Help me car shop, Oppo.

The Official Car of Oppo, c. 2018

I’m in the market for a new daily. I love my gimongous GMT800 Suburban 2500, but since I sold the travel trailer, moved further away from work and my wife is quitting her job to stay at home with the youngsters, the $400/mo fuel bill is a tough pill to swallow. It’s been parked a lot lately while I’ve been daily driving my swaybar-less lifted Cherokee which gets better mileage, but is far from ideal from a safety standpoint.

Also, my life is just one big burrito of stress and responsibility. My commute is my time to listen to music, talk radio, etc. and decompress, traffic be damned. Roughly 2.5 years ago, prior to kiddos, I commuted in a happy little NA Miata. It was fun and engaging and I looked forward to every drive. The Burban is big, comfy, capable and safe, but fun it ain’t.


So, I’ve begun the search for a family-friendly fun car. Something that’ll put a smile on my face every day allows me hook up my daughter’s car seat and roll in to Cars and Coffee on Saturday morning. I’m currently stuck on Volvos, but I want something unique. I really want a V70R, but I also don’t want to be murdered with maintenance. I see an equal number of reports of “I don’t see what the big deal is, mine’s been fine” and “this car murdered my wallet’s whole family”. I’ll always have the Jeep to fall back on to get me to work and I’m more than competent with a set of wrenches, but I don’t want to be working on my daily all the time. I’m strongly considering a ‘98 P80 VR because it’s a much simpler car, but I don’t know if it’ll be as engaging to drive as a P2 chassis.

The other strong contender is Oppo’s car- the GTI. Specifically, the MK5 in 4-door flavor. Or, the sedan version- the Jetta GLI. I know not much about them other than they are extremely comfy, fun to drive, can have 4 doors, and have a neat automatic gearbox, if selected. Oh, and those sweet phone dial wheels that I hated when new, but love now. If I get a decent example with higher miles, what is there to fear? I’d prefer manual, but is the DSG as good as they say? Does it get costly to maintain as the years and miles add up?

Should I just look for a FWD V70 T5? I’m opposed to Suabarus and Hondas, Audis and BMWs seem like maintenance nightmares in untraveled territory for me (plus I haven’t see any that really give me “the fizz” aside from E46 coupes, which are out because not enough doors and the Audi S4 which is well-known wallet death) and my budget is limited to sub-$7k.

Make suggestions. Who knows, maybe I’ll even listen!

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