Home » A Dodge Hornet Owner Asked Me What He Should Replace His Car With, Here Are My Suggestions

A Dodge Hornet Owner Asked Me What He Should Replace His Car With, Here Are My Suggestions

The Dodge Hornet Conveys Characteristic Dodge Styling Cues, Such
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Building cars is hard, and when manufacturers don’t get it right, regular people suffer. Yesterday, I wrote about the troubles affecting owners of the new Dodge Hornet crossover, from blinded adaptive cruise control to allegedly throwing more than 200 codes. No, that’s not a typo.

It’s really a shame that the Hornet is off to a rocky start because it adds a certain verve to the compact crossover segment. Sure, it’s expensive compared to a CR-V, but it’s cheap compared to an Alfa Romeo, and it should drive with substantially more juice than its competition. Unfortunately, few owners buy compact crossovers for sporting prowess, and the joy of driving is easily overwhelmed by the agony of having a brand new car sitting in the shop.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Now, many of the Hornet’s issues should be possible to patch out with revised firmware, but that doesn’t help owners right now. Take Hornet owner Matt, who wrote to us via email seeking a little bit of help.

Yes, you are spot on. I’m another person in the repurchase process.

What you don’t acknowledge is it is an incredibly fun car to drive. It has great road manners and it is very solid feeling and quick. If only there was an analog version out there.

Also, the suite of extras that you get for five grand when you buy the plus edition is insane.

Looking for another car with fully adjustable seating for both front passengers. I’m probably going to have to buy a pre-owned European luxury compact SUV to get this feature. Not even available on the Lexus 250h. Otherwise, first year model Buick Encore GX seems like a risk.

Unless you have a brilliant suggestion? Seriously, I’m listening…

Matt, I’m terribly sorry to hear about your Hornet predicament. While it has brilliant performance credentials for a mainstream compact crossover, nobody should pay nearly $40,000 for a new car that turns into a lemon. That being said, let’s make some lemonade. You’re working on a buyback, there are plenty of cars on the road that could get you out of this jam, and some of them are even fun.

While American marques are typically good at offering height-adjustable front passenger seats, I’d certainly avoid the Buick Encore GX, since it’s about as fun as syphilis. Seriously, although I like the new Chevrolet Trax, the Buick Encore GX is absolutely nothing like it. Don’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. Likewise, once you’ve tried something even moderately quick with decent body control, it’s hard to go back to comfort-first commutermobiles.

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An entry-level Lexus hybrid may be fine for Alan Partridge, but if you find yourself pining for something analog, you likely won’t give a UX250h much love. However, not all hope is lost. Here are four potential options to ease the pain of being stung by a Hornet.

2017 Infiniti QX50

2015 Infiniti Qx50

Nearly seven years on, the newest possible FM platform Infiniti QX50 still does the business. Never mind the alphabet soup name, it has the nutrients you want in an analog, reliable Dodge Hornet alternative. Strong and reliable 325-horsepower V6 with robust aftermarket? Check. A longitudinal platform shared with a full-on sports coupe? Check. Weighty hydraulic power steering? Absolutely. But don’t just take my word for it, read what Car And Driver had to say back in 2015.

After 25 years, Infiniti still may not know quite what it wants to be. But the QX50, which admittedly sells in really tiny numbers and dates back many years, is sort of an unpretentious alternative to cars like the Porsche Macan, offering 80 percent of the driving experience for about 60 percent of the price.

Yep, that’s adrenaline sorted. So, what about the other requirements? Well, models with the Deluxe Touring Package got an eight-way power passenger seat, so that’s the fully adjustable shotgun throne sorted. Look for a plastic coat hanger recessed into the back of the driver’s headrest, as that’s the most obvious sign of a Deluxe Touring Package car. It sounds like you love a good gadget, so you’ll likely also be pleased to know that Deluxe Touring Package cars got a 360-degree camera system, swiveling HID headlamps, an 11-speaker Bose stereo, an air purifier, 19-inch wheels, and a motorized tilt and telescopic steering column.

Did the late QX50 have any noteworthy near-universal reliability foibles? Weirdly, no. It came well past the changeover to a more robust oil gallery gasket, which ironed out the final kink in the VQ37VHR V6. The seven-speed automatic has proven sturdy, as has the optional all-wheel-drive system, as have the body electronics. It’s the definition of a mature product, and it’s an absolute bargain because Infiniti isn’t exactly on the tip of every car shopper’s tongue. You can find models with less than 50,000 miles on the clock for new base-model Hyundai Elantra money, sometimes even less. The only downside here is age, but if you’re interested in something more analog, a 2017 QX50 is definitely worth test driving. Besides, one of those snazzy drop-in OEM-look CarPlay integration kits goes a long way towards modernizing a slightly older vehicle.

