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Discussion Starter #1
I am likely to be offered a lease soon by my company (in reality just a communter, 30 miles/day plus unlimited personal use is OK). Catch is it has to be from Ford, GM or Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep, so Subie's and our intended next purchase - a Honda Element - are out . Other than that I belive I can pick most anything in the low to mid price range from any of the big three.

For us MUST be MT, hatch/wagon and not huge in size (big enough for two adults, two kids and two mid size dogs, small enough for easy parking etc.). We're keeping the FXT, in fact I may get to drive it more as my wife is a little afraid of it.

I think first choice will be a Saab 9-2X Linear (based on the Impreza 2.5i, they dont sell the WRX based Aeros here any more) but there's a chance that picking a Saab may not be allowed or that all the 9-2s may be gone.

What else is there that may work - Pontiac Vibe (=Toyota Matrix)? Escape/Tribute 4 cyl? Focus wagon? Jeep Liberty? Hummer H3?

MT on domestic wagons/SUVs is pretty rare, and most of the choices seem pretty underpowered/uninteresting/unreliable/likley to roll over etc. I've never even bothered to look before.

JP
04 FXT MT
 

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scarred from battle
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I'd throw another vote in for the HHR, although I don't know if you can get the MT with the good engine...

Dodge Caliber would be a definite must-look as well. Seems to fit exactly what you're looking for. I think the HHR wins on styling, but the Caliber probably wins on features/utility.

I'd say you should also consider the following:
- Dodge Magnum
- Ford Freestyle (although I've found it to be rather uninspiring)
- Volvo V50
- Saab 9-3 Sportcombi
- Mazda 3 5-door
- Mazda 6 5-door and wagon
- Ford focus wagon (although the 130hp 4 is anemic, at best, and you can't get the better 150hp four in the wagon - it's only offered on the ST trim level)
- Ford Freestyle
- Jeep Liberty CRD <--- GREAT Diesel engine!!!
- Pontiac Vibe is also a good idea, although some people (like my girlfriend) refuse to drive a car called the Vibe.
- I assume MB is out of the question, even though DaimlerChrysler is one company.... if it is doable, a C-class AWD wagon would be worth a look.

I think the liberty and the freestyle may only come with autos. I'd say the diesel in the liberty makes it worth considering, but that's coming from a former VW TDI owner.

EDIT - Jag X-Type wagon???
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks, I had meant to rule out the HHR and the PT cruiser on aesthetic grounds (but hey I like Elements). The remainder are interesting, though some are auto only. I doubt if Mazda are allowed, and I wonder about Volvo (more daylight than between GM and Saab).

Maybe I should find out more what I am allowed to pick from as this is a wide spread of options. It is not a normal company car thing where you get what you are given - as I have to pay the first 200/month but get to claim for gas and repairs. It's reward for not having a life. But there is likely an upper limit on how pimped the choice is and I dont want to embarras my boss with the wrong choice (no MB I think).

Any opinions on the resale of the 9-2 if I buy it out at the end. It's an orphan car with divorced parents.
 

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scarred from battle
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One big hinderance to solid resale on the 9-2 is saab's incentive scheme. GM/Saab was offering 5k cash back on new ones last year. If they do something similar in the future, it's going to **** resale values if you're selling at the same time.

There was this odd moment when a 9-2i was about 2k cheaper than a comparably equipped impreza.

I still think you should take a long look at the CRD and the Caliber. Upkeep on the CRD will be pretty cheap, I would think, and the mileage will be substantially better than anything with a similar power level. In classic diesel form - while it only produces 160hp, it makes a massive 300 ft-lb of torque, and all of that is before paying a visit to a chiptuner.

I know the tranny is a 5sp slushbox, but I think it's a viable tradeoff here.

The CRD should hold value really really well too, if VW and MB diesels are any indication.

I bought my VW TDI for a smidge over 15k. I sold it, 22,000 miles and 2 years later, for a little under 14k. Had I held onto it until last november, i could have sold it for close to what I paid for it at the start.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Will do. I am originally from the UK, and have driven lots of diesels, VW and others. I drove a Peugeot 206 TDi this summer for a week in France, was kind of fun if a bit breathless at the top end.

Maybe Jeep will add a 5-speed, as dear wife will absoutely rule out auto. Or the Calibre will eventually come in diesel and MT.

Thanks again, JP
 

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FXT and Wifes Leggy
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Tough choice when it's for a domestic. HHR or the Malibu Maxx SS. Car and driver gave the Malibu Max SS a decent review...
 

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scarred from battle
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Totally forgot about the MAXX... another good choice. However, if memory serves, the SS only comes with a slushbox.
 

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I am the KING
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I agree with the choices that blitzoid. Im a dodge guy so im partial... But 08 challenger would be nice in my garage!
 

