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Old 02-24-2014, 05:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
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My younger sister is looking for a first car, and currently has her sights set on a MKV Jetta (06, with a 2.5). Please find alternatives or somehow rationalize a VW.*Please. The general budget is sub 7K, and fuel economy is definitely a factor, as is reliability. Four doors a must.
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Old 02-24-2014, 05:48 PM   #2 (permalink)
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2004 to 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt 4 door, 2008 is when the XFE (eXtra Fuel Economy) package became available (since you mentioned fuel economy). Make sure the recalls have been done but even with that it will likely be more durable than the VW and cheaper to repair.*

Ford Focus 1999 to 2007 version, as with all used cars the newer the better. Underrated handling and after the recalls of the 1999 release a solid reliable car with decent fuel economy.*

Nissan Sentra 2001 to 2007 version, good and cheap now and not "weirdly styled" like the 2007 to 2012 edition.*

Corollas are loud enough to give you tinnitus and unfortunately the Matrix and (Matrix based) Vibe are the same. However if you don't find them as loud as this old fart does a 2003-2008 Vibe would be quite cheap and my wife's 5-speed base model hits 30+ mpg on the highway no problem. *
Owner 1967 Ford Mustang Convertible: 289V8, Cruise-o-matic transmission, vintage burgundy exterior, black interior and top, MSD Ignition, true dual 2.5 in exhaust system, Ford 9in rear. Owned since July 2013, in family since 1967.

DD: 2004 Ford F150 Heritage, single cab, bench, crank windows, 4.6V8, automatic, aftermarket flatbed, Dynomax cat back dual exhaust. Owned since 2006. 2010 Toyota Highlander, V6 AWD, three row, family truckster *
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Old 03-01-2014, 07:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Agreed with PD's suggestions. All solid alternatives.

With my experience in re-retailing both Focuses and Cobalts with 'experience' (40-100k miles), be aware of the following potential issues.

Cobalt - electric power steering module, throttle body/position sensors, headlamp lens clarity.

Focus - motor mounts, wheel hub assemblies, power windows.

All of those issues are relatively minor, save for the EPS on the Cobalt. I've had one of those fail ('07 w/85k miles) and it was covered under a GM campaign.

Both Cobalts and Focuseses are rather robust for 'cheap' compacts with solid trim and electricals compared to VWs.

Be aware - as I'm sure you are by the tone of your question - that typical 'used car' problems like inop windows and A/C on A5 Jetta's can be financially draining due to their complexity. Also, the interior trim is weak at best.

Good luck to you!
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--Managing Partner of an independent used car dealership in West Central Florida--
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Old 03-02-2014, 06:47 AM   #4 (permalink)
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The Sentra in question is actually 2000-06. That would be the one I would recommend. Parts are cheap, they are reliable. Engines have a timing chain. Great overall value.

Don't get the VW. It will need just to much money in repairs.
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Old 03-27-2014, 02:59 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'd look at a Cobalt or a Focus. I know owners of both- they've had pretty good experiences.

If you can find one cheap enough, how about a Pontiac G6. I'm a Buick guy, but most kids don't think their "cool enough". A Pontiac is as reliable, and more "cool".
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Old 05-04-2014, 10:13 PM   #6 (permalink)
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MKV Jetta is really a good one but if you are looking for its alternative then you can go for Volvo S40, SAAB 9-2x, Mercedes C230…….

These options can be good for you looking towards the features and fuel economy.*
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