It's almost as though my favorite brands were listening to my dreams. Cadillac brought the ATS to market, Volvo brought AWD to the S60 T5, and my beloved Buick added tons of safety equipment, gadgetry, and AWD to the Regal. Still, none of these are available with that elusive combination of AWD and a manual transmission. Oh well. What is life without dreams?
Frankly, while we LOVE driving cars with manual transmissions, the reality is we do lots of around-town driving, and our typical highway hauls involve volatile routes rife with congestion, construction delays, and toll booths. Clutch-and-shift it for an hour in line for the Midtown Tunnel once or twice and one finds himself longing for something simpler.
That said, we embarked on a new search, starting with a visit to our friend John Beckish at Parsons Buick in Connecticut. Though live examples of the 2014 Regal GS wouldn't arrive for a month or two, he was able to share some literature on the 2014. AWD, digital gauge cluster, and new safety features like adaptive cruise, collision braking, lane departure alert, rear cross traffic alert and more. They basically injected Volvo-level safety features, which we love, into a car that we already have and love.
Next we got online to configure a couple of other contenders on our list, starting with the Cadillac ATS. This new, smaller Caddy competes with the BMW 3-Series in size and performance. It can be had with the same engine and transmissions as the Regal GS, but in a rear drive format. It's a beautiful car, and the critics are raving about it. It's available with all of the features and safety gear as the Regal, but comes with the added prestige of GM's top brand.
Last up was the Volvo S60 T5 AWD. In our car search last year, this was a finalist. It's something about that heritage of safety, the solidity, the great power, and the gorgeous aesthetic that is so enticing to me. Savile Grey with Beechwood leather is a STUNNING combo that makes me wish the Americans would open their minds to more advanced color palettes.
Then, like a waking nightmare, reality set in. The 2014 Regal GS, equipped as we wanted, would run about $42,000. A comparably equipped Cadillac ATS—$45,000. An S60 T5 AWD? Over $47,000. Taking into consideration that we know leasing is not for us, the spend was just too much across the board.
So where did that leave us? Never underestimate the power of thrift genes. A few hours online and I found something beautiful. Something we would ABSOLUTELY love. And a deal that would make my Scottish mother proud.