When we start getting a little older, most of us experience two things…the Wholesale Club and Grandchildren.  Both of these situations require a little re-thinking when it comes to the choice of a vehicle.  Let’s face it, the sports car isn’t going to do the job.

boxsterWe were faced with this dilemma this past fall – the tried-and-true Ford F150 pickup truck has well over 200,000 miles on the clock and can only manage about 12 mpg, but we need a truck.  My Porsche Boxster has two seats, although it does have two trunks, front and rear – not enough for trips to the wholesale club.  She was driving a nice VW Eos, a hardtop convertible with a really small trunk and a back seat that is fine if the children are double-amputees.  So, we needed to make a change, and since the VW Eos was almost eight years old and touching 100,000 miles, we decided that it was the one that needed to go.  But what to get?

olddodgecaravan-nonWe consulted the Resident Expert on this topic – our son and father of the three grandchildren.  His first response was, “Get a minivan like ours.  You’ll love it.” 

In a word, NO.  Not gonna happen.

So the search was on for something that would 1) swallow up a package of 36 rolls of paper towels along with bulk-everything-else as needed, and 2) provide enough passenger space so that two grandparents and three grandchildren could go on adventures in comfort.  We added a third requirement to the mix – comfortable and competent enough to take the two of us on road trips as far away from Florida as Oregon or even farther.

Small SUV.  This was the first place we looked, and there are some great candidates out there.  They sit high so that you can see around traffic, and they can eat up as much cargo or kids as needed.  But alas, while road tripping may make them comfortable, the fuel mileage wasn’t great.  We even narrowed the search down to three or four choices.

But the whole gas mileage question vs. road trips kept creeping in.  If it only gets 22 mpg on the highway loaded down, that will make a difference.  So we kept looking, keeping an open mind.

eosWe loved our VW convertible.  Good mileage, comfortable and competent, but just too small for our new set of needs.  So we looked to Volkswagen again for ideas.

I know – VW has suffered a bit due to the problems with their “Clean Diesel” engines and some tampering with computers and tests.  Sales have suffered to the point that the only thing that they are selling in good numbers is…their small SUV, the Tiguan.  But it has the same issues with gas miles as the others.  Not great.  And prices for all of the new SUVs are high, and they all seem to hold their value in the recently-used market.

We did find something, though, that is under the radar and relatively unknown – the VW Passat 4-door.  VW has been making and selling the Passat for years, and the American Passats are actually made in Tennessee now.  So we took a look, and were pleasantly surprised.

black-passatWe ended up buying a used 2015 VW Passat with 36,000 miles on the clock from the local VW dealer.  As a “Certified Pre-Owned” car, we got a warranty extension up to 60,000 miles.  The car is actually a mid-sized car with lots of room inside, a huge trunk with fold-down rear seats, but sports a 1.8 liter turbocharged engine that runs on REGULAR fuel.  But here is the great part…we are getting 34 mpg around town, and over 37 mpg on the road.  (Those are real numbers, not something that VW made up and tried to sell us.)

The Passat goes for upwards of $30K new.  But our 2015 looks and drives like new, has a clean Carfax record, and has all the cool toys, including a six-speed automatic, power driver seat, heated front seats, and all the other power stuff that you expect.

The market for four-door sedans is soft right now due to the popularity of small SUVs.  And VW is not setting any sales records due to their issues with the diesels.  So, our Passat was priced at just $12,500 – and VW Credit came through with a 2.4% loan.

Since we got the car last month, we have logged 2,000 miles on the clock, including a trip from Orlando to West Palm Beach and a trip to Asheville, North Carolina.  The 18.5-gallon fuel tank is good for almost 700 miles of range on the road, so “we need gas” isn’t a reason to stop along the way.

Our Passat is black on the outside with a black “leatherette” interior…quite the thing.  Since we are fans of the show “Blacklist,” and the principle character Raymond Reddington, we named our VW “Raymond.”

The three of us are now quite a team.

If you are looking for a solution as I have described, give the Passat a try.  You will not be disappointed.