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Certified Pre-Owned Porsche Macan

2019 Porsche Macan

Of course, if you’re willing to spend roughly new Dodge Hornet money, you can skip the Japanese Macan alternative and get the real thing. On paper, the Macan has its pros and cons over the Infiniti QX50. You likely won’t get one of the fast ones for sensible money, so you’ll have to be satiated by the Volkswagen Group corporate two-liter turbocharged four-banger. Oh, and this is a German car, so running costs likely won’t be its strongest suit. Sure, Porsche has done exceptionally well in recent quality surveys from the likes of Consumer Reports, but Porsche parts and Porsche service come at Porsche prices. Whatever, you’ll forget all about pricey oil changes as soon as you grab a Macan by the scruff of its neck and see what’s what.

Despite sharing the same MLB platform as a decade-old Audi Q5, the Macan doesn’t feel like a warmed-over slice of understeer, but instead a hot hatch on stilts. It’s the sort of car that will make you a bit mad, because you’ll toss the keys back on the sales rep’s desk and wonder why every compact crossover can’t drive this well. From the strong engine to the swift double-clutch gearbox to the impeccable body control, the Macan is modern day proof that every Porsche is a Porsche. Granted, every Porsche being a Porsche is a double-edged sword. As Porsche specialist PCarWise reports, issues are cropping up with Macan power transfer units and transmissions. Sure, these issues are still relatively rare in the grand scheme of things, but wouldn’t you rather not be on the receiving end of a massive bill in the event that everything goes to hell?

Now, I normally wouldn’t recommend buying a second-hand German car without either a warranty or strong masochistic tendencies, and since it sounds like a Hornet replacement would be your daily driver, a warranty it is. Porsche equips every certified pre-owned car in the U.S. with a two-year unlimited mileage warranty that’s pretty much bumper-to-bumper on top of any remaining factory warranty coverage, and you can slap another year of coverage on top of that. Play your cards right, and for roughly Hornet GT Plus money, you could get yourself into a four-cylinder Macan with an actual Porsche warranty. Yep, that could scratch the itch.

Certified Pre-Owned 2018+ BMW X3 M40i

Bmw X3 M40i

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For the first 14 years of its life, the BMW X3 was a hateful, cynical car. Sure, it had the same badge on the hood as an equivalent 3 Series, and the original X3 even used plenty of E46 3 Series bits, but it never had the panache of its low-slung counterpart, certainly didn’t ride brilliantly, was barely more practical than a 3 Series wagon, and looked horrifically inbred. The second-generation model kept the moronic looks, but was substantially worse to drive than the original, and mostly came with the spiteful N20 turbocharged four-banger that liked to eat timing components. However, after nearly a decade and a half of trying, BMW finally struck gold with the third-generation X3.

Was it the move to the new CLAR platform shared with the outgoing 5 Series, the massively improved cabin, the inoffensive styling, or the excellent B48 four-cylinder and B58 six-cylinder engines available from the start that made the third-generation X3 better? I reckon it was all of the above, and the M40i trim was the cherry on top. Sure, the steering isn’t anything worth writing home about, but we’re talking 355 horsepower, 389 lb.-ft. of torque, zero-to-60 mph in less than five seconds, the excellent ZF 8HP automatic transmission, and an engine architecture good enough for Toyota.

While the B58 turbocharged three-liter inline-six and ZF 8HP automatic transmission have excellent track records, there are a few things to keep in mind. The headlights are prone to condensation, and as they’re LED units, the bill for replacement involves a comma. Thank goodness the U.S. didn’t get the preposterously expensive laser headlights on the pre-facelift X3, am I right? In addition, a handful of owners on Bimmerpost have reported unwanted vibrations once certain examples are broken in, which might be rectified with CV axle replacement.

Yep, this is another car I’d recommend going certified pre-owned on, especially since BMW offers something called CPO Wrap, an extended warranty program offering unlimited mileage and up to seven years of coverage from a vehicle’s initial registration. Granted, it’s not quite bumper-to-bumper, only offering limited interior and exterior coverage, but it does cover nearly all the expensive bits. Best of all? A CPO example of this six-cylinder slingshot of a crossover goes for four-cylinder CPO Macan money, or about new Hornet GT Plus money. Think of the X3 M40i as a happy medium — it doesn’t seem as scary as a Porsche Macan, but it probably won’t be as faultless as a 2017 Infiniti QX50.

Kia Stinger GT

2018 Stinger Gt2 Rwd

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However, what if you don’t necessarily need a crossover, but need a bunch of space and a multi-way passenger seat? Weirdly, another manufacturer that’s good at including front passenger seat height adjustment is Kia. Every single Stinger GT has a wildly adjustable front passenger seat, with a choice of eight-way or twelve-way adjustment. Comfort box ticked, but what about space? Well, the Stinger GT actually features more cargo space with the rear seats up than the Hornet, 23.3 cu.-ft. to the Hornet’s 22.9. You can even get it with all-wheel-drive, so that’s deep snow sorted.

