TTAC’s a great place to share car search stories (particularly for used cars), and I’ve taken advantage of this soapbox on a couple of distinct occasions when looking to replace one of my close personal rides with something else. I’ve gathered you all here today because that time has come once again.

This change of heart is not just boredom (partially), but rather because usage needs have changed. In June I started a new job and career, and the daily commute increased from 6.6 miles round-trip to 18.2 miles in its shortest iteration.

Smooth roads of suburbia were exchanged for the rougher ones of the urban landscape. It’s a place filled with two-lane roads and lots of stoplights. On the plus side, there’s no must be at the office always mandate any longer. In a more relaxed and modern fashion, working from home is allowed. That meant the necessity for something snow-capable and all-wheel drive went away. Now, my focus can go elsewhere — just like the Subaru’s fuel bill, which doubled in June.

Additionally, it was readily apparent that a Subaru CVT is less than ideal in stop-start traffic. The Outback loses more points with its somewhat agricultural suspension setup, which feels sloppy when the going gets rough. The sound insulation could be better as well — I’ve found an increasing reliance on the volume knob of the stereo.

I’d had my eye on a hatchback that seemingly fills these requirements: the Kia Niro. It’s efficient, has great reviews, a dual-clutch auto, and is available with lots of standard equipment and leather seats. However, availability of said mythical Niro is an issue. Seems almost nobody’s bought the Niro in the only trim where leather is commonly found — Touring (rarely selected option on EX). Further, of the 10 or so used Tourings available nationwide, none of them have stone leather. Dealers around here ask about $30,000 for a new Niro Touring with a light interior (which is only available on a couple of paint colors).

The Niro’s not old enough to be available in the trim and color I want as a used proposition, so we’ll open up the floor to other suggestions. The priorities above can be thought of more like rules, by the way. Surely there are several options out there on the used market.

If you’re willing to settle for leatherette, your best bet is probably the VW Golf SportWagen FWD, which is a 2015-and-later model. Find a TSI (which is the 1.8T gas engine) SEL, which will have a 5-speed manual or conventional 6-speed automatic (and not the higher-maintenance DSG that’s in the Golf Alltrack, discontinued Golf SportWagen TDI, and AWD Golf SportWagen TSI S). Hell, you can probably find a new or nearly-new one at the top of your $24K budget, which would be an ’18 or ’19.

I find it dog-slow, but the Lexus CT 200h is another good option. It’s a hybrid, which is great, and you know the build quality and longevity are there. It would also make you a two-Lexus household, with the GS 350 that I assume you still have.

There is also the Prius. I don’t think you’ll go for it, but it’s something to consider. It’s the best bang-for-your-buck proposition there is, in terms of a reliable car with high fuel economy.

My final suggestion is the ’14-’18 Mazda Mazda3 hatchback. It really is delightful to drive, looks more expensive than it is, and can be found all day long within your budget.

I checked out the CT a while ago, and found the ride quality was universally panned. I’m not a big fan of the interior either, which was definitely designed and sourced circa 2008.

If you do go for the Golf SportWagen, hold out for one with the lighting package. The pre-facelift (2015-2017) with the HID/LED lighting combo is amazing. My 2015 Golf SportWagen TDI SEL w/DSG had it.

Also, if you want a vastly superior infotainment system with CarPlay, avoid the 2015. The 2016-2017 premium system is great. The 2018-2019 premium system is even better, and it’s the same one I have on my 2019 Tiguan SEL Premium 4MOTION.

I wanted to like the CT as an IS300 Sport Cross replacement. It was in the fact that the interior quality was ok for 2004. It felt decidedly down market inside and as mentioned was painfully slow, even in F Sport trim. I really expected to like it but came away wondering why Lexus would put their logo on it.

I’ll chime in here – if you’re looking at the VW Sportwagen, buy a 2018 or newer model. That way, you get the remainder of the 6/72 factory warranty. If you can find a certified one, that adds another year. It’d be a bit more, but I think it’d be worth it, because…used VW. Say no more.

I’ll also second the SEL recommendation for one reason: it comes with leather (or pleather) versions of the GTI’s sport seats. Very nice.

I found a certified SEL in Lake Charles, Louisiana in black pearl metallic, asking $22,000. In-service date was 12/18, so you’d be covered bumper to bumper until 12/25. I don’t know what your negotiated price would be, but it’s well within your budget.

I’m with Kyree, though – I think the Sportwagen’s your best bet, and if you can do without leather and all the toys (i.e., SEL), you’ll have a better selection of colors.

(By the way, if you check out a Sportwagen, do yourself a favor and check out the back-seat release mechanism – it’s divine.)

