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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been looking at used cars for my wife to drive around. We have a Discovery 2 that is actually in pretty decent shape but it is a little lifted and she hates getting in and out of it, plus it is too high to get kayaks on the roof so she wants to pick up a decent used wagon. Unfortunately, she has some image issues associated with Volvo's. I'm used to Volvo's where buying one with 100,000 miles on it is no big deal but other European manufacturers seem to have vehicles that are best avoided once they are out of warranty. I've looked at Audi A4's Avants but they are too small. The A6 Avant is a nice sized, good looking vehicle but after checking their reliability I wouldn't consider one. The 3.2 V6 they use has a timing chain setup that likes to fail catastrophically and even if you get to it in time you need to pull the motor to replace the pieces. Usually there is little to no warning though. A BMW 530ix is a nice looking car but from what I've read they can have transmission issues and like to start leaking oil around the 100k mark. Replacing the oil pan gasket is a nightmare because the drivetrain goes through the pan. That repair is in $1,500 range because of labor. Reportedly, a transmission service is something that should be left to a shop because the bolts typically break off. The filter is built into the pan so you are looking at $200 in parts and $300 in labor.

I wouldn't hesitate to pick up an XC70 with 80,000 miles on it and I would fully expect to get another 100,000 miles out of it with maybe just a steering rack, a couple of hubs and a few CV boots. Crazy how much cheaper Volvo's are with similar miles on them compared to these other brands.
 

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What image issues? A Volvo wagon was named one of the few sub zero cars, that's how cool it is http://forums.swedespeed.com/showthread.php?109335-UK-Top-Gear-votes-V70-as-Sub-Zero-cool

One time I gave a couple of longboarders a ride up Tantalus, famous driving road on Oahu and also popular spot for longboarding. They got in and said "Nice car". Then I gave it full throttle around some hairpin turns and they were like "Whoa this car is awesome". Volvo wagons are also very popular with surfers so you see a lot up on the North Shore. Generally they would never be caught dead in an Audi or BMW wagon because those are yuppie cars
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It's all a matter of opinion. I love V70s but my wife doesn't agree. I have to admit that a 530xi wagon is a pretty nice looking car but not if I'm underneath it trying to keep it running. Maybe an XC70 with some bars and lights to make it a little less mundane.
 

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If your wife doesn't like the wagons how about an early XC60 or even XC90? They tend to have a much more modern 'anti-minivan' image as opposed to the 'old-professor's' car image of the wagons and seem to be preferred by many women.
 

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Just get her an old E-class wagon and when it is in the shop every 3 mos, you can tell her that she can either drive past the car she wants as it sits waiting for parts or she can drive a Volvo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The XC60s and 90s are too tall. As for the E-class, there are plenty of 4-matics out there for dirt cheap and they are still overpriced. Even for free they are overpriced.

I had a Range Rover and now I have a Discovery 2 and they have plenty of issues but in most cases the fixes are pretty cheap as long as you do them yourself. That doesn't seem to be the case for BMWs. Audis and Mercedes. They are also marques that don't seem to attract the DIY crowd so maybe many of the cheap fixes haven't been found but the major failures like timing chains and transmissions seem to come from poor maintenance and by the time that becomes an issue it is too late. In a Volvo, infrequent oil changes means you need to replace the PCV and maybe pull the pan to clean out the return. In an Audi, it means you might need to pull the motor and get a new head or heads for maybe $6,000.
 

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Frankly I think you are trying to talk yourself into what you want to hear. You think your Range Rover is reliable and cheap to fix and that BMW Audi and Mercedes don't have a DIY network??

Get an e46 325ix wagon. They are cheap, easy to work on, the major parts are reliable, and there is an absolutely enormous network of owners and aftermarket parts.
 

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Not really a recommendation, unless she is dead set on a euro a Toyota Venza could be another option. Don't know anything about them and I consider them more mini-van than wagon, but they come in V6 AWD, are quite roomy, ride height would be around what you're looking for, and I generally trust Toyotas as long as it's rust proofed.
 

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What image issues? A Volvo wagon was named one of the few sub zero cars, that's how cool it is http://forums.swedespeed.com/showthread.php?109335-UK-Top-Gear-votes-V70-as-Sub-Zero-cool

One time I gave a couple of longboarders a ride up Tantalus, famous driving road on Oahu and also popular spot for longboarding. They got in and said "Nice car". Then I gave it full throttle around some hairpin turns and they were like "Whoa this car is awesome". Volvo wagons are also very popular with surfers so you see a lot up on the North Shore. Generally they would never be caught dead in an Audi or BMW wagon because those are yuppie cars

http://www.bbcamerica.com/shows/top-gear/video-extras/the-cool-wall
 

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I wouldn't hesitate to pick up an XC with 160k... 06-07 only. Our previous XC went from 120k when we bought it to 161k (when some moron hit it) with just tires, front brakes, coils, plugs, and an air filter...
 

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Subaru Outback? Not the most inspiring vehicle. More function over form, and the interior boarders on spartan even in the newer ones.
 

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Subaru Outback? Not the most inspiring vehicle. More function over form, and the interior boarders on spartan even in the newer ones.
+1.
100k miles is mid-life for a Subaru. The newer ones are taller than the early 2000's models, but still shorter than the Discovery or an XC60.
Of course, an Outback suffices only if wind noise and rattles aren't a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Frankly I think you are trying to talk yourself into what you want to hear. You think your Range Rover is reliable and cheap to fix and that BMW Audi and Mercedes don't have a DIY network??

Get an e46 325ix wagon. They are cheap, easy to work on, the major parts are reliable, and there is an absolutely enormous network of owners and aftermarket parts.
The Range Rover was a 1999 and it was actually pretty cheap to maintain as long as you did it yourself. The air suspension control unit (EAS) would be replaced at the dealer for an insane amount of money but it could be rebuilt in 1 1/2 hours with about $30 worth of o-rings. Replace power transistors in the blower for $15 rather than buy the blower, etc. Definitely not low maintenance but definitely cheaper and easier to maintain than these other cars from everything I've read. As for the 3 series, it's too small. I looked at an '06 530ix but was not too encouraged by what I learned about the transmissions and oil leaks. The engine is fantastic but it seemed like everything around it could be an issue. One of the things that was mentioned specifically was that the transmission fluid needed to be serviced around 60,000 miles despite BMW's labeling it as a no-service transmission so by 100,000 miles you might be looking at some problems. Sounds a little familiar, doesn't it? Unfortunately, the fix is more involved and costly than a solenoid rebuild with a $58 kit.

Subarus will last a while after a head gasket job but they aren't that big either. Between a Subaru and a Volvo, the Volvo is much nicer in my book.
 

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I agree about the head gasket issue. Every few years Subaru fans claim the issue is fixed until large numbers of that model start to reach 100k or so. Still, they are decent cars if you don't mind the interior and general build quality. The latest generation Outbacks are actually quite large - similar to the XC70.

Can you explain better what 'image' she doesn't like about Volvo? Too stodgy? Not premium enough? Too premium? It will help to direct further suggestions.

I still don't think you'd really have any issues with a BMW if you got a good one. Older BMW's have about as active an owner's group as any brand and parts availability is excellent.
 
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