QUOTE(CJLee89 @ May 20 2008, 08:16 PM)
So i test drove a VW Rabbit and it was really nice!
What do you guys think about a VW with maintenance and reliability?
To date, I've personally owned:
- a 1981 Chevrolet Citation,
- a 1991 Isuzu Trooper,
- a 1994 Mitsubishi Montero,
- a 1997 Volkswagen Jetta,
- a 2003 Dodge Neon, and
- a 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix.
Although they're not owned by me, I sometimes have driven:
- a 2003 Buick Rendezvous,
- a 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe,
- a 2002 Ford Windstar, and
- a 2005 Honda Odyssey.
As shown by the lists above, I have seen the quality and reliability of cars from a somewhat-wide of a spectrum; any bias I may have is minimal.
My Jetta was fairly expensive to own and operate because its well-documented engine problems, which, in my case, were the failure of the MAF sensor, timing belt, and oxygen sensor. The quality of its construction, namely its interior, seemed to be below-par as well. Some buttons and switches felt feeble, and the door panels didn't appear to be attached solidly to the doors. Even though it was cool-looking, zippy, and quite fun to drive, the car really needed to be 'babied' in order to not degrade in condition.
My personal opinion of European (specifically German, since I've also test-driven a 1997 Audi A4 Quattro) is that they may not be built for the abuse that a young driver may put them through. Their engines and transmissions yearn to be controlled skillfully, their interiors contain components (like knobs and switches) that can break prematurely, and their exterior parts (such as weather seals) can deteriorate if the car is not garage-kept. I feel that cars of these origins would be best-enjoyed by the conservative driver who will dedicate time for his/her car's upkeep.
As 'hamwbone' already noted, you are sometimes required to visit a car dealership when maintenance is needed on Volkswagens. You may want to consider the negative impact that this can have upon you, especially if any of your future savings are being lowered by attending college soon.
It's very likely that current-model Volkswagens are built with higher standards in mind, but if you do decide to purchase a Rabbit, my advice would be to treat it with a lot of care, and maintain a 'repair fund' for the car's scheduled maintenance; the money would also be desirable if the car decides to 'nickel-and-dime' you with unexpected failures.
If you take interest in an American-built car, I'd suggest looking into Ford's line. I've heard nothing but positive reviews for the the recent Fusion, and I'm pleased with the apparent quality of my cousin's 2002 Focus ZX5; both my parents' 2002 Windstar and my friend's 2004 Explorer have held-up very well, despite the abuse they have received. Because I'm thoroughly disappointed with my current car, I'm now considering purchasing a Police Interceptor, obviously the police-package Crown Victoria. I find it hard to understand why the 'Ford: fix or repair daily!' saying still exists.
Vehicles made by General Motors do not appear to be built with the quality that they use to be constructed with. Rather, looks seem to take a higher priority on their lists. I won't deny the fact that GM can design very sleek and eye-catching cars, but once a buyer sees past the flare, engineering faults can start to show through. My Citation and Grand Prix, and my parents' Tahoe, have treated us with more issues than I feel can be considered normal, which were mostly transmission and body problems. My parents' Rendezvous suddenly started to leak oil into its coolant, and would sometimes refuse to start.
Chrysler, in the form of my Neon, seemed to create a fairly well-designed vehicle. I decided to sell the car, however, because the engine started producing discomforting tappet noises.
My most positive experiences were with my Japanese-produced cars. Aside from required maintenances, for the Trooper, I only had to replace its exhaust system after a portion of it fell off because of deterioration, and its thermostat because its heater didn't seem to function as well as it should have been; for the Montero, I needed to only replace the seals around its front driver and passenger-side windows, and its front CV boots. Even though both vehicles were SUVs, I feel that they well-represent their respective makers.
Although you may no longer be able to pursue your original Scion or Honda choices (as stated in your second-to-last post), keep looking around for similar kinds of cars by the same makers. Again, even though the Odyssey that I sometimes need to drive is a van, it really shows that Honda includes quality with all of their vehicle types. If I wasn't so attracted to the 'aggressive' nature of the Ford Police Interceptor, I would definitely consider a Honda or Toyota for my next car (not that they're not aggressive!). I also like the Scion xB, especially the older, boxier design!
So, that's mostly what I have to say. I hope you decide on a car that really suits you.