Actually, I’d say it’s a Golf bias – in my oh-so-humble opinion, it’s probably the best all around car in the world. There’s literally nothing it doesn’t do well.

I’m meh on other VWs, though, and that includes the new Jetta. Tried one out with my kid, who’s in the market for a new car. Not a fan – too dulled-out, and the interior’s far cheaper than the Golf. I liked my old ’17 better – it was plain, basic, fun, and cheap.

I don’t mind black on the outside, and I think the Charger in black is sinister, but I agree wholeheartedly on the interior. It is very hard to find a non-black interior.

Aren’t you a young, single, boy about town? Or have I been around here so long you are all grown up and married with sprogs now? ;)

Why not a GTI? Get a pair of roof rails and add a trailer hitch and it can do anything. What you can’t fit in it you can put on the roof or tow behind it. And more fun than a barrel of monkeys to drive. Possibly swap the 18s for 17s if you are driving in an urban craterscape.

Of course, but it’s not ridiculous. I find the standard Golf a tad mushy, and the GTI just right. But if I had mine in Maine I would go from 18″ to 17″ wheels, they fit. The GTI is a LOT more fun, and easier to find with the good headlights and a nicer level of equipment.

You may be able to get a new 2019 GSW for under $24K. I got a new fully equipped 2019 GSW SE for ~ $26.5K out the door (taxes and everything). It does not have leather though (it has vinyl “pleather”). The 2019 SE does come with LED low (projector) and high beams which are pretty good. It also comes with foglights. I swapped the halogen fogs with LEDs in minutes. Fuel economy is outstanding. The 2019 has an 8 speed auto with a 1.4T. One can easily exceed 40mpg on the highway at 65mph. In city stop-start driving, I get around 32mpg. Trunk space is excellent at 30cuft, though it is less than the 35cuft in the Outback. Note that the GSW has a false floor, so the floor can be lowered to increase volume. The SE’s also come with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay which is nice. Negatives? The seats are so-so. The 2018 SELs had sport seats which were really comfortable. Unfortunately, it is not an option for the 2019s. I had both the 2018 SEL (got totalled) and the 2019 SE. Both the 18’s and 19’s come with the 6yr/72k warranty which is fantastic.

Norm I’m answering you directly now. I searched in a 200 mile radius of where I live. The *cheapest* one is over my budget.

You don’t have to park a car in a garage to plug it in. My wife’s C-Max Energi has never been in the garage and it charges just fine sitting in the driveway. You’ll find that most public chargers are located outside.

As far as plugging it in a work you should talk to your boss, often times state and local gov’ts have incentives that could make installing a charger for employees cheap if not free.

I do like Golfs, but the C-Max Energi is the answer for any question that doesn’t involve rock-hopping, high performance or hauling home appliances. I do like these numbers: 75 (gas mpg so far), 8 (zero-60 in seconds), 195 (combined HP). What other cars combine that?

As for the Kia Niro, I’ve read so many lackluster reviews. Steering and handling are frequently criticized. And the difference between the Niro 0-60 time of 9.5 seconds and the Ford’s 8.0 is the difference between quick and slow, in my experience. The Koreans are still negotiating that critical ride/handling equation, while Ford solved it years ago with the Focus, which is the basis of the C-Max platform.

I traded a GTI for my C-Max, and I didn’t give up any performance aspects that I could routinely use on the street. Except for the VW sports seats, I miss them.

How bad is the fuel economy? I’m assuming you have a V6? I remember for a couple months in 2009 I was driving my H2 140 miles round trip every day. I switched back around at work and it was back to a much shorter but I didn’t once think of driving something different due to fuel costs. Many of these newer transmissions are just getting worse to deal with on daily commutes.

Sometimes the best option is what you already have. Particularly if it’s been good to you and you know it’s maintenance history.

I never noticed it until I started driving on bad roads lots. So much noise from the tires, and echoing through the interior.

Do you think it’s the tires? My SS factory tires got loud as they aged, switching to new Continentals the car probably isn’t Lexus quiet but it’s the next best thing.

It seems more like suspension and lack of sound insulation. The tires aren’t all that old. They’re Green X Michelin something.

I as well say check the tires. True my OB has never been Lexus quiet, but I switched to Michelins and as they aged they got louder to the point I thought I needed wheel bearings. Recently replaced them with Contis and it’s been much quieter.

Depending on how good of MPG you’re looking for, but I’ve been very pleased with my several CX5 rentals. Incredibly well cushioned ride, very well insulated (I could not wrap my mind around the fact that I was in a Mazda), and the mazda guys have a real gift with making a regular 6spd automatic feel crisp and direct with aggressive torque converter lockup that doesn’t leave the car bogging/shaking either. Really nice interiors for the class too, if you can make peace with the “tacked on tablet” look.

