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Oh yes, Stick shift is a requirement.
Requirements: Reliable and bulletproof engineA good degree of practicality (believe it or not, the RX8 is very practical)At least a decent amount of power, enough that you get a kick in the pantsStick shift requiredPluses4WD, with ability to turn it off desired over AWDmore than 200 hp, be fast but still practicalgreat fuel mileage
As a reference, here are vehicles that are on my short list.Mazda MX-6: indestructible engine, SUPER cheapCivic hybrid: I like the overall nerdiness of hybrids, that and the amazing gas mileage.Toyota Tacoma.Subaru Outback: Like the practicality. The boxer engine will always scare me thoughJeep: Would be the ultimate fun machine. But I know how loud they are to drive, expensive to run (gas). They are not relaxing to drive and I know it.
The problem with the WRX is that it doesn't lose value at all.That's a plus for overall value, but I'm looking to spend less than the $12k you need for a decent wrx wagon.Also, my girlfriend has a Toyota Matrix so we have the practical hatchback box ticket. It's a gutless POS but it's practical.
Doppelgaenger, you sound like a fairly young guy, get a pickup truck. If you've never owned one it will change your life. Camping, fishing, helping friends, all that is easier with a truck. Hey, you can start going through Craigslist and buy up junk motorcycles and bring them home. The possibilities are endless. You'll become more manly and start new manly hobbies. The best part is you don't have to wash them or repair the dents; that all ads to the whole new image. It's the only way to go.
Subaru - I don't think you can get a stick in the Outback for some time now, but see my points about the WRX. Our 2010 Impreza was a great car, but got boring due to lack of power, and that was the previous 2.5L which made about 180 hp, not the current 2.0L that is down near 140.
You e got some tough requirements. I'll tell you, unless it was a Miata, mini, Baxter, or a true roadster, I wouldNEVER go stick again. Click and Clack once said, "a real man knows when to let the car do the shifting for him." I have a 2012 V6 Rav and it is a great vehicle. AWD,short wheel base, 265hp, plenty of room in the back,etc. It is practical, yet has plenty of power. More vesate than my Tacoma.
We own a 2000 Suzuki Grand Vitara which has the 2.0 four cylinder. Tows the big boat, has selectable 4wd including low range (suprisingly, used more times than you'd think) and is built on a separate chassis. Reliable, cheap parts, goes quite well. Quite torquey for what it is. Practical, durable. Ours has almost no rattles at 220k kms. 32 mpg on a trip. Comfortable. More capable off road than some people give them credit for. Handles well on-road too. We are looking at the newer ones to replace this one, very similar build now with a 2.4 four or a 2.7 V6 I think. But we are looking at the 2.4 coz it's more than enough for us. Kev.
Tell you what though, our Mini Cooper S was an absolute BLAST to own for 7 years and 105k miles (till things started found wrong). Thing is we bought new, had "free" maintenance for a couple of years, warranty for a few more. And when we traded it we got a ridiculously high trade-in value, so total cost of ownership was low.Look at it this way, you can buy a $12k used one with over 100k miles on it and risk thousands in repair and be pissed.OR you can spend $24k on a new one, get a good number of trouble free years and then get a $12k on trade (I think we may have gotten little more, I'd have to check the paperwork).Either way it only cost you $12k, but you got to enjoy the convenience and reliability and FUN of a new car along the way.Now I don't know if Mini's are still that high in residual value. But like that WRX you were talking about, I bet they're still pretty good.Actually. Come to think of it, the math my work out the same for a new WRX too (except that you probably won't want or need to trade it out by 100k).
But sadly Suzuki is gone from the US Automotive market. They pulled out after 2013 I believe.
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