Emptens Interruptus

Just when I thought I’d finally found a car which suits my needs (smallish saloon, stick shift, decent horsepower — turbo maybe — with decent reliability), comes this news:

The new Civic sedan already looked good. It’s got a sharper design, a nicer interior, and loads more tech. The only problem was no manual transmission. But Honda manual die-hards can relax. Your hero has arrived. It’s the 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback.

I’m not a Honda die-hard;  in fact, I’ve never owned a Honda of any description.  But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t, given that everyone who has owned one seems to like them.  (Best line ever, from a friend who had just bought his wife her third Honda in a row:  “Not even Irene can fuck up a Honda.”)   Oh, and by the way:  that “loads more tech” thing is actually a negative for me, of course.

Unfortunately, though, the reason I’ve never owned a Honda is that in my opinion they’re always just a tad too expensive for what you’re getting — whether new or second hand.  Here’s a comparison (CarMax):


…and it should be noted that the Civic doesn’t have a stick shift, but the Jetta does.  Up till now, Honda’s only offered a stick shift in their racier models (Si and Type-R), where the prices — even second hand — are prohibitive.

That price disparity, by the way, is the same in new cars (Edmunds):

…and both cars have manual transmission, in this case.

The only thing I have going for me — touch wood — is that I can afford to wait a while, because while second-hand car prices are increasing, that’s not the case with stick shifts.  It seems that few young people can drive them nowadays (Daughter and #2 Son can, Son&Heir could, but prefers not to), so there’s that.  And the Tiguan still rolls along, 115k miles and counting.

As I’ve written before:  I’ve owned three Jettas in my lifetime, and loved each one.  None of them gave me any trouble whatsoever.  The only reason I sold two of them was because we’d just moved to downtown Chicago and didn’t need two cars.  Then I sold the third, a wagon, because we needed a Suburban.

I wish I could say I enjoy this, but I don’t.  Buying cars is only pleasurable if you’re rich, and I’m not.


  1. Those 2 cars are identical, except for price.
    Not 2 cents worth of difference between them.
    I’ll never own another new ride.

    I’m wanting a 1994 full size Blazer, 2 dr, 4×4, v8, stick, no rust, for a reasonable amount of money. Doubtful such a thing exists.

  2. +1 ghostsniper.
    – I want a car with character, not one that looks like every other car on the road.
    – More tech is definitely not better, especially when it comes to putting sensors in everything.
    – Older cars won’t go mainly due to lack of gas, air, or spark. (None of this “limp mode” bullshit because your thermostat burns out and the car thinks it might overheat so it won’t let you drive it.)

    I’d rather have an OJ style bronco, mid-1990s, 4×4, v8, stick (if available), no rust, AC, power windows and doors.

  3. With regular Maintenance, the Tiguan should last another 50K or until the current bubble in the used car Market deflates to reasonable levels. So stay with what you know until the maintenance cost get out of hand.

    …… and even when you can afford to spend a larger stack on a car, buying a car is no more enjoyable, the only thing that changes is that the numbers are bigger, and the salespeople are even more evil.

    1. “… Tiguan should last another 50K ”

      Wow. Only 165k?

      My (purchased used) Lexus GX has almost 250k on it, and it’s got at least another 50k.

  4. How are maintenance costs for the Honda vs the VW?

    My own experience with a German car (1998 Audi A4) was that parts got expensive quick. (Literally nothing went wrong with that car until it passed the 100k powertrain warranty, but then it was OUCH.)

    VW has a factory in the U.S. now, which might help, but Hondas are some of the most common cars on the road, so parts are cheap and common.

    1. Every person I know that’s owned a German car has had that issue with expensive repairs. Although VW is better than most.

      This is how the japs took over the car market here. Parts.

      They didn’t flood the market with ‘cheap imports’. My recollection is that a Toyota was similar in cost to small American cars, if you could find any. They simply were built far better and thus were a better value.

      But what they did was build a parts network. I remember tinkering on my Dad’s 72 Toyota Carina. Parts were ubiquitous and cheap. I had to rebuild the clutch slave cylinder. The parts – from the dealer – cost $6.

      Around the time I had to do that, I think the car had like 50K miles. Not long after, my mom’s relatively new Chevy Chevette broke a clutch cable. A shitty one piece plastic and cable assembly (instead of hydraulic). The car was far newer, and the part far more expensive than the Toyota.

      1. Comparing the up-front, and down-stream costs of a Honda and VW, I refer to a Fram Filter Ad of past:
        “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.”
        As someone who used to perform repairs and maintenance on furrin cars, there is nothing cheap(er) about those from The Fatherland.

        1. There was one car from Wolfsburg that was cheap to maintain – the Beetle.

          I do remember seeing a joke about Toyotas, several years ago.