I fully realize that in FWD it’s a hatchback. But the idea that there’s available AWD that I don’t have puts me off a bit.

Not exceptional MPG (worse than your subie probably, actually), but a used Ford Edge would be my pick for a uber-cushy quiet ride. My rentals always leave me quietly impressed with the overall package.

If the only thing really holding you back from purchasing your niro is the availability of leather, why not purchase an EX and reskin the seats in a colour of your choosing?

Factory leather in Hyundai/Kia products (unless higher end models or genesis products) is mediocre at best to begin with.

Alea leather makes gorgeous interiors out of beautiful leather (you can even have them made with nappa leather) and the fit and finish is better than anything you’d get from katzkin or roadwire.

No they are typically attached just like the OE seat covers, which usually means some plastic clips and hook and loop, though occasionally there is a zipper.

Personally I can’t recommend aftermarket leather, the cost is high once installed and you just won’t recoup the cost of adding it to a used car come trade in time, particularly if you only keep it for a year or two which seems to be your MO.

Do any of the major aftermarket vendors work with the manufacturers to ensure that the safety systems in the vehicle will work properly?

Seems like a couple of contradictions here. If driving in stop and go traffic is a big concern then I can’t see choosing any vehicle with a dual clutch transmission. Those were created to game the hwy fuel economy portion of the EPA test, stop and go traffic is the worst application for them.

I’m also not seeing the need for a high MPG vehicle when you are doing such a short commute and you can work from home at least part of the time. The difference between a 25mpg car and a 40 mpg car will only be ~200 per year if you went into the office 5 days/week 50 weeks/yr.

Sure the Subaru is crude, that is a feature, it is supposed to make you feel the vehicle is rugged and utilitarian.

Regarding the dual clutch make sure you do an extended drive in stop and go traffic before you sign on the dotted line, because I believe it will be more annoying than a CVT.

It makes me feel like I’m driving an old tractor. I’m leaning toward VW suggestion at this point in time. I like the serious interior.

Corey do you watch the Humble Mechanic on You Tube? He has flat out scared me about buying anything VW. Sounds like some models have a catastrophe waiting to happen engine. No warranty would make me want to own one.

I haven’t heard of him, but if I listened to internet wisdom always, I’d never own anything outside of a Toyota Matrix.

The Buick Encore for under $199 lease with 10,000 miles annually on a 2-year lease sits your bill. It’ll be more refined than anything from Subaru and offer some near-luxury experience. Or buy outright for $18,000.

The better option for a smooth and more refined ride would be a Regal TourX for about $23,000 or so. Principal Dan can chine in as he owns one also but the NVH us very good on whatever roads. I see 30 mpg on a 12 mile commute with 2/3rds city and closer to 40 mpg at 65 mph on long drives. It is very efficient but has almost 300 lb-ft or torque when you need with a torque converter transmission.

You know, you’re the only person in the world who can beat the EPA estimate by 10mpg in whatever you drive.

I have a small Kubota you can drive to work for a week or two. You might view your Subaru a little differently after that week.

It burns about 5 gallons of diesel in 10 hours and had a top speed of 15(ish) mph. That’s about 30mpg.

Corey, the Humble Mechanic is a certified Volkwagen Mechanic who’s becoming famous. There’s also a Subaru one, and among others such as South Main, etc. A lot of information from You Tube.

I’d say the engine and general Subaruness is the main cause behind it feeling like you are driving an old tractor, not the CVT specifically.

I’ve owned a GTI with the DSG and found it perfect in every application, even stop-and-go. So no complaints there.

Ford says my C-Max has an eCVT transmission. I don’t pretend to understand all its inner workings. I did dislike the common CVTs I’ve had on cheap rental cars, but this one works fine. The car always pulls from a stop under silent electric power. When I need acceleration to merge, the gas engine kicks in. It’s powerful enough that by the time I notice that CVT motorboat droning sound, I’m rapidly approaching my terminal velocity.

I was a reluctant convert to hybrid powertrains, but this one suits me fine. The difference is that it has enough power to push through that droning zone.

The Ford “eCVT” is essentially the same idea as what Toyota uses in the Prius and their other hybrids. It is “continouosly variable” but has nothing in common at all with the typical belt drive CVT. It’s basically a differential with a gas motor and two electric motors attached to it, one main drive motor and one smaller motor that is used to vary the gear ratio. Very slick, very simple (other than you can’t do it with just a gas motor), and incredibly reliable. No more fun to drive than any other automatic though.

