10K Friday Family Truckster Edition

I got to laughing the other day during a National Lampoon marathon on television when the memorable “Family Truckster” came onto the screen. The inclusion of that heavily ornamented and modified car in the movie was truly a stroke of genius, but once again a sad reminder that many of the wagons that previously were available to us are gone, replaced by crossovers, “GT”s, or SUV/SAV vehicles. Of course, because of this you don’t have to go back very far in time to find great deals on the last generation of premium 5-doors. Today, with that in mind, I’ve rounded up a set of all-wheel drive sporty wagons to consider – which is the winner?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Mercedes-Benz E500 Estate 4Matic on eBay

Year: 2004
Model: E500 Estate 4Matic
Engine: 5.0 liter V8
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Mileage: 136,000 mi
Price: $8,950 Buy It Now

Just in on a new Mercedes Trade. Beautiful 2004 Mercedes-Benz E500 4-Matic Sport wagon. Runs and drives perfect. Clean Carfax. Non smoker car. Factory options include Navigation,Power moonroof,Heated seats,in-dash CD changer and a rare sport package. No dash lights. Everything works as it should. Good tires all around. Needs nothing. Here at Advantage Autosport we strive for customer satisfaction and this shows in our feedback. We are mainly a wholesale operation but do pick a few cars monthly to retail. We are here from 10-6 Monday thru Saturday. After hours and Sunday appointments available. We will be happy to do a complete walk around with you by phone of the vehicle you are interested in. All trade-ins always welcome. Only a 199.00 doc fee which includes a 30 day temp tag. NC residents pay sales tax and registration/title fees. Out of state buyer are responsible for taxes and fees in their state. Fly in to RDU Airport in Raleigh NC. We will pick you up and you can drive your new car home. Call 919 300 1315. Thanks for looking.

Embarassingly, last time I had a E500 in one of these roundups I mislabeled it as a 4Matic. Well, this time around it is indeed a 4Matic Estate. The color combination is classic German; a bit conservative and boring, perhaps, but it still looks good. This car is claimed to have the sport package and in Merc fashion is typically loaded; miles are higher but not outrageous and condition overall looks quite good. I’ve typically been a bit weary of the early 2000s Mercedes-Benz products because of their reputation for lack of quality; however, this W211 looks really compelling at below $9,000 – a 300 horsepower V8 coupled to practicality sure sounds great! Hey, gas is cheap these days, right?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Volkswagen Passat 3.6 VR6 4Motion Variant on eBay

Year: 2008
Model: Passat 3.6 VR6 4Motion Variant
Engine: 3.6 liter narrow-angle VR6
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Mileage: 80,000 mi
Price: $12,800 Buy It Now

2008 Volkswagen Passat Wagon VR6 4Motion in outstanding condition. The car has a CARFAX clean title guarantee. 1 Owner Massachusets car. Fully serviced, well maintained vehicle with available records. Highly optioned vehicle with original MSRP of $39,979. Vehicle qualifies for low interest rate Credit Union Financing. Granite Green exterior in like new condition with no scratches or dents at all. Beige leather interior, supple, in excellent condition with no wear at all. Equipped with a 3.6L VR6 FSI 24V 6-Cylinder Engine, 6-speed Tiptronic R automatic transmission, 4MOTION permanent four-wheel drive system, which distributes the engine’s power to all four wheels as required. IPOD Adapter, Dual Zone CLIMATRONIC Air conditioning with climate control, Electric trunk/hatch pull down, Heated Front Seats, Ultrasonic Park Distance Control System, Memory driver Seat and Mirrors, Electronic Parking Brake, Sport 6-way pwr Driver and Passenger front bucket seats, Garage Door Opener, Headlight control with dusk sensor active, Luxury trim alloy on dashboard, 3-spoke leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel w/Tiptronic controls, height-adjustable telescopic steering column, Immobilizer III theft-deterrent system, Multi-function trip computer w/digital compass, temp display, Projector beam lens Bi-Xenon headlights, Front fog lights, Tire-pressure monitoring system, Pwr windows, Cruise control, DYNAUDIO AM/FM stereo w/6-disc in-dash CD changer-inc: MP3 playback, 10 speakers, auxiliary input jack, Sirius satellite radio, Manual side sunshades, Pwr tilt/slide sunroof, LED taillights, Cruise Control, Daytime running lights, Body-color heated pwr side mirrors w/integrated LED turn signals, Electronic stabilization program w/anti-slip regulation (ASR), brake assist, Electronic differential lock, 18″ alloy wheels, Windshield wipers with automatic intermittent wipe and rain sensor, Driver and Passenger front airbags with multi-stage deployment, Front side airbags, Front and rear roof airbag, 4-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS), Mechanically perfect. Nationwide delivery can be arranged. For more pictures click here: 2008 Volkswagen Passat pictures

