Sorry to throw another one of these up but I need some help. I presently have a MKVI TDI so the budget is up to dieselgate money(~20k), however, I would like to keep it near or below ~15k. In the background info section is I used to have a project Jeep XJ that I sold a few months ago. Also in this section is that I don’t know how to drive stick, and I prefer small/midsize cars.

I am in school right now, so I will be driving whatever I get on a fairly limited basis around a college town, and I will also need to drive home 2-3 hours on the highway. So it’s not quite gonna be a DD, but it can’t be full project.

I have a couple schools of thought running. Most of the cars I like are late 90s - early 2000s. I am split between overland style cars (4 runner, taco, XJ, WJ, etc) and somewhat hot cars (WRX, AMG, M, GTI, V70R, etc)

My parents want newer cars(late 2000s - 2010s), and cars that are practical/reliable/cheap to maintain/safe, and they prefer 4 door and auto, so appliance style.

I need to find something that has enough emotion to keep me entertained for about the next 5 years, but isn’t going to be expensive to maintain/unreliable.

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Some cars I have seriously considered are another XJ, SR5 4Runner, WJ Overland, Renegade Trailhawk, TRD Taco, 4 Door JK, WRX wagons, GTI, Cooper S, FiST, C30, E39 M5, C55 AMG, V70R.

Let me know what oppo thinks. Also sorry if that was super rambly but if you have any questions ask below.

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A pic of my old XJ for your time.