I do agree that the CMax (Energi or not) is a pretty great package. I sure wouldn’t trade MY GTI for one, but I don’t drive enough to care about fuel economy (even though I get 30+ out of the GTI). Even when it was my only car in FL I was only putting 6K a year on it, now I have the GTI and a Fiata, so 6K split between two cars.

They’re full on replacements. Same as if you were purchasing new covers from the parts department, only difference is the quality is far better than OEM.

I purposely bought our 2016 Tucson (used, few months ago) without leather so we can recover the seats with an alea leather interior. It’s just that much better than the factory material.

We used to have an upholstery shop years ago and did countless interiors for dealerships. Of the 3 major manufacturers of interiors (roadwire/CST, Katzkin, and Alea) Alea wins hands down. They make beautiful stuff, not much else I can say about them really!

And if the leather issue is the final determining factor, then I second Kyree’s suggestion of a VW Sportwagen.

Now for Hatchbacks to be ruled out: Prius – its a Prius Golf/Jetta Wagon – odd interior for price range

Possible Hatchbacks: Mazda3 Hyundai Elantra GT?? Mini Countryman?? – at the end of the day, you will be a grown man driving a Mini.

It is odd how the “no CVT” requirement really limits your choices to either “premium” brands or Korean brands.

All this goes to show that despite having a huge lineup of vehicles to choose from, almost all of them have at least one great deficiency that rules them out.

If you’re looking at the Elantra GT, stick with the base, non-turbo version. The 1.6T has a dry-clutch DCT, and that transmission sucks when it’s brand new. I don’t think I’d want to find out how it holds up over time.

The Elantra GT base is a dog. The DCT in the 1.6T is much improved from when it was available in the Tucson or Sonata Eco. That being said, I would recommend the 6-speed manual with that engine, especially since it’s a delight to drive and you can get a brand-new one so equipped for less than the $24,000 budget when you factor in discounts.

A good friend of mine bought a base manual 2018 Elantra GT (first year for the current body style) for something like $13K. They really, *really* wanted to get rid of it.

But I don’t think it would satisfy Corey. He’s very discerning, when it comes to his taste in vehicles. Frankly, I’m surprised he bought that generation of Outback, because it’s not great on NVH or materials quality.

I’m okay with the materials quality in there, at used prices. It’s a bit plasticky, but the leather has held up well, and the only rattles exist at the tailgate.

The DCT in the Tucson is different than what’s used in the car applications. (Ratios, programming, torque rating)

That being said—I would steer away from the Hyundai 1.6T. It starts burning oil off at higher mileages. I know someone who’s using a quart every 2,000 miles and mine was using a quart just a touch over 3,000 with less miles than his.

@Kyree, I too was surprised that Corey bought this Outback and somewhat surprised he has kept it this long.

You should get a MINI Clubman, because it ticks ALL your boxes, but from your article and replies to comments, I now realize that you’re completely ridiculous, so who cares what you buy.

I’m sorry my car preferences cause you distress to the point that you need to insult me personally. Good day!

@Kyree S. Williams – unfortunately, Hyundai dropped the M/T from the Base GT in 2019, which is kind of funny since you can still get one in both trim levels of the Toyota Corolla hatchback.

I have been noticing the Niro a lot. As for that Subaru, I can see wanting to be rid of it. My parents have one of that generation and I often ferry them around in it. The 2.5 engine noise is unpleasant. I used the steering wheel flippers to force the CVT into a fake upshift just to make the drone go down. The tire noise is bad, and they live on rural roads in poor condition. It bobs up and down back and forth and is never settled. I hate that car so much.

Not anymore. Both Hyundai and KIA are now offering their “IVT” transmission is some vehicles.

Good suggestion on the Elantra GT. 2018 and up is a nice vehicle, and the 1.6T/Dual Clutch combo is a fair bit of fun.

Pre 2018 Elantra GT’s, although reliable enough, were a penalty box. Commuting in one could actually drain ones will to live..

I recently purchased a 2012 BMW 328i with x-drive. This is the E91 generation. It is burgundy color with chestnut leather seats. With the exception of a manual transmission, it has every option offered on this car, including the coveted sports package. While this is a rather rare combination of options, a very clean one with reasonable mileage can be had around the $15k mark.

My boss’ supervisor’s son and his wife are BMW fanatics! But they have more than two vehicles for just the two; an X5, and maybe an M3 and a normal 3-series—don’t recall! So there’s always a spare, since he’s usually wrenching on at least one in the fleet, and they both need to get to work! :-D He does all work himself, and enjoys it! To each their own!

