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  1. #1
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    Help me spend a car allowance

    Just got a new job and I get a monthly car allowance. I need to get a new car but don't know what to get. I have a wife and four kids and the wife wants me to get something with three rows of seats to fit the whole family. We already have a minivan so this doesn't seem necessary to me. I would rather get something fun and fuel efficient. I ride 2-3 times per week, so I also want it to be a good vehicle for mountain biking. It must be either German or American make and cost no more than around 30 $k.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Re: Help me spend a car allowance

    Subaru XV crosstrek looks like a fun efficient car that would be at home at the trailhead. They quickly became very popular out here in Utah. I've never driven one, but one of my neighbors liked it so much he got 2!


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  3. #3
    try anything on a bike
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    Help me spend a car allowance

    Chevy traverse. Have one. It's awesome. Very reliable. Good mpg and seats 7-8 depending on seating arrangement.

    Don't even bother with German. You won't find anything under 30k


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  4. #4
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    What is wrong with Japanese? That lots of options there.

    Also, I would narrow down exactly how many people you'd want to be able to carry with this vehicle and what "fun" consist of. Fun and ability to carry 6 comfortably is sort of polar opposites IMO. Maybe 4-5....

    You can throw a hitch on just about anything and you really just need a trunk or similar to carry light gear. Sounds like this decision will come down to gas mileage and people hauling capabilities.

  5. #5
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    Help me spend a car allowance

    I would like Japanese, but the company I work for is an auto supplier and will only pay for cars where they have a strong OEM supply relationship so it has to be American or German.

    Thanks for the tips so far. Since we already have a minivan, I think a capacity of five people is enough. I will keep thinking about it.

  6. #6
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    Fair enough.

    This guy seems to be having fun in a bigger, late model family car. Throw a hitch on it and call it good. The newer Ford's are actually desirable again IMO.


  7. #7
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    Help me spend a car allowance

    VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI. Fun to drive, high quality interior, great German road feel, awesome MPG, roof rails to haul your gear, nice cargo capacity. I average 40 MPG in mine. It's right around your $30k mark. Love this car.

  8. #8
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    Help me spend a car allowance

    Was actually just researching that car! Nice to hear that you like it. The TDI looks nice, but I'm thinking about the gas version because I don't drive many miles and the break even point is a long time.

  9. #9
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    I have a 2012 Jetta too but its the GLI. Don't use it for mountain biking stuff but its a great car and has that European luxury feel. Might strap on a bike rack on the trunk after my Escape is used up.

    Only problem I have with it, is the VW batteries suck in hot weather. Two of my friends and myself, have had to have them replaced every 11-13 months. It is covered under the warranty and it seems all other batteries last longer. Apparently the pHX heat just destroys them quickly.

  10. #10
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    Re: Help me spend a car allowance

    If I had to get a German car and I had $30,000, I'd get a Vanagon and put a Subaru EJ 25 engine in it.

    I know a guy with a bus that has a Porsche 911 turbo engine in his VW bus in case you wanted to keep that German feel.

  11. #11
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    Does it have to be new? Get a used Audi wagon. The S versions are pretty hot. A guy I work with has a '06-is with a 365hp V8. Although that blows fuel efficiency out of the water, lol.
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  12. #12
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    Help me spend a car allowance

    It has to be fairly new, since I only get the allowance to pay for a car that is less than five years old.

    I'm seriously considering the VW Jetta TDI wagon. Anyone else have experience with one?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by pioneer01 View Post
    It has to be fairly new, since I only get the allowance to pay for a car that is less than five years old.

    I'm seriously considering the VW Jetta TDI wagon. Anyone else have experience with one?
    I have had a Golf TDI, (5th gen). Best car I have ever had. Jetta and Golfs share the same platform and the Jetta Sport Wagon is sold as the Golf Estate in the UK. Having had troubles with a BMW 320d Touring, was thinking of getting a Golf Estate as a replacement. In the UK we can get turbo 1.4 TSI models as well as a few diesels. The space in the back is more than my BMW touring, much more useable shape.

    Although I would happily have a Subaru, I don't think you can go wrong with a Jetta Sportwagon.

  14. #14
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    If you already have a minivan, I wouldn't make maximum carrying capacity a top priority. What do you prefer-sedan, small SUV, wagon/hatchback? How many bikes and/or people would you usually need to carry? Do you want something that prioritizes highway comfort, fuel efficiency, or something with a bit of offroad capability, to get to remote destinations in bad weather? Do you want to be able to fit a bike inside the vehicle or is a rack good enough?

