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Lifted Prius, Middle-aged man sedan
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What are some good, solid, relatively simple and not horrible to live with new cars? I keep coming back to a Crosstrek Premium with the 2.0 and 6MT. Everybody with one seems to love it, even with the underpowered engine, 1980s gauge cluster, etc.

What else is out there? Say $30k and under, new. Dealer markups don't exist.

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Giulia, HRV, Ranger
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Very similar to the Crosstrek but probably duller and more reliable is our HRV "Sport." It's duller than our old Fit but more comfortable and holds more stuff. There's really nothing Sport about it.

But I wouldn't consider either enjoyable. They are...fine

If I wanted fun and it had to be new, I'd be looking at an Elantra N, turbo Civic (sport? Si? whatever is in budget), or maybe a Mazda 3.
 

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90 VW Corrado, 96 BMW 318ti, 03 VW GTI 20th, 21 Jeep Gladiator, 21 Jeep Wrangler
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7,860 Posts
I have a friend who used to have a 2017 Jeep Renegade and now my brother in law has one as well. I had always written them off but after riding with them and watching them hit the trails I was thoroughly impressed with the little Jeep. They both had the Latitude trim with AWD but for the same money you can get the Trailhawk version. Fun little runabout.

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I test drove a Crosstrek with a manual two weeks ago. I'm okay with slow cars, but it was too slow for me. It took 9 ****ing seconds to go from 60-65mph when I was on the highway. It had absolutely no power to keep up with traffic in stop-and-go traffic and wasn't even that fun to drive when I wasn't worried about accelerating. I was driving for my life in a way that wasn't even remotely fun.

Look into the Toyota Corolla hatchback. In manual form, even fully loaded, they're at or under $26k and can be in the low 20s in SE form. Tons of tech even on the base model. I just bought one.
 

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Jetta Sport 1.5T. Those things are 22K with a manual available. They are as quick as the Si and the new Integra in a straight line and extremely fuel efficient.
Do they come with the sorority letters preinstalled in the window or do I need to go through rush?

Source: wife was in a sorority, drove a Jetta for years
 

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Corolla Hatchback
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I've had great experiences with the CrossTrek manual and the Impreza manual. Oddly the Crosstrek is a 6spd and Impreza is 5spd . I'd take either.

I love my Corolla hatch as it was what I chose after driving everything under the sun, but it'd have to be a 2022 if you want a manual

Mazda CX30 was also something I cross shopped and really enjoyed and was a finalist for me

With everything I've listed all are nothing fancy cars, even though they're more or less optioned like luxury cars of yesteryear . The Subaru was eliminated from contention over halogen reflector headlights and after years of Subaru product it didn't feel different enough for me. But I would absolutely recommend one and would own one without worry. The Mazda was great from a content standpoint and interior wise it was amazing. But I didn't love the looks, the Subaru looked better as an SUV if that makes sense. I did drive a Mazda3 hatch and the rear visibility was a deal killer. And the Corolla Hatch was the goldilocks car for me this time around, the right mix of options, a manual, and looks I really liked. It fit my needs, maybe not everyones, but for me it was perfect. Plus I'm coming from an FRS, it feels huge
 

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2022 Subaru Impreza 2020 Subaru Ascent
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Crosstrek for sure. Just picked up a 2022 Impreza with CVT and enjoying it greatly. Would have loved a manual Impreza, but very hard to find right now. Crosstreks seem to be available with the manual, even down here in Florida. My dealer had 2 in the last month, but not in the color/trim I wanted.
 

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Jetta Sport 1.5T. Those things are 22K with a manual available. They are as quick as the Si and the new Integra in a straight line and extremely fuel efficient.
I say no to this. I had a 2019, the latest current gen, and got rid of it. The manual suck . It had that 2 second hill hold that would not disengage. Very annoying on steep hills.
 

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'18 Camry SE, '15 F150 XLT, '05 Golf, '91 GTI VR6
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I was just having this discussion the other day with my wife. We’ve got 2 potential paths to replace the Golf in a couple years when our son hits kindergarten. One path is a PHEV for her and I take the Camry, or find a fun DD for me. $30k historically has been my limit, coincidentally.

Aside from a GTI S or a Civic Si - the market is pretty depressing below $30k for something that can be usable as a 3-person family shuttle (no 2-seaters) and still has some entertainment factor.

Base, manual econoboxes are not fun anymore. BTDT, got the t-shirt - wish I’d been driving a GTI the whole time. I’d consider going GR86/BRZ and doing the whole cool dad thing. Otherwise, I’m stuck with overpriced Mk7’s (same price as a new Mk8) and used 3ers.

More and more, I wish that Acura offered the Integra base with a manual. I get that they would steal Civic Sport Touring sales and I say good riddance. Integra looks better inside and out (well minus the front nose) and has the Si motor and HEATED SEATS. I really want to love the Si, especially since I like the Civic sedan styling better than the hatch, but the lack of heated seats is a serious omission for me.
 

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I love my Corolla hatch as it was what I chose after driving everything under the sun, but it'd have to be a 2022 if you want a manual
Wait, no more Corolla with a manual?
 
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