20s/30s, single and driving a minivan, then thats what I drove. Why let others decide what you like?

      “Ohh I cant buy ______ car because someone might laugh!”
      Well, go get you a beige Camry with wheel covers, enjoy mediocrity. People wont laugh (I might) because most wont notice you at all.

  • avatar

    I chose the WRX and am happy with it. You can get it for around $500 below invoice if you negotiate. The 2.9% promo rate is also negotiable and you can get a sub 2% rate from Subaru/Chase if your credit is worthy.

  • avatar
    Willyam

    Josh, it gets worse at 45. Almost everyone in my state gets desperate to prove their manhood and drops $750 a month on a bro-dozer with a lift kit that won’t fit in the garage. To be fair, they can hang Christmas lights on the house directly from the bed, but I digress.

    I feel you so much about the GTI. Love the looks, love the sedan option, even the weird H.R. Geiger wheel options. Spent four years in college with an ’84 (this was 1989, so it wasn’t THAT old, and it had less than 35k miles). Walked a LOT. Melted a lot of makeup and hairstyles on dates…so yes, women hated riding in a plaid Rabbit interior with no armrest, no air conditioning, a crank open sunroof and the ride quality of a shopping cart…they were NOT impressed by it’s amazing cornering ability. So after ending my streak with an ’85 Audi GT, I just can’t go back. There are a lot of contractors at my company leasing new German iron, but alas, not my pay grade.

    So now that we’re middle aged mid westerners and not rock stars, what to do? I’ve rented a Mustang myself a few times. Really fun, but I feel a little like the oldest guy at the singles bar. The Camaro just felt like a fat Cruze, and there’s way to many of them in my area being piloted by women of, uh, generous proportions who envied their boyfriends car back in 1987. So for a muscle/pony car option my bet would be Challenger. Yes, it’s portly, but bearded older dudes don’t seem to look silly in them, and my trophy wife (as I call her) thinks they’re hot. And, it gives me the chance to overrule my father, who wouldn’t let me buy the green ’70 version when I was a kid (yes, for the record, I probably would have wrecked it). For that reason, I desperately want them to make one for me in dark green.

    In the meantime, I’m driving my winter beater 04 Grand Cherokee, which always starts, is immune to weather, and has comfy seats.

    Soon…

  • avatar
    Fordson

    320 commute miles per week? No to Fiesta ST or WRX. The ST will beat you (and itself) up too much on those back roads you drive and the WRX will, too, and is too cheap inside to spend that kind of time in.

    GTI 5-door loaded up to whatever level of creature comforts you decide upon.

    Don’t pick ANYTHING based upon your or anyone else’s perception of what a 40-year-old guy in Ohio “ought” to drive. Get what you want…you’re too old to be worried about other folks’ opinions.

    Don’t pick or reject anything based upon your perceptions of the 20-model-years-ago sample you owned way back when.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “Don’t pick ANYTHING based upon your or anyone else’s perception of what a 40-year-old guy in Ohio “ought” to drive.”

      So much this.

      Not one of my three cars fits the local idea of what I “should” be driving given my age and profession. But I like any of the three way more than a leased 328i or Q5.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        ^^^^ agreed 100%. There are stereotypes for guys like me, and thank God, I fit exactly 0 of them. Same goes for what I choose to drive.

        If you walked up to me and gave me $1500 or so to buy a used car of my choice, itd be either a 1979 Mercury Zephyr 2 door sedan with the 3.3L I-6, or a 1984 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale Broughm coupe with an Olds 307 under the hood (yes theyre both on craigslist lol). They dont fit a 33 year old white guy? Or on top of that, a gay white guy? Im in the South, Im white and male…and neither are Chevy pickups? Being gay, I need an automatic Miata or 90s Mercury Capri? Oh, well, isnt that something….and…your point is? Lol

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Of your list I would go with the GTI, you should get pretty good deal, the car is mature, no huge wings, can be discrete if needs to be a great interior, I like the ILX or maybe TLX off lease. You have has Volvos and Saabs so you understand you will stay on top of maintenance items. You have driven it and said you love it, driving 300 miles a week in a GTI vs. a Subie no contest.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Save more money then Golf R or Focus RS?

