Hooniverse Asks- What’s The Best Compromise Car?


 1 a : settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions
    b : something intermediate between or blending qualities of two different things
2 a concession to something derogatory or prejudicial <a compromise of principles>
I know, it seems like these days there are fewer and fewer people who seem to have any familiarity with this word, or its OED definition. Still, I think we all know what it means, and when it comes to cars, we know which ones offer the greatest concession, and which make the greatest demands on our own capitulation. Most often it’s a trade-off of form over function, or vice-a-Nissan Versa.
Of course we all want a car that’s engaging to drive, perhaps even a little sporty. But our rational mind makes its demands too. In that case, perhaps being able to carry something more than just you, a friend and a shared toothbrush will be high on your list. Considering the things that weigh on either side of the equation – rational mind vs. primitive Id – what car or truck do you think offers the most compelling compromise of practicality and carefree abandon?

Image source:  cdn.carthrottle

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153 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- What’s The Best Compromise Car?”

  1. Sjalabais Avatar

    I think the lead image is the perfect illustration. A quick, well-made station wagon with a beautiful interior and smart solutions takes the cake for me. Engaging to drive, easy to use, not-too-decadent maintenance.
    The Volvo V70R comes to mind, and I also think that the upper end of the Mercedes R-class came close. A shame it was no market success. The same is even more true about the Renault Avantime, which combined just about every market segment one could think of. I still consider it a fantastic idea, but I guess Renault is not too proud about having had the balls to actually build this thing.
    <img src="http://www.renaultavantime.com/uploads/images/avantime/14.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Then again this is the Hooniverse and I am not ashamed to prefer to live even more in the past. A box that looks non-descript and sticks to 1980s performance standards is more than enough to make me happy:
    <img src="http://www.swedespeed.com/emAlbum/albums/Cars/01 Volvo (Historic Era)/200 series/from 1974/Station Wagon/(EU) 245 GLT/1984-Volvo-245-19.jpg" width="600">
    <img src="http://www.swedespeed.com/emAlbum/albums/Cars/01 Volvo (Historic Era)/700 series/740/745/(EU) Turbo/001.jpg" width="600">

    1. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
      C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

      Wow! I'd forgotten that Renault was a two-door!
      It just earned many a bonus point from me…which are worth exactly jack squat.

      1. Dean Bigglesworth Avatar
        Dean Bigglesworth

        The hinges on the Avantime are pretty cool too. The doors are huge so you would need a huge amount of space to open the door if the hinges were conventional.
        <img src="http://autoreview.ru/new_site/year2001/n13/avantime/avant-19_.jpg&quot; width="600" </img>

        1. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
          C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

          That is really slick!
          As the past owner of a '73 Coupe de Ville, I understand about the problem of huge, heavy doors.

          1. Sjalabais Avatar

            Imagine the effort that went into the doors alone…then building just 8,557 cars.

    2. OA5599 Avatar

      By the same token, a Lambo with a trailer hitch would be pretty good, too.

      1. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
        ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

        Or a Metro! (the boxy British one)

          1. Sjalabais Avatar

            This is the funniest picture/caption I have seen for a while! Just wonder who you were going to invade…?

          2. mdharrell Avatar

            We were occupying the Wall Drug parking lot in Wall, South Dakota, on our way from Washington to Illinois.

          3. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
            ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

            Oh man Mike, I live in IL! I would have loved to have met you and seen your car-errrr vehicles.

      2. Sjalabais Avatar

        It might be the second quickest way to disintegrate a Lambo.

    3. crank_case Avatar

      The Avantime is the opposite of the brilliance of a fast estate, it takes the worst bits from a number of cars. You've got he height and clumsiness of an Espace, but without the practicality. I guess you could argue it's not supposed to be sporty, just a luxo-cruiser, sort of like an economical and relatively compact European take on the American personal luxury car. Still, I'd rather have either a nice specced Grand Espace or a proper low slung coupe. A compromise too far.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        I have to admit, I have never driven one. Just looked inside once I found one of them in a German parking lot. The Top Gear guys did like the thing, even though they tried hard to destroy it. But if this car turns out to be übercompromised, it might serve as the antidote for everything cool people will dig up in this thread…

        1. Irishzombieman☆ Avatar

          As a guy who grew up in 1960s Chryslers, I got a thing for anything new that lacks a B pillar. There's something awesome about rolling down all the windows and having all that wide open space. Feels like a convertible, almost, with an awning.

          1. Vairship Avatar

            The last hardtop… but with a giant sunroof!

  2. muthalovin Avatar

    I want something mid-engine. Maybe AWD. Maybe with a supercharger. Maybe…
    <img src="http://static.cargurus.com/images/site/2009/08/24/02/57/1995_toyota_previa-pic-5388162483171654373.jpeg&quot; width=550>
    Or maybe I just like to go rock crawling, with my extended family.
    <img src="http://image.4wheeloffroad.com/f/16672603/131_0902_06_z+february_2009_4x4_trucks+1995_toyota_previa.jpg&quot; width=550>

    1. justgregit Avatar

      My first car was a Previa. There were definitely no compromises here, just 100 percent pure awesome.

  3. DonFehlio Avatar

    I bought a Mazda 6 hatchback, V6 5-spd, because I wanted something fun to drive and reasonably quick that I could autocross, but I also drive 60 miles a day so I want something with a decent, comfy interior. It carries stuff, pretty cheap to insure, pretty reliable, and I paid $7k for mine with 72k miles.
    <img src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-CYKftNOI6bw/UYVGYrJGl0I/AAAAAAAAE_Y/b_yYgGLCjeM/w1153-h865-no/13+-+1&quot; width="600">

    1. skitter Avatar

      Wait, you're telling me:
      1. They made V6 manuals?
      2. They made liftback manuals?
      Back to the top of the list with you!