    VW Jetta sedan or wagon are great choices. Or the Tiguan-sporty compact SUV. Ford Escape, Fusion(hybrid?) or C-max are all nice choices, too. Also, consider the new Chevy Impala--Consumer Reports top rated it in a recent test, a first for GM. I don't personally see a Chrysler I would consider worth adding to the list, but you might feel differently. You could probably get into a BMW or Audi if you looked at some 2-3 year old certified/program/lease return vehicles or end of year specials. Nice problem to have!

  15. #15
    turtles make me hot
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    I have four kids as well and can't imagine having anything other than a Chevy Suburban. I know it doesn't exactly fit your budget but I can't say enough good things about mine.
    I like turtles

  16. #16
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    Not German or American built but a pretty decent car IMHO with plenty of space for your family and in your budget: Kia Sorento. Designed by some guy who was responsible for plenty of remarkable European car designs: Peter Schreyer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  17. #17
    turtles make me hot
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    Quote Originally Posted by StiHacka View Post
    Not German or American built but a pretty decent car IMHO with plenty of space for your family and in your budget: Kia Sorento. Designed by some guy who was responsible for plenty of remarkable European car designs: Peter Schreyer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    That's another one. My wife has a Sorento and we like that very much as well.
    I like turtles

  18. #18
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    Hard to go wrong with a TDI. We have a '12 2 door Golf TDI right now, and it uses much of the GTI suspension. Not only is it a hoot to drive on the twisties, it is a great highway cruiser and gets upper 40's without trouble. The Jetta sedan is OK, but the suspension is pretty soft and simple, however the Jetta Sportwagon uses a much better rear suspension set-up. If I didn't already have a 4 door Tacoma for toy and family hauling, I'd have TDI Sportwagon instead of the Golf for a little more practicality.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by pioneer01 View Post
    It has to be fairly new, since I only get the allowance to pay for a car that is less than five years old.

    I'm seriously considering the VW Jetta TDI wagon. Anyone else have experience with one?
    I've been driving a Golf TDI Sportwagen (same as Jetta, just called Golf in Canada) for 3 1/2 years and loving every minute of it! Great mileage, wonderful car on the highway, goes fast, feels buttoned down, decent on the twisties. Interior and exterior quality is excellent. It has the feel of a car that is so well put together it'll last for decades and I'll feel OK spending $ on repairs when it's 10 years old as the car will be too good to retire.

    I use the VW cross bars with Rocky Mounts fork down trays on the roof and a hitch mount on the back to transport up to 4 bikes with no problems.

    I was kind of worried buying my first VW, I had heard some horror stories. However I also heard stories of people who NEVER had a single problem. So far (3.5 years, 50,000km) I'm in the second camp, our car has been faultless. Would I buy it again? In a heartbeat!

  20. #20
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    Help me spend a car allowance

    Thanks. You guys are talking me into the VW Wagon. I'm going to go test drive one next week.

    For those if you with roof racks, do you also have a sunroof? Are there any concerns about getting the sunroof model and using a roof rack?

  21. #21
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    Passat TDI. American made, German owned. Yes, I'm biased. It's a great car; excellent fuel mileage, and made with tender loving care (I promise).

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by pioneer01 View Post
    For those if you with roof racks, do you also have a sunroof? Are there any concerns about getting the sunroof model and using a roof rack?
    I bought the VW roof rack bars. No clearance problems with my sunroof. But super thin bars might be problematic.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigb2000 View Post
    Passat TDI. American made, German owned. Yes, I'm biased. It's a great car; excellent fuel mileage, and made with tender loving care (I promise).
    Don't you mean "Americanized"? I had two Euro Passat wagons, a 1.8T 4Motion 6 speed and a TDi one as well, and I was disappointed with the new Passat. It's certainly nicer than the Big 3 offerings in the same class, but it's just kind of "soft" for lack of a better word. I do agree it's well built, so that's a bonus.

  24. #24
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    Americanized in that it sells for a reason. The Euro spec sold less than 10k a year here. This version sells 175k a year. It drives like a German car with actual back seat room. It doesn't drive like a BMW 3 series, but what else does. Trust me, this car has the highest production standards for any mass produced car. If a VW dealer is near, at least check it out.

  25. #25
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    Re: Help me spend a car allowance

    Look at the Ford Explorer. The new generation has a folding third row. You can get an XLT for 30k. It tows 5k and has lots of room. I'm partial because i have '13 and love it. A nice hitch mount bike rack and you are set.

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