Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Mid Week Match-Up: Commuter For Peter

Welcome back to another Mid Week Match-Up feature, where we get together and solve the world's problems without making a fuss.  It is like a political convention on opposite day.  Today DT reader Peter asks for help:
I can't figure out what car to buy. I think I have conflicting requirements. I commute 20,000 miles a year. So reliability and gas mileage are important.
I want to put 100,000 or 150,000 miles on the car. I have $15,000 to spend. Most of the time it will be just me in the car. I want something comfortable and fun too. Do I need to make sacrifices or are there cars out there for me?


When you've got a long commute, it is really hard to justify the V8 swapped Volvo or mint condition '84 Fiero...so you have to make compromises.  But that doesn't mean you have to drive some terrible Nissan economy car; instead you can pick up something build by the Germans, like this 2012 Volkswagen GTI with 2.0T and 6spd gearbox, here on eBay offered for $13,000 buy-it-now.  If those 20,000 miles a year includes much stop-n-go traffic, you might want to consider a GTI equipped with VW's fantastic DSG transmission, like this one. Or a 4-door (5-door) GTI if you need to throw kids into the back.

Okay DT readers -- what should Peter get?  Comments below.

31 comments:

  1. computer says acura ... no, wait ... infiniti ... wait ... oh, it fell asleep

    ReplyDelete
  2. A Honda Civic SI sounds like a good fit - how about this Craigslist find? http://atlanta.craigslist.org/atl/cto/5215944096.html

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. NOPE on the GTI unless you like 4-digit repair bills. Just finished a 30k lease. Three (3) water pumps, cam position sensor failure, intake manifold flap motor failure. And this is on a brand new one with the manual transmission. If you get an older one or the DSG, I can only imagine how much you are going to spend fixing German Engineering® failures.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The answer is always Miata. Here's a 2008 Grand Touring NC in "I will settle for it silver" with 27,000 miles on the clock for $14K. A bit over priced, given that the new ND is causing the NC to accelerate down the depreciation curve. Seems like 11K or 12K would be reasonable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This works as long as you are a little person. If you are a little taller than average, check out an MR2 Spyder. Suprisingly roomy because the seats are low and there is no lump in the front to block your legs.

      Delete
    2. I didn't think the NC needed any "Tall Man" modifications like the NA/NB.

      Delete
    3. NC didn't work for me, but I have a somewhat freakish torso.

      Delete
  6. How about a used Veloster Turbo? Sounds like it could be almost as much fun as the GTI, in a quirky sort of way.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I do have to say that the GTI was extremely comfortable in terms of ride and interior room. Just a smooth car in every aspect. And the torque is very nice, especially if you reflash with APR Stage 1. Wheelspin in 3rd gear can be amusing.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Agree with Mike on the GTi....it's a car that's a match made in heaven at the theoretical level, and a big ownership experience letdown at the reality level. I wish VW could get their overall reliability where it should be....they seem to be where Benz was in the early 2000's right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My 2010 TDI / 6-spd manual Jetta wagon has been almost flawless in terms of reliability. One rear shock blew out under warranty, and it has developed a few squeaks and rattles, but that's the sum total of issues in >80k miles.

      Delete
    2. The TDI's seem to fare better than most. Even after years and years to fix this issue, I'm still not sure though that VW/Audi makes a direct injection 4/6 that doesn't suffer from major carbon deposit issues.

      Delete
    3. Carbon buildup on intake valves seems to be a widespread problem for DI engines, not just VW/Audi. You're no longer spraying fuel directly onto the back of the intake valve so there's nothing to clean the deposits off, if they are prone to buildup based on port design & engine calibration.

      This is one of the reasons Toyota's D-4S system exists - it switches between port injection and direct injection in part to reduce carbon buildup on the intake valves.

      Ford seems to have done something right because their EcoBoost line of GDI engines haven't shown major carbon fouling issues (except apparently the 2.0, based on a cursory google check).

      Delete
    4. I just bought a 2010 Passat Wagon 2.0T with only 20K miles on it in July. It ain't a sports car but I love driving the DSG and now got almost 30K on it and so far so good. Only issue I had was the incredibly noisy Continental tires. Put on a set of Yoko's and its beautifully quiet now. My sister has had a 2010 GTI with zero issues, nephew with A4 2.0 and another nephew with a 2014 2.0 GTI and all have been fine.