      1. vroomsocko Avatar

        3. They made manual V6 wagons too!
        <img src="http://www.mazdacolors.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/2007-Mazda-MAZDA6-s-Sport-Wagon-Grand-Touring-3.jpg&quot; width="600">
        It's always near the top of my want list.

  4. bhtooefr Avatar

    The Mk1 VW GTI was one of the original compromise cars, and among the greats (although vastly beaten by newer stuff).
    <img src="http://photo.netcarshow.com/Volkswagen-Golf_I_GTI_1976_photo_01.jpg&quot; width=600 height=450 />

    1. JayP2112 Avatar

      I want that car.

  5. Manic_King Avatar

    – Audi RS6 wagon or if fuel consumption is important then A6/A7 diesel quattro something
    – BMW 550 xi Touring
    – MB AMG something, wagon, E or R-class
    – Alfa 159 wagon 3.2 Q4

  6. JayP2112 Avatar

    <img src="http://www.motorsbros.com/images/Audi-RS2-03.jpg&quot; width="600">
    <img src="http://www.davesdiscountautoparts.com/wimages/typhoon.jpg&quot; width="600">
    I cannot afford either, so my personal answer is "Mustang".

    1. Makoyouidiot Avatar

      +1 for Syclone

    2. kingcrowing Avatar

      Man I wish we got the RS2 here in the states… I've just gotta stick with my UrS6 until we can import them!

  7. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/yh3xxab.jpg&quot; width=500>
    Reasonable power and handling, tall fifth gear for economy (the digital readout claims between 29 and 30 MPG; I haven't written it out yet), and it can carry an 8' board – just – with the hatch closed.
    I suppose it could be an Aero. That'd be nice and all, but it isn't. That's my compromise.
    I'm only really saying this because the obvious Volvo wagons have been mentioned, of course.

    1. Alcology Avatar

      And because you are from/spent a lot of time in new hampshire 🙂

      1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

        Hey, the Saab lived in Boston for the entirety of its (known) life. It's also, not coincidentally, halfway through clutch #3 at 147k miles. (Not my fault.)

  8. P161911 Avatar

    Depends on what kid of compromise? Are we talking getting a sports car with an automatic, because your stick shift impaired spouse would cause too much marital strife if you got a manual? Or are we talking get a car with a back seat because you have kids?
    I would have to go with Camaro, probably an automatic. <img src="http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2009/04/01-one-night-stand-camaro-580op.jpg"width=500&gt;
    Or maybe a 4-door E30
    <img src="http://autoappraisalsbyalan.com/1985%20BMW.jpg"width=500&gt;

    1. Scandinavian Flick ★ Avatar
      Scandinavian Flick ★

      Having just rented a V6 Camaro convertible with an automatic over the last weekend in San Diego, I can attest to it being a… well… decent car. The flappy paddle shifters were considerably more responsive than the E90 BMW I drove, but the V6 was anemic in a car that heavy, and it sounded really strange coming from that car…
      If you go into it expecting a Camaro, you will be pleasantly impressed. If you go in expecting a good, modern muscle car, you'll be driving a Camaro.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        I have a Camaro story. When I got married in 2004 I was driving a 1994 Corvette coupe 6MT. A few month later my wife quit her job. As part of a bribe to get her to go back to work we got a 2004 Trailblazer. At 150k miles at starting to show a good bit of wear and tear the Vette got traded in. The Trailblazer became her car. I REALLY didn't want to drive her 99 Civic coupe automatic. The Civic got sold and I got a 1996 Camaro Z-28 convertible, automatic. I figured the same LT-1 engine, with a back seat, no roof, and an automatic the wife could drive, not too bad. Wrong. The build quality between the Vette and the Camaro was worlds apart. Seems the Camaro just started falling apart at about 100k miles. I ended up trading the Z-28 in for a 1987 BMW 325 4-door 5MT and cash.

        1. Scandinavian Flick ★ Avatar
          Scandinavian Flick ★

          Disappointing, but not terribly surprising. They definitely seem to put more effort into their halo car, which is why I considered buying one for a while, but never put too much thought into buying a Camaro.

      2. pj134 Avatar

        I love a future where 320 horse from the base V6 gets called anemic.

        1. Scandinavian Flick ★ Avatar
          Scandinavian Flick ★

          Agreed, but it sure felt like it in that car… I can't believe how hard it is to find the weight of the V6 convertible, but they put the coupe at ~3800, and 'verts always weigh more due to chassis reinforcement, roof mechanism, etc. So I'd guesstimate it squarely in the 2 ton area… It had enough power to get out of its own way, but nothing to write home about. I actually felt more kick from the V6 in the 4th gens.
          As an aside; the visibility with the top up, combined with the ridiculously high door sills, is like wearing blinders, and the seat back doesn't go back past vertical, which is very irritating for taller people…

          1. Dean Bigglesworth Avatar
            Dean Bigglesworth

            I was surprised by how well I could see out of one. Probably because I was expecting it to be like sitting at the back of a cave, and it was actually more like a WW2 pillbox. That said the V8 auto doesn't feel particularly fast either.

          2. Scandinavian Flick ★ Avatar
            Scandinavian Flick ★

            I had a hard time even figuring out where most of that behemoth was… Being tossed the keys and dumped straight into downtown San Diego didn't really help, and was a simultaneous experience of paranoia and relief that I had purchased the rental insurance. Its handling is not at all confidence inspiring either. Gently ease it out of any kind of corner at its surprisingly low limit and it just initiates a 4 wheel slide of doom….

