Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Mid Week Match-Up: A 3-Pedal Wagon For Marc B

It is Wednesday, which means time for another edition of DT's matching game called Mid Week Match-Up, just don't expect to get what you want by swiping left...or right...the swiping thing doesn't really work with an HTML based website.  This week's request comes from Marc B who writes:

After a series of turbocharged, manual transmission cars (Subaru Legacy Sport EJ22t, Mazdaspeed Protoge, Saab 9-2x (AKA WRX), Saab 9-3 wagon), I've purchased a 170in wheelbase Dodge Sprinter high-roof dually for our home renovations and an in-progress camper build-out.  As much fun as it is being THE BIGGEST VEHICLE IN THE PARKING LOT and looking down into nine out of ten bro-dozers, it's not less fun when it comes time to do a Trader Joe's run.


So what would you suggest in the way of a three-pedal wagon in the $5-10k range.  The missus has a Cooper S, which is a blast but we're not allowed to match- but a hatchback or wagon is critical for bikes and gear.  No center exhausts either- they get in the way of a hitch rack for said bikes.  Loved the 9-3: just enough fun around town and comfortable for long trips (and long enough to sleep in the back), but it was a maintenance nightmare.  Volvo V70R?  C30?  Pontiac Vibe?  Manual-converted CTS-V wagon?  I'd like to avoid any major maintenance liabilities.

Would love to hear your thoughts!



DT E-i-C Vince: Judging from the list of cars, it seems that Marc appreciates a good handling car as much as something that'll spin the tires, so the logical choice is a nice used Mazdaspeed3... but that isn't the way we operate around here.  In fact, this brings up the rare opportunity to suggest something ugly and that'll blister the front tires faster than understeering on hot magma.  This 2009 Chevrolet HHR SS (found here on eBay for $8,000 BIN)  was GM's attempt to steal some market share from the Chrysler PT Cruiser, longer after the Cruiser had become a rolling punchline, but with 260 horsepower on tap from the turbocharged 4-banger borrowed from the Cobalt SS it'll be a boatload of fun to hoon. 

What do you suggest for Marc?  Comments below.

8 comments:

  1. Well, I don't have a specific example to propose, but I will put in a good word for the Ford Focus wagon. Specifically 2005-2007 (that was the last of the wagons). 2.0 DOHC Duratec motor, with the 5-speed is a really nice combination. Fun to drive, comfortable, amazingly useful, dead reliable, mostly easy to work on (except maybe rear brakes), and excellent parts availability (new or used). Find one where the rockers are not rusted (that was due to a manufacturing screw-up that blocked all the drains with body sealer; it was easy to fix if you knew about it).

    Don't believe the "Focuses are all junk" nonsense. That reputation came from the 2000-2002 run, where Ford made lots of mistakes. But it did great things for depreciation!

    However, good luck finding a Focus Wagon that does not have a lot of miles, cuz people hang onto them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for suggesting the 2005-2007 Focus Wagon. I've been looking for a "stick wagon" (07-08 Passat, 3 series BMW, A4 avant, V70, Mazda6, or maybe a Subaru outback). Never even thought about a Focus. Probably lowest cost to run and maintain out of all of them and as long as I can find one with a manual transmission it'll be fun enough for me.

      Delete
  2. Mazda6 wagon. Watch for falling headliners.

    Outback XT. Watch for falling head gaskets.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mazda6 wagon. Watch for falling headliners.

    Outback XT. Watch for falling head gaskets.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My vote would be for the Mazdaspeed 3. Zippy little things and reliable too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anyone know how those boosted MZR engines have been holding up in the long run? I've been wary of them ever since the CX-7 my in-laws used to own went through two of them in 50k mi but the Mazdaspeed3 has been on my shortlist for a while.

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  5. I like the way the first Gen Scion XB looked. Though you won't be spinning any tires, they are weird enough to be appealing. Same goes with the Nissan Cube. At least someone in the styling department wasn't afraid to take some risks.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My vote is for a 323/325 E46 Touring. The stick transforms an already pretty unbeatable highway runner and twisty road friend. MPG is excellent(low 30's hwy), and once you have spent the same price as you may have paid for the car in E46-centric repairs, you'll have a fun ride. After having a 2000 323 for 8 years, and going through 2 GM sourced automatics, I looked a long time for a stick wagon. 7 years and 250K later, I still look forward to driving it.

    My '10 Mini Clubman S would optimistically qualify as a wagon. I love the car and drove it from Oregon to NYC is 6 days last month,36 mpg and 80+mph, but I can tell you which areas of Rt 80 have the most gravel in the tarmac as it feels each pebble. Different mission.

    ReplyDelete

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