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Priority Miss - Need More Cargo; Loved my Jetta Sportwagen...VW or Subaru?

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

Member3078

Sometimes, you don't miss something until you don't have it!
I had a 2009 VW Jetta Sportwagen and loved it! I loved the handling, the panoramic sunroof, and (what I miss most now) the cargo space. I went overseas for 3 years, and when I returned, I thought I should be a bit greener and cheaper (and it's just me), so I went for a 2015 VW Golf. I love the handling, but I've come to see that the limited cargo space is not working for my lifestyle, at all.
I want/need to make a change.
My boss has a Subaru Forester, and maybe it's a function of age, but now, being a bit higher up is appealing, so I started investigating the VW Alltrack and also checked out the VW Tiguan and...the Subaru Forester. My key interests are good handling, cargo area that is at least the same as the VW wagon, and some height.
I test drove the VW Alltrack and Tiguan as well as the Subaru Forester.
I live in the Baltimore/DC area so while I love long drives, most of my work life is in urban stop-start traffic. I also have another constraint, a narrow driveway, so I don't want to go to a Honda CR-V. (The Alltrack & Forester width is the same as my current Golf, and the Tiguan is about an inch or so wider).
While the Alltrack feels familiar, it feels familiar! So if I'm moving up....well, maybe I should upgrade? If I'm going to break my rule of driving a car until it's dead (like my boring Honda Civic), I think I'm leaning more towards a Tig or the Forester. My concern about the Tig is the auto stop-start (which apparently is not going away and can be disabled) and the odd gear change at start up, and with the Forester that it has that CVT transmission and seems less responsive/worse handling.
The reliability factor does not seem to be a reliable measure for me as I'd had no major problems with my VW, but when I asked my "gear head" colleague about CVT, he said to stay away from it. To be fair, he is also against the turbo in the VW, but felt the CVT was a greater threat.
Any thoughts? I am not in a rush so I think I will keep doing test drives and seeing if, for example, I can actually turn off the VW auto stop...and/or checking whether its use really affects the air con. Or whether the "B pillar" noise issues with the Tiguan have been fixed. Or if I can move to the Forester.
I care about cargo space; handling; a pano sunroof (hey, it feels like I'm on Safari).
I've read owners reviews on the various sites, and now I'm watching youtube videos, but I wondered if any of you had any advice/experience.
Since I'm not really in a rush, I checked out the pix for the 2019 - only found Forester- and it looked awful!

Priorities: Interior styling / Handling / Ride smoothness

Need minimum of 2 seats

Will consider new cars only

Maximum price: US $ 30000

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Response from Dnslater

7:03 am April 11, 2018

It sounds like the Alltrack is the right car for you given your criteria and love of the way VW's handle. I went from a 2013 Sportwagen TDI to a 2015 GTI, and I agree that I miss the extra cargo space that the Wagon offered. I make up for it with a Yakima Skybox, but it is not the same. I have test driven and rented Foresters and my wife had an Impreza a few years ago, and they all lack that feeling of quality that the VW had. Doors were light. Interior not as nice, etc.... I also really didn't like the CVT after getting used to the VW dual clutch transmission. Foresters are good cars though, and the full time AWD system is superior to VW's.

Tiguan is fine, although I prefer the lower driving position and better handling of a car. Tiguan handling is not nearly as nice even though t shares platform bits with the Golf line. Mileage will also suffer due to the extra 500 lbs or so it carries.

You might also consider a regular VW Sportwagen. They come with optional 4Motion, and even offer AWD with a manual!

FYI, VW's now carry a 6 year, 72,000 mile warranty on 2018's.

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Response from AcuraT

7:42 am April 11, 2018

If you like your VW be aware the newer ones have more electrical issues. The wagon is based on the Audi Alltrack models as they share the same components for the drivetrain, and that is a fairly good one.

Subaru's overall are more reliable, but about 10% burn oil. If you maintain the oil level, the car will last 10 years withe ease. In fact, they are now advertising 98% of all Subaru Outbacks built 10 years ago are still on the road. That is how durable they are. VW cannot match that.

Since you are not considering any other car, I will stop there alhtough I am sure others will mention the Buick Regal TourX and perhaps the Volvo V60, both of which were redsigned in the last few months.