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Although it’s more money, I suggest you look at a Focus RS. 350 hp and all wheel drive.

    Despite Bark’s disdain for “settling” for a car, it can be the most satisfying in the end. When I shopped for my retirement toy, my first choice was a Porsche Cayman. I found I couldn’t tolerate the engine noise. Although it drove better than anything else, I was relieved to get out of the car after only 30 minutes. I “settled” on an Infiniti coupe, not because it was perfect, but because it was better for me overall than the alternatives.

  • avatar
    phreshone

    Mazda 3, FiST, ILX, WRX, GTI

    Frankly they’re close enough, I would go whoever has the lowest cost financing. if its still out there, 0% $0 down for 60-72 months is free money – Ford usually has it (and will wrap in Sales Tax and registration), VW might have it.

    Though think of how big your kids will be in 3-5 years. Should you go midsize?

    • 0 avatar
      ctg

      “Though think of how big your kids will be in 3-5 years. Should you go midsize?”

      Great point. Unless you’re okay with flipping cars frequently, I’d try to anticipate what you’ll need in the future, not simply what works for you now.

      My recommendation would be a used Acura TSX with a manual. Seems like you can get nice, low mile examples for under $20k. Not as fast as a WRX or GTI, but a fun, engaging car. Great shifter. Should last forever. Won’t beat you up on your long commute. Probably won’t need to upgrade to something larger in the near future.

  • avatar
    Chan

    For a car guy, it’s critical to think about what your heart really wants in life.

    Forget usability concerns like seats and trunk space. What is a car that you can realistically afford someday, with the looks and the functions that you desire? Is that V8 Mustang just a little out of reach? Do you lust after the sleeper status of a WRX? Do you dream of a 70s garage queen that can’t be started reliably unless it’s summertime?

    Decide on that and work towards it–any other car would be a mere stepping stone that you would never gain true satisfaction from.

    The family can always use the other car. The commute can always be fulfilled with a cheap, reliable beater.

  • avatar
    bludragon

    So many good options…
    GTI I would get with the PP so you have that diff for the snow. Of course, that adds another thing to break at some point.
    WRX is obviously worth a test drive. You are giving up some fuel economy, but it should be pretty reliable and you get awd for the winter.
    ILX does look like a good option.

    Or… wait 6 months and see what is up with the rumored 2017 mazdaspeed3 or civic si. Go test drive a mazda3 now if you like.

    Actually, with a 40mile each way commute, I think I’d be looking at a base (or close to base) mazda3 2.0, a set of snows for the winter AND a dedicated track car 3:)

    To answer the question at the top of the article, I think for me it would be:
    – Used Mazda5 for family hauling and daily driving duties.
    – Hang on for a 2017 Mazdaspeed3 for commuting and daily driving.
    – Road legal track car (ideally a spec boxster, but perhaps more realistically a spec miata or half-caged RX-8).

  • avatar
    jonnyanalog

    I’m in nearly the same situation as the gent in the article. Having driven both the FiST and the FoST back to back the nod for comfort goes to the FoST. It rides so much better across the crap roads of the upper Mid-West than the Fiesta due to its longer wheelbase, weight, and shock tuning. Plus, my kiddos are more comfortable in the back seat. I love me some FiST; I prefer its looks to the FoST and I love the character on the road. However, the on-road character may wear thin long term, IMO.
    The next car on the list to test drive is the new GTI. I’m drawn to the MK6 more but don’t want to deal with the water pump failures that most seem to be plagued with (more than once).
    Another cool “mature’ car is the Audi A3 which no one has mentioned yet. Outta my price range but might be nice as a CPO car.
    For me, an alternative is to keep my 05 Escape as a bad weather beater and get a used Cayman.
    Good luck, Josh. There really are many truly great cars to choose from right now.