          3. Dean Bigglesworth Avatar
            Dean Bigglesworth

            I drove it on backroads so I didn't have to worry about visibility too much, apart from the humongous a-pillar forward visibility was ok. I found the weirdest part of the handling to be the steering, it managed to feel both reasonably direct and extremely vague at the same time.

  9. Gabriel Avatar

    V70r! Carries my wife, child, dog, golf clubs and all of our luggage and still handles and accelerates like a champ.

  10. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
    C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

    The best car, in general, is the one you own…outright.
    Might be an '84 Sentra, but hey, it's yours to do with what you want.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Well, I guess lots of people will agree. But this not being Jalopnik, I'd say that a compromise car can also…show you what you really appreciate. Currently I own a '96 Nissan Primera station wagon that was incredibly cheap to buy and that so far is quite cheap to own, too. It was bought as a compromise: I couldn't afford something nice and proper, so I aimed low in order to save for a car I truly desire or that arouses my interest in some way. As I am the uncontested imperator, head of and administrator of a family of four, I need space and…space. So the Primera was supposed to be a rational hauler for two-four years.
      Turns out, a car that is so cheaply made that the interior looks like a 90s supermarket stereo exploded all over it, that is screwed together with a lack of inspiration and aspiration, made up of bad material choices and that is lacking practicality of epic proportions (I even had to add hooks in the bag myself) just kills most of the pleasure of driving. I haven't even talked about the paper-thin metal yet, and what that means for rust. What saves this car is the very pleasant engine – noisy, but with an excellent power distribution – and the okay chassis. Else I would have had to make up reasons to apply to the superimperator about another car change before its turn.

      1. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
        C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

        I'm not implying it is J-nik…and am quite glad it's not, seeing what happened to it.
        If you're starting from scratch, I'd have to say, for the US market, depending on where you live, a Civic or Tercel wagon, with 4WD.
        This said, I've used a '73 Coupe de Ville as a pickup for extended periods, and did the same, though only occasionally, with an '88 Bonneville.
        Even now, I won't hesitate to use either my '05 STS or my wife's '02 RX300 to haul stuff home from Lowe's.
        "That'll never fit…"
        "Oh yeah? Watch…"

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Aah, that feeling is a good one! For a while I made new furniture out of old stuff that people gave away when relatives died etc. Can't tell you how many times I've heard: "You'll have to drive two or three times for that sofa, dining table and eight chairs". When I was done packing the stuff into my '93 Volvo 245 I always knew they would never again look down on a Swedish brick.

          1. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
            ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

            Nether of my dad's MLs could accommodate a simple table saw, the amazon wagon had no trouble at all swallowing it (did not even have to break the saw apart from the base) as well as driving the kids and me home. That felt good, though the rear glass did not quite shut, I had by then learned to leave it way open because of the exhaust fumes, after this trip (stupid gnats):
            That felt good too.

          2. Sjalabais Avatar

            Way to use a wagon! 🙂 Is that you in the photo? Here is what the 145 had to do during firewood season:
            <img src="http://img594.imageshack.us/img594/4573/m1o1.jpg&quot; width="600">
            The thing with these old station wagons is that they didn't waste space. I have been to many showrooms the last two years, trying to figure out if there is a new desirable wagon. It is almost disgusting though what these people do to boots – I'm sure they have a reason, but considering how large cars are now, inside space appears not to be a priority. Here is the boot of the quite big Skoda Superb, it's tiny and build in:
            <img src="http://www.adac.de/_ext/itr/tests/Autotest/AT4358_Skoda_Superb_Combi_2_0_TDI_Elegance_DSG_DPF/kofferraum_m.jpg"&gt;
            <img src="http://www.allboatsavenue.com/blog-bateaux/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Skoda_Superb_Combi.jpg&quot; width="600">

          3. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
            ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

            Yup that's me, are you on FB or G+ Sj? i like the use of your 145 there. The time I ever felt the most like a winner was when I loaded my Mazda MPV with <e,>everything I needed for a fence, decent big fence, I think I had 26-28 fence posts. I even got all the concrete mix (and then returned that when my uncle convinced me how difficult it would be if I ever had a post rot later, which was prescient in my current home) in that same trip. There was a couple at one point trying to get some tallish potted bushes into an SUV next to me, and I just kept throwing more and more in into the minivan-ish car.

          4. Sjalabais Avatar

            Another vehicle that is on my somewhat exclusive, yet seemingly endless list of candidates. Mazda in general has become more and more interesting from where I sit. Yes, I am on FB and G+, but hardly use it. I am also quite prickly about privacy concerns, having grown up with the Stasi breathing down everybody's neck. Is there a private message function?

          5. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
            ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

            There is in the forums, if you like send an email address there. I commented on Fuzzy's engine question not too long ago.

  11. OA5599 Avatar

    How about a 5.9 Grand Cherokee?
    <img src="http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b188/JoeLewand/IMG_0236.jpg&quot; width=500>
    They've depreciated to a few thosand bucks, there's a ton of parts available, they go on dirt or straight-line pavement, and they will haul your family and Lemons car.

    1. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
      C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

      Yeah, I keep my eyes peeled for one, locally.
      I regret not getting the lifted just a little, ARB-front bumper with a winch-equipped, white 5.9L which appeared on the local CL about a year ago.

  12. E.W. Niedermeyer Avatar
    E.W. Niedermeyer

    <img src="http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m8z37ayBuX1r7yl3ao1_1280.png&quot; width="600">
    Thanks for playing everyone!

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Well, wait a second. Lets bump the BMW to third place:
        <img src="http://1cargarage.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/26brake_slidetwo.jpg&quot; width="600">
        <img src="http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2006/11/24/automobiles/26brake_slidefive.jpg&quot; width="600">

    1. Scandinavian Flick ★ Avatar
      Scandinavian Flick ★

      As long as its suspension stays attached to its ass, yeah… that's a good one.