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Response from NormT

8:00 am April 11, 2018

Motor Trend recently did a Buyer's Guide article and comparison test of the Outback, Alltrack, and new Buick Regal TourX. Sounds like you want good Germanic driving traits and the TourX prevails of the winner of this group. It starts with a entry price of $29,999 and comes with Twin Clutch AWD system that includes torque vectoring rear differential that helps with turning at speed. The turbo-4 has been a mainstay since 2006 and is bullet proof for over a decade. The stop/start system in the Buick is as seamless as they come and is hardly noticeable in our Buick Envision. If you want to work around it shutting off, I actually wish it shut off more often, you can lower the AC setting or manually down shift into "L". Buick Regal TourX vs. Subaru Outback 3.6R vs. Volkswagen Golf Alltrack - Motor Trend

Buick Regal TourX vs. Subaru Outback 3.6R vs. Volkswagen Golf Alltrack - Motor Trend

We put three station wagons to the test, comparing every detail from how they drive to how spacious and practical they are. Read here to find out who wins! Wagon Train: On the California Trail in Modern Covered Wagons - Motor Trend

Wagon Train: On the California Trail in Modern Covered Wagons - Motor Trend

We took on the California Trail and instead of trekking for 5 months like the infamous Donner Party, it took us 5 days, thanks to our modern-day wagons. If you wanted leather, rear Cross traffic alert, hands free liftgate, heated seats - front and rear and heated steering wheel, and an elevated driving position, the Buick Envision Premium l can be found on autotrader for around $31,000. It is a little better optioned and priced compared to the Regal TourX and is a little smaller. In Consumer Reports testing they both handle the Emergency Lane Change test at 55 mph which sports-car like. If you wanted more car-like driving and a trunk twice the size of an Accord sedan the Regal Sportback is a new hatchback for this year. It starts at $24,999 but I've seen higher trim levels on autotrader for $22K. If you wanted a very good city dweller with a small foot print, elevated seating position, the Buick Encore can be found for under $20K. All of the Buick models pricing is mainstream competitve but offer a longer 4 years, 50,000 miles warranty than does Subaru.

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Buick Regal
Buick Envision
Buick Encore

Response from 83gmc1500

10:52 am April 11, 2018

Response from danlisahall

10:55 am April 11, 2018

Hey 3078; You/ve got good taste in cars! - all the cars mentioned here are good ones.

VW will have nicest interior, best handling, best mpg. Only default is smaller size and potential reliablity issues. But that is what the 6 yr /72K warranty is for.

Buick Regal CrossX sound really nice -- think I gonna drive one this week to see what all the fuss is about. But will be larger than any of other cars you've mentioned. If you decide to cross shop the CrossX I suggest you include the Subie Outback on you list as it is very similar offers more featurs at a better price.

Forester is a very nice rig but will be leastsophisticated of the three.

VW will have nicest interior, best handling, best mpg. Only downside is smaller size (some of us would consider that a plus) and potential reliablity issues. But that is what the 6 yr /72K warranty is for. Overall another plus for the VW is that it would have the lowest cost per mile to operate as well - especially if you opt for the FWD version- at least while under warranty. Advantage - VW.

I predict a shiny new VW wagon in your driveway in the near future! Please let us know your choice.

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Response from Dnslater

11:09 am April 11, 2018

Fyi

The VW Alltrack is based on the same MQB platform as the Golf and Audi A3. Same front biased AWD system as the A3/Golf R. Audi Allroad is based on A4 line which uses a different platform and has a more advanced AWD system and larger 2.0 engine.

Regarding Buick, I am renting an Envision for the week for work. It has similar cargo space to my GTI and a more cramped passenger compartment. It handles like it looks. Tall and narrow.

Buick TourX is a great wagon option, but 3" wider than the VW if you are concerned about width. A little more power and space than the Alltrack though.

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Response from LectroFuel

2:00 am April 12, 2018

I'm not a fan of either the Forester or Tiguan, but the new Tiguan has not been well recieved lately and the Forester is usually well liked. The Forester reliability will most likely be superior to the VW. The Tiguan drives like an SUV built for America, not a fun Golf Sportwagon. Handling is numb and its very heavy. I agree that the 2019 Forester isn't pretty, but the Forester has always been the more practical boring choice and is easy to see out of.

