I am in car buying purgatory. Why is that you might ask? I am a VW TDI owner. Ah yes, the TDI scandal. In the wake of the diesel-emissions settlement I now sit in limbo, deciding which path to take at this automotive junction.
Why I Bought My VW TDI
Here's the thing, I bought the TDI for a good reason, three reasons, in fact:
Insert my dilemma: there are not a whole lot of current car buying options that offer performance, high MPGs, and aren't terrible to look at (I am a teeny bit vein) under 23K. I've narrowed it down to four options.
Vehicles That Compare (Not Really) to the VW TDI
Three cars have caught my eye: the Mazda 6, VW Golf, and the Volvo S-60 (4 cylinder, used). All three cars offer performance and reasonable gas mileage (after owning a TDI where I averaged 45 MPG a tank, I'm a bit of a snob) at a similar price point. Let's take a closer look.
Honestly, I would've never thought myself to be a Mazda driver. I can't even explain why. It just feels like a bunch of cash for, well, a Mazda. Then I started reading reviews. Car and Driver, Edmunds, US News, they like it. Car and Driver says: "If you think all family sedans are created equal, you’re in for a surprise with the nimble and curvaceous Mazda 6," and for good reason.
The Mazda 6 boasts 184 HP, 38 MPG, and a manual transmission option (a huge selling point for me). Seriously, a mid-sized car with those specs are hard to beat. Unless, of course, you own a TDI.
Admittedly, this feels safe to me. We've owned three VWs and loved every single one of them. There's just something about a VW: they're like a little eager puppy waiting to charge down the road. They're nimble, fun, reasonably priced, and generally easy on the eyes. I'm a VW girl at heart.
So, why am I not interested in another Jetta? Simple. I've had mine for five years and the current body style hasn't changed a bit. We run our cars into the ground so I don;t necessarily want to drive the exact "same" car for 15+ years. Insert the Golf: fuel efficient, turbocharged, and it gets great reviews. Car and Driver claims it as one of their "favorite cars" and the Golf has won countless awards for performance, mpg, and safety features.
The base Golf offers 170 HP (turbocharged engine), 37 MPG, a manual transmission, and is the lowest priced option (starting at $20,175) we're considering. All good things.
Volvo S-60 (4 Cylinder)
Why, oh why, would I even consider a second-hand Volvo (with around 25K miles) for the same price as a new Mazda or VW? Have you looked at? Seriously, show me a better looking car on the road. Sleek, sexy, and powerful - this car has everything needed to encourage poor buying decisions.
It's not just easy on the eyes, though, the four cylinder engine features 270 HP and still manages to get 37 MPG (yes, you read that right). As a car loving girl who binges on Top Gear those specs are hard to beat: power meets fuel economy in an eye-candy design. Admittedly there are some concerns, Car and Driver didn't love it, and being a luxury car it will likely cost us more to maintain. But dang, look at it.
Of course, the fourth option is to keep our TDI that we love so much. VW offered us a proposed settlement of around 15K for our 2012 model, with 90K miles on it. But to be honest, that feels a little foolish, too. The car has cost me nothing to date other than a set of tires and repairs are bound to be looming around the corner. A low monthly payment on a brand new car is hard to beat, but so is no monthly payment and a bunch of settlement cash in the bank.
Gah. See what I mean? Car buying purgatory.