Oh, and this liftback properly shifts. How could it not, with a 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 and an available limited-slip rear differential? Even better, the V6 has this burly, calculated midrange that makes overtaking absolutely effortless. Pull the left paddle shifter thrice, stand on the loud pedal, and a tsunami of thrust rockets you past slow trucks and other irritating traffic. As for ride and handling, it could use a little more damping in the rear, but it’s still a brilliant sports sedan with a certain connectedness you just don’t get in most crossovers. Oh, and you can even find them for under $30,000 with plenty of the ten-year/100,000-mile factory powertrain warranty left. Sure, it doesn’t offer an elevated driving position, but it’s one hell of a car for the money.

So, let’s say you had to replace a new Dodge Hornet with something fun, practical, and with a seriously adjustable front passenger seat. What are you picking? I reckon the seriously sensible money is on either the Infiniti or the Kia, but it’s entirely possible that something has slipped my mind. Let’s help Matt out here, because buying a lemon sucks.

(Photo credits: Dodge, Infiniti, Porsche, BMW, Kia)

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Saul Goodman
Saul Goodman
5 months ago

Still can’t over how the rebadged Alfa (or is it the other way around?) is pronounced “toenail.”

The hornet name being used here is the equivalent of pissing on AMC’s grave.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
5 months ago
Reply to  Saul Goodman

Whut? It’s pronounce Tone-All-Eh

Black Peter
Black Peter
5 months ago

Always pronounce the “E”!!

Arthur Flax
Arthur Flax
5 months ago

Tone-All-Eh…Is that “Little Toenail” in Yiddish?

AlterId
AlterId
5 months ago
Reply to  Saul Goodman

The hornet name being used here is the equivalent of pissing on AMC’s Hudson’s grave.

FTFY, since the Hudson Hornet dominated NASCAR in the early ’50s with a high-power straight-six and a stepdown unitized body that gave it excellent handling..

MattyD
MattyD
5 months ago
Reply to  Saul Goodman

I have it under good authority that the first name they considered was “Penice”, pronounced “Pe-nee-chay”, so “Tonail” is an improvement, I guess.

Dr. Asteroid
Dr. Asteroid
5 months ago

Of the cars discussed in this article, the Stinger is 10x cooler than the others.

David Escargot
David Escargot
5 months ago
Reply to  Dr. Asteroid

This is the correct take

Space
Space
5 months ago

Buy something reasonably priced (like a Maverick or chevy bolt) then swap in some adjustable seats from something in the junkyard and save 10 grand with a full warranty.

VanGuy
VanGuy
5 months ago
Reply to  Space

“Swap in adjustable seats”? How can you be sure the sensor in the seat for the airbag is compatible, and still positioned within a range where the airbag would perform as rated?

Space
Space
5 months ago
Reply to  VanGuy

I’m sorry, I didn’t think driver seats had airbag sensors since it’s always assumed there is a driver. range shouldn’t be an issue as long as you stay within the original range of the factory seats.

VanGuy
VanGuy
5 months ago
Reply to  Space

I immediately thought of the “passenger airbag on” indicators in several vehicles I’ve been in. As far as I can tell, they’re simply weight-activated.

Conversely, I imagine there is some kind of sensors or other mechanisms in many of these seats.

My 2012 Prius v has a small wire beneath the passenger seat (presumably the aforementioned sensor), but there’s several running to the driver seat. I’m not sure what they’re all for, because the only power component on the driver seat is the power lumber. Everything else is manual.

Racer Esq.
Racer Esq.
5 months ago

The right answer is a new Escape or Equinox. Those are in the same price range. In my area, new Hornets can be had for around $27,000. I feel sorry for anyone who paid over $30,000 for one.

But the answer that feels right is a Fiat 124 Spider. Look you screwed up and got the Italian quality with the low-end domestic prestige. Time to make that right by getting made in Japan (ok, except for the engine) quality with fancy Italian badging.

Leightspeed
Leightspeed
5 months ago
Reply to  Racer Esq.

Engine is Italian in design, but surprisingly made in Michigan!

Arthur Flax
Arthur Flax
5 months ago
Reply to  Racer Esq.

Equinox is the correct answer. Good handling, rock solid reliability and super infotainment along with some nice driver aids for under 30K. The Escape is fine, but the Equinox electronic toys has it beat.

I know that I’m terminally boring as both are powered by sewing machines, but the Chevy is thoroughly pleasant in its mediocrity.

Jon Wilson
Jon Wilson
5 months ago

For about $30k you can get a decent used Tesla Model Y. It’s a sporty compact SUV with low running costs (if you have access to cheap charging at home or work).

Space
Space
5 months ago
Reply to  Jon Wilson

He wanted something analog, Tesla is a bad choice for that.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
5 months ago

The correct answer for someone who fell for this thing is a Perodua Nippa or a Ssangyong Rodius.

