2016 Mazda CX-5 or 2015 VW Golf Sportwagen?

So my wife and I looked at a bunch of new cars for our growing family and after testing nearly everything, we narrowed it down to the 2016 Mazda CX-5 and the 2015 VW Golf Sportwagen. AWD is not a huge factor, but a nice-to-have. We live in NYC so most of the time it isn’t a real necessity, but the security is nice. On the other hand, the Golf offers a tempting wagon package with much better gas mileage (especially in diesel form) and something different than the usual. We also like the option to have a manual. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Assume we will get a 6-year warranty either way. If the sportwagen, any thoughts on Diesel or Gasoline?

Both are good choices. Take long test drives in each and see which one you like.

For the Golf, Car and Driver said that AWD is likely for 2016, along with a built-in USB port and upgraded telematics. At this point in the year, it might be worth waiting for that to arrive.

My wife has a diesel car and we’re happy with it. We do need to keep disposable plastic gloves in the back, as you won’t want to touch many of the pump handles that you’ll find. The availability of diesel (in auto-sized nozzles) hasn’t ever been an issue for us in four years or so.

As for the extended warranty that you seem to be mentioning, keep in mind that on average the buyers lose money, claiming far less than they pay. You can search for previous threads on that for our opinions there.

I don’t recommend vehicles to anyone but I would like to have you rethink the manual transmission with a growing family. 1. if the children are small you need all the free hands you have plus some, you don’t need to be shifting and trying to pass a Sippy cup at the same time 2. if these kids are near driving age a new driver can destroy a clutch in 2 blocks 3. the big factor for me is there are so many people that can not drive a manual shift now that if you are to sick to drive whoever is with you might not be able to get you home.

Bring all your kids and their stuff to the dealer, load them up and see which is better.

Put a car seat in either car and see if you still have legroom in the front seat. Car seats that face the back really take up space, and sometimes you have to shove the front seat way forward to get a rear facing seat in.

If you need a car that you will load up and use to full capacity only occasionally, consider renting.

You will be able to buy a VW Golf wagon with awd sometime in 2016 (as a 2017) but not with the diesel engine. only the 1.8 with DSG. You can get a TDI wagon with the manual transmission now but there are some upgrades coming for the 2016 models.

The CX-5 is a great vehicle but might be hard to find with the stick shift.

from the article:

Available only with 4MOTION all-wheel drive, the Alltrack moves a step beyond being a mere appearance package and offers some true capability. VW aimed to deliver greater efficiency by decoupling the rear axle from the driveline during everyday driving, meaning the car feels much like a typical front-wheel-drive Golf much of the time. If the traction of four driven wheels is needed, a Haldex clutch calls the rears to duty, and they can be sent almost 100 percent of the torque.

In the U.S., the Alltrack will be fitted with Volkswagen’s recently adopted EA888 180-hp 1.8-liter gasoline TSI four-cylinder, mated to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. Europe gets three diesel options, as well: a 110-hp 1.6-liter TDI and a 2.0-liter TDI with either 150 or 184 horsepower. We like the diesel, whose character befits the Alltrack’s rugged demeanor, but it won’t be coming here for now because our TDI models require an emissions-scrubbing urea-injection system that can’t be packaged with the Golf’s all-wheel-drive setup and its multilink rear suspension. (U.S.-spec Golf and Golf SportWagen TDIs have a torsion-beam rear suspension.)

I like your idea to get a manual transmission. As long as all the drivers who use the car are competent shifting a manual, they are more reliable, and more fun to drive. AWD? Not as a “nice to have”. I’d say “no” to that. AWD is more trouble-prone than 2WD, and increases repair costs. For diesel vs manual, if you buy the VW, I’d go with the diesel version. VW diesels seem to get good reliability ratings. And great mpg.