    • 0 avatar
      Nedmundo

      Bingo. Assuming you like the Recaros, IMO Focus ST is the way to go. (To avoid the Recaros you’re forced into the base model, which lacks lots of good stuff for daily drivers.) It rides well, and has a quiet, solid, composed feel on the highway along with fantastic agility. (Take a look at the Focus SE rental review, which notes the quiet highway ride.) The quiet interior is great for long commutes, and reportedly the WRX is pretty noisy. And, as a driver’s car, the Focus ST is vastly superior to the Acura ILX.

      Yes, reliability could be an issue, but the Focus ST has been on the road for a few years, so most of the kinks should have been addressed. I’d trust it more than a VW, for sure.

      The Fiesta ST might be more fun, but for long drives and carrying kids, I’d take the Focus any day.

      The used TSX recommendation isn’t bad. I have a 2010 with MT, and it’s been a reliable, fun, and practical daily driver. If you can find one at a good price, check it out, but the Focus ST is much more fun, and has less road noise.

  • avatar
    facelvega

    One more voice for the GTI. Fun but civilized, practical and efficient but kind of luxurious as well. I’d avoid the DSG for high mile use, though, so if an auto is required, I’d test drive an ILX. Personally I’m a father, 40, live in the country in the north, and drive a Golf TSI as my high-mile commuter, with the wife in a E91 BMW, both manual. I actually like driving the VW more, and keep in mind mine is just a base golf.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    It occurs to me that I have about 30 years of car guy credits to sell since, though childfree, I’ve never, ever chosen anything “sporty” after a TR4 way back during Watergate.

    I need to find a broker.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “I need to find a broker.”

      Nah.

      I’d be afraid if I purchased your credits I’d have a sudden, strong, and totally irrational compulsion to buy a CUV.

      I cants have that!

  • avatar
    Russycle

    I’d look hard at the GTI. I’d imagine VW is very motivated to move vehicles these days, and you have the Cherokee for backup in case the reliability gods frown on you. As for the 07 Kia, dump it. Why pay for reg/insurance on a backup vehicle when you already have the Cherokee?

  • avatar
    b-a

    Agree on adding the Mazada 3 to the list. WRX/GTI/FoST would all be great cars, though all have relatively high ownership costs. WRX is maybe the best choice for OH, and holds its value better than most, but is premium only, which is fine when the Saudis are trying to bankrupt the rest of the oil industry, but what about when gas prices go back up?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “what about when gas prices go back up?”

      I’m glad this occurred to someone else other than me.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      The standard WRX uses regular (87 octane)unleaded. The STI version requires premium (91 octane) unleaded.

      • 0 avatar
        b-a

        Ah, good to know. Still, can’t believe anyone would praise the WRX for good gas mileage. Yes, good for an AWD sports car, though a 2.0 Mazda 3 can get 40 MPG!

        Also, if it’s not premium gas why are the ownership cost estimates I’ve seen on the WRX so high? Is it all insurance costs?

  • avatar
    EAF

    I want to love the WRX and other Subaru, on paper, they are an ideal candidate (for me). You have your choice between a sedan or a hatch, n/a or f/i, auto or manual, and of course they’re AWD. The problem is, having wrenched on cars for a living, I have arrived at the conclusion that Subaru does not make a reliable car nor do they stand behind their product! I don’t care what CR says about Subaru for 2016. I don’t care that your neighbor has a Forester with 300k miles on it either.

    Oil consumption, rod knock, head gaskets, rust, turbos wheel bearings, etc. I have come across many examples of these problem on very low mileage Subaru. I’ve repaired countless head gaskets and have swapped countless 2.2 JDM engines to replace USDM boxers.

