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Buyer is between dream car, more practical choice
Q. For a first car, should I buy a Jeep Wrangler, Volkswagen GTI or Subaru Impreza? I am looking to buy my first car in a few months. I am thinking of getting a Jeep Wrangler since winter will be in full effect. But my dream car is a VW GTI. I also like the Subaru Impreza. Please help me make a sound choice. Oh, and I only want to drive a standard/manual/stick, no automatic!
A. Our gut reaction is to tell you to buy your dream car, the GTI, so you don't have nightmares over not listening to your own heart. However, since winter weather in Chicago is one of your concerns, the Impreza might be a better choice because of its standard all-wheel drive.
Our gut also tells us you don't need an off-road-capable SUV like the Wrangler to cope with winter in Chicago except for rare occasions, such as last winter's blizzard that dumped nearly 2 feet of snow. That's a rarity, and they do plow streets in Chicago when it snows, so an Impreza or even a front-drive GTI should be enough.
The GTI has brisk acceleration with the manual transmission, good handling and the versatility of a hatchback, but it requires premium gas and suffers from a lot of wind noise. The redesigned Impreza has attractive styling, decent gas mileage and a roomy interior, and it also is available as a hatchback. Acceleration and handling are mediocre, however.
The Wrangler would be good for off-roading and driving in rural areas that don't see many snow plows, but the rough ride and poor handling make it ill-suited to city living, where you want a vehicle that absorbs bumpy pavement and has quick reflexes to zip through traffic.
The Impreza would be our first choice for its overall versatility and security of all-wheel drive, but the sportier GTI would be more fun to drive.