As I mentioned a while back, we’re looking to replace my wife’s 2007 X3 with a more efficient car for her ~100 mile (round trip) daily commute. I immediately said “GTI” because I know she’d really like to still have something fun. She doesn’t love how low it sits, for someone spending so much time on the highway. Our options are limited with a manual if a GTI is too small/low, and most of them aren’t going to be much more efficient than the X3. We’d prefer a car with a rear hatch/wagon, but it’s not critical.

Image: cargurus

If we ignore the manual requirement, it really opens up the market of course. Diesel GLK? Newer X3? Alltrack? E61 535xi? But cars like that aren’t going to be cheap to own, or aren’t going to get much better mileage (or both). Which is where our conversation went this weekend: if you’re not going to get a manual, and this car is supposed to be an exclusive commuter, AND we’d sure like something lower-maintenance than the X3 was, considering we still have the rest of the aging fleet.... then why not consider ... (gasp!) a Prius. I mean, it might as well be a Prius V because then we could at least take the whole family in it (including dogs).

source: autoblog via GIS

This is not the worst looking car I’ve ever seen (especially the “V”); in fact, the newer ones have actually served to make this generation look BETTER in my opinion, rather than making them look dated. It may be soul-suckingly boring but you know what? We have two kids, two dogs, a house, a boat, my old truck, and two other cars to maintain and keep alive, etc. as the case may be. So having a boring but very efficient commuter car would be very, shall we say, function over fashion. It would probably eat up the highway miles with aplomb, and rarely ask for much in return.

hey it’s brown!
Image: jim coleman toyota

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What does oppo know about these, other than the obvious? I mean, for the money, I’m not sure we could actually do better - these things are not rare, and not even that expensive to start with. One of my trusted independent shops says it’s hard to do better in terms of ownership costs and efficiency.

Are they ok highway cars? Are they as annoying with various beeps and dings as some say? Is the infotainment manageable? Are they quiet on the highway? Comfy seats? How’s the ride height? This is the kind of stuff I know we’ll have to see for ourselves, but I’m curious if anyone here has experience.

It feels a little like buying a minivan. It kind of pains me but it could be a good choice, logically. For sure, we (she) will have to drive one. And I’m not letting her buy anything without at least trying a GTI.

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The good thing is, we have no deadline because we still have two other cars that are fine, in addition to the truck, which I can start driving daily in a few weeks.

You can’t revoke my oppo card yet because I still drive a manual awd wagon and a 1961 Ford pickup. Also we haven’t even sold the X3 yet.