    The GTI? Hahahaha! The OP appears to be the type of person who ‘owns’ his cars and keeps them long term as evidenced by his ’07 Optima & a ’00 Cherokee. You simply cannot own a VW past its warranty period, PERIOD.

    I’m with Corey, Sporty, and those who would opt for the ILX or Accord Coupe. Fist & Fost would be my 3rd and 4th choice respectively.

    Good luck with whatever route you choose OP!

  • avatar
    TybeeJim

    Get rid of those other fine cars and get yourself the first available Porsche Cayman GT4. That’s the ticket!

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    “I’ve yet to find the reason to recommend at GTI over a FiST, unless you really love plaid more than most people do.”

    Because the GTI has an interior (and NVH) that would be happily at home in a lower-end Audi, while the FiST has an interior from a Ford Fiesta. What do I win?

    Do what I did: go for the GTI, and lease it if you’re so worried about reliability. Your 40-year-old posterior doesn’t deserve the punishment of three to six years getting pummeled by a WRX or FiST.

  • avatar
    Coopdeville

    I’m beginning to think all people on this site are about 40 and live in Ohio. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    Sorry, but the ILX is a TERRIBLE choice. It’s a noisy, slow, cynical POS, designed to get people to overpay for a glorified Civic. It’s such a sad crap pile actually that the brand new Civic is a better car in every way. AVOID. If you want a hot Honda, wait for the new Civic Si.

    If you want something in the Acura class, buy an Audi A3. Less fun (out of the box) than a VW GTI sure, but VW and Audi are at opposite ends of the reliability chart, at least according to CR anyway. Get the A3, and have APR boost that 2.0T into something serious. Or just buy an S3. Or buy an S3 and send THAT to APR to turn it into an fire breathing RS3.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      Now ask yourself how it’s possible for an Audi A3 and a GTI to ACTUALLY (meaning not in CR-World) be at opposite ends of the reliability spectrum…

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I narrowed my eyes a bit at the ILX recommendation as well. I’ll yield to anyone here with seat time in it, but nothing I’ve read suggests it would be a good alternative to the genuinely entertaining cars under discussion. Too loud and cheap feeling to be a decent entry level lux, too unengaging and bland to be any kind of semi-sports sedan.

      Like the Accord, it would be another “I settled” car. But unlike the Accord, you wouldn’t be getting a top-tier player in its segment.

  • avatar

    I was going to write a diatribe about an author who’s rages about “settling” in one paragraph and frets about “stigma” in the next, because if stigma is the only thing that’s against WRX, then OBVIOUSLY it’s the best choice. But by the end of article it turned out that all the fluff above was rhetorical flourish and yes, buy the WRX, it’s obvious.

    Frankly if it were me, I would’ve bought a Renegade with 1.4t (only comes with a manual) and AWD. It’s nowhere near as fast as WRX, but it’s quite chuckable and its internal volume will permit to discard the poor XJ. Or maybe save it away from the elements and rust until it’s going to cost twice as much as now. I would even got rid of Optima at this point too. Backup is what Uber and rental cars are for.

    P.S. Another superb choice would be CX-3. Well, it would probably rust in 3 winters, but who cares about that.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    With your list of criteria and past autos. The WRX sounds like the Supreme choice. Don’t listen to the pansies that say the WRX is buzzy. The only WRX they probably drove in was one from 15 years ago with ghetto mods. Just go take a test drive in a New WRX and see no buzzy. It is a very solid car that is extremely fun to drive in any season.

  • avatar
    Acd

    Roll the dice and go for the GTI. When everything works on it you’ll love it and when its in for repairs you can appreciate how good it is when they give you a 2.0 liter Jetta for a service loaner.

  • avatar
    MAGICGTI

    Volvo S60 T6? You can sell the Cherokee as the Volvo is unstoppable in the snow, and the P3 Volvos are VERY reliable.

