Car people - help me decide on one!
Well I am just a lucky bastard. I'm a 19yo full-time student with a full-time and 2 part-time jobs (70 hours a week during break, 50 during school). I've been saving like crazy so I could buy a new car (new as in new to me) by summer 06 and be able to fund the carpc project I've been planning since this past spring. I am driving around my mom's 99 Camry for 3 years now (she graciously donated it for my 24/7 use - she drives one of my stepfather's cars now), and have been itching to upgrade.
I got the surprise of my life when my mother informed me that my father was going to buy me a car. He does owe me a lot of money, and I guess this is one way to get started in repayment.
Conditions: The entire amount must be around $17k or so. That's it, no other restrictions. I am allowed to combine my money if I want something that costs more.
So I've been shopping eBay motors, autotrader, etc, and here's the list of vehicles I am considering:
Lexus IS300 (the previous generation before the new 06 models)
VW GTI (again, the generation before the 06 models)
Subaru Impreza WRX (not sti)
VW Jetta GLI (new model)
Mitsubishi Eclipse GT (new 06 model - this is quite a stretch)
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Here are the factors I need to consider, in order of importance:
Build quality/Reliability - I'm a sophomore right now, and this car must last me until the end of grad school (approx 5+ years). I don't want to be spending money to replace major worn-out components.
Comfort/luxury - Seattle traffic is horrible. Figuring that in with my commute time from home/work/school and weekend trips, I spend an average of 3 hours per day on the road.
Sustained value - Certain cars deprecate immensely, and others don't. I'd like to get as much money for the vehicle by the time I sell it. Not such a big deal, as I'm buying used (2 exceptions noted above), and values have already deprecated.
Unfortunately due to my lack of time, I'm unable to personally research all 8 vehicles, let alone test drive them all. What I'd like is input on the vehicles you have hands-on experience with, so that I can narrow down the list to a more manageable number and start setting up test drives.