Echo Stellar
Echo Stellar
5 months ago
Reply to  Slow Joe Crow

Surely VinFast has an equally reliable and enjoyable answer in their lineup.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
5 months ago
Reply to  Echo Stellar

No, no, the problem is the Dodge is a knockoff of an Alfa Romeo, just buy the real thing and everything will be fine – a nice Giulia QV should be a solid, dependable choice, guaranteed to get you to work on time when the neighbor’s ES350 is in the shop yet again.

Echo Stellar
Echo Stellar
5 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

You’re completely correct, how foolish of me! If only there were decades of easily accessible data and owner experiences that could help ease decision making.

Jason Crandall
Jason Crandall
5 months ago

I have owned a 2024 Dodge Hornet GT AWD going on about 4 months now. The only issue at around 4800m is a ground wire became loose preventing the map lights to come on. It was a quick 90min warranty claim a few weeks ago. I have had a security light come on 3 times on start up but it goes away when you restart it. I took a picture of the dashboard when it happened a few days ago for the dealer to look into (dealer believes it’s a future update fix) but nothing else is wrong with my Hornet. It now was over 5200m & it is a very fun vechile to drive.

Last edited 5 months ago by Jason Crandall
Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
5 months ago

CPO 2017-2019 Mercedes-Benz E400/E450 Wagon is right there in the pricerange.
The E450 with the inline 6 is the more desirable.
And most of them are in “AMG” drag.
Sure the maintenance is high – but no higher than the BMW or Macan.

Elhigh
Elhigh
5 months ago

A new pair of Nikes.

I mean, if he has the Hornet, he must be used to walking, right?

Diane M
Diane M
5 months ago

Sadly when you say ” it’s cheaper than an Alfa Romeo” it really isn’t and that’s part of the problem.

I love my Stelvio and it’s been trouble free, but I’ll love a slightly smaller version that’s just as quick, gets better mileage, has a few newer toys, and can be repaired in more dealers. If it were a bit cheaper like I’d expect a Dodge to be for the same car, I’d be on it in a heartbeat.

While that should be the Hornet, it’s not, it’s the same price, gets mediocre mileage, has lower performance, and has a ton of teething pains, this was not a win for Dodge.

SaabaruDude
SaabaruDude
5 months ago
Reply to  Diane M

I had the exact same thought progression when I saw the Hornet announced. There were quite a few that popped up around here shortly after release (I live near Auburn Hills, also a lot of Stelvios) but the universal let-down has pushed me to look at a CX-5 next instead.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
5 months ago

“What reliable car should I buy to replace my lemon?”

“How about a used BMW, a used Porsche, a used Infiniti, or a used Kia?”

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
5 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

LOL… more like a used BMW, VW, Nissan, Kia.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
5 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

B58 powered Bimmers are very reliable. I think the issue with BMW is that they’re essentially either bombproof or total nightmares with very little in between. But the X3 M40i is a solid rec.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
5 months ago

But for an extra $3-5k you could get an S58, decisions decisions… Did I miss it what engine said Hornet owner has, if not the RT then X3 3.0 matches performance and possible to find a nice MSport one $10k under M40.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
5 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

Dude I see certified X3Ms pop up in the high 40s/low 50s all the time and they’re soooo tempting. I just don’t know if I could live with the horrendous fuel economy…especially when the B58 is more efficient than a lot of turbo 4s

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
5 months ago

Its only 2-4mpg difference I think, my avg in my S55 is like 22/23. The 55/58 engines vary so little based on how you drive them and the S/B versions.

Plus M40 is automatic vs DCT still in the X3M I believe.

Last edited 5 months ago by Brian Ash
Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
5 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

I think after the introduction of the S58 it’s been all ZF8s other than the Ms they offer in stick

Last edited 5 months ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
Brian Ash
Brian Ash
5 months ago

Oh yeah you’re prolly right, hard to keep track, plus my memory selectively purges references of BMW real ///Ms with an automatic.

World24
World24
5 months ago

The new Compass isn’t this bad, and you get the same engine (but 68hp/74ft-lbs less, somehow only by tune) and one less gear, with slightly better fuel efficiency, and you can get 8-way passenger seat adjustment, including 2-way Lumbar support. Same engine, basically the same chassis (apparently the Tonale/Hornet is a re-done Compass), and a transmission that’s bound to be better than the ZF 9 speed? I see nothing but victory, outside the name and brand being the issue.

While it has brilliant performance credentials for a mainstream compact crossover, nobody should pay nearly $40,000 for a new car that turns into a lemon.

So you suggest some cars form that part of the world known for spawning lemons that are worth much more? Okay.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
5 months ago
Reply to  World24

On computer controlled turbo engines, it’s quite trivial to turn the power up and down in the computer.

World24
World24
5 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I’d imagine that’s all boost related though, and it’d have to be more than a couple psi?
Not familiar with it all tbh.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
5 months ago
Reply to  World24

Mostly boost related yeah. 68hp is probably just a couple psi.

Turbo diesels are extra adjustable, because you can limit fuel and boost. You can make a 600hp diesel into a 200hp diesel just with tune, no big deal.