    I own a MKVIII GTI S with Lighting Package, 6-speed. Great car, if you won’t follow the Volvo suggestion the GTI is the choice. They’ve been reliable, don’t buy into the internet hivemind of unreliable VWs in this decade.

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      +1……Finally some Volvo love. I am shopping CPO Volvo’s right now and will probably pull the trigger in a few weeks. Love the V-60, With the 4cyl he could do his commute for about $4-$5/day with gas at today’s price. Beautiful car, safe, great interior. Since wifey has the Outback probably doesn’t want another wagon tho.

  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    1. You have enough practical cars for winter and family duty.
    2. You’re not a cheese-eating high school boy.

    It’s time to get a Porsche.

    A gently used Cayman (or Boxster if you prefer topless) can be found in the 30-35k range. Once they enter that price range, the depreciation curve flattens out, and you’ll be able to sell the thing for not much more than you bought it. Keep up with scheduled maintenance, and it will be more reliable than any VW, Audi or BMW or high-strung Turbo.

    It’s never going to win a drag-race, but will out handle anything thrown your way. And absolutely nothing beats an engine roaring a few inches behind your head.

    • 0 avatar
      Reino

      Well said. A perfect commuter.

    • 0 avatar
      Coopdeville

      I call shark jump. Tavarish is that you?

      IMHO there is a wide chasm between being willing and wanting to spend about 30k on a shiny brand new warrantied car and spending that same 30k on a 5-8 year old Porsche with between 30-80,000 miles, according to what’s on sale at Cargurus atm. Without stepping into the depreciation debate, Josh knows EXACTLY what his new car will cost him in his first 3 years of ownership – payments (plus tires and brakes, maybe.)

      While not always the smartest financial move, the peace of mind afforded by buying new can outweigh a lot of other considerations, especially to a corporate working man who needs reliable transportation and has a family to consider. To someone like that (and me by extension), the thought of maintenance on a high mileage Porsche makes the knees go weak.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Considering a base Mustang? Why not Challenger or Charger sxt?

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    I’m a bit younger, but otherwise in a very similar scenario. With the amount of driving we do, its hard to overestimate the luxury of space and low NVH on a day-to-day basis.

    Aside from a chicane on the way to the main highway, my commute is mostly flat, 70-mph cruising, probably similar-ish to yours as I live in a mostly-flat neighboring state. I’ve driven a MQB Golf and also really enjoyed it. I haven’t yet driven a WRX, but have ridden in new-style Imprezas, and there is a night-and-day difference in NVH. I’d do my 30 mile each way commute in a Golf most days.

  • avatar
    mikey

    The Mustang is blast to drive . My 13 year old Grandson is just over 5 ft, and the rear sit is a little cramped for him. More room than a Camaro, but still , something you may want to think about

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I love this post….this is me. I ultimately took home a manual Mazda 6. I found that it is a great mix of family hauler, style, performance and sensible price. I too consider…still….a WRX. I cannot get over the boy racer looks though. I am a 40 year old adult dammit…a DAM adult!!!! Make an adult version. I could generally care less what people think of my car but there are those rare occasions when it does matter.

    Hopefully Mazdaspeed6 returns. I am in line for whatever problems, unwanted stereotypes, etc it can throw at me. Rare is the unwinged family car that can turn into a AWD, 6MT, grin inducing, tire shredding maniac :)

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “I cannot get over the boy racer looks though.”

      I know these things are subjective but would you mind stating what about the WRX you find to be boy racerish?

      To me, the car is actually kinda conservative.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    80 commuting miles in a day and it’s got to seat kids and be fun? That’s GTI territory. Take advantage of VW’s lies and damned lies; I’m seeing $4000 off GTIs at my area dealerships. If you are worried about reliability, budget for MSRP and use the discount to go towards potential future repairs.

    Or get a lightly used G37x or Q40x. I think they are delightful and have a good reliability record.