Another excellent option would be the 1972 Citroen SM that the founder of Borla exhausts is selling on

A used Audi allroad (the newer ones based on the a4) could easily fit the bill. Even though you don’t need awd, I can’t think of a better riding, quiet, but still fun wagon. A Buick regal tour x could work but good luck finding one in your price range. As much as I want to suggest a 328xi wagon, they have some reliability issues that concern me. Though if running costs are not a concern, look around and wait for a used e350 wagon.

Don’t know what your talking about in interior misalignment, mine lines up just fine. I found a few minor exterior trim misalignments. Not body panels but plastic cladding etc. My Toyota had more interior issues than my Buick.

@Kyree – if the man has been driving a 4 cyl Subaru the TourX is going to feel like a sports sedan.

Holding up? We shall see. Life is too short to drive boring a$$ cars. So far at 7,000 miles, all is well.

Maybe it’s the St. Anthony medallion hanging from my rear view mirror that is saving me. He is the patron saint of lost causes.

Oh MPG – with my Highlander 2010 V6 4wd I would get roughly 22 mpg on a tank in heavy (75%+ highway driving) with my TourX I get 22 mpg on a tank with 100% city driving.

On the highway I can easily hit 30 mpg, that’s with my hand calculation not relying on the computer. The computer lies by roughly +1 MPG.

Does that have AWD available? I know the GS with the V6 does, but I can’t remember if it’s available on the 2.0T models, and I’m too lazy to look it up!

I test drove several TourX and Sportbacks and the interiors while pretty pedestrian (even compared to my new 6 Grand Touring Reserve) were put together really well. I was surprisingly shocked. Only complaint I had about the TourX was cabin noise at highway speed, but I think this is typical of many open cargo type vehicles.

I agree with PrincipalDan. The TourX was on my short list of possible cars but at the time I couldn’t find any used ones and wouldn’t stretch my budget for a new one. I test drove one and thought it drove really well. I even took over the “roughest” paved road in my town and it did just fine. I for one really liked the interior. But then, I was coming from a Kia Soul, so most anything was an upgrade. Didn’t follow the link in your reply to Norm but finding one can be difficult. I think your MPG will be similar to your Subaru, around 25 in mixed driving. They are all AWD which may not be a requirement for you anymore but to me would always be a plus anywhere it snows.

The TourX is over my budget even used. We don’t get much snow in Cincinnati in recent history. Past three or four years, never got more than 3″ at a time, maybe twice per winter.

Couple of inches paralyzes the city, doesn’t it? Legend has it that you folks don’t have the snow-removal infrastructure down there to deal with it versus a Dayton, Columbus, or Cleveland.

Some TourX owners are getting $10,000-12,000 off MSRP. Depending on options you should be able to get a brand new one shipped to your door at your budget. Expand your 200 mile radius or jump on the forums/FB to see where the latest purchase deals are.

We have our 2017 RVR and its been frankly superb. But the goal was always to make it our second vehicle (so it can sit with its 10 year warranty and always be available for around town and reliable). We put 65k kms on in two years, which would mile out the warranty in 4 years.

So we wanted something that could tow a small trailer, and something that would be great for all my rural work driving. I love half tons (2015 Denali w/ 6.2L) but my voice of reason didnt really want one, and I cant blame her.

So, we found a nicely used 2015 Enclave. 5k lbs towing, and just excellent on the highway. I’ve put 10k kms on in the 2 months since weve got it and its a lovely cruiser. So far reliable, and with 110k kms on the odometer, hoping any issues are sussed out.

Cory – rather than lose more sales taxes, dealer profit ripoffs, registration/titling fees and quite possibly buying the hidden problems of someone else’s headache dump – just do this

1. Swap tires for Goodyear Assurance Comfortreads they ride MUCH softer and are quieter too. I know 2 (1 aging and 1 back injury) outback owners who only did this then immediately changed their mind about a trade-in.

2. Get 4 or 5 cans of good (say 3M) rubber undercoating. Put on 2 decent coats It does nothing for rustproofing but it adds mass to sheet metal panels and drastically lowers the pitch and sound levels coming into the interior. Do the wheel wells ( its plastic liners if equipped) and all the floor pans.

PS – if you have a thinner gauge stainless steel sink in your kitchen you can spray the leftover on the bottom underside to quiet it down when the water spray hits it. Makes a 45 buck builder grade special sound quiet like a 400 buck heavy gauge sink.

100% agree. With rubberized undercoating or any other form if ‘sealing rust protection’ if moisture gets in under it, the moisture is trapped and then real problems start to occur.

Didn’t they make the TSX wagon until 2014? That would be my choice. Elantra GT is a good suggestion There is one that vists my neighbor and is fully loaded and it really looks nice.