  13. Kogashiwa Avatar

    Obviously mine!
    <img src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/qqsskqrz2jwe3ba/Photo 2012-09-11 9 49 31 AM.jpg" width="600">
    And unsurprisingly I see a lot of people posting their own, which makes sense – it might take a bit (lot) of buying and selling but usually you arrive at the best compromise for yourself.

    1. crank_case Avatar

      The best compromise car depends entirely on the compromises you have to make.
      If you need space to lug family and stuff round, fast estates are great, if you don't need that space, then they use a lot of fuel, tyres, consumeables etc. thanks to their weight and larger engines and a small roadster like an mx5/miata or hot hatch can actually make more sense as a daily commuter that you can still have fun with.

  14. jeepjeff Avatar

    Frankly, I'm terrible at compromise cars. I won't compromise on transmission (must be manual), and I have an aversion to roofs and too many doors. The latter two are part of the foundations of a practical car, and practical is the trait that causes compromises.
    For example, last time I was out purchasing (many of you can guess where this is going), I needed a vehicle for navigating the high Sierra in all weather conditions for skiing. You would think my priorities would be:
    * 4WD/AWD
    * Comfortable seating for 4
    * Cargo room for gear for 4
    * Good climate control and well-sealed greenhouse
    * Ability to mount a roof rack for skis
    * Modest power, reasonable mileage
    And I bought a 2001 Jeep Wrangler soft top, so the priorities I actually used:
    * 4WD
    * Manual Transmission
    * Badass
    So, I think the best compromise car is Whatever My Wife Will Let Me Get Away With™.

  15. IronBallsMcG Avatar

    I'm a well documented Jeep whore. For my set of circumstances a Unlimited Wrangler is my compromise car.
    First off, due to the shortness of my commute mileage is not a concern. Secondly, go fast needs are handled on two wheels.
    My fourth Wrangler is my newly acquired 10A Unlimited Rubicon. This gives me a convertible, a more capable than I'll ever need off-roader, reasonably nice interior with heated leather seats, nav, XM, decent cargo space, decent towing, fantastic aftermarket support, and seats 5 fair sized adults.
    And I got mine with a 6MT and seats the color of rare meat.
    <img src="http://www.jeep.com/shared/images/vehicles/wrangler-rubicon-anniversary/2013-rubicon-anniversary-gallery-10.jpg&quot; width="500/">

    1. FreeMan Avatar

      The seats, more specifically the description of their color, sold me!

    2. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
      ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

      Not too long ago I was sad about the apparent lack of new 5-seat convertibles, well here you go. I don't have much of a commute either, excellent!

      1. IronBallsMcG Avatar

        I bought mine with the removable hard top, which gives good security and does a nice job of keeping a quiet (for a Jeep) cabin. It's a bit cumbersome, but I'm more likely to either remove the doors and leave on the top or remove the "Freedom Top" panels. Or leave them in place and remove everything else. Hell I don't know. there's a lot of combinations.
        <img src="http://i606.photobucket.com/albums/tt142/blln314/0426091347a.jpg"width=500&gt;

    3. racer139 Avatar

      I seen a 300s with the same or similar color seats with a black exterior and I really liked it. The fella who owned it said it got mid thirties on the highway. was really a comfortable car and was so much better than the camry and rav4 he had had previously. I want one.

  16. Josh_Howard Avatar

    Good lord… such awesome answers. My first answer will always be "the one you own". But, I've always thought the Ford Flex was a good choice for a compromise vehicle.
    *lots of power with the turbo motor
    *lots of room
    *wife doesn't think it's a minivan (seriously… put two sliding doors on it and it's a minivan)
    *drives like a car
    It's probably not the BEST compromise car, but for my life it sure seems like it would be an okay compromise that I'd enjoy and my wife could get along with. Besides, what other car recently made is going to look good with a surf board on top?
    <img src="http://media.ed.edmunds-media.com/ford/flex/2011/oem/2011_ford_flex_wagon_limited_fq_oem_1_500.jpg"&gt;

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      I still don't understand why we don't have them in Europe. It's not the first time I say it here, but the Flex is imho the true new Volvo 940.

      1. Josh_Howard Avatar

        Might just have to deal with the width, weight, and the fact that they don't seem to want to put a 4cyl turbo in it. The 4cyl turbo in the Explorer hasn't been that great of an experience so far.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          There are plenty of good 4 cylinders in the European lineup. The PSA-diesel would fit here as nicely as it does in a gazillion other vehicles…but they surely have their reasons not to sell it here.

      2. Vairship Avatar

        The fact that the mileage is 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway might be a large part of it… As is the Hummer H2-looking interior. Which is a shame, because for the rest I really like it!

    2. Maymar Avatar

      I think if I didn't live in the city, I'd rock the hell out of a Flex. As it is, us urban dwellers have the Mazda5 as a reasonable alternative

    3. Felis_Concolor Avatar

      I'm working with a friend who has one of those wide carriage vinyl decal printing and cutting systems to produce a special bit of decoration for Flex owners. On one side, the silhouette of BMW's New Mini with the "Mini" logo beneath. For the opposite side, the squared off lines of the Flex atop Ford's unique font for that model, spelling out "Maxi."
      And I'm joining my voice to the chorus of reviewers who have nailed this vehicle's future; Ford's Flex is destined to become a used car classic.

      1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

        Isn't the BMW Mini Countryman the Maxi?

    4. Preludacris Avatar

      In pictures it looks like it should be carrying a surfboard, but in real life I think a surfboard would look strangely small on that enormous flat roof…
      A Texan facebook friend's husband just got her one, you know, now that they have their first baby. Somewhat ridiculous overkill for a family of 3.