    • 0 avatar
      XR4Ti

      A GTI was my solution too. I commute 80 miles/day an wanted a fun, reasonably priced car that wouldn’t beat me up on my long drive. I was also tired of driving a big, impractical 2-door coupe.

      I enjoyed driving the FiST but I could see it becoming a drag on a longer commute every day. It was reasonably quiet, but the cabin felt very narrow. The ride was harsh (tradeoff for the excellent handling). Its interior was okay, but not nearly in the same league as the VW. Safety ratings aren’t great for the Fiesta, either, especially in the IIHS small-overlap test.

      The FoST? Too hyper for my taste. Also — FWIW — Consumer Reports gives the Focus way below average predicted reliability (160% below average or thereabouts) whereas the GTI was only 5% below average in its first model year.

      I got my GTI (4-door, 6-speed S) for $4500 off MSRP without much trying. If it lasts me 100,000 miles, I’ll be happy. With the money I saved, I budgeted for an extended warranty.

      • 0 avatar
        kuman

        GTI is good indeed, however for back roads, i’m not sure it would be tough enough for the job, the ground clearance is pretty low IMHO, a good sized pot hole would eat it up, not to mention the daily grind would take its toll on GTI’s delicate suspension bushings n stuff. i would rather take my XV for these application.

        • 0 avatar
          hubcap

          “GTI is good indeed, however for back roads, i’m not sure it would be tough enough…”

          It’ll be fine. He doesn’t live in Fallujah.

          • 0 avatar
            kuman

            Even my tank would need frequent servicing if I were to use it there… HA! Low fuel price aside, the undercarriage repairs would kill my wallet.

            All I can remember from the US is Detroit has bad road, almost as bad as the 3rd world country which I lived. Except we got floods and no ice.

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          The gti is fine on some seriously lumpy back roads. I’ve tried to find the bottom of my suspension travel quite a few times already (im talking 85+ on camber crazed roads and not lifting at all for big dips), hasn’t happened yet.

          Of the cars he’s shopping I’d rank the fist first, gti second, wrx third for dry road fun. Wrx first, fist second, gti third for snow days. None of them are going to eat themselves alive doing the job, it’s exactly what they are designed for.

    • 0 avatar
      Driver8

      Going weird here.
      Golf Sportwagon TSI, chipped for 93.
      Most of the GTI, with Q-factor stealth and extra cargo capacity and a better ride. Unfortunately 5 speed only comes on the base S.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Test the WRX, FoST & FiST. If the budget and timing allow; FoRS too. The WRX is a lot quieter and more comfortable (stock) than most think. If you’re still unsure and none of them steal your heart KEEP LOOKING. It’s where and what you’ll be doing over an hour a day. Having the commute be the fun part of a day is worth taking the time to get right.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    “Ohio winters”

    You southern boys are hilarious.

    GTI all the way for this one. It’s a car for grown-ups, more refined than the fast Fords, and VW is dealing these days. Get the 6spd stick, unless you are missing a limb, and a source of much potential dilemma and maintenance cost goes away.

  • avatar
    omer333

    God this makes me wish I’d gone for an Impreza GT or WRX when I had the chance.

  • avatar
    kuman

    I would recommend a good small / mid sized SUV or MPV with good ground clearance with comfort first then economy second in mind, taking consideration the back roads and 40 mile commute you need to deal with.

    I’m not sure whats available there in north america since i don’t live there, but surely do look into a small SUV. You would be greatly benefited from cushy rides and worry free motoring ( no fear of getting stranded in water puddle or ruining your underside from huge pot holes during your commute ) the space to store your stuff away from sight yet the ability to get them without getting out of the car. back end of the most small SUV can be folded down to form a flat floor, perfect if you desperately need a quick nap.

    On another thing, good audio set up… trust me, you will appreciate a good system.

    So a CRV perhaps? or something even softer than that?

    If you want to have fun, just borrows your wive’s Outback, that should be enough fun if u managed to trick them out properly. I’m sure she’ll appreciate some blings in and around her car as well. there is plenty of forums for that.