Tour X but not sure where the pricing is on those. On the same GM lines Cruze hatch back? I liked the first gen Cruze but have never been in the hatchback. I seem to remember a write up in Curbside and the author liked it.

One more the Toyota Venza. I find them really nice when loaded up but a lot of people hate them. I have only driven and ridden in them on smooth roads in FL thou so not sure how well the suspension works.

I rode in a Venza Lyft in Vegas and was horrified at the crashy ride and cheap plasticky interior. Granted who knows what sort of blown out struts or crashy not-to-spec Chinese replacements and/or tires may have been on it, but it wasn’t good.

Have you driven the 2018 Accord 1.5? I think its got plenty of power for most, but I would have loved to try the 2.0. I got one as loaner and I was surprised how buttoned up and quality driving it was compared to the 2016 Accord Sport loaner I drove. I would at least test drive one. I thought the interior quality was better than my 2007 Accord. Comfortable ride, I didn’t have a problem with the CVT (lots of stoplights and stop and go traffic) though I prefer my manual transmission. They are starting to show up for under 18k in Minnesota. The only cons I can think of is the front grill looks polarizing, but some look better than others depending on the color.

It’s a consideration for our Mr. Lewis, but I would wait a bit until the 2019s start to appear on the CPO lots — there were some vexing infotainment bugs, among other things! Perhaps the “four-door coupe-ish” styling may also be a demerit.

I’d vote Elantra GT stick-new tech infotainment, runs on 87 octane, long warranty,fun-ish Separately, I’m amused a pseudo professional car reviewer would on purpose purchase a Subaru 2.5 CVT

I’ve checked the interior of the Elantra GT quickly, and it looks like amateur hour in there. H/K are hit or miss on their interior designs these days, with K having more hits than H.

I think you’re going to be limited to small hatches from mostly the more uncommon brands based on those prereqs. I don’t think Focus or Cruze are refined enough and with Focus you have to buy the stick which I know you won’t want in traffic.

Caravana found a clean MY12 on the block somewhere and then preceded to put 20K [!!!] on it, mind you I think this was like a 33K model BRAND NEW. MY fracking 12, what in Caravana land do 8 year old vehicles not depreciate? Guess so. I suspected my hate for them would burn with the heat of thousand suns as I do Carmax, but this confirms it. Absolute criminals.

The hatch thing kills you because most premium/near luxury stuff doesn’t come in that configuration MY14 to pretty much now. I know you’d prefer used and people were throwing out Mazda and VW which may work, but while recent Mazda might fit the bill, old Mazda won’t have the comfort or refinement I know you crave in an awful urban commute. Old VW might do better in this regard, but now you’re dealing with VW probably out of warranty. I’m not up on VAG these days but in my time I wouldn’t want to deal with VAG products out of warranty unless the price is right.

Why not Scion as the xD and xB were still sold in MY14/15 and both were offered as hatches, with tranaxles, Japanese assembly, and should be fuel efficient/reliable. I very much enjoy my MY18 IM but this was only offered from MY16-18 and only with a CVT or stick, I get 29MPG avg from the CVT.

Volvo reintroduced the V40 in MY12 as a hatch which uses an Aisin transaxle, and then there’s V60 wagon with the same transaxle although it is much bigger. Whether its worth a roll of the dice on what Volvo is these days I’ll leave to you.

Oh and could I possibly hire you as a financial advisor? I’m quite serious. I am familial with Ohio cost of living and have a rough idea based on what you posted over the years what you do and rough salary for it, yet my man you seem to have bulks of cash when you need it. Doing something right it seems.

My local Acura dealer had a wagon as their service loaner for a long time. Since then I have only seen two used ones on the lot, I think the last one was Blue with around 50k miles and they were asking 16k.I really like them a lot but they are hard to find. It’s like trying to find a Lexus IS Wagon 10 years ago.

On the Mazda my parents have CX5 Grand Touring AWD, with sunroof etc. I think they got it under 28K brand new. So I would hope used that might work. It is pretty nice inside and the ride is fine but the engine is Buzzy accelerating on ramps etc, but OK once up to speed.

I still think that’s high, but yahoos on Autotrader make that sound reasonable. Wholesale is about 10Kish so 12,9 max for anything under 80K. Knock two grand off 100K+. Cars be sooooo expensive, yo.

I’m not opposed to a TSX wagon I guess, but I feel like it’ll feel old. And the limited supply is certainly an issue. Every one I see is graphite with black interior.

I’m gonna come off all elitist, but even a 2018 Elantra GT has an interior that’s too low-brow to my eyes. I don’t think a Scion is gonna cut it.