    5. topdeadcentre Avatar

      Pssst… it's a Volvo XC90 in disguise!
      I'd probably own one if it were just a little smaller…

  17. Irishzombieman☆ Avatar

    Me: Hi. My name is Irishzombieman–
    everyone else in the room: Hi, Irishzombieman,
    Me: — and I love the Ferrari Mondial Hardtop. It’s got a mid-mounted 328 drive train, sweet lines, dancing pony on the hood AND FOUR SEATS.
    <img src="http://goo.gl/eSLUV&quot; width=450>

    1. Josh_Howard Avatar

      And sexy lines. Still love it's styling.

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      People who don't like the Mondial are either cynical, pompous blowhards or have been told they shouldn't like it by cynical, pompous blowhards.

    3. Alcology Avatar

      I saw a red convertible one in boston with a family of 4 in it. Parents in the front, kids in the back. Absolutely amazing!

    4. Maymar Avatar

      Great answer, but what if you want your dancing pony to have a V12 up front, like so many great dancing ponies have had? Do I have the car for you!
      <img src="http://pictures.topspeed.com/IMG/crop/200909/ferrari-400-gt-2_600x0w.jpg&quot; width=500 /img>
      Interestingly, there aren't many action shots of the 400i/412. It's pretty much this, and the black 412 from Electroma. Don't think I wouldn't frequently drive one of these wearing Daft Punk helmets, even if I'm not exceptionally an EDM fan.

      1. Irishzombieman☆ Avatar

        This one's really growing one me. I used to not like it so much, and for the life of me I don't know why, but I really dig it now.

  18. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    While I'm trying to come up with my serious answer, let me throw this out there —
    <img src="http://i1110.photobucket.com/albums/h448/patstevens/009-4.jpg&quot; width="550">

    1. pj134 Avatar

      I'd rather have this one…
      <img src="http://www.supercars.net/gallery/119513/2446/940352.jpg&quot; width=500>
      Or a well done dajiban…
      <img src="http://karfarm.com/mag/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/dajiban-1.jpg&quot; width=500>

  19. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    <img src="http://pictures.topspeed.com/IMG/crop/200710/2008-yamaha-xt250-7_460x0w.jpg"&gt;
    No, I'm not trying to be snarky. It's cheap to buy and insure, stone-ax reliable, easy to maintain, sips gas like a hybrid, and can keep you thoroughly entertained on any road, in any type of environment.

    1. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
      ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

      T I don't have a lot of time, need to get back to work, but I just unexpectedly got a ride in the sidecar (bender) of a '67 BMW R60/2. It was possibly the highlight of the year for me. The best part, no synchros, the motorcyclist would rev match and then crash-crunch – next gear. So that kawasaki up there, that's a good one to start with? Or should I get something less first and work-up to it?

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        It's a Yamaha XT250. And if you mean a good bike to learn to ride on, it would be my #1 choice. It's big enough for full-sized people, is fun on and off the pavement, and is light enough to be unintimidating. Buy the 2013 model with fuel injection.
        The Honda CRF250L is better and stronger on-road, but not as fun on trails.

        1. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
          ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

          Doh, the little round mark is Yamaha not Kawasaki, thanks T!

  20. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
  21. Bryce Womeldurf Avatar

    I'd say that the GTI still is the answer, now with 4 doors. We couldn't afford the MkV GTI (still prefer it over the newer VI and VII) when we bought our '07 Rabbit, but it's almost as good.
    <img src="http://www.vwvortex.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/volkswagen-golf-7-gti-062.jpg&quot; width="640" height="427">

    1. CalculatedRisk Avatar

      I couldn't afford a fancy new 4 door GTI, so I got the closest thing on the MKIV platform, a GLI.
      <img src="http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSvXkVrVMSquDLfRkQjLUruVKkA5kVjab5WSH7OvDH2vi5rwGqmhw&quot; width="600">
      Four doors, turbo power, 6MT, recaros and it looks awesome. My biggest compromise is constantly washing a black car

      1. Bryce Womeldurf Avatar

        Not bad! Mine is the same way with needing to be washed all the time, only it's white instead of black.

    2. Patrick Avatar

      Less a compromise than just very, very well-rounded and capable. Speed and handling, comfort and practicality, quality and safety and affordability all in one decent-looking package. The perfect rejoinder to crossover excess.

  22. Vavon Avatar

    A fast, fun, practical hatchback is a perfect compromise that ticks all my boxes!
    <img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-QMoxJYaIz-8/UW8xVE62PDI/AAAAAAAMfh4/Q8saxe2ruco/s1600/Peugeot-208-GTi-Nice.jpg"&gt;

    1. crank_case Avatar

      I ran a 205 GTi as a daily in the early 00s, ticked all boxes except finding someone to fix its electrical issues. 🙁

      1. Vavon Avatar

        Repairing electrical issues on a 205 should be ridiculously easy…

        1. crank_case Avatar

          ..you'd think! ..but even after getting the alternator reconditioned and letting more than one auto electrician look at it, it'd still run out of electricity every so often. I suppose I could have tried to figure it out myself, but it was my only transport, so I just sold to a friend and got a 180sx, which I got fed up with pretty quickly.

  23. Maymar Avatar

    <img src="http://static.cargurus.com/images/site/2007/12/22/10/40/2005_subaru_legacy_2_5_gt_limited_wagon-pic-64171.jpeg&quot; width=500 /img>
    It's a sensible wagon, it's safe, it's reasonably reliable, and not hideously inefficient. Oh, and AWD isn't bad either. It's also easily turned into an oversized STI, it comes with a stick, and you can get one of the bigass sunroofs, if you go for that (I do…) And again, all-surface, all-weather hoonage.