    Personally, I have a Subaru XV, that thing has been a gem albeit a slow one. ( I’m a travelling businessman… 3 to 5 hours stuck in traffic everyday )

    Good luck

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      Based on the cars he’s considering, methinks he wants a bit of excitement and fun.

      For off-road fun, I could see the Outback as a choice. A soporific CUV though is not even in the same ballpark as the vehicles the OP listed.

      • 0 avatar
        kuman

        As u mentioned earlier, perhaps GTI is a sensible option, its OK ish IMHO, i used to drive the audi version of the older GTI… they’re fast, but pretty sterile. I like Focus better.

        Btw, why not 370Z? too ricer? or worried looking like a midlife crisis?

        I’ll rephrase, if space is not so much of an issue, I rather recomend ford focus over GTI. ( ford maintenance and repair are cheaper than VW right? )

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          They aren’t unfortunately. All of the new car basket cases I currently know are driving performance Subarus and fords. It was definitely vw all the way for nightmares a few years ago, but the worm has turned and all that.

          It’s simply a matter of paying dues on drivetrain technology unless you are bottom of the heap for reliability. Vw’s been in that space for longer than ford in this market and Subaru simply doesn’t have the volume on their high performance drivetrain tech, regardless of how supply constrained they seem right now. If every impreza was turbocharged I’m sure it would be a different story.

  • avatar
    Reino

    Bark, can you please stop spreading the fear of RWD cars in the winter? This is absurd. This is a professional auto blog, where people actually KNOW things. A mustang with dedicated winter tires has NO PROBLEM driving on maintained winter roads. Sure it is not going to is through a foot of powder–but how often does anyone drive through that before the plows do?

    Just stop this nonsense right now.

  • avatar
    Reino

    “Mustang? I think you’re going to really like having a heavy, rear-wheel-drive car about eight months out of the year in Ohio, and you’re really going to hate it the other four. ”

    Bark, can you please stop spreading the fear of RWD cars in the winter? This is absurd. This is a professional auto blog, where people actually KNOW things. A mustang with dedicated winter tires has NO PROBLEM driving on maintained winter roads. Sure it is not going to is through a foot of powder–but how often does anyone drive through that before the plows do?

    Just stop this nonsense right now.

    • 0 avatar
      Coopdeville

      Funny you say this. Snowy in Cinci today with little in the way of road clearage. Passed a yellow GT with performance package still on it’s summer tires, 4 way flashers on, poking along at least 20 below the flow of traffic. Wondered if I took that same plunge if that would be me, or if I would be smart enough to buy winter tires. I think I know the answer.

      In his defense (I’m assuming b/c windows tinted, but bright yellow and performance package screams “he”), I passed a 4×4 Jeep Liberty doing the same. It was still on those useless 20″ wheels and “Michelin slicks,” as we used to call them. Give me a good old knobby Good Year on my Jeeps, or better yet a Bridgestone Dueler.

  • avatar
    Alexdi

    I wrote a comparison of the Accord, GTI, and WRX in the last comment of this article:

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/12/2015-volkswagen-gti-long-term-update/

    If you don’t mind a firm ride and prefer a sedan to a hatch, the WRX is your huckleberry. If those aren’t true, you want a GTI with an extended warranty, the stick, and the limited-slip. It rides better, is more practical, and is nearly as fast and fun. The Focus ST is similar if Ford is more your thing.

    You don’t want an Accord. It’ll bore you by the second day. Likewise the gutless ILX. The Mustang is a one-trick pony with terrible visibility and practicality. More speed doesn’t equal more fun, just a higher probability of finding yourself in a ditch. Same comment about the Golf R and the Focus RS.

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    2015 BMW X1, with the big banger. 300hp, just that bit of ride height,handles beautifully, AWD, frugal outside of the city, respectable badge….. it’s perfect.