If you can live without a pano sunroof, the 2017 and newer Mazda CX-5 should be at the top of your list since it does everything you wanted very well. Reliability ratings are better than any car mentioned so far and it is as fun to drive as the Sportwagen or Alltrack. At least test drive one.

If I were in your situation, I'd buy the CX-5. I don't think you'll consider it since it doesn't have a pano sunroof, so my next pick would be a Golf Sportwagon, non Alltrack. I haven't driven a Regal TourX, but I have read that it doesn't have the durable interior of an Outback or the engaging driving dynamics of a Golf Sportwagen. I like the styling of it and it should be the more luxurious wagon aside from the cheaper interior. Unless you get a super good deal on it, I would keep it off your list because the stripped down 1SV model is the only trim in your budget. You could get a well equipped Sportwagon or CX-5 for that money.

All of the cars mentioned so far are worth a test drive except the Tiguan IMO. Please respond with what you choose and good luck!

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Mazda CX-5
Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

Response from Member3078

11:00 pm April 13, 2018

I really appreciate all your thoughtful and detail insights!
I will definitely test drive the CX-5 and the Buick TourX, if only to compensate for my approach last time. The extra 3 " for the Buick is probably a deal breaker..as well as the fact that it (sorry) I just don't feel warm about the brand.

I have to say that during the period (2009) that I found my jetta sportwagen, the Mazda dashboard was too video-gamey for me. I'm curious to see how it is now, as that does also play in...
I'm lucky in that I love my ride now, except that it just does not offer enough cargo space for my real life.

One other thing that is important to me is that the cargo area have a retractible cover. Not an annoyingly stiff plastic cover like the Golf but a pull over one, like my old Jetta.
In Balti, every night it seems someone checks your car out to see if there is anything of interest. The best line of defense is to leave nothing exposed.and when you do have a big load, with a retractable, you don't need to worry about where the cover goes.With the current hard plastic Golf cover almost anything bumps it out of place and there's the annoyance of where to put it:-)

Time is on my side, right?
Does anyone know which months are best for buying?
Does it matter that VW just changed their lead? (Will the stock improve?) I have tried googling what the 2019s will look like, and so far I've been repulsed!

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Response from NormT

11:16 pm April 13, 2018

VW is trying to put people in their car seats so anytime might be good. Most manufacturers are trying to make sales right through December before years end and seems like one of the best times. Expect sames on July 4th weekend too.

But an older, out going model can yield disconuts any time of the year.

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Response from danlisahall

1:24 pm April 14, 2018

Since the Buick TourX is new on the block and since NormT keeps bring up all things Buick, I thought I would share my recent driving impressions here.I drove a TourX for about 15 minutes on freeway and city streets. IMO it is a very nice car! Here are my impressions compared to my 2015 Outback Limited 2.5i with 20 mm RSB Comfort:

TourX ride is significantly smoother, less wind noise, tire noise about same. Seats have better bolstering then OB and fit me better. OB seats are very comfortable, perhaps better for a large person, but also somewhat flat.

Handling: TourX corners flatter and is more responsive. Even though car is bigger, it drives small than OB whhich seems somewhat ponderous in comparison.

Engine transmission: I have never driven the OB H6. TourX's engine & tranny were very responsive, engine is quite strong up to 85 mph and transmission quite seemless. OB's CVT is also very smooth & seemless except when you floor it.

Interior: I feel that the OB interior (2015) is nicer by small margin, I didn't care for TourX chrome / piano black treatment and suspect sunlight reflection/glare could be an issue plus I thinik it will be a magnify dust and fingerprints thus making it fussy to keep looking nice. Back seat is spacious and comfortable in both, back footwell space is huge in Buick.

Cargo area: TourX it has significantly longer cargo area - about 10-12" longer - looks huge with seats down, seats fold flat. Width is similar, but OB height is about 6" taller in center. TourX will accomodate long items better than OB, but OB will swallow tall items better.

Exterior: TourX looks larger on outside than dimensions suggest, it is a BIG Wagon! Given its length, low ground clearance and somewhat low roof ling it is pretty handsome rig overall. But personally I don't care for all the chrome trim around foglights, tailpipes.... Despite it's size it drives relatively small.

