Saturday morning we went to the big farmer’s market that happens every weekend during the summer. It sits right next to the highway, so when you’re wandering down there you can look up and see things like this.

Part 3 in a series of cars I’m looking at. Today: the Volkswagens.

Reliability is a key factor in the cars I’m considering, so I don’t even know why these are on the list. Is it because I’ve enjoyed every VW and Audi I’ve ever driven, even the slow as dirt New Beetle convertible? Maybe. Is it because they’re interiors follow the less is more philosophy (or used to, at least)? Maybe. All I know is that they seem to be darn good cars. The Audis are unfortunately still financially unattainable for me, unless I settle for a first-year A4 with more miles than my car, and I don’t see that happening. VWs, however, seem to be depreciating to a point where they may actually become affordable. The Passat is the logical choice given that all of the engine and transmission combinations would be acceptable, and they’re available as wagons. I mostly like the 1.8T with a manual, although I’ve only driven the Tiptronic versions which have been fine as well. The wild card is the most uncommon of the 4th-gen Golfs. That’s the four-door GLS with the same 1.8T motor as the Passat mated to the 5-speed manual. I’m not even sure the car was made for more than a year, and that was 2001. Yes, you can get that same drivetrain with more power in the GTI, but this has four doors!

So then the drawback, because there always is one, is the VW’s spotty reliability. This is unfortunate because it is a major blemish on some otherwise very nice cars. I’ve heard that this is because there’s a tendency to overcomplicate things internally, and it doesn’t really surprise me. It’s just an unfortunate set of odds, given the safety and driving aids they like to fill their vehicles with.

Just briefly, props to PDF for figuring out that when you have any kind of dialogue box open in OSX (such as the “Don’t Save / Cancel / Save” menu when you close a file in Photoshop), you can use the keyboard to tell the box what option you want: pressing ‘D’ for the above box would tell it not to save, ‘C’ would cancel, etc. I’ve only tried this on Photoshop but I wouldn’t expect it to work differently in any other app. No more remorse at the non-functional tab key!

Is 1,050 pixels too wide for a site?