Wife wants a used car (manual transmission). Which?

My wife is looking for an expensive used car with manual transmission. She has always loved the VW Golf/Rabbit models but has also been looking at the Toyota Yaris. All things being equal, any recommendations? As regards the Yaris, she’s found both 2007 & 2008 models. Any difference?

If you do want an “expensive” used car, by all means, go ahead with the VW’s. They won’t be as reliable as a used Toyota, in all likelihood.

All things being equal, I’d go with the Yaris. Here’s what other owners are saying about the 2008 Yaris:

Wife needs a husband who can type! I should have written INEXPENSIVE! She doesn’t want to spend more than $10,000.

She should drive as many cars as she’s interested in, and buy the one she likes best.

If she wants “inexpensive” the Yaris would be a better bet, both for initial price and for long-term maintenance costs.

My daughter has a Yaris sedan with a manual transmission, and she loves it. She recently slogged her way through all the snow in Philadelphia, on the standard tires, with little difficulty. She also reports excellent fuel mileage.

does she want a manual for the fun factor, or for fuel economy?

If it’s for fuel economy, the Yaris is a good bet.

if it’s for fun. .



See if you can find a used Honda Civic with a manual. I have an '03 Civic EX which I bought new with the 5spd stick. Great car. The shifter is the same as used in the Acura in '03 so it is a nice glicky solid feeling shifter. There maybe a few Accords out there with manual trans too, but I’d prefer a Civic for zippy handling anyway.

I’m not a big Yaris fan - it’s the bottom of the line, and feels like it. Its small size also does it no favors in a crash. It scores relatively poorly in crash tests. The Civic would be a much better choice.

No competition, 2004/5/6 BMW 325i/328i/330i stick, Period. E46, not the new body style. Good luck.

She’s Swedish and until 2 years ago, always lived there. Always drove a stick, hates automatics. Go figure…

You can check out the honda fit. It would come in at the top of your price range (if you can even find one in your price range but it is a great car.

There are some mazda’s that may work, or if you are really a glutton for punishment there are manual pt cruisers out there. Smaller trucks such as the ford ranger may be available also.

Miata – manual transmission and RWD. Most fun for the buck. VWs don’t age well.

2nd the Miata. But if a combination of room and ultimate fun is required, I’d get the last generation of Toyota Matrix XRS or Pontiac Vibe. Take it to 8200 rpm in 1st gear around the neighbors and listen to it wail.

It is very difficult to say, since it is not just a factual based decision, but also an emotional one.

One thing that is sure to come out, is reliability. While I would choose the VW, my guess is it would turn out to be a bit less reliable that a Toyota.

I don’t trust reliability estimates in magazines etc. There is a certain self fulfilling prophecy. If people expect a make or model to get low marks or high marks, they tend to see those results. Most of the data available on reliability comes from sources that are likely influenced by this kind of reality.

Then of course you need to consider that a specific type or manufacturer of car will attract buyers of this or that type also skewing the results of most all surveys.

I suggest taking a few test drives in different cars.  If possible I would test drive a car like the one you are considering and then test drive the one you are considering.

I second the Honda Fit. My sister and her husband both have them, and they are fun! I like my 6-speed Nissan Versa S, which is an inexpensive, but solid, car.

What does she need the vehicle to do?
If she only needs it for fun, and she can drive a car in the snow (She should be able to, since you said that she’s Swedish), you might want to look at a Chrysler Crossfire.

They can be found in the $10k range all the time, and share drive train components with the Mercedes SLK cars. Would be very fun for her to drive, and qualifies as a hatchback.


Which definition of “inexpensive” and “less than $10,000” are you using to arrive at your recommendation?

I recommend the Honda Civic too. Mine has 199,400 miles on the odometer, and I am still driving with the original clutch.