Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Mid Week Match-Up: TDI Replacement

If this next Mid Week Match-Up story sounds familiar, don't be shocked, because it is surprisingly similar to the story DT's CFlo told on the radio show about his wife's TDI Jetta Wagon and recent purchase of a Volvo V60.  Anyway, today's Mid Week Match-Up comes from Matt W in Milwaukee, who writes:

I currently have a 2010 VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI (wife's ride) that has some... (ahem)... issues.  Suffice to say I'm hoping to have these "remedied" by mid-October - and by "remedied", I mean my Very Wealthy German friend is going to buy the car from me.  I should have about $14000 to spend on a replacement.

We really like the Jetta from a features and performance standpoint and will miss the fuel mileage (FWTW) and general feel. We've come up with the following parameters to begin searching for the replacement: On a daily basis, this is a commuter vehicle and used for short trips in the 5-10 mile range. We need to be able to haul two youngsters and a mid-size dog around, but would like to have room for two additional people if possible (third-row?). This is also currently our "road trip" car, so gets used for 1400+ mile trips on an annual to semi-annual basis. I'd like to be able to pull a small-ish trailer (karting). Did I mention we really liked the fuel mileage of the TDI? We live in the Milwaukee, WI area, so access to service is workable for almost any make of car.
We've had-
1999 Saab 9-3 - We loved this one (good mpg, good space, good performance) but lost it to an accident...
1985 & 87 VW Quantum Syncro Wagon(s) - Loved both; '85 engine died, '87 was sold to make room for a *gasp* mini-van
2003 Volvo XC70 - Loved this car (comfort, safety) needed more room, fuel economy wasn't our favorite feature
2008 Honda Odyssey - Also loved this one - great room for trips/kids/dogs/re-supply trips, OK fuel economy. Moved back to civilization, huge dog passed on; didn't need as much space - sold.
(current) 2010 VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI - stupid cheaters...wish they still made a Passat TDI wagon, or Audi A6 Avant TDI...?!
(current) 2000 Lexus ES300 - commuter mule, <10k miles/year - don't love (or even like), but it's cheap to run and paid for. 

We haven't ruled anything completely out at this point (cross-over, wagon, pick-up, classic, etc.) with the possible exception of something that gets in the 0-18 mpg fuel economy range or another mini-van.  With the age and fuel economy of the 2nd car (commuter) and it being paid for and fairly cheap to run, so we're not really looking to shift the work load around to accommodate something strange.

Do you think you can help?

DT E-i-C Vince:
If you really need that 3rd row of seats, but don't want a minivan, your options are limited when it comes to newish cars.  The only ones that return decent fuel economy is the Toyota RAV4 4-cylinder (yes, you can find these with the 3rd row seat and they are rated 22 city 28 hwy) or the Toyota Highlander Hybrid -- but these get expensive quickly.  I'm going to recommend a this 2012 Mazda CX-9 here on eBay offered for $13,995 buy-it-now or make-offer even though it might not meet your fuel economy requirements with EPA rated 17 city 24 hwy.  Regardless, it should be marginally more engaging/fun to drive versus the equivalent Toyota/Honda snoozefest.  However, there are many more options open if you can live with a 5-seat vehicle.

What do you recommend for Matt W? Comments below.


  1. Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Zach-
      Did my wife hire you to post this! She loves the 5, but... I don't.
      I see Mazda discontinued these and it seems like the bulk of the ones I've seen in our area are succumbing to salt-rot at a relatively early age... Has anyone else seen this?

    3. She made many offers that I had to refuse, mostly due to distance.

      My wife and I had one for about two months when we were in Texas for the birth / adoption of our daughter in 2011. It worked well enough that it came to mind as meeting your needs. Didn't see lots of them in AK where we live (AWD tends the default requirement up here, though my decade of RWD Volvos would seem to indicate that it's not essential so long as you've got good winter tires) Wouldn't surprise me to hear that they're rusting out in the upper Midwest. It is nice that they don't salt in AK.