World24
World24
5 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Good to know!

Leightspeed
Leightspeed
5 months ago
Reply to  World24

Surprisingly, with the switch to the 2.0T, the Compass went from “hell no” to “actually….”

The interior update is just a bonus.

World24
World24
5 months ago
Reply to  Leightspeed

That 2.0T and Hyundai 8 speed seems like a pretty great match. I wouldn’t mind owning one myself, honestly.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
5 months ago

I had to google what BMW CPO wrap was, the BMW CPO program used to be so great but has turned to shit. CPO vehicles are much higher as the program has become so expensive, on top of that buying the CPO wrap, uh no. Many dealers will not even CPO anything these days. Buy a non-CPO BMW and buy a warranty, will be a ton less $.

Plus the 2nd gen X3 with a NA inline 6 was amazing before they all went turbo.

The answer is none of the above, what the person should of bought or leased in the first place, a Honda CRV Sport Hybrid.

Lardo
Lardo
5 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

The supply of off lease vehicles was what made the CPO bmw’s work. I had a few new and leased. the residual made the lease work. it was a great time to own or lease a bmw. returning lease holders got a new one for zero a very little down.

Attila the Hatchback
Attila the Hatchback
5 months ago

Just one datapoint, but I know a couple horrible reliability stories from newly purchased X3 M40i’s with <30K mile. I would not buy one without 2-3 years of CPO warranty.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
5 months ago

CPO only adds 1yr to the factory warranty, buying the CPO Wrap adds 1 more year on top of that. Before they screwed the CPO program it used to be 6yrs 100k total, transferable, etc. Today even the standard CPO vehicle over a non-CPO will be about 2x what it would to buy a good 3rd party warranty.

Attila the Hatchback
Attila the Hatchback
5 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

good point, I didn’t know that BMW CPO is more limited now

EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
5 months ago

So, you want a CUV. Well a wagon is basically a CUV
Fully adjustable seats. They both move back and fourth.
Fun road handling. Literally a Skyline.

I propose the 1998 Nissan Stagea 260RS in Gainsville, Georgia for 43k. It’s a little past your budget, but its a literal GT-R.

TheWombatQueen
TheWombatQueen
5 months ago

Saw a stagea of some trim or another at a local cars and coffee and it’s pretty cool.

Goof
Goof
5 months ago

It’s a bit numb, but Acura RDX? It had a bit of wonky gearshift behavior (hesitation and gear-hunting) of the 10A when I drove one of the earlier ones that a friend bought, so may be worth seeing if that’s been resolved.

It’s a 270HPish turbo 4-popper, but fit and finish should be great, and one would hope it should be relatively trouble free over the long haul if maintained.

It’s not going to be exciting, granted no small crossover is going to be. If you want true excitement, pare down costs and move towards two cars long term, where the daily does its job comfortably, reliably, cheaply and safely … and the toy does the fun.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
5 months ago
Reply to  Goof

My mans.

Goof
Goof
5 months ago

The RDX’s biggest problem is that people forget it exists!

Gently used (35-45K miles), AWD ones are in the $25-30K range. I’d dig into the forums to ensure the turbo 2.0L I4 has no bugbears, and again, regarding to see if there’s updates to the transmission programming, but it’s a fairly agreeable and reasonable vehicle. For most people, it ticks all the boxes.

The goal of a daily is to have it for 15 easy, inexpensive years. That’s what lets you get the fun Car 2 — keeping daily costs down, especially depreciation.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
5 months ago
Reply to  Goof

It also has a HUGE backseat for its class. It’ll swallow people and car seats no problem. Honestly I may be starting to talk myself into one lol….can we have a Type S variant please? Just give the engine the same tune as the CTR/Integra Type S.

Goof
Goof
5 months ago

From a driving dynamics perspective it is a huge step down from the Kona N. Not even close. Transmission response, steering feel, brake feel, etc. However… it’s not an dog, and good enough for the real everyday requirements it has to meet. Put on good tires and look at pads and maybe fluid because safety, but that’s it.

I’m still to meet anyone who’s been truly happy with a “one car solution.” Everyone always goes towards two cars if they can afford to. So you get a daily that does all the basics so you actually keep it for 10, 15, 20 years, which lets you save and buy the fun car you truly want.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
5 months ago
Reply to  Goof

I’m actually pretty happy with my 1 car solution, but you have a point.

Goof
Goof
5 months ago

Go down the rabbit hole and your perspective changes. People are happy with just an E39 M5 and then realize what something like a Porsche or Corvette does on a backroad by comparison.

Comparison is the thief of joy. Yet, it’s reality.

I have a coworker that’s just been through an E82 BMW 135is, an F10 BMW 545i, a G80 BMW M3, then a G22 BMW M4, and now a Tesla Model 3 Performance. He’s still not satisfied. He took my advice to start Turo’ing cars, rented a 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 for a whole weekend and he instantly realized how much deeper the rabbit hole goes when you expand to two cars. In his own words, “My M4 felt like slop city compared to this Cayman.”

