How I Ended Up in the Arms of a Base-Model Volkswagen Jetta

I’d spent about a year building up to this moment: my first new car purchase since 2005. A lot happened between then and now, including a messy divorce that took two years to finalize, and which left a giant, smoking, Ground Zero-style smoking hole where my finances (and credit) had been.

But I needed a second car so my 20-year-old daughter could use my old Buick LeSabre to get back and forth to college and her student teaching gig. So, I rebuilt my credit, Six Million Dollar Man style. I did my homework on financing. I drove Lord knows how many cars over a one-year period. And I decided on one that I thought was vastly superior: a Volkswagen Golf. I even negotiated a decent price.

Still, the numbers weren’t working.

“You have to be kidding. That works out to how much?”

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How To Buy Your Dream Car Sight Unseen From The Internet

Let’s give a hearty “Welcome back!” to our friend Rebecca, who previously wrote about her Tacoma on these pages. She just picked up this beautiful Z4 from a dealership hundreds of miles away from her home. This is her story on how she did it.

This journey started in October of 2007 when the lease on my 2005 Z4 3.0 matured, and I had to give the car that I dreamed of, and built on BMW NA’s site for two years, back to the dealership.

Since then I’ve had the recurring dream that I still had that car — it’s just been in storage all this time. I have serious commitment issues with cars, so it dawned on me three years ago that this was the one that got away. Fast forward to April 2016, I’ve saved for this car for a couple of years, and casually checking out the market with the plans to purchase before the end of the year. I happened upon a couple of white ones just outside my price range, and decided it was worth the stretch.

So what was my process?

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Reader Review: 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon XLT

(Everybody say “Hi!” to Nick, who is here to share his tale of Transit Connect ownership with the B&B! — JB)

Last year, when my wife and I were first looking at minivans, I went by the Ford dealer to check out the new Transit Connect. The van really appealed to me, with its emphasis on utility, its quirky charm, and the Euro pedigree. My wife, our designated minivan driver, wouldn’t give it the slightest consideration. She deemed it more suitable for a mobile pet cremation business than for Mommy duty. We wound up with a Nissan Quest, which I wrote about here and with which we have been very happy.

Last year I started a surfboard business. This meant that I was borrowing the Quest for long stretches at a time. It also meant that it was finally time for me to consider getting something appropriately capacious for myself, giving me a perfect excuse to add a Transit Connect to our fleet.

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Reader Review: 2013 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

(Please give a warm welcome to Ian, who has 40,000 miles on his Jetta GLI! — JB)

About three years ago, I was the owner of a 2004 Ford Focus SVT two door and simultaneously the dad of a one-year-old child. Our family car was a 2008 Saturn Vue. One day I got a call from my wife telling me that the Saturn wasn’t shifting into second anymore. Thankfully the Saturn’s powertrain warranty covered what ended up being a clutch pack failure.

Thanks to the factory warranty, at first it seemed like the biggest hassle of the incident was going to be the sketchy tow truck guy who didn’t have a parking brake on his truck and had to resort to using part of a broom handle wedged against the brake pedal and the truck’s bench seat to keep the truck from moving while the Vue was loaded onto the bed. It turns out this wasn’t the biggest hassle. That was reserved for a week of loading my daughter in and out of a rear facing seat on a two door hatchback.

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Reader Review: 2013 BMW 128i M-Sport

From reader-but-not-commenter Paul Stanley (save the comments, B&B) comes a review of what he feels to be the last enthusiast-focused Bimmer — JB

BMW’s neue klasse marked the beginning of an era of driver-focused cars in the 1960s by introducing a lightweight, moderately powered car that sought balance and usability above all else. Perhaps more importantly, it was affordable and not overly complex. The 2002 was a driver’s car, and so was the 3 Series that followed.

Then, in 2008, BMW introduced the 1 Series to the US market.

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Reader Review: 2002 Lexus SC430

From reader “Joey X” comes a tale of what it’s like to own what he calls “The most hated sports coupe ever.” —JB

Worst car in the history of the world. You try selling a car on Craigslist after getting that sobriquet slapped across its hood by Top Gear. The seller of my 2002 SC430 had the old girl listed for almost a year before I came by and snatched her for $10,000 in funny money Canadian dollars (roughly $7,200 US at the moment). She had 129,000 miles (not kilometers!) on her at this point and an iffy history containing no fewer than three previous owners.

It’s been a year since I got her — and I wouldn’t give her up for the world.

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2015 Subaru Legacy Rental Car Review

In my youth I was a vital, virile, male Manly Man. So manly that when I got a new ’86 GTI as my first “nice” car, I left off not only the automatic transmission but also the power steering. Mind you, it drove great — when it drove at all.

One night my parents tossed me the keys to drive them home from the restaurant. Mom’s whip was a mid-trim, 4-pot ’88 Camry. Yes, its limits were low, it was gutless, and it was tailored to bourgeois tastes with pastel upholstery here and fake stitching there. However, it was up front about its limitations, pridefully built, civilized in all its moves, and driving it was just so…easy. I one-fingered steered all the way home and made an earnest mental note.

Fifty VW defects later, I went Japanese and never looked back.

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2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4×4 Reader Review

Maybe it’s the horrific condition of most New England roads. Maybe it was because we just had snowiest winter in Boston since anyone’s been counting. Or maybe, just maybe, I have finally fully succumbed to my Napoleon Complex.