      Really, you should've jumped on that V90/GTO mashup from the other day.

    4. Oh believe was calling my right foot's name, but my right brain said No!

  2. ford flex eco-boost? (oddly I think its the same platform as the mazda) or the Lincoln version the... hang on. MKT.
    The only down side of the Mazda is that the awd versions supposedly have a pretty major issue with what I'll call the transfer case. I can't recall what they call it but it's a bit confusing when you first hear about it. The important part is it sounds like a PITA and or expensive repair. What I read they referred to it as more of a when than if, and there is no upgraded replacement, just a new one with the same limited lifespan.
    This is NOT based on actual experience just stuff I read when searching for a similar vehicle. In the end I said when I trade in the worn out Suburban I'll get a minivan, cause minivans are designed from the start as kid haulers, and in the end that't what I need. Don't hate the minivan. Are they really any more lame than a crossover?

    1. I've driven the Flex Ecoboost and it is the angriest/fastest giant minivan-wagon-deathsled you'll pilot on modern streets. 8 mpg per the onboard computer during my lunchtime 3-4 mile excursion.

    2. The CX9 and the Volvo XC90 share a platform (from the days when Ford owned/controlled both)but our Volvo with the V8 gets much better gas mileage than my brother-in-law's CX9. The Flex/MKT with ecoboost have an incredible drive. I go with the biggest depreciation curve. The baleen at the front of the MKT have kept it way undervalued but their owners seem to appreciate them. Ford must have had an uber sweet deal on both of them as there are tons in MI right now (still on lease) that should start apppearing in another 12-18 mos. Until then, look for the lowest mileage, highest equipped MKT or TRY to find a low mileage Volvo XC90 V8.Failing those, the 2010 Passat Wagon is becoming somewhat of a unicorn, especially the low mileage ones and it would be an easy deal to push through your well funded German relative!

    3. KT-
      I didn't "hate" the Honda just...well... it felt like I was wearing a pair of extra-relaxed-fit jeans...even after I replaced the Michelin run-flat$ with a set of 17" wheels and non-solid tires. I would probably love the space, but my wife would probably hate me after the first "race trip gas spill" on the carpet (sorry about that :[ ). I'm leaning more towards trailer just for the separation factor and the flexibility.
      Thanks for the tip on the XC90...hadn't looked at those due to the poo shaped fuel economy of the T5 and the old XC70.

  3. 04-05 Volvo XC90 2.5T? Decent space, lots of utility, and the 2.5T is hugely reliable. Available in FWD for simplicity, or if you go with AWD just make sure of the condition of the angle gear (really the only weak point). We average 20mpg with ours and get about 24-25mpg on the highway.

    1. I've put over 165K miles on our XC90 V8 and we averaged 25+ mpg on the highway pulling a trailer from MI to CA at well beyond posted speeds. My wife averaged 19mpg in her daily commute, I could only muster about 16 becuase I love the way the thing sounds at full rumble. It's not working near as hard as the 2.5T but then again, we had to pull the right front suspension to get at the alternator because its so tightly packed in there.

  4. Matt, I know what you want. I know what you need. And that is a 2010-12 Toyota Rav-4 V6 base AWD or FWD.... Only the base trim level came w/ an available 3rd row (so as not to cannibalize the Highlander sales). It's got a fast v6 that gets around 25mpg in combined driving, and probably more on the highway. You get the reliability of a Toyota, and you can tow up to 3500 lbs, IIRC. $14000 may cover the entire cost of the Rav-4... I just sold my 2010 Rav-4 v6 AWD Limited (all the bells and whistles) for $14500 in a private sale 2 months ago. Great car....

    -Average Bear

    1. AB-
      Second lead on the RAV...thx.
      Since the third seat isn't critical, we may also take a look at the CX-7.