While typically I’m a fan of the B5/B.5 Passat, there’s no doubt that the B6 really offers much more performance and a bump in luxury for your money. In this case, the 3.6 VR6 Variant is good for 276 horsepower and picked up much of the internal styling cues from the the upscale Phaeton. I don’t think the B6 is the most attractive Passat ever but it does look purposeful and sporty. That sport is backed up by the chassis, which underneath is effectively a Golf R32. With big sticky rubber, brakes to match and plenty of grunt these Passats are certainly an entertaining driver with plenty of practicality. I had to stretch the budget a bit to include this one, so while I’m there….

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 BMW 530xi Touring on eBay

Year: 2006
Model: 530xi Touring
Engine: 3.0 liter inline-6
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Mileage: 99,760 mi
Price: $12,800 Buy It Now

Condition, Condition, Condition!!

Options, Options, Options!!


This is not your average pre-owned BMW… This one is in excellent condition and loaded with options.

I purchased this BMW in 2009 for my wife who delivered my first-born that year. It had the BMW CPO warranty to 2012 or 100,000 miles. It also came with the BMW maintenance warranty and I had it serviced at Braman BMW for each of the scheduled maintenance intervals. In additional to the All-Wheel-Drive aspect (including rear air suspension), this one is loaded with options such as factory DVD Navigation system, Premium Package, Cold Weather Package, Nappa leather, Xenon Lights, Power Cargo Door, Sirius Satellite Radio, 18” Sport Wheels, and more. Note that most 530s were shipped from the factory with only the basic premium package and occasionally another option tossed in.

This 530 drives excellent. There are no unusual vibrations or noises. When I acquired this BMW in 2009. I chose it from over 30 other 5 series due to its outstanding condition report, its extensive option list, and maintenance status. The only noticeable flaws that I am aware of include 1) The spring lifts that keep the hood open for servicing do not have their original strength and 2) there is a small chip on the front of the hood that is approximately ¼ the size of my small fingernail. That is all!!!

Please scroll down to view the photos of this BMW to appreciate its condition.

This BMW comes with both remote keys, the DVD Navigation Disc, and a full set of books! (One of the remotes is like-new.) I even have the original cover for the cargo area.

The interior is very fresh with no strange odors or surprises.

Please see the photos of the maintenance status. This one is great…. The only items coming due are the cabin microfilter and the spark plugs. Since this is a non-smoking vehicle, I am not doing the microfilter (air filter). The oil change does not need to happen for another 10,000 miles, the brake fluid does not need flushing until May of 2016, the front brake pads are not due for another 35,000 miles and the rear brake pads are note due until another 45,000 miles! Note that I had the valve cover gasket replaced this year at Braman BMW along with the aluminum bolts. This need is common and any BMW with this engine will need to have it done. (If not caught in time, the bolts will shear off and oil seepage will happen.) This upgrade costs over $1,000 at the dealer… This one just had it done.

The Kelley Blue Book value, from December 29th, 2014, shows a range on this BMW of $13,419 on the low side to $16,342 on the high side. The “fair purchase price” shows $14,881. I have priced this one over $2,000 less than just the fair price alone to facilitate a quick and easy sale. I doubt their is a nicer or better maintained one in the US for anything close to this deal.

Please feel free to call me, Rob, on my cellular phone at 561-676-7250 to further discuss purchasing this gorgeous BMW or to schedule a time to see how nice it is.

My office is located at Blowing Rocks Marina in Jupiter, Florida. My primary business involves Yacht and Boat sales, however, it is also licensed for vehicle sales. This is an asset of my company and I have the title to this BMW in my possession.

Keep the saying in mind on this one: “The vehicle that you found today and will consider tomorrow is the same vehicle that the other guy found yesterday and is considering today”.

