New Volkswagen Hippy Van, Can’t find a $15,000 New Car and Volvo XC60 vs Lincoln MKC? [Ask Nathan]

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In this edition of Ask Nathan:

  • Maybe Volkswagen should build a cool van again (return of the Volkswagen Hippy Van)?
  • What’s the best car for less than $15,000?
  • Lincoln MKC vs Volvo XC60?

Today’s first question comes from a fan who believes that introducing a fun van can help to reverse Volkswagen’s fortune in the United States.

Volkswagen California camper van

Q: Hi Nathan. I was once a big VW fan and I know you guys all have a soft spot for Volkswagen too. I know you and Roman love the GTI, Emmie likes aircooled bugs and Andure likes everything that Volkswagen builds. You, my friend also like the Volkswagen CC and I have a 2014 CC because of your enthusiasm. Never regretted the choice because it’s the best car I ever owned.

I was so shocked about Diesel Gate and it sickened me a bit. Now I am beginning to think about wasy to help Volkswagen regain some popularity in this country. What if they bought back a proper retro van to our market? They could finally introduce a fun van that families wouldn’t be ashamed to drive. I think now is the time.

What do you think Nathan? Would you drive a retro VW Hippy Van? I know you like Hippies! Sincerely, Justin A


A: Great email Justin – thanks!

I totally agree about bringing a retro van to the United States. Ironically, Volkswagen recently introduced the Volkswagen “California” T5, a camping version of the Volkswagen T5 van, which is not slated for sale in the United States!

Volkswagen’s recent North American van attempt was the poorly executed (stylistically), rather mediocre (driving) Routan Minivan. Based on a Chrysler/Dodge minivan, it was pretty unpopular. Unfortunately, Volkswagen of North America is basing some of their public demand research on the Volkswagen Routan’s sales – which is (understandably) poor.

Perhaps, if the North American leadership of Volkswagen was shaken up…

Ah-HA! That’s it! With new leadership, perhaps Volkswagen will revisit the possibility of building a cool van for the United States! Hell, maybe we’ll finally get the awesome Volkswagen Scirocco too!

Well, one could dream.

Rest assured my friend, Volkswagen already has spent real money researching the idea of bringing a retro Volkswagen Bus to ALL markets. Hell, there’s this fantastic company in Yate, Bristol, UK known as Danbury Motorcaravans and they do everything from building new Type 2 vans with water-cooled power-plants to full camping conversions of the newest Volkswagen (and other) vans.

I would love to get my hands on one of their vans.

Here in the USA, well there are a few companies that do retro work, but (like you) I want the real thing from Volkswagen, a modern retro hippy van that’s fun to drive and cool to look at.

Here’s hoping we get one!


IF they introduced it with the 2.0-liter turbo and a manual tranny… yes, I would buy one with Roman’s money. No doubt!

This next question comes from a viewer who is frustrated looking for a quality, well equipped and fun new car for under $15,000. Not an easy thing to find nowadays.

Q: Hi The Fast Lane Car. I am looking for a fun new car for fifteen grand or less. No, I do not want a used car at all. I want a car I can say was mine from birth to death like I did with my 2001 Dodge Neon. Laugh if you want, my Dodge Neon made it to over 200,000 miles with a new top end and one new clutch. Over the past fifteen years, I estimate that with all of my maintenance costs, my little Neon costs me less than $20,000 and that’s with the original $12,995 asking price. That translates to about a hundred bucks a month.

I have a very limited budget, just fifteen grand. It is cash and I would like to keep it to under that amount. I looked at the Nissan Versa and it’s not my type of car. So many small cars are way to expensive! What else is out there?

If you can get Nathan to help me, I’ll send him my grandma’s recipe for chili enchiladas. I know he’s from L.A like me and he likes good Mexican food!

Help me please!


2013 Kia Rio SX

Howdy Amigo!

Great question and thanks for the excellent (yet unnecessary) bribery!

I know the (current year) Chevrolet Spark starts at $12,595 (before addons & dealer fees) and a nicely equipped one slots in under your maximum price. A completely bare-bones Kia Rio sedan will just undercut that price too.

I have yet to drive the 2016 models of either car; however, the dealerships you’ll be dealing with should be happy to rid themselves of the older models. You may get a significant price reduction if you deal hard and stick to your guns.

I hope that helps!


The last question comes from a viewer who is wants our opinion with the Volvo XC60 vs Lincoln MKC.

Q: Hi Nathan. I am considering a new Volvo XC60 or, possibly a Lincoln MKC. I’ve driven both and I’m leaning towards the Volvo XC60, but I like the interior of the Lincoln MKC quite a bit.

I live alone and have a granddaughter that I occasionally drive with. She’s now old enough to sit without a booster, so I’m not looking at this purchase to bond with other moms. Other than that, I simply need a hatch for hauling DIY items and my cats in kennels.

I need a good car for snow that’s not too ostentatious. What do you think? I really like your show and look forward to seeing both you and Roman every week. You make me smile and I possess enough watercooler knowledge than any of my male coworkers!

Thank you Nathan and crew.



A: Hi Bess, thank you for the email and your patronage!

Roman and I agree that (like you) the interior of the new Lincoln MKC is outstanding. The Lincoln MKC is one of the quietest vehicles in its class and, like the Volvo XC60, it’s a great size for daily driving. The all-wheel drive system is pretty good too.

The Lincoln MKC is a fine choice for what you have in mind, but there is something else to consider: Volvo is about to replace the Volvo XC60 with a significantly updated version. That means dealerships will be slightly more motivated to make a deal on one. I like the XC60 and Roman is one the fence between the Lincoln and the Volvo.

Also, I don’t know if you considered Acura yet, the new Acura RDX is an excellent choice too. All three hover around the low $40,000 mark when well equipped, it’s a question of driver comfort, enjoyment and how the vehicle makes you feel.

2015 Volvo XC60 T6

Please, if you have the time, set up a three-way test drive (bring a friend if you can, it helps with the decision-making process) and test each one an hour from each other – if you can. Do it in the morning, before the dealerships fill up. Let the dealers know you are willing to have your license copied before you drive, but that you have no desire to drive with a salesman aboard. This will help minimize the waiting time and pressure between each test.

Remember: adjust the seats, mirrors and climate control before you’re underway. Drive it like you drive your current car. Try parking each one too. This will force you to use the sight-lines and the backup camera. Once you’re finished, then you can have the salesperson take you through all the bells and whistles in each vehicle.

Finally, I would call ahead to each one. Letting them know what you want to do up front will be helpful to both of you.

I hope this helps,


Nathan and The Fast Lane Car team are here to answer your (reasonable) questions. Interesting and/or entertaining emails will be posted to this column. If it’s relevant in the automotive universe, there’s a chance we may know something about it. The author’s email address and name will be omitted – leaving your initials or nickname, your preference.

From day one, The Fast Lane Car has made it our policy to answer as many questions and comments as we can. We get thousands of emails and comments and feel that, as part of a tight-knit automotive community, having an open dialogue with you keeps things fresh and exciting.

Got a question for Nathan? Drop him a line at:

nathan adlen Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism – Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. His words, good humor and videos are enjoyed worldwide.