    1. cstefanic Avatar

      This man knows what's up.
      <img src="http://i.imgur.com/zSd97.jpg"&gt;

    2. cstefanic Avatar

      <img src="http://images.thecarconnection.com/sml/2006_subaru_outback_xt_wagon_100010339_s.jpg&quot; width="600">
      The OBXT is a close 2nd.

      1. Maymar Avatar

        I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a bit of a soft spot for the Outback, even as I rally against crossovers. I justify it to myself that '05-'09, it was just a great car, and '10+, it's the only way I can get a Legacy wagon in North America (bonus points for still having an available 6-speed).

        1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

          Older models could be had with two sunroofs – the front one tilts, the rear one slides back. Not as nice, not as cool, but it offers inebriated rear-seat passengers the opportunity to be dictators at low speed (especially if you live in New Hampshire).
          Did that sound awfully specific?

    3. Alff Avatar

      I didn't get the sunroof. That's why a 30 year old Alfa Spider is my car on the sunny days.

  24. Preludacris Avatar

    After thinking about it for a minute, I do believe I already own something pretty close to the ideal compromise car for me.
    See, I would love to own one of these,
    <img src="http://img101.imageshack.us/img101/1949/1276976726587.jpg&quot; width="600">
    But this is one of the most practical cars I can think of.
    <img src="http://www.motivemagazine.com/emAlbum/albums/Manufacturers/Honda/Accord/1985-1989/honda-accord-016.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Mash them together and you get something that still handles quite nicely, but comes with FWD packaging, a symbolic backseat, and a good-sized trunk. Have I ever mentioned that I like it quite a bit?
    <img src="http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z313/ndrwhrnr/c423491b-6028-45ea-affb-dfa7d22f584c_zps359e11bd.jpg&quot; width="600">

    1. Scandinavian Flick ★ Avatar
      Scandinavian Flick ★

      Nice choice in wheels!

      1. Preludacris Avatar

        <img src="http://cdn.meme.li/instances/300×300/31685265.jpg"&gt;
        I am actually a little embarrassed every time people compliment them, because they're knock-offs. But they do look good on the car and are still somewhat light for the price, so, y'know.. Thanks.

        1. Scandinavian Flick ★ Avatar
          Scandinavian Flick ★

          No shame in that, IMO. Konig Wideopen? But yeah, I really dig those wheels on pretty much everything…
          <img src="http://lh4.ggpht.com/_4c6rItQc5Wc/TFjNLlCJy0I/AAAAAAAAAeY/jKyQlc_wGEE/s912/DSC01154.JPG&quot; width="450">
          <img src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-p_6pR08dtkY/UTvpesiEosI/AAAAAAAAB2s/mH3jwxbrMDI/s1200/DSC_0382.JPG&quot; width="450">

          1. Preludacris Avatar

            These are Drag DR-21.
            I did look at the Wideopen, but it was when I was at stock height with no plans to lower, and 15×8 +25 would have poked out quite a bit. So I went for a more traditional 15×7 +40 option.

    2. LEROOOY Avatar

      So happy to see such a well-loved example. It's my personal contender for "most underappreciated car."

      1. Preludacris Avatar

        For nicer ones, see preludepower.com and check out the builds section.
        Now is the bottom of the depreciation curve. The oldest 3rd gens are now about 25, which while technically classic, isn't really old enough to be cool. I think the ones that survive the next 5-10 years will get a lot more love.

  25. Devin Avatar

    Clearly, the answer is the Hyundai Elantra GT. It has plenty space, it's just potent enough to be fun but it's still good for decent mileage (though, admittedly, it'd be better with about 50 more horses, a turbo version needs to exist), giant sunroof for the people who want to have the fun of an open roof without buying an actual car with an open roof. I'm not just saying this because one sits in my driveway.
    <img src="http://edge.vinsolutions.com/images/live/DealerImages/113322000/113322548/0.jpg"&gt;
    (Not mine, but near as makes no difference).
    Seriously though, I'm all about this class of car in general. They're useful, they're small and light enough to be fun no matter what engine resides under the hood, and they're efficient too. Great compromise for a daily driver.

  26. desolit Avatar

    the greatest compromise is when the manufacturer makes the compromise for you.
    when Jeep went from this
    <img src="http://www.thedetroitbureau.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Jeep-Wrangler-Traildozer.jpg"&gt;
    to this
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/35/Jeep_Wrangler_JK_-_001.jpg"&gt;
    have a family without sacraficing your 5 o'clock shadow.

    1. muthalovin Avatar

      Trollblazer, FTMFW!!!

    2. Sjalabais Avatar

      The 9-7 was so much of a compromise as in #2 above, it still makes me sad.

    3. Jim Brennan Avatar
      Jim Brennan

      One thing that I did not realize until now… It looks like these two models shared alloys… Just swap the hub caps…

      1. Tim Odell Avatar
        Tim Odell

        As the preseident/member of the GMT360 fan club/support group, do you know how many total vehicles were sold on that platform?
        Between the 7 different models, I'd guess quite a few. The reason being that, while not great vehicles, they might go on to Astro-Van grade immortality if parts remain available.

        1. P161911 Avatar

          I think the fact most Astros came with a 4.3L V-6 that was shared with S-10s, Silverados, full size vans, Caprices, S-10 Blazers, Grand Prixs and Monte Carlos helps. They probably share similar transmissions too. The fact that the 4.2L Atlas engine is GMT360 exclusive is a little scary. The LS -X versions should be fine.
          The GMT was one of the last SUVs with an "old school" platform (body on frame, RWD) but everything else relatively modern and more reliable. Our 2004 needs to last at least another 5 years, until my truck is paid off. It currently has 128k miles on it with no major problems.

