Where Your Author Spends Dollars on a Mexican Wagon

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

All of you have shared in my car shopping experience, which began at the end of 2019. Starting with a solicitation for recommendations back in October, the process of finding the right replacement for a 2012 Outback extended longer than planned and was punctuated with a particularly poor experience at a Volkswagen dealer.

But it was all worth it, because now I’ve got a new (used) wagon.

Your recommendations were split roughly down the middle when it came to a 2018 (and potentially SEL-trimmed) Golf Sportwagen, or a new 2019 example that had a more efficient engine but maxed out at SE trim. The model revision and consolidation was due to the model’s cancellation at the end of 2019. For the foreseeable future, the Golf will arrive in North America in four-door GTI format only. It continues on with much broader offerings elsewhere in the world.

After the dealer in Illinois didn’t want my money, I started searching within a radius of 150 miles or so for a Golf I could check out before buying. Simultaneous eyes on eBay for one in the right specification made no difference: The majority of front-drive Sportwagens were delivered with a black interior. For shame.

There was one local to me, at a Volkswagen dealer just a few miles away. A 2019 in SE trim, it had 4,000 miles, the tan interior, and was CPO. Given the search results up to that time, it was an unusual combination to see. I went to check it out in the middle of November, and discovered its basically new condition. The condition was what you’d expect with such age and mileage, apart from an interior that needed a scrub. The dealer relayed this particular example was a service loaner at their location, which filled in the blanks on the year and mileage. CarFax wasn’t much help here — it said it was “well maintained,” with one oil change.

Like every other dealer I’d talked to, this one was keen to state, “These aren’t made any more!” and encourage that good old buyer rush. Their price was $23,000, and they were willing to negotiate a full $100 off that ask, and no further. Given that price was hundreds of dollars higher than even the KBB-suggested CPO price, I walked.

A few days later the sales manager followed up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning, letting me know the wagon I looked at was a great value against some attached comparable vehicles within an 800-mile radius. There were 11 used cars on provided list, and seven of those listed at $25,000 — what dealers ask for new ones. I explained there were just too few on the used market, which caused a price distortion (he agreed). I told the manager I was content to wait for prices to rationalize.

Weeks went by, and the original salesman I spoke with in November followed up December 10th to ask how my search was going. I didn’t hesitate to point out that the overpriced one I’d looked at was still for sale.

“We’ve had it a bit longer than anticipated,” he admitted. There was reassurance of more motivation to move metal, and $22,500 was the offer from across the table. Not good enough, as the money was still above that old KBB limiter. I countered with $22,300, and was quickly informed $22,500 was as low as they could go. Sticking to my guns, I declined.

Three days later another email arrived; they’d hate to lose a customer over a couple hundred bucks. Playing around with a lower purchase price and what it did to the taxes, the tactic changed to an out-the-door total of $24,300. That broke down to $22,428, plus taxes and the doc fee. Close enough.

I picked up my new SportWagen on December 21st, and enjoyed driving around economically ever since for exactly two weeks. That’s when it went back to the dealer to fix a rattle up above my head. It’s still sitting there as of this writing. Look for an update soon, and we’ll see how wrong the build quality was from the factory.

[Images: Corey Lewis/TTAC]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • FreedMike FreedMike on Jan 22, 2020

    Didn't see this yesterday - glad this worked out for you, Corey! FYI, my bet is that the rattle is sunroof-related. My A3 has the same basic setup as your car (MQB FTW), and has a minor one. On the plus side, you can drive 50-60 mph with the roof fully open, and there's very little draft. It's nice this time of year. :)

    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Jan 22, 2020

      I am thinking it is as well. I believe it's to do with a piece of plastic in the sunroof assembly. Seems I'm gonna have to try and fix it myself.

  • Claytori Claytori on Jan 23, 2020

    I purchased a 2016 Golf Sportwagen with 90K km last October and have put 8K more on it since. The dealer had to do some work on it to bring it up to snuff before I would buy it. It was low on power and they put a new turbocharger on it. I notice that it has three new coil packs, so they must have gone around the block a bit. The car has been very good, even the problematic pano sunroof. Those of us who want/need a smaller MT wagon have limited choices. I am not silly, as I purchased a 3 year VW full coverage warranty. I have the 1.8 TSI 5MT Trend Line. The the Canadian trim names for that year are "Comfort Line, Trend Line, High Line" with some different features to the US trims. Also, VW Canada put in a factory order for enough of these to sell all thru 2020 as this has been a very popular model here. I would be happy if the silly shift nudger went away as it isn't required here (just like TPMS). Overall, I am happy with the car.

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  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.
  • 1995_SC Can you still get some of the tax credits under the new program?
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