I think you’re talking yourself into a new Mazda or VW hatch because the MY14ish variety are not going to have high rent interiors not to mention other hidden surprises.

Those things in mind, I set out on a basic search with a few priorities in mind: •Hatchback/wagon format – QX30 •Real transmission – QX30 has DSG •Comfort/refinement – Compared to a Subaru? QX30 •Leather interior, not black – QX30 •Fuel economy – subjective •Used – QX30 •MY 2014+ – QX30 •<$24,000 – QX30

I'm not sure I've ever laid eyes on a QX30, but I've read glowing reviews that said it is much better tuned in ride and handling than its Mercedes-Benz-badged twins.

The QX30 is a bit smaller than what I’m thinking, and also I’ve experienced that Mercedes 2.0t in a base Q60.

The Volvo V60 is on the small side, the XC70 a bit pricey. You can get a light colored leather interior, but fuel economy won’t be any better than the Outback’s.

I put Volvo below Audi on the reliability scale. I do not trust their product for longevity, and have not done so since circa MY2007.

Volvo dealerships are excellent places to find stellar mechanics. They can keep the cars and CUVs though.

Volvo and Saab have a lot of apologists out there; fans of the brand who can’t see past their biases and make excuses constantly.

“Yeah I had to replace the transmission, but only once.” “Once you rebuild the engine it’s pretty reliable.” “You can’t expect interiors to last 10 full years, come on.”

The best thing that ever happened to Saab fans was Saab going out of business. Fewer people will ever know how insane they are, and maybe they’ll buy a car that isn’t horrible some day by accident.

I hired a factory-trained Volvo(and Mercedes-Benz) mechanic who is a magician compared to most I’ve encountered. For the first few months he worked at our shop, every new type of car he touched was a pleasant surprise of intuitive design and high quality. Fuel pumps and injectors on a Duramax for him are like an oil change and a rotation for someone used to working on Mazdas.

I was at a junkyard probably 6 months ago and sat in a still decent looking (don’t remember if it was wrecked) Saab, I had some strange attraction to it instantly like a Ex-Junkie weening off of crack seeing a crack rock.

I have to say for a good month I looked into buying one despite the bones of it being something I would abhor from every other brand. I still see quite a few Saab’s on the road everyday so apparently there’s still a good bit of love for the cars.

The fact that GM actually sold SAAB means that it’s parts distribution has become essentially junkyards, a very few number of websites, and eBay – was enough to scare me off.

I’ve noticed in the 10 years since GM discontinued the Hummer brand that they have on multiple occasions restarted production of certain parts. I was watching a shifter cable for a couple years, couldn’t find any on eBay and the dealer (and GM websites) wanted $240 for it. Suddenly I look after a period of absence and eBay and GM parts websites are loaded with them for $42. I guess resale values help justify the continued production of OEM parts.

With SAAB, it seems bumpers aren’t produced at all, parts are a nightmare, resale sucks, and all of the old SAAB mechanics have switched to Subaru’s.

Near Raleigh NC, I see what are all probably the last 5 years of production pretty regularly, maybe an early 2000s once a week and the 90s one are getting rare, probably only 1 every month or two. Now getting towards Charlotte I’ve spent a lot of time up Hwy 77, and trollblazers seemed to have sold very well in that area as there are quite a few in various states of abuse, though that barely counts as a Saab. Moving back East I hold a personal trophy of seeing a Saab 9-4x back probably in 2014 or 2015, that is the only modern vehicle that, at the time, I could not readily recognize. I was very confused. But yes I see no less than two Saab’s a day, not always the same cars.

No one I know personally owns a Saab, nor do I know of anyone around me that owns one or did own one.

I haven’t seen an Epsilon 9-5 in probably a month though, which in my opinion was the most attractive vehicle to ever come out of the Epsilon platform. It’s just a damn good looking front driver to me. Absolutely laughably priced when new, but much more attractive than the Impala, XTS, or any of the others.

Love the final 9-5, such a looker. Proportions just right, and the blacked out pillars for that big time glassy look.

Saabs are every where here in Connecticut. Volvo’s too. My 2001 V70 wasn’t bad but not great either. Definitely in the bottom end of the reliability scale of the cars I’ve owned. Also all those Saab and Volvo owners but Subarus and have the same apologist attitude.

Sad to hear the Epsilon 9-5 had issues despite sharing such an immense GM parts bin. Combined with such low production I would hate to try and keep one running.

Has to be one of my favorite looking front drivers ever made, had Saab lived I could see myself very tempted by one. It’s such a good looking car. Really the design team should have been kept with GM and promoted. GM finally had Saab on a track to success right there before it blew up, my understanding is that in 2008 they finally fixed the 9-3 electrical nightmares associated with the cars by switching to a GM based system.