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If the wife is dead set on a stick, then I think a V50 T5-AWD is probably the way to go. I think volvo started to go south from a design standpoint after the 7-series and 9-series was dropped (my first car was a hand-me-down '87 volvo 740 Turbo sedan. It was fantastic) Although the 850 and 850 wagon were pretty good too. There's a little too much of Ford seeping into the volvo designs for my liking, but from a features standpoint, it hits all of the right buttons.
 

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I know it is an auto, but I would look at the Saturn Vue Redline (if they are available in your market). It is available in the US for $25,800 loaded FWD or $27,200 loaded AWD.

The Vue Redline is no FXT, but for a company car, it would be cool. They are really nice looking for a little factory SUV.

Plus, if we ever get the "confessional" back, you can tell us stories about your wife wasting you with the FXT!!!!!
 

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I know it doesn't have a stick (but american cars with sticks are hard to find) but you have to take a look at a Dodge Magnum Wagon w/ HEMI!
 

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The convert formely known as Lexusfreak
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pon1 said:
I am likely to be offered a lease soon by my company (in reality just a communter, 30 miles/day plus unlimited personal use is OK). Catch is it has to be from Ford, GM or Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep, so Subie's and our intended next purchase - a Honda Element - are out . Other than that I belive I can pick most anything in the low to mid price range from any of the big three.

For us MUST be MT, hatch/wagon and not huge in size (big enough for two adults, two kids and two mid size dogs, small enough for easy parking etc.). We're keeping the FXT, in fact I may get to drive it more as my wife is a little afraid of it.

I think first choice will be a Saab 9-2X Linear (based on the Impreza 2.5i, they dont sell the WRX based Aeros here any more) but there's a chance that picking a Saab may not be allowed or that all the 9-2s may be gone.

What else is there that may work - Pontiac Vibe (=Toyota Matrix)? Escape/Tribute 4 cyl? Focus wagon? Jeep Liberty? Hummer H3?

MT on domestic wagons/SUVs is pretty rare, and most of the choices seem pretty underpowered/uninteresting/unreliable/likley to roll over etc. I've never even bothered to look before.

JP
04 FXT MT
Not bad choices pon1.....however, perhaps you might want to consider the Ford Freestyle? New Ford Edge (although not sure when they will be at dealers) Stay clear of the Escape or Tribute 4 cyl.....gutless.

From the General, I suggest perhaps the Chevy Equinox/Pontiac Torrent or maybe the HHR?
Hummer H3 I'm liking as well......from what I have read however.....she's thirsty!

From the Chrysler folks...I suggest the Dodge Magnum (3.5L V6) or maybe the new Dodge Calibur......Chrysler Pacifica isn't bad.....but heavy. Let us know what you decide but some of those possibilities are off the list if a manual is a must. ;)
 

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Lexusfreak said:
Not bad choices pon1.....however, perhaps you might want to consider the Ford Freestyle?
I was about to mention that one also - it's called a Ford Territory down-under, has become very very popular here and has won all sorts of "car of the year" awards. Not sure re the AT / MT in your country; its available as a 2WD or 4WD over here.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Thanks for all the great suggestions. Of all these choices, I realy like the option of the V50-T5 AWD.

I tried to find out more about the lease terms but nobody in my office seems to have a straight answer (it's a new initiative for us - a result of us being acquired by a larger firm). Will probably know more in a week or two, and get the car in April or May. Apparently it "may" be retricted to Ford only, and "may" exclude Ford group options, i.e. no Volvos. Kind of a worse case scenario, but hey they are giving me something.

It's also not clear how much (if at all) I need to contribute to to the monthly payments, what is the upper price limit and if I have any say in options/variants within the model selected, i.e. if you pick the V50, do you just get the base model?

If it has to be Ford, I'd likley go with the Freestyle and live with auto. I am also playing with the idea of a pickup (F-150) and getting a truck camper.

Will let you all know what happens

JP
04 FXT MT

Thanks Kevin for the smiley!
 

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I know it has no manual tranny and it's a Crappy Hateful Rundown Yucky Stupid Lowdown Egregious wReck, but the Pacifica offers a good value for the money. It's not too much fun to drive, but it's a safe family vehicle that's really popular with corporate fleets.

Even though it has no manual either and it is of the same unreliable family as the Pacifica, the dodge charger/magnum duo is pretty good. The car mags have given even the V-6 decent reviews. It's no scorcher, especially for 2006, but it does have RWD and for this reason they say it's more fun to drive than many of the other offerings in its class.

As uninspiring as the handling is on such vehicles, I do agree with the idea of a pickup, that way you can mate a V-8 with a manual tranny.
 
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