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2013 VW Passat 2.0 TDI Trendline

My wife and I need a second car to replace my aging '99 Honda Civic. She drives an '08 Civic. We're both commuters, we both like stick, and we like Honda's reliability. The catch is, we have a three-year-old and a second due in November. We need room for a growing family, but we don't like minivans and SUVs. I like the Volkswagen Passat diesel to handle the kilometres, for its fuel economy, for its roominess when needed, and for its Trendline price. She says any new vehicle is too expensive and we should buy used to avoid depreciation. How do I convince her that, when keeping a car as long as I intend to, depreciation is irrelevant? The bottom line is we can't agree on the make, model and year of our next second vehicle. – Kevin in Dundas, Ont.

Vaughan: Cato, what are we now, marriage counsellors?

Cato: Yes, in a way. We're always resolving this sort of dispute. Like all good counsellors, I have some reading for Kevin. Dig into a book called Fire in the Belly and read it after putting your nose in Iron John. They'll gird your inner "male-ness."

Then, read a parody of the two called Fire in the John to avoid taking yourself too seriously. Kevin, you'll be a new man, ready to parent two young children with this powerful life force, your wife. It's the only way out of these sorts of male-female disputes.

Vaughan: Someone certainly needs therapy here.

Look, Cato, they agree on a stick shift. Manuals account for, what, 5 per cent of all new-vehicle sales? So these two are compatible in an unusual way. I am hopeful – for Kevin, not so much for you.

Cato: I also recommend those books to you, Vaughan – to put out that fire in your john. The truth is, Kevin's family car problem is easily resolved.

Point one: cast aside your worries about depreciation, Kev. As you say, it's irrelevant in your case. Take a page out of MV over there, and drive your next ride until the wheels fall off, at which point the car will be worthless, though you'll have squeezed all the value out of your 15-year experience.

Second, shop the discounts. They are rich and plentiful. This tactic will help resolve the depreciation issue with your wife, Kev. Canadian car buyers are soaking up new vehicles at an all-time record pace. The showroom action is being driven by a number of factors, not least of which is all the money sloshing around in sales incentives. Whatever you buy, make sure you get thousands off in discounts, along with a cut-rate interest deal and free maintenance and tickets to a hockey game, no payments for 90 days.

2013 Honda Accord Honda Honda

Get a deal, Kevin. That's how you convince your wife.

Vaughan: Agreed. Buy new, negotiate like crazy and hang on forever. But let's get specific about the cars.

I think Kevin is on to something with the Passat diesel idea. More than half of the new Passats that go out the door in Canada are diesels and, if Kevvy is racking up that kind of distance in his commutes, diesel is going to save him maybe 30 per cent on fuel.

Cato: Ah, now you've moved to something that Kev and the wife are going to appreciate – just as all the Passat owners noted when the Passat won its category in the latest J.D. Power and Associates APEAL study. Passat-ers were overwhelmingly gratified to get brilliant fuel economy from the diesel engine.

Some numbers: using the posted fuel economy from Natural Resources Canada, that diesel will save you $722 a year at the pump. That's comparing the Trendline Passat with the 2.5-litre five-cylinder and a five-speed manual gearbox ($23,976) to the Trendline Passat TDI diesel ($26,575). You'll pay off that diesel price premium – $2,600 – in 3-1/2 years, and save $7,000 or $8,000 more on fuel after that, running your Passat into the ground, Kev.

Vaughan: Now you know why Mazda is so excited about the coming Mazda6 diesel with its six-speed manual. Look for it at the end of the year.

In the meantime, we've got a guy who loves his Honda Civics but needs a bigger one. Duh? Go get an Accord.

Just like his Civics, the Accord ($23,990 base) is reliable, safe and comfortable, only bigger. No wonder they can't sell Acuras for more money; the Accord is every bit as good. Plus he can get his beloved stick shift in the Accord.

2014 Kia Rondo Kia Kia

Cato: And with its four-cylinder, pretty fuel-efficient. Kev, I want you to test drive the 2014 Kia Rondo wagon. Starts at $21,695, and it can be had with a six-speed manual – and some discounting, too.

Vaughan: Accord for the Civic lover.

Cato: Gotta be the Passat diesel. Kevin can sell his wife using the money angle.


2013 Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TDI Trendline2013 Honda Accord LX2014 Kia Rondo LX

Wheelbase (mm)


Length (mm)


Width (mm)


Height (mm)



2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel, turbocharged2.4-litre four-cylinder2.0-litre four-cylinder

Output (horsepower/torque)

140/236 lb-ft185/181 lb-ft164/156 lb-ft

Drive system

Front-wheel driveFront-wheel driveFront-wheel drive


Six-speed manualSix-speed manualSix-speed manual

Curb Weight (kg)


Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

6.8 city/4.4 highway8.7 city/5.7 highway9.4 city/6.2 highway

Base price (MSRP)


Source: car manufacturers

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which appears Fridays at 8 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV

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