Since I’ve known him (2010?) he’s burnt an entire well-equipped, last-gen 911 GT3 in depreciation alone. Think of all the cool cars he could’ve bought instead if he just bought a gingerly used Lexus or something in 2009 he might still be driving, and then just saved and bought a GT3, or a Corvette, or a Viper, or whatnot.

It’s why I try to warn people to get off the “treadmill”, realize “one-car solution” is a trap for most, and go straight to the finish line.

Clark B
Clark B
5 months ago
Reply to  Goof

That’s mostly how I’ve tried to do things. I’ve got a 1972 Super Beetle which is a great little car, but not something I want to daily drive. My daily is a 2014 Sportwagen TDI, but I’m working on making it a bit more fun. Currently lowered with an aftermarket rear sway bar, which makes a huge difference. Planning on doing a Stage 1 tune once the Dieselgate warranty is up. Nothing crazy, but since the Beetle isn’t the kind of fun second car to hustle down a back road, the Jetta has to fill the gap. My goal is to basically have a wagon equivalent of a GTI (maybe not a new GTI, but I’ll settle for the performance of my old 2009 GTI). By keeping the mods mild and not going crazy with the tune, it should be as reliable as it would be if it were stock. [Insert joke about VW reliability here]

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
5 months ago
Reply to  Goof

Nah, screw the 4-cyl turbo, that car came with a smooth naturally aspirated v6 that delivers the grunt smoothly and instantly at any speed.

4-cyl turbos in cars larger than a Civic are generally pretty lame.

That said, I’m admittedly biased, seeing as my cars are V6 or V8 between 3.5 and 6.9L engines.

Last edited 5 months ago by Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
5 months ago
Reply to  Goof

The RDX is an excellent choice, though the auto is unhappy at low speeds (20-25) and always shifts too soon. Drive in sport/manual mode and it just runs.

Great cars, and the 3.5 V6 positively fucks.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
5 months ago
Reply to  Goof

RDX crossed my mind too. I haven’t driven the current one but seems like the new one is more engaging than the 2nd gen with the V6, which seemed softer in an attempt to be more of an RX alternative. But either gen is a good option to get a good feature set including that passenger seat adjustment.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
5 months ago

That shit will run forever too. I’ve watched Acura SUVs get passed down through families several times and it’s not unusual for them to hit 300,000 miles. My wife is going to need a new and likely bigger car in the next year or two and while we’re going to check out a bunch of stuff the idea of paying a little more up front for an Acura then absolutely driving it into the ground is pretty appealing…and I think it would pay for itself over something cheaper over time with how little maintenance it’ll need.

I just wish they had some damn hybrids on offer because the turbo 4 and NA V6 are pretty thirsty….

Last edited 5 months ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
5 months ago

It is a little frustrating that they haven’t entertained the idea of any other hybrids claiming they’ll go EV but then they don’t even have one of those of their own yet.

The MDX ‘sport hybrid’ they offered for a few years received little attention but I see mentions of owners wanting to buy another but they don’t offer anything like it. The mileage improvement was mostly in city for 26/27 overall which was still par for the course at the time, close to the then-V6-powered Highlander hybrid. Honda as a whole could use a hybrid alternative in their larger vehicles, but they don’t seem to have a good option for those vehicles in the latest iteration of their hybrids as the same setup with a 2.0 I4 goes in Accord, CR-V, and soon Civic.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
5 months ago

Not only do they not offer a single hybrid, but their ICE powertrains are the least efficient in the luxury game to boot. I mean the Germans have 6 cylinders that are more efficient than the Acura turbo 4 and the Honda/Acura V6 and new-ish turbo V6 get fuel economy that’s comparable to a V8.

That’s really my only hang up, and to be fair it’s a sizable one, and it’s a hard pill to swallow when the mild hybrid CX90 that gets 24/28 is sitting right there along with a PHEV variant. Plus, they’re a bit more expensive, but Lexus has hybrids across the board as well and there’s about to be that new Crown SUV that’s hybrid only.

We live in DC where the Pilot/MDX will be lucky to hit 14 or 15 MPG during weekday driving. Pretty much anything you commute in here that isn’t electrified is going to underperform its high ratings significantly. If you’re someone who even slightly cares about the environment that’s hard to reconcile.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
5 months ago

Man this recent look into the minds of Hornet buyers has been a curious one. I’ve helped a lot of friends and family members buy cars over the years, so much so that I’ve toyed with doing it part time as a side hustle. Regardless, I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say “a fully adjustable front passenger seat” is the main thing they’re looking for but hey, there’s a first time for everything.

I am going to talk about Thomas’ suggestions and then add a few of my own. First and foremost, be wary of a Macan if having a less stressful reliability experience is on your list of priorities. Don’t get me wrong, they’re in contention for coolest compact SUV on the road, Porsche’s CPO program is ridiculously good, and I myself have been tempted by them several times.