  5. OK, this is funny. I have a cherry 2011 CX-9 that I will be selling shortly. We got it to replace our 2001 Passat Wagon (1.8T manual). True, the CX-9 is pretty nice to drive, comfortable, reliable, and so on. It is just larger than what we want or need now that the kids are a little older.

    And the mileage sucks. Ours is AWD, and driving it daily around Seattle, it gets about 16 mpg. Just this weekend we took it east on I-90, about a 400 mile round trip, driving the speed limit or slightly over and got 21 mpg. That is as good as it gets.

    I miss my Passat wagon. At your budget, I would be looking for a used one of those.

    The funny part is that I just got my Mom's 2012 Golf TDI, mainly as a replacement for the CX-9. Only 11,000 miles on it. And of course I know that I will not have it long. I am thinking of going GTI when it is time to trade it in, but I plan to keep it as long as they will let me and put some miles on it.

  6. Sorry I don't have the time to research this as well as some of the other respondents here, but I'm surprised nobody's mentioned one of the Mercedes (diesel or gas) wagon things... E-class or R-class, I think both came with a third row. I have some vague inkling, probably gleaned here, that the R-class has issues, but just wanted to put those out there since nobody had yet. Good for road trips, and the diesels should get decent mileage. Good luck with the search - I also have a 2010 Jetta TDI wagon, but we're hanging on at least until the fix is announced.

  7. There sure are a lot of us 2010 JSW TDI owners here on DT! I've been daily driving ours. Even though we "replaced" it with a Volvo V60 as the main family car, in preparation for selling it back, I'm now considering keeping it.

    If VW buys it back they give us about $9k for it, plus the $5k restitution payment. If we keep it and get it fixed (if/when the fix is available), we still get the $5k, and then I still have a relatively new, fun to drive, 6-spd manual wagon that gets good fuel economy. We bought it new and I've maintained it religiously, and it's just under 100k miles now. I'd hate to see it get crushed - which is the likely fate of the VW buyback cars.

    Plus it seems like VW is giving us "early adopters" the shaft. I know another guy with a 2014 JSW, more miles than ours (120k) and he's getting over $20k for selling his back. I know the prices are based on NADA trade in values from Sept 2015, but if you look at an equivalent spec/mileage on the big chart, they subtract $5k per model year, simply because of the model year!

    The whole thing leaves a sour taste and I'm personally now inclined to drive the TDI into the ground, whether it ever gets "fixed" or not. The APR TDI tune has been tempting me lately. 170 hp and 290 lb-ft sounds pretty good. Whiteline rear sway bar. Hoonage.

    1. How do you like the V60? We had looked at those at the time we were also looking at the JSW and just couldn't get past the lowish MPG, especially in comparison to the TDI.
      That model start with the 2015 MY correct?

  8. Unicorn spotted...ultra low mileage 2010 Passat Wagon at a very reasonable price in VA. No pics yet, but it will probably be gone before they post pictures of it.

  9. I may be getting a bit after looking at so many cars for the past few weeks, but here's one that has come up in our search...
    2006 Mercedes E350 4Matic Wagon w 3rd row
    91k miles, 1 previous owner...

    Am I losing my mind...???

  10. OK, I convinced myself I was losing my mind and expanded on the theory a bit...
    mid-2000s ML320 CDI...
    It seems to be more stable in older age than the gasser V6 and there is a somewhat decent supply in the $8k to $16k range...
    We'll see what turns up.

    Is it just me who thinks that wagons, and particularly diesel wagons, are dwindling in supply as we get closer to the VW settlement approval?

  11. Long-term update...
    After looking at 3 billion used cars, we've finally settled on an X5 35d. Going to pick it up this weekend and will post an update.

    Hey good news! The Very Wealthy German uncle who is buying my TDI apparently has a similarly wealthy brother who wants to kick in more cash on the deal! TDI owners will get $350 (2.0) - $1500 (3.0) from Bosch, for their collusion in the TDI debacle!


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 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="" width="400px"/]. Limit images to no wider than 400 pixels in width. No more than one image per comment please.