Quandary: Have emission system repaired, or take the buyback money?
Dear Car Talk: I bought a used 2014 VW Jetta Sportwagen, which is subject to the recall on diesels (buyback or emissions system repair). It’s a car model that I really enjoy driving, with excellent handling and acceleration. It’s also a size I like and is bike-friendly to transport my road bike. My question is whether to keep the car and go for the repair and warrantied emissions system, or take the money and buy something else? I had a hard time finding a model I like this much and that is very comfortable on long drives. I also have a used Subaru Outback 2006, which is nowhere near as comfortable. I find that VW models seem to fit me better, ergonomically, than do Japanese models. My instinct is to turn in the car unless they are warrantying the whole vehicle for the 100,000 miles. Your thoughts? — Kris
A: There are some diesel nuts out there who buy these cars because they must have a diesel engine. They figure that when the zombie apocalypse comes, they’ll be the only ones still driving around, taking all the free chips and sodas they want from the abandoned 7-Elevens.
But you seem to like this car for other reasons. You like its size, its versatility and the way it fits you. So I’d recommend that you take the incentives VW is offering, and buy a new VW Golf Sportwagen (or VW Alltrack, which is an all-wheel-drive Golf Sportwagen with plastic cladding on the wheel wells).
Last we heard, VW was giving you the pre-scandal trade-in value of your car, plus thousands of dollars in “mea culpa” money. And then there are further incentives to turn around and drop all that cash on a new VW. Take advantage of it.
We like the Sportwagen. It’s pleasant to drive, it’s got particularly simple controls and notably good visibility — especially out the back. That’s rare these days.
The Golf Sportwagen is pretty much the same car you have now, with a few updates. And — crucially — one of the updates is the availability of automatic emergency braking, a game-changing safety feature that we recommend for everybody buying a new car.
You’ll find that the size of the car is the same, the versatility is the same and the seats are the same. The primary differences are safety features, a better infotainment interface and a gasoline engine that isn’t spewing noxious diesel emissions.
Sound good? Just be sure to “accidentally” flash those brochures you picked up at the Subaru dealer so they give you a good price on the new VW, Kris. Good luck.
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