Illustration for article titled My Family Refuses To Ride In My Old Beater! What Car Should I Buy?em/em
What Car Should You BuyThe experts at Jalopnik answer your car-buying questions.

Robert has a 14-year-old Volkswagen Passat with a lot of miles and not a lot of life left in it. His family refuses to ride in his car that probably should have been sent to the junkyard years ago, so it’s time for a replacement that’s safe but not lame. What car should he buy?


(Welcome back to What Car Should You Buy? Where we give real people real advice about buying cars. Do you want us to help you find a car? Submit your story on our form.)

Here is the scenario:

My wife and my whole family have been begging me for years to get rid of my old VW. I drive a 14-year-old Passat GL with 135K on the clock. It has failing CVs as well other issues that are expected from a car of this age. The wife is completely mortified to drive in it and the kids stop smiling when we say we are taking “Dad’s Car”...yuk.

I live in New England, so naturally, I want something with 4WD or AWD because we get crappy weather at least five times a year. I would like some kind of driver assistance/advance safety package since I’m going to have a teen driver soon. I need more than my 140 horsepower in the VW but I don’t want something too crazy.

After dumping all kinds of money into the Passat this one needs to be reliable. In terms of budget, I can spend up to $25,000.

Quick Facts:

Budget: Up to $25,000

Daily Driver: Yes

Location: New England

Wants: Reliable, Quick, AWD

Doesn’t want: Something that embarrasses my family.

Expert 1: Tom McParland — Hey, It’s Not A Subaru

Illustration for article titled My Family Refuses To Ride In My Old Beater! What Car Should I Buy?em/em

So this scenario is like those horror movies where if the characters used a little common sense the film would be over in 10 minutes. You live in New England and you want something safe, reliable, and all-wheel drive for about $25,000: The obvious answer here is Subaru.

But you didn’t submit your case for obvious answers. So if you are determined to avoid an Outback or whatever, go with something that is pretty close. I would suggest the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack.


Now, this might be a hard sell with the family since their current VW experience is less than ideal, but the Alltrack like the rest of the current Golf lineup has been pretty solid. You will get your AWD and the cargo area you expect from a wagon, and while the 180 horsepower turbo four isn’t a rocket it will feel quicker than what you have.

A base model Alltrack starts at $26,000 but if you want some of the extras like Adaptive Cruise and some safety tech, you will want to look into a higher trim version and those get pricey. Now the good news here is that these VWs depreciate pretty rabidly making them a killer used wagon value. Here is a CPO 2017 Alltrack SEL for just over $25,000.


Expert 2: Patrick George — Surprise Bitch, It’s A Subaru 

Illustration for article titled My Family Refuses To Ride In My Old Beater! What Car Should I Buy?em/em

Hey bud! I’m gonna tell you to get a Subaru Outback! It’s not an original choice at all, but it’s been a long week around this office and I’m out of creative energy, plus I legitimately think this will meet all your needs perfectly.

I recently had a coworker here in the Northeast shopping for crossovers like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. I pointed him toward the Outback and he and his wife fell in love. There’s a reason Subaru sells approximately 11 billion of these things every year in New England, New York, Colorado and the Pacific Northwest—plus everywhere else, it feels like—and that’s because it’s practical, tough, safe, reliable and capable.


You have AWD here, obviously, and Subaru’s impressive EyeSight camera-based safety system to keep your teen out of trouble. It’s right in your price range too.

Is there a bear risk? Maybe, apparently. The next time the kids complain about being in a boring “Dad’s car,” tell them the potential to get eaten by bears adds to the excitement. Then remind them you put a roof over their heads and feed them, and that they can shut up.


Car advice and parenting advice: Jalopnik does it all.

Expert 3: Mack Hogan — Outdo Yourself With A Volvo

Illustration for article titled My Family Refuses To Ride In My Old Beater! What Car Should I Buy?em/em

You don’t want to be a stereotypical, middle-class New England dad who gets a Subaru wagon for his kids because it’s safe. You want to be a stereotypical, upper-middle class New England dad who buys a Volvo wagon for his kids because its safer.

You, my friend, need a V60 AWD or V60 Cross Country.

Volvo’s City Safety system is standard, so your new teen driver may get one or two second chances at a perfect driving record. If it does end up in a hedge, you’ll be happy that you bought a car designed by a bunch of Swedes named Lars who wear lab coats and obsess over the minutiae of crash-test performance.


I found you a 2015 Volvo V60 T5 Cross Country AWD with 44,802 miles for $24,490. This one comes with a certified pre-owned warranty that covers the car until 100,000 miles or seven years from its in-service date, so you can have with the comfort, safety and reliability you crave.

Expert 4: Raphael Orlove — Embrace The Weird

Illustration for article titled My Family Refuses To Ride In My Old Beater! What Car Should I Buy?em/em

Yes, yes. You can get a Subaru, or a Saab, or a Saabaru, or a Volvo or Volkswagen or whatever everyone else drives up there. Easy moves. You don’t need me to tell you about them.

What I’m here for is Vehicross.


There was a time when Isuzu sold cars over here, and it’s easy to forget that they were well-made vehicles that mostly got steamrolled in the market by their anonymity.

Not the Vehicross. It looked weird as hell.

But as for how it was built, these are solid machines, beloved by the people who own them and cherish them. As such, I know I will never be able to afford one, but a good example is right in your budget. None shall laugh at the dad car when it is a yellow Vehicross.

Tom is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs He saves people money and takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. (

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