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$15k or $25k to spend (pick one) for a modern, fun car with a liftgate

New circumstances have changed the parameters for searching for a replacement for my Accord. I'd decided on a <$10k Jetta Sportwagen; a bigger budget opens up more options, but since I pay more attention to older cars than newer ones, I'm not as well versed as I'd like to be on what's available, so I come to the PPOT brain trust.

Requirements & conditions: I want either a reasonably-sized hatchback or a wagon so I can carry things like bikes inside, and for the general practicality. Strong preference for a manual transmission but for certain cars on which a manual is N/A, I can live with it if it's a good auto. This will be my one "modern car" so low maintenance plus safety stuff. Will be used for road trips, whatever I need a car for when I can't drive one of my old cars. Will be a four-season car in Chicago (albeit with light use), so it's gonna see salt. I don't use cars for daily transportation (I use bikes/CTA) but drive to work occasionally. I maintain my own cars and don't want something that sucks to work on. Mileage will be about 5000 miles/year.

$15k is a level I at least have some idea about. The idea of spending $25k on anything other than one of the interesting old cars I like has never really occurred to me before.

Options are spend ca. $25k one one modern car (Accord and Saab will get sold), or spend $15k on one modern car and spend the other $10k on body and paint work on my Fiat and some wish-list items for my 911. Or, hell, spend the $10k on a BMW Bavaria to replace the Saab with.

Here is what I have thought of:

1)2010-14 Jetta TDI Sportwagen. See above - I already know I like it. Pro: Lots available at various mileages and price points, fewer manuals but I can live with a DSG. Generally reliable, nice to drive, can put a GTI suspension on it if I want, not overly complicated or difficult to maintain. Great fuel consumption, powertrain warranty, nice size. Con: It's still a German car so I'm sure I'll miss having a Japanese car at some future point of maintenance.

2) 2015+ Golf Sportwagen and Golf Alltrak Sportwagen. I require a sunroof on a car like this and apparently you can't get a regular Golf with a sunroof and a clutch pedal, so this would have to be an Alltrak. Don't know what it's like to drive compared to the previous generation above. Pros and cons mostly like the above. Assuming 30ish mpg on trips, which is fine.

3)2015ish BMW 328d Touring. I've never driven an F-whatever 3-series so have no idea what they're like to drive, but they seem to be nice and are practical. A little scared by lots of complicated electronics and stupid stuff like you have to program batteries to the car or whatever and don't BMW engines not have dipsticks any more? And so on. A friend bought a 335d recently and loves driving it but now he's wondering what he was thinking, so I wonder about this kind of thing. I tell everyone who asks for advice not to keep a newish German car out of warranty.

4)Like above, but gas engines.

5)Current-generation VW GTI. Pro is lots of fun to drive, practical enough, good fuel consumption, etc. Con is all the typical German-car things, maybe, and not as much room as a Golf wagon.

6)Previous-generation Mazda 3 hatchback. Pro: Japanese-car maintenance and cost, fun, efficient. Con: not as roomy as I'd like, not very good visibility. I wish Mazda sold the 6 wagon here.

7)E39 or E46 BMW wagons. Of course these are older and higher maintenance but at least I could get the nicest and best-maintained one in existence and have money left over. I don't know what to think about E92s, but that's the generation where I start thinking, "slap me with a fish if I buy one of these."

I wish there were more Japanese offerings! I don't like Legacy/Outback wagons past the generation that ended in about 2007-8, and I'd rather have a Jetta, I think.

Part of me wants to buy an old M5. Part of me also wants an E30 Touring, but when I think of it I realize there's almost nothing an E30 Touring will do that an E46 Touring won't do better for less money, except for feel like an E30 and not require plastic cooling system component replacements.

What else am I not considering?

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Old 01-21-2020, 12:52 PM
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Would you consider a Honda Accord CrossTour V-6?
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Old 01-21-2020, 12:58 PM
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Old 01-21-2020, 01:07 PM
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Honda HR-V or CR-V
Bikes fit in the back..standing up. Due to the Honda Magic Seats.
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Old 01-21-2020, 01:17 PM
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I will make a comment on the f series BMW, would recommend 2015 and newer for the 4cyl gas engine, they had some timing chain guide failures with the older ones, do not think it was on the Diesels though, wife has a 2017 f30 320ix and it is quite nice to drive, steering and brakes are a little more sensitive then I like, can check oil level on screen so you are correct there is no dipstick. The battery charge program can be reset with proper scan tool, at least on the e60, have not tried the f30.

I think there was a M5 touring made, fun but would not want to maintain as a daily driver.
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Old 01-21-2020, 01:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Douglas View Post
Would you consider a Honda Accord CrossTour V-6?
If my Accord had a manual and a liftgate, I'd never sell it. But a CrossTour is sort of huge, not available with a manual and just leaves sort of no impression on me.

No SUVs under any circumstances (boring to drive) except 2nd-gen Foresters and those fall in the "I'd rather have a Jetta" category with Legacys.
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Old 01-21-2020, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by 908/930 View Post
I will make a comment on the f series BMW, would recommend 2015 and newer for the 4cyl gas engine, they had some timing chain guide failures with the older ones, do not think it was on the Diesels though, wife has a 2017 f30 320ix and it is quite nice to drive, steering and brakes are a little more sensitive then I like, can check oil level on screen so you are correct there is no dipstick. The battery charge program can be reset with proper scan tool, at least on the e60, have not tried the f30.

I think there was a M5 touring made, fun but would not want to maintain as a daily driver.

