Next move?


I’ve got a 2001 Audi A4 with 75k miles that’s become a money pit. Top of current repair list: new heating core (est. $1800). It’s also started to smell of burning rubber (brakes?)… I want something reliable to commute to my inner-city school teaching job and don’t care so much about looks (after all, a car with heat would be a big uptick), so I’m thinking 2007 or '08 Honda Accord. However, my wife the car snob (who truly know and appreciate cars more than I) loves the way the Audi handles and also like the all-wheel drive, so wants to stay in that family. I was hoping to trade up inside of $10k, but her criteria are putting me outside that. I see you recommend the VW Jetta TDI…is that our compromise? Any other suggestions?

I guess you mean trade the Audi and add $10,000 for your next ride. I can appreciate your desire to keep the Mrs. happy; that’s one of your jobs. But I wonder if you really need AWD?

One way to improve handling is to downsize the car. Look at a Civic instead of the Accord. We have a 2009 Cobalt, which is not known as a great handler, but is surprisingly nimble. Another advantage is that compact cars like the Civic or Mazda3 are less expensive than their midsize brethren. Here’s some suggestions:

Honda Civic Si
Mini Cooper
Scion tC
Mazda3 Mazdaspeed
Subaru Impreza WRX - AWD, even!

“Reliable” and “Snob Cars” usually do not go together…AWD cars tend to achieve “Money Pit” status at relatively low mileage…

The Jetta is also known to be a money pit as it ages.

Your wife has to rethink her “priorities”. Unless money is no object (and it appears that’s not the case), the most fun for the money your wife can have is a Mazda 3 Sport with a good set of winter tires. As mentioned, these cars are inexpensive to maintain and very reliable, and great fun to drive.

AWD is entirely unnecesssary, unless your wife reguarly drives rallies in the snow, or you live at the foot of Mount Washington or in Alaska.

Your wife’s “criteria” demands a much bigger budget than you have, so it’s time to come down to earth.