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Old 01-02-2011, 08:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Car totalled (1997 Passat TDI), looking for easily modded replacement

Guys;

I lost my 1997 Passat TDI recently with only 343,188 miles on the clock.

Although I am looking for a replacement TDI, I thought I would get your suggestions for other models which have proven to be fuel efficient, easily modded and reliable. I have been doing up to 60,000 miles in recent years and intend to keep doing this line of work a few more years.

A few parameters; hatchback or wagon preffered
Not really looking to spend >$8000
A car capable of being towed 4-down also would be nice.
I don't mind a small car but carry quite a bit of gear when en route to the deployment (had removed passenger seat of the Passat for extra room)

Thanks for your suggestions

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Old 01-02-2011, 09:02 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 01-02-2011, 09:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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CRX probably doesn't meet his cargo needs.

Golf / Rabbit diesel?

Aside from another TDI, I'd suggest a used Prius. It'll meet or exceed your Passat's fuel economy. Meets your cargo needs. Doesn't meet the flat towing needs (must be towed with front wheels on a dolly). Not sure if you can get an '04 for <$8k anyway.

Moving on from diesels & hybrids, what I'd probably look at a manual shift Corolla or Matrix/Vibe.

Not sure what the last year of the Corolla wagon was...

But you'll find a number of Matrix/Vibe modders here on the forum.

Just some quick thoughts fired out there.

"only 343,188 miles on the clock" made me chuckle I bet a well cared for Prius/Corolla/Vibe/Matrix will do the same.
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Old 01-02-2011, 10:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Wagons have huge cargo capacity, and I like Toyota and Honda cars for their efficiency and build quality. Since you're looking to spend more than $8000, that rules out most older cars, and lots of good (but getting quite old) station wagons.

Aside from the obvious excellent hybrids and diesels, there are only a few good hatchbacks from a FE standpoint. Focus, Yaris, xA, Fit, and Versa are the only ones that come to mind in your price range.

And if you're actually doing 60,000mi a year, I would cross anything off the list if you can't get >50mpg out of it. Does that leave anything but the Prius and Jetta TDI wagon? Or does it even leave them?
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Old 01-02-2011, 10:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Actually I was saying I'd like to spend less than $8000, of course at this time things are not settled, I may purchase the salvage and dolly the car 900 miles home and have it repaired.

I have been reading up on the results guys are getting with the hatchbacks you listed and am curious which cars have the highest potential.
The reason I ask is newer TDI's get less than the older ones, the best being the 96-97 Passat or Jetta/Golf with the ALH engine (99.5-2003?).

Of course if VWUSA would import a Golf or even Lupo / Polo with TDI and Start/stop I might could be convinced to sign up for payments, I am just opposed to paying big money for a car I will be working out of and driving the wheels off.

Thanks again for you inputs.
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Old 01-02-2011, 11:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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It is easy to find a Vibe/Matrix for under $8k. They have great utility, and are essentially a Corolla hatchback. Take a look at Genvibe.com for any questions on the Vibe or Matrix you may have.

Generation Vibe Discussion Forums: Main
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Old 01-02-2011, 11:58 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Most of the non hybrids can handle a small trailer but I don't think there are any hybrids out there that are rated to tow anything, but even the Civic VX is rated to tow 1,000 pounds and mine gets 40mpg with a trailer and 50-52 the rest of the time.
Take a look at the Toyota Yaris hatchback with a 5 speed if you want something newish or the matrix if you want something larger, altho it seems like their mileage is only in the low to mid 30's.
If you were ok with the VW and how much repairs could cost then look at the Golf TDI and everyone I've talked to who tows a trailer with one really likes it, they are also a little cheaper to keep on the road then the Passat.
You can also look at the EPA MPG web site and sort by vehicle type and mileage that you want to get.
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Old 01-03-2011, 01:07 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I can fit a 55 gallon drum possibly two into my 95 civic hatchback...
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Old 01-03-2011, 01:48 AM   #9 (permalink)
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KITT222 -

Quote:
Originally Posted by KITT222 View Post
It is easy to find a Vibe/Matrix for under $8k. They have great utility, and are essentially a Corolla hatchback. Take a look at Genvibe.com for any questions on the Vibe or Matrix you may have.

Generation Vibe Discussion Forums: Main
I agree. The nice thing about the Vibe/Matrix is that you get Corolla drivetrain compatibility plus an interior that is well designed to haul stuff. The rear seats fold down flat to offer a nice hard flat plastic cargo space.

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Old 01-03-2011, 11:24 AM   #10 (permalink)
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If you do mostly highway driving the TDI is better, city driving the hybrid has better mpg.

A hybrid is not as economical as it first appears, after 380,000 miles you would have gone through several sets of batteries at $3000 each.

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