          “Toyota issues recall for all 1995 Camrys. It’s been 20 years. Time to buy a new car.”

      2. > …similar in cost to small American cars, if you could find any

        Corvair, Pinto, Gremlin, Pacer…

    2. In my experience Honda is far more expensive in maintenance and repairs than is VW.
      BUT I’m in Europe and VW factories are a lot closer than are Honda factories.

  5. I’ve had Hondas and VWs. The initial price difference is more than made up for by repairs. After the last expensive repair on my VW I parked the car until I sold it lest it break again and cost me another 2 grand before I could unload it. I’ll never own another VW. If you gave me one I’d sell it as soon as I could.

  6. A few years ago my wife and I were on vacation in the Caribbean. Made a reservation for a car on Sint Maarten, got to the lot and ‘no cars, mon’ which pissed me off, because they had already hit my credit card for the deposit…

    Finally they admit they have cars but not for Americans. WTF?

    Turns out they had cars with manuals…I told them I can drive a stick, so they got me a car. They all came out to watch me leave, not believing an American could drive a manual transmission.

    Like your #1 son, I prefer not to: Except for my 86 MB300 and the motor home all my vehicles are 4×4 and sometimes it takes three feet to work a manual trans on them. Also, old knees… So happy to have the choice of manual or automatic

    1. I have two MB 1986 300E sedans with the five-speed manual. One I bought new in 1986 and the other I bought as a parts car.

    2. I have a 1984 Land Cruiser with a manual transmission. I love driving it.

      Except in rush hour traffic. Bugger that for a game of soldiers.

      All of my daily drivers are automatics for that reason, and because The Wife couldn’t drive a stick to save my life.

  7. If looking for a new car online and such isn’t fun, just wait until you get across the desk of the sales puke who can’t make a decision without the manager’s say so. That’s aggravating.

    We moved towards toyotas in 2005 or so and we both prefer manual transmissions to automatics. The Honda will last. My wife’s first car was a hand me down Civic that passed from one of her brothers and one of her sisters before she got it or maybe it was owned by two of her sisters before she got it. By the time my wife got it, the car had rust spots, some primer patching but the car ran like a top.

    Good luck with the VWs. A friend had a Jetta that lost its transmission around 110k miles or so. They took a hit with their mileage reports a few years back. One of my sisters in law had one for a while. She got it after VW had that negative publicity. I’m not sure if she’s still driving it.


  8. Funny I just bought a new Honda on Sunday. Last one was a 2005 Accord but after 175K it wasn’t worth repairs. So we went for a new 2021 Accord LX. They had the 2022’s but were charging a 2K premium over sticker. The Civic was too small for our taste. Came in at 25,965 sticker. But be avised….As I understand it all Honda’s from 2021 come loaded with tech, including Apple Carplay. You get this iPad like panel sitting above where the old radio’s used to be. Hence the whole Taiwan chip shortage impacted the car market. They gobble up tons of them. IMHO Hondas are fine. But nothing made of human hands is perfect. They do break. And you have to pay American to get them fixed.

  9. “… a friend who had just bought his wife her third Honda in a row: ‘Not even Irene can fuck up a Honda.’”

    Then why did she need three Hondas in a row?

  10. Get an older car or light truck and rebuild it.
    You’ll spend more up front but you won’t be saddled with all that intrusive technology.
    The highest tech item in my house is this phone and I’ve got a hammer nearby if it gets out of hand.
    As a veteran of the automotive industry, pick a Toyota or a Nissan over a Honda. Don’t trust the technology. Technology will make you walk home, but old school can be coat hangered together and limped home on duct tape.

  11. Back when I was sheriffing it was interesting to see that almost all of our local meth heads drove 15 or 20 year old clapped out Hondas. Their cars had no mechanical maintenance like oil changes at all, the bodies were all dented up, bad brakes, bald tires, and yet they started every time and always ran. Maybe the cars themselves were doing meth. The second most popular car among that group was a mid 90’s GM intermediate for the same reason. They were absolutely unbreakable even after years of incredible abuse.

    I learned to drive a stick back in 1968 (64 Chevy C-10 pickup with a three on the tree) and like some others here I’d rather drive an automatic because Mrs Ritis’ little boy Arthur hasn’t been kind to me. My hobby EMP proof vehicle would be a 67 Ford 1/2 ton with a rebuilt big 300 cubic inch straight six, a three speed (I’ll take tylenol), and power nothing.

  12. Kim,
    Do you name things? In an earlier comment I mentioned my MB 300E. The color of this car is Desert Tan. The obvious name is the Rommelvagen. All the others have appropriate names as well. Our house has a name, T….eden, based my wife’s maiden name. Of course our old boat had a name, the Happy Puppy, because every time we were aboard her out tail bones wagged like a happy pupoy.