Corey, if interior noise is your number one concern, you will likely have to move to a luxury marque in order to get the level of sound deadening that you want. The more common brands cheap out on sound deadening to save a few pennies, and it shows.

You may hate me for making this recommendation, but Im going to make it anyway since it meets all of your requirements AND has a serenely quiet, comfortable ride.

I don’t like it! Also not going to get the sort of fuel economy I desire, but basically I don’t like the RX.

I totally understand. The RX is not the most popular vehicle but man, is it quiet inside. I’m sure Ill think of a couple other models in due time.

I’m going to second my original comment, sometimes the best option is the one at your fingertips, saving $200-$400 a year In fuel or having a $400 a month car payment is what your decision comes down to.

If fuel economy and carrying capacity are two big factors in making your decision, I don’t think the joy you feel in a new car purchase is going to be long lived. The car payment will likely outlive that joy.

Your doing a fairly short drive everyday, if you insist on buying new(used) – and sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants, but in my opinion you should try to buy what you *really* want. If you buy something you love you likely won’t get bored of it fast, and you won’t mind keeping it for several hundred thousand miles until the wheels fall off. And that is, in its truest form, getting your moneys worth.

I’ve lived to this philosophy since I bought my first new vehicle with my money, rounding 300k miles I’m still happy as the day I bought my truck new off the lot. Same goes with clothes, if you don’t 100% love something before you buy it, your not going to love it weeks later when you go to wear it.

That’s just my $0.02. I buy what I like, if it doesn’t put a smile on my face everytime I get in the driver seat and crank it up, I don’t want it.

Oh well then excellent, I concede that portion of my argument, and applaud you for this! World would be a better place if everyone made such decisions with a financially sound backing.

Almost a hundred comments so far and no good answer… I think at this point the expected thing to do is to give in and buy a King Ranch something. :-)

Have to find one for sale locally so I can check it out. May be a tall order, as I understand they were a slow seller.

I pay cash for my vehicles as well. Waiting on a neighbor to come back from vacation to buy his 2012 Lacrosse with 43,000 miles. I most likely will keep that car a long time (10 years).

Kia Niro seems like a good choice, however, I’ve rode in a couple for Uber and will say that the ride probably won’t hold up to your standards. In Hyundai/Kia fashion it’s almost there, but was still crashy and had a fair amount of road noise at highway speeds.

I have a 17 GTI and will throw in another vote for the GSW. For the size, they ride and feel more like a luxury car. I swear my GTI is quieter at highway speeds than my father’s 19 Accord Touring. Good luck searching!

FWIW Kia is offering 0% for 60 months for qualified buyers, if you manage to find a new Niro to your liking.

A couple of years ago, I had a Prius v loaner for 2 days, not too noisy nor uncomfortable, although not exactly quick. You would have to settle for a pleather interior as well.

Naah, You’re clearly looking for a premium car. BMW,Audi,MB. If they are from this decade they are not that bad and also, YOLO. Some ideas, near Cinci:

Audi A5 5-door? That gen A4/A5 are from 2008 so by 2015 problems were fixed. Fuel economy’s not good but at least they’re not penalty boxes.

Corey, when I saw the first picture I was somewhat alarmed that you might be considering the purchase of a Subaru Outback. I’m relieved that I was mistaken.

The correct answer is a ford c-max hybrid (not energi since you dont want to plug it in). It meets all your criteria for about half the budget and gets at least 50% better mpg than the Subaru. It does have a real transmission, it’s a fixed planetary gearset which has continously variable ratios. Having owned a 2016 Honda fit with cvt and replaced it with a cmax I can tell you the transmission is much better. The cmax handles well, is very quiet and better than average in reliability. It’s comfortable, especially in sel or titanium trim and has grey and tan leather available. There are many within 200 miles of you but here are a couple of examples

Blue Hot Stretch Film

Motor Trend’s long-term verdict on the Kia Niro: “Its 9.6-second saunter to 60 indicates that, like many hybrids, this is not a quick vehicle… hampered by a transmission that performs clumsily at crawling speeds…But what bothers me more is how easily noise seeps into the cabin.”

I haven’t seen this mentioned yet, as I don’t know if it hits all the marks (like everything else suggested), but what about a second gen Volt? I have a couple of friends with them, and they absolutely love the car. Enough tech to keep you happy, decently engaging drive, liftback. It is a plug in hybrid, but you can probably just run gas all the time and still be ahead of the game.

Silage Film, PE Protective Film, Bopp Packing Tape, Bale Net Wrap - Tongfenghe,