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      I get what you are saying about the x1. So my wife and I test drove one with twin turbo six. Fast, very fun to drive. But, the sunvisor broke off during the test drive and inside door hand was already looking like it was about to fall off. Did not look like a good car to own.

  • avatar
    steverock

    I’m in the same boat you are (40 with 2 kids), and I recently bought a 2013 Acura TL SH-AWD. It’s pretty rare, very fun to drive, and is really reliable since its closely related to the Accord. Its also a lot nicer inside. Killer stereo as well.

  • avatar
    ant

    I’d recommend a Chevrolet Caprice PPV, in detective trim.
    V8, rwd, and I think they look nice, in an understated way.

    http://www.caranddriver.com/photo-gallery/2012-chevrolet-caprice-ppv-test-review#6

  • avatar
    Varezhka

    Infiniti QX50/Nissan Skyline Crossover? It’s essentially a hatch/station wagon version of the old G37, so it should be decently solid and pretty quick, and the price is pretty reasonable.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    Lots of good choices, if it had to be new, I’d have to agree on the WRX.

    Don’t think anyone has mentioned a used Lexus GS 350 yet, you can get these for around $30K, some with AWD. Quick, quiet, and they feel solid as hell.

  • avatar
    Junkfixer

    At 53, I’m past this point and there’s one small lesson I wish to impart: You will always underestimate size requirements. This is why minivans are so popular, even though they are boring as whale shit. None of the cars on your list will have adequate size as your family matures, so I’ll leave you with this:

    Charger R/T.

    • 0 avatar
      ptschett

      This. I’m younger (34) and single with no family plans, but still thought hard about going with the Charger last year when I decided to replace my 2010 Challenger with one of the 2015 Hemi/8-speed cars. I decided that big coupes had served me just fine for the last 20 years and went with a Challenger again, but would have been equally as happy with the Charger.

  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    I think a used BMW 128i or 135i would make a great alternative to a GTI/WRX as well. A great Inline 6 and RWD, in a nice handling package = good times for grown adults.

  • avatar
    slance66

    I think the OP should do what I did in a similar situation and age, get a 328 xdrive, CPO. About 2013 should do it at this point. MPG is great, nothing is better on back roads, and with the AWD, you can ditch the Cherokee if you want.

    Everything else on the list has problems really. If he’s not a BMW guy then an A4 would work the same way.

  • avatar
    09box

    I’d be leary of a VW. What about a new Mazda 6? Plenty of backseat and trunk space, great mpg and can get it with a stick shift.

    Also, I think a pre-owned CX-5 or Mazda 5 would be good options to explore. You could can get both with a stick shift.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    CPO Acura TL SH-AWD in 6 speed manual….. throw in a rv6 j pipe and a k tuner and the power/sound of the J motor will be bliss for years to come…..

  • avatar

    Colorado Diesel.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    If you’re 40ish, enjoy a manual transmission while you can, because by the time you’re knocking on 50, like I am, the osteoarthritis in your knees and gout flare-ups in your feet will make it MISERABLE to drive a stick.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I have gout at 47, I prefer a stick anyway. If you are shifting all the time you are doing it wrong. I wouldn’t want to drive something with a heavy clutch, but my cars all have relatively light clutches so it isn’t an insurmountable problem. But it does hurt sometimes. Then again, no worst than walking does during a flareup.

  • avatar
    justbill

    2015 Dodge Charger SE AWD.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • ToolGuy: Some really old guys with broken wrists, arms and jaws might disagree with you – kidding. But if you...
  • Lorenzo: My first long drive was when I picked up my car in Providence RI and drove it to my Navy base in San Diego....
  • ToolGuy: theBrandler, A thought I had in the early days of EV’s/hybrids – why not use a small...
  • HotPotato: It would be good MPG for an AWD compact CUV, but the Kona is a subcompact FWD hatchback with CUV styling...
  • ptschett: #RadicalSandwichCrossoverHatch backAnarchy

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States