  13. My wife chose a new (2018 my) Civic, top of the wax a, leather, sunroof etc.

    Personally, I hate it. It’s tinny, front wheel drive steering is lifeless, it’s got annoying safety features like you have to hit an ok button on the screen every time you start the fucking car saying you understand looking at the screen while driving, ffs.

    It has lane departure assist (grrr) and beeps at you if you come up behind a car faster than it thinks wise.

    Of course you can turn that shit off (every time you start the car) but you can’t save the settings, can you?

    I have not found a comfortable position in the drivers seat and the back seats are a joke.

    My friends Golf is a much better car.

  14. VW is dead to me after sticking me with a GTI that spent more time in the shop than I did driving it.
    My daughter’s new husband bought her a new Mini Clubman and assumed she knew how to drive a stick (he’s an Aussie). It spent about 6 months in my driveway until she earned her rower’s permit, but I enjoyed the hell out of hit. I’m 6′ and 230 and it fit me like a glove. I typically don’t like to sit at go-kart level, so I wouldn’t buy one for myself, but I did think it was a fine car for the money.
    My bonus sons both drive Honda Civics. They beat the shit out of them, never take care of them and drive them like they stole them. A 2009 and a 2015 and neither has been in for more than an oil change or new tires. The insides look like the Dempsey Dumpster in an Oakland CVS, but they still start every time.

  15. I will not do the dealer dance that has become the norm in buying a car. It is an insult to have to do such a thing. I have had good luck at CarMax. Here is the price , take it or leave it. None of the bullshit with “talking to my manager” or other theater. I bought a Jeep over the phone, with zero dollars down, signed my name a few times and drove the car home.
    Why does buying a new car have to be like buying a rug at a third world bazaar?

  16. We gave up on new cars about twenty years ago. Last October I sold my 1999 Saab 9-3 (stickshift) for $1,000 – half of what I originally paid for it. In eight years of ownership I don’t think our total repair bills reached $5,000. Earlier this year I was offered a 2005 Saab 9-5 wagon (stickshift) for $3,500 but had already bought another Saab. Great deals on high-quality, well maintained cars are out there if you’re willing to look off the beaten path.

  17. I’m telling you, try a Subaru. Prices are very reasonable, even new, and you get the manual and the reliability. If you want power, you get the WRX. If you want light load capacity, the Crosstrek. If you want less power but a true driver’s car, the RWD BRZ. All in manual, and I own or recently owned all three. Can’t recommend enough.

    Even the Imprezza starts at 18,800 new. I cherish the stickshift as much as you; Subaru’s one of the few companies that keeps it alive.

  18. Do you want a “car” or a “transportation appliance”? If it’s a “car” then some rarified European nameplate that corners on rails, massages your seat with RPM and has sound frequencies to bathe your ears, and pays your mechanic’s mortgage is the ticket.

    Both the Honda and Jetta come pretty close to the “appliance” end of the spectrum, the only barrier between them and “appliance” being the manual trashmission.

    No clue about the @&!$ electronics, but mechanically, Hondas and Toyotas run for fucking ever with basic maintenance. Ignore and abuse them and they still run for fucking ever, just with more noise. VWs are college payment programs for mechanics’ kids (not as bad as BMWs (or God forbid, fucking Audis) but that’s damning with (very) faint praise),

    Fred (above) has the solution, but it will grate your Yurpean sensibilities – a “Murican pickup truck. Preferably ’72-’82, preferably Chevy, preferably small block V-8 (the ’76-’80 Fords with the 300 CID truck 6 may be a close second). There’s nothing on either that cannot be repaired roadside with bare minimum tools. If, as Fred mentions, you find a good solid one that “needs attention” there are plenty of folks with the skill level necessary to rebuild, refurbish or customize it to whatever level your wallet will tolerate.

    If you just gotta have “new,” then a 2WD Tacoma – they can be had just about as dressy as you want, the 3.4L Six is as reliable as an anvil (although it still needs a damn timing belt every 100-120K). Tacomas were, last time I checked, missing a manual trans option, but maybe that’s changed. The Double Cab will come with a toy-sized bed, but slap a good shell on it and it becomes the largest car trunk you’ve ever had. On your home continent Tacomas (somewhat different from American versions, though….) are sold as Hiluxes and I’m sure you know what that’s all about.

    Once one gets to a certain point in life one comes to appreciate a vehicle that starts every time, all the stuff in it works, maintenance is something one has done rather than makes a lifetime committment to, etc. .

    1. New Wife will not countenance a pickup in the garage. “You’re not a laborer.”

  19. Take a look at Skoda cars: I drive a Yeti, for the headroom; you might like the Superb. They’re VW cars in all but name, and cheaper.

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