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What do we take on the road trip? VW GTI vs. Hyundai Elantra

My sister and I are going camping in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, driving from Chicago. We are having an argument as to the best car for the trip. Here are the options:

'07 Hyundai Elantra with 65K miles. Automatic Transmission 25/33 mpg
'10 VW GTI with 9K miles. Manual Transmission 21/31 mpg

They get similar gas mileage though the GTI takes premium gas so is a little more expensive to drive. My sister thinks the GTI will stall on mountain roads and the Elantra has more cargo room. I think the Elantra is far less reliable and somewhat less safe.


The GTI stall? Why on earth would she think that? The turbo 4 will do GREAT at high altitudes, better than the Elantra, but it’d be fine, too. And reliability is a toss-up, unless the Elantra has not been properly maintained. So, tie score, you’re both right/wrong. Me, I’d take the GTI, more fun on the mountain roads. But not for the passenger…

Is this really a question of automatic vs manual trans in mountain driving? If both drivers are good with manual trans all you do is keep the revs (on the tach) over 2500 and downshift even more if you have to make a pass and need power going uphill.

I’d prefer a manual over an automatic for this trip.

I didn’t pick up on that, if one of you is not comfortable with a stick then the Elantra.

The GTI is a hatchback, right? It will me much easier to load and unload your camping equipment in a hatchback.

Why would it stall? I’d take the hatchback with only 9K miles.

Can she drive a car with a manual transmission? If not then you’re stuck with the Elantra.

“Can she drive a car with a manual transmission? If not then you’re stuck with the Elantra.”

Or stuck with all the driving. When we went to Europe a few years ago, we got a van with a manual transmission. 7 people, 3 drivers, and I was the only one capable of driving the stick. But it was worth it. Even if you have to do most of the driving, you’ll remember your great trip and not the drive.

Thanks for the comments. My sister can drive stick but she’s only driven in IL where there are literally no hills, let alone winding mountain roads . But I can always take over if she gets nervous. Of course I’m biased cause the GTI is mine. But I think it’s better suited and I’ve had great experiences with VW roadside assistance, including once late at night when I was alone and my car was vandalized. I kind of like knowing I can call them if something happens.

I know its hard to believe but Montana is settled territory. It’s not like you’re driving to Alaska. Just sign her up for the motor club if you are worried. I’d take whatever is more comfortable to sit in because its a long long way through South Dakota. Personally, I would not like the jerky motions of a straight stick all the time when shifting.

My vote would be for more cargo room; and putting the miles on her car. :slight_smile:

I think the stalling, reliability angle, and less safe aspect are non-issues.

I’d take the Elantra; it will be more reliable and cheaper on gas. The extra storage will come in handy. A low mileage VW GTI will probaly have some teething problems.

You are going on a HOLIDAY, not a mountain rally!!

A new VW is probably no more reliable than an older Hyundai. If you do need service in the less-populated areas, a quick look at both websites shows only a handful of dealers. My wild guess is that a local mechanic would have slightly better luck working on a VW.

Do either of them have satellite radio or an iPod hookup? That could be a factor to consider.

By the way, I suspect it would be a bad idea to leave any food in an unattended car when you’re in bear country there. Make sure to check what the locals say about that.

If you’re arguing already, this could be a long trip!