      Delete
    5. two words to know and love......sea foam.

      Delete
  9. You commute 20,000 miles a year? Sorry I have no help for you other than to suggest you are a better person in this life than in your last because you must have pissed someone off royally.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I must've been Hitler in a past life then, because I commute 24,000mi annually. The GTI would be a good fit. Actually, make mein an amphibious Tatra skin with VW KdF K├╝belwagen chassis underpinnings and a Porsche engine. (Mein... you see what I did there? Eh? You see it? Well, do you?) Sieg Heil!!

      Delete
    2. I must have been Ghandi or close. There are 251 working days give or take in a given year. My commute is a mile each way a day, for a total of 502 commuting miles a year.

      And I walk them in Montana, surrounded by mountains.

      Delete
    3. Where did you find a good job in Montana? Are they hiring?

      Delete
    4. 100 miles a day is worth it if you go home to someplace nice... like Santa Cruz Ca

      Delete
  10. Here is a 1996 Audi A6 Quattro with 67,000 miles.
    You could probably get it with an offer of $6200
    Then with the extra cash you can bankroll a maintenance fund.
    Scroll down the eBay auction, that is one nice interior to spend 26,000 miles a year driving.
    These cars have great visibility, wonderful seating position, and are so stable at speed.
    You would be smiling ear to ear at 65~100 mph! Classy enough for the ladies or that business luncheon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. $6200? Sorry, you can have a nice E39 540i for that. Hell, I might sell you our '98 for that. 198K miles, 131K-mile engine (screwed up a cam-chain-guide job on the original, cheaper to source a takeout than to fix what I broke), freshly-rebuilt (as in last week, did it myself, the 5HP24 is remarkably easy) transmission.

      Or maybe not. Now that it's back on the road I'm reminded how much I really like it, and that's even though I've got an E39 M5 around here too.

      Delete
    2. @ mrkwong (while watching the Republican debate)
      I guess I am thinking of my own situation. I commute my Audi 5000S Quattro 550 miles a week to work. A quarter of the year there is snow flying and salt being heavily dropped.
      The Audi body is very corrosion resistant and the Quattro drivetrain gets with the program.
      If I lived in a warmer climate I might select a BMW instead.

      Delete
    3. I have a C6 S6 wagon sitting in the driveway waiting for a couple weeks (or months) of quality time on my lift for a 6-speed swap (nice thing about a wagon is that all the parts fit in the car).

      I like Audis well enough. But...as I've said before, they never use one part when three will do the job.

      Delete
    4. You can get a nice E39 540i / 6-spd manual for $3500...I have a friend who did just that!

      Hell of a car for the price. So much bang-bang for a few measly bucks.

      Delete
  11. Peter, if you'd like for me to generate a list of vehicles that meet your specs, please email me at k2mc091715@mailinator.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. This was my exact dilemma last year! For reliability, gas mileage and practicality, i'm surprised no one has mentioned a nice used Honda Fit Sport. Not a track demon, but pretty fun (see RCR review & Matt Farah's take on the youchoobes.) Alternative would be a brand new Abarth brand new for $17k, a little bit above your range. I've got both and they keep me sufficiently entertained on LA freeways.

    ReplyDelete

Commenting Commandments:
I. Thou Shalt Not write anything your mother would not appreciate reading.
II. Thou Shalt Not post as anonymous unless you are posting from mobile and have technical issues. Use name/url when posting and pick something Urazmus B Jokin, Ben Dover. Sir Edmund Hillary Clint Eastwood...it don't matter. Just pick a nom de plume and stick with it.
III. Honor thy own links by using <a href ="http://www.linkgoeshere"> description of your link </a>
IV. Remember the formatting tricks <i>italics</i> and <b> bold </b>
V. Thou Shalt Not commit spam.
VI. To embed images: use [image src="http://www.IMAGE_LINK.com" width="400px"/]. Limit images to no wider than 400 pixels in width. No more than one image per comment please.