“The great proof of madness is the disproportion of one’s designs to one’s means.”
―Napoleon Bonaparte

What started off with me buying my first liter bike has blossomed (*tear*) into the purchase of my first pickup truck: 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4×4 double cab short bed with a…..dun dada dun….6-speed manual gear box. I know the Tacoma has remained relatively unchanged since 2004 – actually, it’s pretty much the same truck I’ve been lusting over since 2007. I know that it doesn’t have great fuel economy. I know that there are trucks with better technology in them. But hear me out!

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2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2WD LT Crew Cab Reader Review

Just a couple of months ago, GM quietly announced their factory 5 year/100k mile powertrain warranty was going to henceforth be downgraded to a 60k mile powertrain warranty because their cars are all fine now and customers don’t care about long-term warranties.

About 48 hours after this was announced, my wife found herself limping along the side of a major road in our 2010 Malibu with 90k miles on the odometer, engine revving, but little transmission of power taking place between the engine and the wheels.

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Reader Review: 1993 Mitsubishi Delica Super Exceed

TTAC reader James Federico sends us his take on life with a Mitsubishi Delica

“It’s a Mitsubishi Delica”

“Japan originally, but I bought it from a dealer in London”

“About 10 grand”

These are the first three sentences I speak any time I exit my van within twenty feet of another human being. There are other questions, depending on the age and interests of the person asking them:

“Do you go off road?”
“Is it hard to drive over there?”
“Is it hard to get parts?”

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Reader Review: 2010 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen

Reader Phil Brown shares his experiences with his Jetta Wagon

Volkswagen still has the temerity to sell a compact station wagon in an American market scarfing up CUVs, and bless them for it. I should have been in the heart of the CUV market when looking for a new vehicle in 2010, but I ended up in a MkVI Jetta Sportwagen. It isn’t brown and it doesn’t burn diesel, but after four years and 51K miles of ownership I can understand some of the fervor of wagon fans here on TTAC. There is just something so fundamentally sound and good about the way this car drives, the way it goes down the road, and the surprising utility it offers. With the recent ascension of the Volkswagen Golf to the MQB platform and the 1.8TSI engine on North American shores, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share my longer-term ownership experience of the outgoing platform.

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Reader Review: 2014 Mazda6

TTAC reader Steve submits his review of his 2014 Mazda6 Touring – with a manual!

I drove home in my new Liquid Silver Mazda 6 (Touring with 6MT) in January of this year – at just over $23,000, this is the cheapest new car I’ve bought, and also the most enjoyable.

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Reader Ride Review: 2013 Nissan Leaf

Let’s play a little word association, shall we? Okay, great! I will say the name of a car, and you describe its owner.

Nissan Leaf S. Got it? Cool.

Here’s what I came up with: LeMons-racing, Glock-owning, Libertarian-leaning, father of four, mechanical engineer. Wait, that’s not what you came up with? Well then you don’t know Brian, TTAC reader and owner of today’s Reader Ride Review, a black 2013 Nissan Leaf S.

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Reader Review: Infiniti G37x

TTAC reader Tim Rust sends us his review of his 2010 Infiniti G37x.

Do you pass up the expensive steak house restaurant to buy your meat at Costco and grill the perfect steak at home? Do you purchase your clothing at an outlet mall to avoid the huge mark-up employed by brand-name stores in a mall? Is hiring a handyman/contractor a last resort when your house needs some work? If so, a gently used Infiniti G37 may be the vehicle for you.

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Housekeeping: A Reader Ride Review Update

A quick note on the Reader Ride Review program. The response has been overwhelming.

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  • Tassos I, TASSOS, am a MISERABLE PERSON WITH NOTHING positive or neutral to add. I USED TO BE ACCOMPLISHED but THE CHANGE IN my demeanour following MY COGNITIVE DECLINE, has undone all of MY CONTRIBUTIONS.
  • Polishdon I owned a '16 Chrysler 200s. Bought it used with around 8K miles and traded it in with 90K miles (Wife hates cars with 100K+ miles). It was extremely reliable and was towed just one (Due to duel flats and bent rims from a pothole my daughter who was driving failed to avoid). Was a great car, only pet peeve was the rear seat entry. That was terrible. Replaced it with a brand new '23 Camry LE. Biggest mistake ever! Car has had nothing but minor/mid-level gremlins since day one. Parts falling off, paint issue, rim/tire issues, Bluetooth connection problems, TPMS issues, etc. Going back to the dealer AGAIN in a few weeks for another round of service.
  • Bil65789488 Consumers or manufacturers didn't kill sedans, the government, CAFE, and ZEV killed sedans. With far higher standards and taxes/penalties on sedans than SUVs or trucks, it is no mystery why this is happening.
  • Redapple2 Flyer: Caveat. Subaru. Near 9 inches ground clearance and near Land Rover AWD system, They can do some impressive things off road. (I m not talking Moab trails).
  • Corey Lewis The short truck is terrible. The tire blocks all rear visibility while making the tiny bed very tricky to access. And the wheels on it look like they're from 2002. Other than that, I really like the idea of the Grenadier and it seems like a good effort. I wouldn't buy one because of the tractor recirculating ball steering, which makes it terrible in everyday use.