Amenities: The OB Limited and the TourX Essence are both loaded with all the amenities you would hope for in this price range. However, the very desirable driver safety aids such as Adaptable Cruise, Cross Traffic Warning are standard on top of line OBs where as they are a option that adds almost $3K to the price of the top line Buick. Definite demerit for the TourX.

Pricing: To get similar features to the OB 3..6R Limited the TourX it's about MSPR is about $2,700 more than 6 cyl OB. However, at this price the TourX has a few additional features including panoramic sunroof, remote start, auto dimming mirror and better warranty (4 yr/50,000 mi basic, 6 yr/70,000 mi powertrain vs OB's 3/36 - 5/60). IMO the OB offers more bang for the buck

Overall: I have never owned or desired a GM car. Volvo, Honda, Subaru, & VW/Audi have been my go to brands.
But, IF I were in the market for large AWD wagon such as a 6 cyl OB, IF ground clearance was not a concern, and IF I had $40K to spend, the TourX would be a tough real competitor for this 3 time Subaru owner.
But, since I am content with the OB 4 cyl engine the TourX pricing makes in much less competitive; definitely less tempting for me, especially considering fully equipped TourX about $10K more than a similarly equipped 4 cyl Outback.

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Response from LectroFuel

2:02 pm April 14, 2018

Mazda dashboards and interior are MUCH better than they were before 2014. I didn't like the interior of older Mazdas. Car thefts can happen in the safest of neighborhoods, so I have bought retractable cargo covers with both of my Prii. They work very well. I can never understand how people live with the cheap liftable cargo covers that eliminate half of the trunk. They are just something to bang your head into. If your car does have this, you can either remove the liftable cover by detaching or cutting the wires and then installing a retractable one, so you can choose which one you want after buying the car.

For the best time to buy, it seems like VW always has a "sales event." Like Norm said, July is a great time to buy as well as Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Black Friday weekend, and Christmas. Dealers start the push to move their 2018 models off to make room for the 2019s at around October. Mondays are the best time to buy a car because nobody buys cars on Mondays. Salesmen struggle to get sales on Mondays.

I can't stress this enough: Sell your car through a private party. The dealer gives you much less for your car than it is worth, almost always. Selling yourself means you set the price. To be safe, just don't meet up at your own home; go to a parking lot.

The CX-5 is 1.5" wider than the Golf.

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Response from AcuraT

3:45 pm April 14, 2018

Best time to buy a car is the end of a model year, to answer that new question you asked. For most cars the new model year starts in September. So if there is last year's model in October, that is when the best deals are. There are exceptions to this rule, however.

For example, the Buick Envision is being launched now in May 2018. That means right now you can get about $10,000 off on a 2018 Envision. I did. I sold my 12 year old Saab with 170,000 miles and got a fully loaded 2018 Envision about 25% off which is a huge bargin. I get a six speed automatic instead of a nine speed but that six speed has been in use for at least 9 years now and is very reliable. The engine dates back to 2012 so after six years the mildly redeisgned Saab engine (direct injection was added in 2012) is also very reliable. The Envision comes across as a reliable car and is pretty sporty (surprising me), and I needed the space so I bought it this past week at the huge discounts being offered.

Just look at when cars are launching and when it launches, by the last model year - dealers are trying to get rid of them as fast as possible. I did this with our Subaru (October 2013) and now with our Buick (April 2018) - saved about $8000 to $10,000 on each car.

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Response from mkaresh

5:00 pm April 14, 2018

danlisahall,

I really liked reading your review. To get it more visibility I hope you can post a comparison review of the two cars in the Review section of the site.

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Response from LectroFuel

5:00 pm April 15, 2018

I almost forgot... go through the Costco Auto Program if you don't have another secret method of buying a car. I built a 2018 Golf Alltrack 1.8L SE with the DSG and the price comes out to $30,480, which is $1400 off the MSRP. A Regal TourX will save you the same amount regardless of trim. The 2018 CX-5 Grand Touring FWD (fully loaded not AWD) will come in at $29,478 or $1,200 off MSRP.

I've also heard TrueCar is helpful, though I've never used it.

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Response from NormT

12:43 am April 16, 2018

You should really start at MSRP and work your way down. This applies for main stream cars and trucks and not special edition or limited run vehicles.

Anything less than $2,000 discount is what you can see as lease loyalty bonus to a returning customer. It is really chump change when most cars are $3,000-14,000 off MSRP.

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