2003 Volkswagen Passat - GLS (M5) FWD Sedan
Cons: At 6K miles, car has been towed to service twice for faulty coils that had to be replaced. Car was missing badly both times.
Advice: Check policy on loaner while car is in service especially if your dealer is more than 20 mi from where you live.Love the way the car feels and handles. Love the small turn radius. Love the body design and color, blue silver is a head turner. Tiptronic gives the thrill of manual transmission.
2003 Pontiac Vibe - GT FWD
Pros: My favorite feature is the capability to fold down the front passenger seat along with the back seats..it provides so much room to carry things. I wish I had this car when I drove my daughter to college!!!
Cons: There is nothing I don't like about this car.
Advice: Buy and enjoy!!!!!!!!!I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!! I LOVE IT!!!!!!!! I LOVE IT!!!!! This is such a comfortable vehicle. I love it's looks, I love the sound system, I love the moonroof!!!!!!!!! It drives so nicely!!! There is so much room in this car...I call it my little big car.
2003 Volkswagen Passat - GLS V6 (M5) FWD Sedan
Pros: The powerful engine
Cons: A segment of the front grille keeps popping out
Advice: Go for it! You are getting the same engine as the Audi A6, but much cheaper!This is a great car. My previous car was a 1996 Honda Accord LX. I am really happy with the switch. The V6 engine is surprisingly powerful and is a pleasure to drive on the highways. The looks of this car are guaranteed to turn heads. The dealership people (McKenna VW in Norwalk, CA) are very helpful.
2003 Audi A4 - T (A5) quattro Quattro Sedan
Pros: Heated Seats
Cons: Rear winodw
Advice: Get an internet price quote!! I saved over $2000 dollars that way!Very fun to drive! The A4 has a nice quiet, smooth ride. The steering is very responsive: I can take turns much faster than I usually do. The car also has great acceleration. Love the standard 6-disk CD changer, and the stereo has decent sound, even without the BOSE upgrade. My wife vowed never to leave the passenger seat once she turned on the heated seats. That's fine with me! I get to drive! I do have some reservations about this car though. When the car is in the 'D' position, it likes to downshift a lot, especially when changing speeds on the highway. However, the acceleration is much smoother when I use the 'S' position for driving. The downside is that I don't get optimum gas mileage when I do that. The 1.8T as of now does not come with power seats, which is kind of annoying since my wife and I have to re-adjust the seats mirror, etc. every time we switch drivers. I think I heard power driver seat will be included in a package later in the year though. Another thing that bothers me about the A4 is the fact that the rear window is very small, and there are blind spots generated by the wide pillars flanking the rear window. It makes it very hard to parallel park, although I'll probably get used to it over time. Overall, I believe this car was a great buy. Compared to any other luxury car, you get a lot more of both fun and elegance per buck. Looking to buy your first 'nice' car? Consider the Audi A4: It's worth it!
2003 Toyota Matrix - Standard (M5) FWD
Pros: Room, handling & everything
Cons: Having to drive slow while breaking it in.
Advice: Buy & EnjoyBuilt for both the tall & short. Rear seats can fit 6'+ comfortably. Loads of room for people our cargo or both. Finally a glove box that can hold more than gloves or the manual. Hugs the road and has power to get you out of trouble. Love it.
2003 Subaru Outback - H6-3.0 L.L. Bean Edition (A4) Wagon
Pros: Suspension and road holding
Cons: The seats
Advice: If the seats work for you - buy it.This vehicle handles more loke a sport car than a station wagon. It is solid and sure footed. The six cylinder engine is smooth and quiet, but it does requjire the highest grade fuel for best performance. I am 6'5' and I find the seats to be terrable, hard with little leg support. Eventhough drivers leg room is stated as being 43.3' it sure dosen't feel like it.
2003 Saab 9-5 - Aero Sport Wagon
Pros: 250 hp standard transmission that really cooks
Cons: lack of all wheel drive
Advice: If you love to drive a standard transmission, this is the one!I am a die-hard manual transmission lover. I test drove both a manual 185 hp Linear and the 250 hp Aero wagons. I found the Linear adequate but not exciting to drive. The seating position was comfortable and firm, acceleration was okay, but when I took it up a local steep mountain, it hovered between 3rd and 4th gears. I also took it over a very bumpy backroad and found the suspension wonderfully smooth. I loved the ride and feel, but felt it was underpowered compared to the Allroad. The extra hp in the Aero manual made up the difference. This wagon wants to leap forward out of your hands from the minute you put it into first gear. It is as much fun to drive as my Jaguar X-Type manual 3.0 5 speed. For $10,000 less than the Audi Allroad 5 speed, this car really delivers! Even the 270 hp W8 VW Passat wagon doesn't even come close to the 250 hp Aero. It is comparable to the Linear, however. As a footnote, my kids are excited about the heated rear seats in the Saab--a feature I have not found anywhere else.