Thanks for the info on the F30 BMWs. New cars scare me a little, but I've still got my analog old cars. I'd love an E34 M5 Touring, but whereas you can get a sedan for $25k, a good wagon is gonna be around double that. Maintenance might scare me, too, but I bet I'd find a way to justify being OK with it.
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Old 01-21-2020, 01:47 PM
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You said your first requirement was being able to carry a bike inside it. Do any of the cars you mention make that possible without disassembling the bike?
Old 01-21-2020, 01:56 PM
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I have a Toyota Yaris Hatchback; bought it new in 2008 and it has given me close to zero repair issues or problems. Gets 40mpg, goes good in snow, has a manual transmission and I can put my bike in it. Not flashy or fancy. Just gets the job done.
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Old 01-21-2020, 01:56 PM
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^^^ That sounds like my Honda Fit. 40 mpg..manual..just roll the bike in and ready to go.
I never thought I would find fun in driving a 1.5 litre engine car...but it really is.
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Old 01-21-2020, 02:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by porsche tech View Post
You said your first requirement was being able to carry a bike inside it. Do any of the cars you mention make that possible without disassembling the bike?
All the wagons, yes. For my one bike with Albatross cars, I have to take the cockpit off (30 seconds off, 30 seconds on) to fit it into anything but my Saab because the bars are very wide. If I have to take the front wheel off, even fendered, I can live with that. But few wagons require that for my other bikes.

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Originally Posted by stevej37 View Post
^^^ That sounds like my Honda Fit. 40 mpg..manual..just roll the bike in and ready to go.
I never thought I would find fun in driving a 1.5 litre engine car...but it really is.
I've thought of these before but find myself wanting something more refined-feeling, which is why I had settled on JSWs under my earlier conditions. That said, a Fit is still tempting. They have great packaging.
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Old 01-21-2020, 02:10 PM
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TSX Sportwagon FTW!!!!

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Old 01-21-2020, 02:15 PM
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What model Accord do you have now?
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Old 01-21-2020, 02:17 PM
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You'd be surprised at what R&T just named their performance car of the year. A few thou above your budget tho. Hyundai Veloster. I kid you not.
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Old 01-21-2020, 02:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edgemar View Post
TSX Sportwagon FTW!!!!

Thanks, edgmar - I've driven the earlier TSX but I totally forgot about the wagons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Douglas View Post
What model Accord do you have now?
2004 EX sedan, 4 cyl / 5AT, 75k miles.
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Old 01-21-2020, 03:20 PM
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We are almost two years into our 2016 Golf Sportwagon. The wife wasn't happy it had an automatic transmission, but she has learned to live with it.
The car has an interesting personality. It simply does whatever we ask of it.
Load up with horse feed and shavings? No problem.
Carve up a twisty back road? How close would you like to clip that apex?
Pass those two cars on the next straight? Just put your foot down.
Given the state of our roads I am not even tempted to add GTi suspension.
The car just works.
Best
Les
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Old 01-21-2020, 03:27 PM
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I’ve got a manual trans Golf Alltrack - love it so far.

It hauls a ton, like most VWs it handles like a German car should and it has a dipstick. Caution, though - the Pano sunroof models have had many reports of leaks. I got the base model S that has no sunroof.
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Old 01-21-2020, 04:47 PM
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OKAY!!!!!

After a glass of wine, I proudly present....

The HYUNDAI ELANTRA S sportback????/



When my volvo burnt a valve, there was a dealer nearby. I was driving by the lot (well... not in the volvo) , and thought... "oh look.. an audi a3 knockoff... how sortof cute..." got in took it for a drive. And I smiled.

.. and I smiled... the mpg was phenomenal, the 6 speed stick was good, the torque steer was, well... torque steer...

Which was kind of cool, because, you knew it was pulling b/c you had to pull against the wheel to harness in it's spritely power.

but I could get a bike in the back, and it made me smile.

editor's note- I fixed the volvo anyway, because I'm cheap and old!

Did I mention, it made me smile? (for the pricepoint)

Does anybody remember laughter?

Just throwing out a longshot!

edit- this car reminds me of an anesthesiologist I know who always drove around a BMW something or other, then one day traded it in for a subaru crosstec (of all things) - and he couldn't be happier b/c his bike fits in it and oil changes are something like $30.

Last edited by LEAKYSEALS951; 01-21-2020 at 05:39 PM..
Old 01-21-2020, 04:59 PM
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As I said, the R&T performance car of the year is....Don't believe me? That's okay...but do keep in mind that McClaren and the new Mid engine 'Vette were also in the test, Pick up a copy, read for yourself...and the reasoning why they went with Hyundai...
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"Now, to put a water-cooled engine in the rear and to have a radiator in the front, that's not very intelligent."
-Ferry Porsche (PANO, Oct. '73) (I, Paul D. have loved this quote since 1973. It will remain as long as I post here.)
Old 01-21-2020, 05:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pwd72s View Post
As I said, the R&T performance car of the year is....Don't believe me? That's okay...but do keep in mind that McClaren and the new Mid engine 'Vette were also in the test, Pick up a copy, read for yourself...and the reasoning why they went with Hyundai...
I'm actually thinking about driving a veloster. (seriously)

(but I'm not going to tell anyone when I do...)

(insert moped joke)

p.s.- On my elantra test drive, the dealer was white knuckling the "oh s#$" handle. On that thought, I might go try an veloster this weekend. I'm also wanting to drive a baby porsche panamera- the kia stinger (although it's hard to find a stick)-

although, there seems to be a company policy at KIA- don't walk out and greet people in the parking lot. So, I'd have to go in the showroom to display interest. oh well. I'd b#$ if they came out and hassled me. I'd b#$% if they didn't. Old age is great.


Last edited by LEAKYSEALS951; 01-21-2020 at 05:25 PM..
Old 01-21-2020, 05:16 PM
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