This post highlights the beauty of blogs (soap box venting) and also serves as a platform for me to share my excitement of getting a new car 🙂
Yesterday I took delivery of my 2012 VW Jetta 2.5 SE with a 5-speed. For the last two years, I drove a 2009 Honda Civic LX coupe with an automatic. Before that, I’d driven manual transmission cars for ~7 years. I’d had enough of driving an automatic and finally made the switch back 🙂
It may seem odd to trade in a 2 year old Honda Civic, with no problems and only 49K miles. Indeed, my Honda had perfect reliability and never once gave me any concern. It performed well in all driving situations and looked good doing it! Would I recommend a 2009 Civic to a friend? YES! Having said that, I was out of warranty and still had at least another 4-5 years of payments ahead of me if I were to buy it off the lease. Turning the car in at the end of the lease was not an option as I would have paid over $6000 in excess mileage fees! So why did I not just buy a new Civic? First, I didn’t want to just buy the same car over again. The 2012 Civics are not appreciably different than the 2009s and the rates on new Civics aren’t especially attractive. Especially when compared to the price and features of other new cars.
The two cars my search came down to were the 2012 VW Jetta and the 2011 Mazda3 5-door. The Mazda3 gets rave reviews and it was actually the runner up to the Civic when I was car shopping 2 years ago. It offers features and a driving experience not often found in cars of similar pricing. While I enjoyed driving the Mazda3, it didn’t “wow” me and didn’t quite meet the high expectations I had when test driving. I drove the 2012 Jetta after driving the Mazda3 and was sold. The 2.5 5 cylinder in the VW is a fantastic engine. The harmonics the extra cylinder and 4 extra valves give over the 4 cylinder in the Mazda make it sound like a real engine. The Mazda3 felt cramped for a hatchback and the Jetta offers the same cargo space in the trunk despite the Mazda being a hatchback. The Jetta’s cleaner lines inside with less distracting lights and displays give it a more timeless feel. All that plus the higher MPG rating of the Jetta put it ahead of the Mazda despite the Mazda having a sunroof, Bose stereo, 17in alloy wheels and rear disc brakes.
Now on to my soap box rant: All the “expert” reviews of the Jetta point out the “cost-cutting” areas in the 2011/2012 Jetta versus earlier generation Jettas. These include a hood prop instead of a gas strut to support the hood, goose-neck hinges instead of a gas strut to support the trunk lid, harder interior plastics (and plastic rear decklid), torsion beam rear suspension (vs fully independent), hydraulic steering (vs electric), rear drum brakes (vs. disc), no remote fuel door opener, and you can’t put all the windows down by holding the unlock button down on the remote. Reviewers cite these as a bad thing for the Jetta, what they fail to acknowledge is that these are all common place in Hondas, Toyotas, Hyundais, Mazdas, etc. Do they call out Honda for having a plastic rear decklid, hood prop, goose neck trunk hinges and rear drum brakes?? NO! Why pick on VW for having these and not also say that every other car in this class DOES have them? In their glee to fault the Jetta, they ignore that it gets competitive gas mileage while offering the most powerful engine, has standard A/C, power windows and locks, remote entry with trunk release, split-folding rear seat, traction control and one of the largest interiors and trunks in the class. Oh and the interior trim is well made, attractive and nicely arranged. Sure it doesn’t have some things that earlier Jettas have, but that doesn’t make it any less than it’s competitors. Bitches gotta recognize.