The wisdom of car lounge..
I just sold my 03 Maxima 6MT after 1.5yr of owning it. When i bought it i thought it really would be the car that I'd keep for a long time. It's got good power, good fuel economy (24mpg for me combined) for a 260hp 3.5 V6, and was comfy as hell. However it just had no driving feel, I took it to autoX, track days with R comps (keeping up with well driven S2000s), but I never bonded with the car. So I sold it.
My previous car was a 88 Mazda 626 Turbo 5spd Hatchback, and I loved that car, and I miss it a lot. It was tough as nails, even though it went thru many autoX and many set of R compound tires, the car came back for more.. I did go thru a few turbos but that's my fault for boosting it to 15psi on a stock exhaust.
I missed its practicality, it drove very well for what it was, and somehow I felt a lot more at one with the 626 than the Maxima when pushed to the limits.
I'm now looking for an auto daily driver (GF can't drive stick), with good practicality, reasonable straight line speed, reasonable fuel economy, and easy to work on, and with a good driving experience.
I've really look thru everything and none really meet my criterias., and i have the follow requirements:
0-60 under 9sec
under $5000 budget
prefer 4 cyl (easy to work on)
25+ mpg hwy
I've thought about the usual suspects, but they don't meet my requirements
1. Focus wagon - too slow with auto (10+ sec 0-60)
2. Legacy/Impreza wagon - too slow with auto
3. Mazda Protege 5 - too slow
4. Passat/Jetta 1.8T - not reliable
I have a few wild cards.
1. PT Cruiser Turbo (fast but not reliable?)
2. Volvo V40 wagon (reliable or not? no idea)
3. Volvo V70 2.4 LPT (reliable or not?)
3. Lancer ralliart sportback (meets all requirements, but rare!)
Any other suggestions TCL can come up with?