Update: First thing first, thanks to Oppo for the great feedback. Your thoughtful responses, whether or not I agreed in the end, made me think hard about what I really needed this vehicle to do. I pulled the trigger last Friday, 23 Feb. I drove my new 2018 Golf AllTrack SE home in the midst of a some-inches snow storm and loved every moment. In the end, I couldn’t respect the extreme premium Toyota demanded for a nice truck they couldn’t really get (orders were 3 months out if at all) with a truly disappointing engine and drivetrain in terms of price, efficiency, quality, and performance (it was a dog, I can’t gild it). The truck just couldn’t compare in any category, even though I really wanted it to win.

The only real thing the Taco offered was larger capacity towing, which doesn’t mean anything unless we buy a new house in town (race trailer for the Z), and that means I get a cool tow vehicle anyway, be it used Taco, or used F-2(3?)50 diesel whatever, or used Cayenne, or pre-1950-COE project to build with my son (oh my, there are some great options here...). TL;DR I got a new AllTrack now, there may be a new house while we keep this one as a rental during elementary school years at least (sounds like work, but I’m open...), and I could get a great hauler for track and property tasks.

Original post:

I’m cross-shopping the 2018 VW Golf AllTrack (SE) and the 2018 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab (premium package TRD Sport). Why? See below, if you want.

Discarded options for a variety of reasons include but are not limited to: Rapide, Panamera, F-type, V10 TDI Touareg, restored FJ-55 or FJ-45, Allroad, 1500 and Colorado, full-size pickups, XC-60, 3-whatever-x series, all SUVs/”crossovers”, and any Subaru ever.

Context: We already have an ‘04 Jetta 1.8T we love w/ 60,000 miles and has been flawless (only non-routine maintenance in 14 years was a coolant level sensor) and a restored Datsun 280 Z (track and fun toy). The purpose of this new car is kind of the second driver, ‘my car’ to replace my ‘89 Toyota pickup, and has functions for camping, trailhead access, road trips to remote places, winter ski/snowshoe outings, deep snow drives, hauling bulky and home improvement crap, bike trips, etc. Our commutes are both less than 2 miles, and our kid’s school is even less. We’d all just bike or bus, but that’d be about 30 mins/day less to see each other. So, this car/truck will see less than about 2500 miles/year and history indicates I’ll probably keep it for the next 20 or 30 years. The discerning differences for me are down to:

  • The Tacoma has towing capability (280Z to the track, instead of “run what you brung”, maybe a future camping mini trailer, cargo, etc.), true off road 4wd capability and clearance for camping and trailhead access, ability to easily haul messy crap/engines, etc. The test drive left me impressed with the ride and quality and space, and underwhelmed with the NA V6 and very disappointed in the AT (what they had on the lot, I’d only buy the MT for this truck). It is way bigger than my truck and would be a PITA in city driving and parking. But, our other main car is the Jetta, which is usually the “city car” now. The Tacoma has a huge aftermarket following and will likely have great support for decades.
  • The AllTrack has as much off road capability as I’d realistically need or want (more than that and I’d rather hike or bike anyway), is at least $5k less expensive at purchase, costs 15% less to register, less to insure, gets 25% better gas mileage (by EPA combined, anyway), has a turbo to ensure real power at our altitudes, has a much nicer and more comfortable interior, handles better on road, and has better power (for weight), acceleration, and response. I might get the MT, but the AT would allow for driver-swaps on long road trips, so that’s a consideration. VW has a big base of cult-like support, but this is kind of a niche model and may lack support in the truly long term (like parts for a Syncro Vanagon).

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What do you think? I may or may not agree, but I’m having trouble making a truly final decision between the two, so I figure why not see what Oppo thinks? Some good insights come out of here on occasion. Thanks, and good night!

Why am I in the market for a new vehicle?

I’ve pushed my luck with my modified ‘89 Toyota 2WD “Xtra Cab Deluxe” pickup as far as it can realistically go. The turbo system, lacking a few items like the Pulse Air Injection system, and most especially the non-CARB-certified SDS fuel injection system is now most definitely illegal in the CO Front Range emissions testing region. Short of spending $1k-$2k (fine) and a bunch of time I don’t have (really not fine), it will never be compliant.

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In some ways it’s hard to let it go. It’s my first car, I’m the second owner, the first owner was my Dad, I got it because I got a bunch of merit scholarships, I went to prom in it with my then-girlfriend-now-wife (20 years married), my son has loved rides in it, innumerable camping and backcountry and road trips, my son got me WeatherTech mats for it for my birthday when he was 2 and we installed them together, it is a lot of fun with the rebuild, turbo, EFI conversion, it is paid for and cheap to register and insure, and so on.

On the other hand, it is 28 years old and has some very real downsides and just is not a practical daily option. The locks only work if you hold the key just right. I still needed to build a new rear bumper. I was never happy with the cold start tuning. Or the hot start tuning, at least when it’s over 90F out. The left headlight is out, and I’m still not sure if it’s the lamp or the wiring harness. The HVAC fan only works on some settings, intermittently. There has been no functioning stereo in probably 8 years. I have all the parts but didn’t get around to reconnecting the A/C (differences between EFI and carburetor). I added a limited slip diff and 29" TA K/Os, but in the end it is still a 2WD truck. The complete lack of any safety features whatsoever beyond 3-point belts is striking, even for someone who races a ‘78 280Z. I would like to have more certainty in turning the key to get to the airport for business trips, or getting back out of the backcountry from camping or sub-zero winter recreation.

Sad as it may be, I do know it’s time to replace it. The question is, with what?