New VW Golf Sportswagen Vs. Used 2012 Acura Wagon

Hi there - We are getting rid of our leased '12 VW Jetta and looking to buy a bit of a nicer car. We have done a bunch of test driving and the two cars we have narrowed it down to are the new VW Golf Sportswagen and a used Acura wagon with 55k on it. I come from a Honda family and I am leaning towards the Acura, it’s a beautiful car in pretty good shape and I know the reliability of the Acura is similar to a Honda. The golf sportswagen is flashy and fun but I have reservations about buying a vw after having vw vans when I was a child. I’ve talked to a good friend who is a mechanic and he says that my reservations are not unfounded, but it seems to me that I can’t find much evidence of current models reliability except for a few anecdotes online. The price difference is huge as well, we are talking $6,000 less for the Acura. Any advice or suggestions?

Acuras are nearly bullet-proof. My neighbor has had one for 9 years and she does little maintenance. A Golf “Sportswagen” is a fragile machine by comparison, but good looking.

I’ll take a used Acura over a new VW provided the car checks out OK.

The Golf Sportwagon is the newer version of the Jetta Sportwagon. According to Consumer Reports, Jettas have been average, while the TSX wagon has been better or much better than average. VWs are better than they were 10+ years ago, but if reliability is your #1 priority then I’d consider the Acura. However, much depends on how well it was maintained. Do you know? And I’d get a pre-purchase inspection (about $100) before I committed.

I see a lot of VWs around here - but not a lot of “old” VWs. There are, however, a lot of older Acuras. I like the VWs, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t think the “fit and finish” hold up too well over time. Ours didn’t, anyway. Blast to drive, but fell apart inside - not mechanically.

Edmunds says that over the next 5 years you can expect to pay $6200 for maintenance on an Acura TSX wagon and about $3100 for repairs. If you bought a 2012 Golf hatchback, you would spend $5300 over 5 years for maintenance and $2800 for repairs. Use these to compare long term reliability over the next 5 years to show that VW is a lot more reliable than it used to be. The 1.8T used in the Golf Sportwagen was not used in the Golf mentioned above, but it is not a new engine either. And while the Golf Sportwagen is a new model, the mechanical systems are not new with this car. Couple that with the full new car warranty and near-zero miles on it, and the Golf Sportwagen seems like a good prospect. If you like the Acura TSX wagon enough, I’m sure it would be a good choice too. But expect to spend more for maintenance and repairs for the TSX than the Golf.

I can see the logic of comparing vehicles new to new or used to used but not new with warranty to used with unknown history.

I dunno. I have had a couple Acuras and still have one. No problems except the ride is a little harsh for a seemingly luxury car. The only other thing is that the bumper to bumper warranty is off now and you’ll have only 15K for the drive train. I’d want to know the service history. Did they change oil every 5K like me or every 10K? Did they change the trans fluid at 30K like me, or not do it at all? Etc.

Yes, that’s always the problem with a used car, and one of the reasons I buy new cars. It seems to me that one of the best ways to have a reliable car is to buy it new and maintain it according to the manufacturer’s schedule.