          1. Maymar Avatar

            Doesn't the I6 share parts with the I4 and I5 out of the Colorado/Canyon/H3? Not that that's a huge number of vehicles, but it's that little bit extra (on top of the sheer volume of GMT360s sold) to help justify keeping these easily in parts for quite a few years to come.
            Shame though, that it never ended up in a passenger car. I would've loved to see an Atlas-powered G8.

          2. P161911 Avatar

            It does share some parts with the I-4 and I-5, not sure how many. The 4.3L V-6 shares parts with the 1955-1998 Chevy small block V-8.

          3. Tim Odell Avatar
            Tim Odell

            Yeah, as much as I love the 6.0L ones, a 5.3L example is probably pretty darn good.
            I'd assume it's a 4L60e behind the 5.3, common-ish BW T-case and then the newer AAM rearend (which I'd argue is better than a 10-bolt).
            Long-term, you could swap and LS you wanted, maybe a 6AT, and maybe the 4:1 t-case out of an H3.

  27. FreeMan Avatar

    I'd say the Countach with trailer is a perfectly sensible compomise.
    (I remember that ad. Does that make me old?)

  28. Bret Dodson Avatar

    <img src="http://www.fiatusa.com/abarth/images/abarth/gallery/2013/large/abarth_behindthescenes_6.jpg&quot; width ="600">
    Fun to drive and has enough room to haul everything I need to regularly haul. It's a true Sports Utility Vehicle, at least it is for my active lifestyle.

    1. justgregit Avatar

      I got a rental 500 in Northern California once. I took it camping with my fiance and my brother and all of our gear for a weekend. We had to drive it up a 4wd road in Tahoe and it crushed it. Sure, the tires weren't all always touching the ground, and sure, it took some pushing and some patience, but that car made it! The fit was a little tight, but overall I was amazed at how well it did. I would love to see the Panda come to the US though.

  29. justgregit Avatar

    I mean this discussion is pretty much "list what you drive", so I'm going to chime in with my Golf TDI. Great highway fuel economy, yet still fun to drive. Interior is surprisingly nice for its segment, and its surprisingly roomy and practical. It also handles quite well in the snow (with decent tires).
    The low end torque of the diesel makes it fun to drive in city traffic and passing on the highway, and the suspension is stiff enough to corner well without being uncomfortable. I think performance wise its a good mix. Also, you can't beat 40+mpg on the highway.
    From a size perspective, it is a good width, and has a surprising amount of headspace. The biggest complaint would be the length. I have a roof rack and a trailer hitch though. I use the roofrack for skis in winter (we have gone backcountry skiing for 3 days with 4 people and gotten everyone with all their gear packed in the car), and extra storage in summer (I have a basket we use for camping, just throw everything up there with a tarp over it). I have a hitch rack I use for bikes in the summer, which is easy to put on and take off. I haven't towed anything yet, but I plan on getting a trailer at some point for hauling stuff. I have strapped a fair amount of lumber to the roof rack though, so its easy to make use of the space.
    Also, it has survived a number of marginally off-road excursions (unmaintained/seasonal dirt roads in Colorado), as well as performed superbly in winter (with Bridgestone Blizzack tires). The ground clearance is my biggest gripe. I bought the car used and am 95 percent sure the previous owner had lowered the suspension though, as my tires sit far more flush than a friend with a GTI, which just doesn't seem right. Even so, with some careful driving it can navigate most anywhere.
    I think people overestimate how much space they need and the importance of 4WD/AWD and ground clearance. I can get anywhere most people in an SUV can, with often the same amount of stuff. It takes a little more creativity, patience, and skill, but its absolutely doable. Unloaded the car is surprisingly fun for a fuel efficient small car also.

    1. Preludacris Avatar

      Absolutely agree, most cars can go further than people think.
      A few years back I was in Nairobi. There was a section of road about 3/4 mile long that had washed out and basically turned into a 12" deep puddle, and the temporary fix was to fill the whole thing with boulders the size of your head. I was very impressed as I watched drivers navigate Corollas through this mess. A skill set that most American drivers don't have – knowing how to use angles to overcome clearance issues, and how slow you need to go in order to protect your vehicle. The only people who drive like this here are the stance kids with unreasonably low cars. Most of us tend to assume that if you can't do it at the speed limit, it's impassable.

      1. justgregit Avatar

        That's amazing! Yeah my first car was a RWD manual Toyota Previa that went through a lot of abusive Vermont winters. I got that car stuck so many times that I pretty much learned how to drive anything anywhere. Its no Nairobi, but there was always lots of improvisation. I can recall more than one occasion where it was 2AM, snowing, below zero, and I had to figure out a way to get a car out of a snow filled ditch on a back road somewhere by stacking rocks and wood under the wheels to get traction and just using the good old "PUSH".
        Thanks for the story!

        1. Preludacris Avatar

          That is a very cool first car, whether or not it seemed that way at the time!

      2. jeepjeff Avatar

        There's another group who drives like this here, but they don't bother in the cities, since they do this on significantly larger boulders with vehicles with much higher ground clearance and much larger tires…

        1. Preludacris Avatar

          A glaring oversight on my part! I've got friends in that group too. (it's no Heep but it'll do…)
          <img src="http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z313/ndrwhrnr/DSC_0500_zps39b13c37.jpg&quot; width="600">

    2. Maymar Avatar

      Just the Golf lineup in general is a solid pick. TDI for the highway warriors, GTI for the dedicated hoons, and the I5 for the rest (say what you will, it has character). The available wagon is great for those who need that tiny extra bit of space.

