I Want It All!


I am moving from from the big city to a smaller city and will need to buy a car. I need something that handles well in winter weather and is comfortable for long road trips since my family lives about 14 hours from my new home. But it also needs decent air con since it gets really hot here in the summer. I would like something that gets good gas mileage, is roomy since I am tall and preferably friendly to the environment. And inexpensive!

I love manual transmissions but am willing to forgo it if an automatic gets better gas mileage. I tend to shy away from SUVs but am willing to be convinced. And, pre-owned is fine. I have been vacillating between a Subaru and a VW TDI. Do you have any suggestions on vehicles to consider? Of have I launched myself into the stratosphere with my search?

~ Teddie
New York City


Hey Teddie –
First of all, you crack me up. Yes, in a way, you are asking for the moon. But why not? You want fuel-efficient, roomy, eco-friendly, fowl-weather friendly, and with good A/C. How about a backpack, a spray bottle outfitted with a battery-powered fan and a good hiking trail? Just kidding.

If you’re concerned about the winter weather, then there is no beating the Subaru Impreza; it’s the least likely to get stuck in the snow, and you can get a PZEV (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle) version. But it’s nowhere near as fuel-efficient as the Golf TDI (which stands for Turbo Diesel) or Jetta TDI — if you stick to a reasonable speed, the Golf and Jetta diesel engines should return some pretty impressive fuel economy figures on those 14 hour road trips.

If you want more stretch-out room, the Volkswagen Passat TDI is a much bigger car, with 43 MPG highway for the manual vs. 42 MPG. Aaron Gold, our resident VroomDude, has a 2012 Passat TDI that is averaging 39 MPG in mixed driving.

Good luck and drive carefully!

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