But maaaaaan…between the EA888 under the hood and the PDK I just can’t trust them long term. If you browse Parsh forums you’ll find plenty of “my PDK shit the bed” threads and a full replacement is a FIVE FIGURE affair. My mom and I have had horrendous experiences with the EA888 and I hate that engine with a passion. Now if you find a certified S/GTS/etc. with reasonable mileage it gets more tempting, but I just don’t think a base one is really worth the potential foibles.

The X3 M40i is a really solid recommendation. The B58 is one of the best mass produced ICE engines on the market and the combination of it, the ZF8, and the x drive system is pretty bulletproof by German standards. If you can find a certified one that doesn’t have a bunch of fancy tech add ons that’ll inevitably kerplode in the low to mid 40s it’s a lot of car for the price, and if our reader can afford to stretch for an X5 it’s hard to overstate how good they are for what they are.

The Stinger is…a fine recommendation I suppose. I feel like we’ve all collectively kind of bought into that car and fighting for justice for it at this point that it’s getting a little out of hand, but still. I get it. However, I might try to find a Genesis GV70 at that point. Thanks to the magic of Korean car depreciation they’re starting to sink into the low 40s and they’re really goddamn nice at that price point…not to mention the base engine is more than enough powaaaaa.

I really want to recommend something Japanese as well out of principal/as the counterpoint to the horrific reliability of the Hornet but they’re just not as competitive in this class. They’ve never really bothered with focusing on baking sporty driving characteristics into their luxury SUVs. It’s a pretty uniquely German thing.

However, there are tons of Acura RDXs out there because they’re not particularly popular. I’m sure you can find several for the same price as a Hornet. They won’t be super engaging to drive but they’ve got almost 300 horsepower and Acura’s excellent SH-AWD system…not to mention they’ll run for eternity with nothing but routine maintenance because Honda.

Honestly I think that would be my main recommendation here. Go find an RDX. You can get lightly used and certified ones in the high 20s/low to mid 30s all day. Itll basically serve the same purpose as the Hornet but have absolutely no reliability concerns whatsoever.

Edit: mandatory CX5/CX50 recommendation. With the turbo engine they’re properly peppy, you can spec the interiors out to luxury levels, they’re way more engaging than the average crossover, and while not quite on par with Toyota and Honda they are pretty reliable.

Last edited 5 months ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
Peter d
Peter d
5 months ago

If you go for the X3, look for one with the Harmon Kardon sound system because it makes it way easier to get rid of the spectacularly annoying piped-in “engine” sounds (by pulling a fuse). That said you may be able to get into a new X1 or X2 for Hornet money. If there are any leftover old-style X2s around, I would highly recommend- great fun to drive. The X1 is about 3” shorter than the Hornet, so it may be closer to your needs than the X3. It is really nice to get the new-car BMW service – free maintenance and free loaners for the asking (at least at the dealers near me).

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter d

Oooof I’d struggle to recommend the X1/X2 personally. I’ve driven an X2 M35i and I really didn’t like it very much. It was numb and hyperactive, which is a weird combination. I think if you’re going to go BMW you should go all in and get a RWD one, preferably with a straight 6.

…and I say this as someone who dailies a FWD hot CUV with a turbo 4 cylinder.

Bqpqfb
Bqpqfb
5 months ago

Came here for the CX5-50 comment. Thank you.

Alexk98
Alexk98
5 months ago

Agreed on the EA888 sentiment. It was GREAT when my 2018 Golf was brand new, and I didn’t have a single issue with it until the DAY before I went to sell it for my CX-30 and then what do you know, low coolant warning due to the abysmal water pumps they put in those things. Filled her up with coolant and sent her in on trade and never looked back, and that was on a 4 year old car with under 50k miles. Add on the PDK case issues with early Macans, and all the other things that can (and will) go wrong with an EA888 at Porsche labor rates and you’re in for a world of pain.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
5 months ago
Reply to  Alexk98

I bought a MK7.5 GTI brand new and traded it in after less than two years. Multiple times in the first 5,000 miles it misfired and shut off two cylinders while I was driving at highway speeds, which as you might imagine was pretty unnerving. I took it to two different dealerships and both claimed that nothing was wrong. One essentially told me that “these engines do that sometimes don’t worry about it”.

Excuse me?! Another told me I must’ve been using shit gas (I wasn’t, I always put premium from name brand gas stations in it), gave me a list of VW approved gas stations, and told me I should only go to them. Eventually it stopped misfiring but as a result I was always hesitant to drive it hard. Then around 10,000 miles it started having issues with starting up.

It seemed like the spark plugs were already going bad but I sold it within a few days because I’d had it/wanted a Hyundai N. While not engine related that godforsaken car also had issues with cruise control bugging out, incinerating its consumables, it was an absolute turd, and I bought it brand new. Just VW things…

My mom had an Audi Allroad she bought certified with the EA888 as well. She bought an extended warranty and maintenance plan too. She never missed a service and only put about 6,000 miles on it a year. Eventually she decided she wanted something newer.