      1. justgregit Avatar

        Agreed. Most of my accolades are independent of the engine/drivetrain. While you might get better mileage/fun from the TDI & GTI, respectively, the practicality is all there in the I5 in a car that still looks and drives great. I think there is a reason the Golf/Rabbit have stuck around globally as long as they have.

  30. MVEilenstein Avatar

    So many, many good choices. However, I still think it's hard to bet against a good minivan. An 89 Caravan with a turbo would do nicely.
    <img src="http://www.turbododge.com/forums/attachments/cars-sale/40965d1304267726-1989-dodge-caravan-r-t-turbo-van5.jpg"&gt;
    The ultimate sleeper.

  31. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

    Default answer is default:
    <img src="http://www.a777aa77.ru/mega/1992-mega-track-4.jpg&quot; width=500>
    Eleventy hojillion exclusivity points.
    AWD variable ride height supercar, seats 4.
    Engine serviceable by any sufficiently open minded Mercedes dealership.
    As shown, amphibious! Can traverse waters several inches deep.

    1. Guillaume Avatar

      Mega Track ! Damn I forgot these cars. Wikipedia says only 5 or 6 were made…

      1. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

        It's tricky to figure out because they have so many different plates applied, but I think there are two blue ones, and one each red, grey, and silver. Then there's the prototype, which is dark possibly-slightly-blue graphite (the pictures of it are not very high quality).
        There's pictures of blue ones with two different interiors, one with a sort of aircraft style dashboard and black seats, and one with a wood panel dashboard and white seats (the one in the picture).
        The grey one appears to be Swiss registered, but all the pictures of it seem to be in Monaco. One blue one and the red had Russian plates at some point.

    2. Maymar Avatar

      I'm terribly worried I thumbs downed this, and feel like a terrible person. This is a brilliant compromise.

  32. labcoatguy Avatar

    [youtube JQKMimSCCOc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQKMimSCCOc youtube]
    <img src=http://pic.armedcats.net/l/la/labcoatguy/2013/07/16/hatch.jpg>

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Your dyno run? Isn't to entertaining for the viewer, to be honest, but the car definitely is:
      [youtube VpSUGeG_tHk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpSUGeG_tHk youtube]

  33. Maymar Avatar

    How've we gone 108 comments with no mention of a spacious Italian hatchback?
    <img src="http://www.classicandperformancecar.com/front_website/octane_interact/modelpicture.php?id=999&quot; width=500 /img>

    1. Rover1 Avatar

      And the first prototype still had gullwing doors, like the halfV12 Marzal
      <img src="http://www.yowmodellini.com/collezione/lambo/espada_p/2.jpg"&gt;
      <img src=http://www.yowmodellini.com/collezione/lambo/espada_p/5.jpeg>
      <img src=http://www.yowmodellini.com/collezione/lambo/espada_p/DSCF2657.jpg"width="600">

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        But where's the trailer hitch?

  34. Eric Avatar

    Gotta love those legacy gt wagons. Any small, sporty wagon gets my vote. A sportcross has a lot of potential, but due to the fact it never came manual knocks it down a notch or two. I think its hard to beat a wrx or sti wagon.

    1. Eric Avatar

      This guy has the right idea. Aka, my dream car.

    2. JayP2112 Avatar

      I came <this> close to getting a 2000 Legacy GT manual. I was offered a low ball trade-in on the A4 so I walked. It was just the 160hp NA 2.5 but still would have been a cool car to have.
      Now I'll spend the next 2 hours looking for one in autotrader.

  35. Rover1 Avatar

    When you want something exclusive, (only 7 made),sporty (it is a Ferrari ),and practical,( it is a wagon and can be serviced at any Ferrari dealer, as it's production based ), there can be only one choice, though I concede that it's not inexpensive….
    img src="http://i411.photobucket.com/albums/pp192/paul0547/DSC00388.jpg"width="600"&gt;

    1. topdeadcentre Avatar

      Here, let me add the missing leading left-facing angle bracket:
      <img src="http://i411.photobucket.com/albums/pp192/paul0547/DSC00388.jpg&quot; width="600">
      (Sadly, in this photo, I'm thinking Styling by Saturn…)

  36. kingcrowing Avatar

    This car.
    Were it to be something new, I'd go with an E92 328ix touring, 6-speed manual & sport package.

  37. salguod Avatar

    Minivan. Nothing does more things well than a minivan.
    Haul 6 adults & a weekend's worth of gear
    Haul a full sofa inside (or two love seats)
    Tow a decent 3,500 lbs
    Get upper-mid 20s highway MPG
    I did all of those things in mine. Get an Odyssey because they have a smidge of handing ability and run forever.

  38. topdeadcentre Avatar

    Even though 300hp/300ft-lbs torque is now thought of as barely adequate to get to the grocery store, Volvo's 2004-2008 V70R is not a bad contender. It goes fast, handles well, is quite comfortable, and has the best cargo utility of wagons since the turn of the 21st century.
    Even with the flaws (active suspension unable to keep up with the bumps, expensive issues with the angle gears to the propshaft and $800 active shock absorbers, among other things), it's still a very good car. I like mine enough that I keep delaying trading it in.
    My V70R, partially hidden by a wee old Lincoln:
    <img src="http://world.peace.net/%7Ejoelll/sportabout/v70r-markIV.jpg&quot; width="500/">
    (this is the only photo I could quickly find that actually shows my car…)

    1. Vairship Avatar

      Is the R a better overall deal than the 2.5T? It seems as though the 2.5T will have much of the performance, but with better MPG and fewer super expensive parts? Way more torque steer though, I guess.

      1. topdeadcentre Avatar

        If I were buying now, I'd look for a 2.5T (though none came with the manual transmission, as far as I know), or one of the rare 2004 (final year) T5's with a manual transmission. The expensive R-only repairs can get very costly as these cars get older.

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