Guess what? Literally within days of the warranty expiring the car mechanically totaled itself at 60,000 miles. There was some sort of leak and the engine completely seized. She went from having about $20,000 in trade in to having $4,000 in the span of a few days. Fortunately State Farm totaled it out and she got some of that money back, but fucking yikes. Mechanically dead at 60,000 miles despite getting all preventative maintenance is appalling.

Sometimes I get tempted by the current Audi S3s because they depreciate a fair amount, come in cool colors, and have a lot of usable power. But then I remember what’s under the hood…suffice to say I am never touching an EA888 again, and FWIW my sister had to get out of her certified Tiguan after 2 years because of how many issues it had as well.

VAG is an abject disaster when it comes to reliability and they seem perfectly content to keep pumping out hot garbage. I eventually would love a Porsche but I’m one of those insufferable people that would insist on it having an actual flat 6/other Porsche developed engine rather than an Audi/VW hand me down.

Alexk98
Alexk98
5 months ago

I would absolutely never buy any CPO German car, and it may be purely anecdotal, but I have heard of and met several people that simply lease an A4/3-series/C-Class new, turn in, and repeat, and they absolutely NEVER take care of them. Most actually just fill them up with 87-Octane because, in their words “I don’t have to deal with the maintenance so why should I spend more on gas.” While CPO may give a slight warranty extension and some inspection, it can’t ever tell you how it was treated and maintained new, and coupled with absurd repair bills and dubious at best reliability? No thanks never again.

Ditto on the Porsche train, I absolutely want one at some point, but don’t quite have the money or patience to get anything better than a very cheap Boxster. That said, from all accounts Porsches at least hold up well to hard driving so long as maintenance is done and the few fatal flaws are addresses for each chassis. Until I can reach a point of being able to stomach a catastrophic engine or transmission replacement in a Porsche though, I’ll be sticking with Japanese cars for the foreseeable future.

Lardo
Lardo
5 months ago
Reply to  Alexk98

which is why when bmw was cooking with the lease/high residual/ cpo trifecta they added free maintenance.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
5 months ago

Buy a $30,000 Miata and spend the remaining ten grand on a used SUV of your choice. More fun, reliable, AND practical than a Dodge Hornet, albeit not all at the same time, but how often do you really need an SUV anyway?

V10omous
V10omous
5 months ago

I would definitely not replace a lemon with a used car that *might* have two years of warranty left (and that only after paying extra for a CPO example).

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
5 months ago

I think the 10/100 Kia warranty doesn’t apply to subsequent owners and becomes 5/60. Idk how their CPO process works, though.

I’d go for the Macan and a good indie shop.

Last edited 5 months ago by Angrycat Meowmeow
RalliartWagon
RalliartWagon
5 months ago

You know, that QX50 suggestion is not bad. Those 1st gen ones were the G37 hatchback nobody knew about.

Frackle
Frackle
5 months ago

The Kia 10 year warranty converts to a 5 year when it’s resold, otherwise great list kiss kiss mwah mwah.

Racingtown
Racingtown
5 months ago

You should add a poll. But out of the four, I’d go with the BMW with the Stinger a close second, but I don’t’ want to deal with Kia dealerships.

JDE
JDE
5 months ago
Reply to  Racingtown

Out of these suggestions, I think Only the Stinger is perhaps not a long term stinker.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
5 months ago

But, Lexus really is the Japanese Mercedes though, and they give you a lovely big chrome L badge in the center of the steering wheel, instead of just molded into the vinyl

Citrus
Citrus
5 months ago

There are going to be so many suggestions of the Mazda CX-5 that I’m just going to put that down and collect the sweet endorphin rush of people liking and replying to this post.

Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
5 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

I was going to say CX-30 Turbo, the size better matches the Hornet.

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
5 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

We’ve been given one as the hire car for a work junket and, much as I actively dislike CUVs, it’s a damn fine car. Especially compared to the 1.2l 3-banger shitbox vauxhall whatever-it-was we got saddled with last time…

PresterJohn
PresterJohn
5 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

It worked – I just liked the post rather than add another comment with this obvious answer. Listen to Citrus and head down to the Mazda dealer my man.

Last edited 5 months ago by PresterJohn
Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
5 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

Good call. That’s the only SUV I’ve ever actually enjoyed driving.

755_SoCalRally
755_SoCalRally
5 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

Another vote for CX-30/CX-50 turbo, perhaps CPO to get it down into the target price range and let depreciation work for you. Loved my CX-5 and when that got long in the tooth I went to a CX-50 turbo. Plenty of grunt, fun handling, etc., etc.

Mrbrown89
Mrbrown89
5 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

Came here for this comment

Mazda reliability is on par with Toyota these days. I see High Mileage ones on that Facebook group all the time. CX-5 have better driving dynamics than CX-50, it competes with the Honda CR-V but on a diet.

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