It didn’t seem fair to not include this 530xi Touring at the same pricepoint at the Volkswagen. For that money, you a few more miles than the Volkswagen but a badge with a bit more prestige. For some time, these E60 xi Tourings were my primary recommendation anytime someone was looking for an all-wheel drive wagon from this generation. A bit less complicated than the Audis of the same time, the inline-6 none-the-less produced nearly as much power as the Volkswagen at 268. Admittedly, the E60 is a bit heavier and ironically perhaps a bit less sporty than the pedestrian VW, and the last generation 5er certainly isn’t the prettiest ever made. But overall this car strikes a good balance of condition coupled with more reasonable repairs – at least, in theory.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2005 Audi Allroad 4.2 on eBay

Year: 2005
Model: Allroad
Engine: 4.2 liter V8
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Mileage: 96,053 mi
Price: $7,999 Buy It Now

2005 Audi allroad















Priced Great -so why wait – Buy It Now !



Thank you,


Back to sub-$10,000, and while there are plenty of Audis to choose from in the market segment that they created, unfortunately none of the more recent models even come close to fitting the bill in terms of pricing. That leaves us with B6/B7 A4s and C5 A6s along with older models. To fit into this competition, I selected this 2005 Allroad 4.2 – power wise, it fits the others with 295 horsepower from the all-aluminum V8. But there’s no denying that by 2005, the C5 chassis was quite dated. The Allroad still looks purposeful and sporty when cleaned up, but quite obviously stands apart by looking at least one generation – if not more – older than the other three cars in this competition. It arguably also has the worst reputation, though the V8 models seem to have less engine woes than the V6 twin-turbo. Still, having had one in the family for several years, I wouldn’t get one again and still can’t recommend them as a particularly good option. They’re neat, but you’re going to pay for that car.

Which is the winner? I’m a VW guy at heart and I really like that 4Motion, but today I think I’d gamble on the E500. To me, even though I don’t think the W211 is the best looking here the combination of the powertrain, space, style, luxury and value that the E500 represents best embodies the point of these posts – it’s the most car you can get for under $10,000. Which would you choose?


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  1. Ugh, you know, as someone who is on the verge of having children and as a car enthusiast, I would love to contemplate buying a sport “Stay Wag” (as my wife calls them).

    But, I cannot argue with her complaint that loading baby seats down into a low car is a painful proposition.

    Thus, SUV/x’over it will have to be….FOR NOW.

  2. I was going to say the Merc as it is the only one with a third row seat, but this one evidently doesn’t have it. Too bad. I have a 06 e500 wagon and the SBC brakes and airmatic suspension are both great and very expensive to fix. I actually like the shape of a wagon more than a sedan. I think they have an undeserved rap in the US based on collective memories of the those 70’s war wagons. (in my case a couple of olds vista cruisers). I remember the big three were always trying to come up with new solutions to the tailgate. I think our second one, a 71, you could drop it down or swing it to the side and the rear window could retract into the gate. Thanks for the exhaust fumes dad! The year after ours the tailgate retracted into the car body thus killing all storage you had. @JCHouston We also didn’t have any car seats to load as it usually involved my mom saying “get in”.

  3. I’m in the market for a MB wagon and I have been seeing a lot of the same generation E500s between 60k to 100k miles priced $10k to $13k !!! why is this car so undervalued?
    there must be a reason!
    the previous gen E320s (W210s) usually fetch more money despite being older in design and having smaller engines.
    Must be a much better platform all around or is there another reason why these V8s cost less than a 5-year Corolla???

  4. @Carter: I’m gonna go look at an ’04 A8L tomorrow.

    Just trying to parse this: ” though the V8 models seem to have less engine woes than the V6 twin-turbo. Still, having had one in the family for several years, I wouldn’t get one again and still can’t recommend them as a particularly good option. They’re neat, but you’re going to pay for that car.”

    Are you talking about the V6 twin turbo or the 4.2L V8? I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to convince the better half that the Audi won’t kill on maintenance costs – are there maintenance issues that I should be aware of here?

    Bonus question: What’s going on with book vs real world pricing? Kellys, Edmunds, etc. seem to think that an excellent condition ’04 A8L w/ less than 70K miles should be no more than $12.5K, but most that I’m finding are in the $15.5K and up range (East Coast mid-Atlantic) – are the prices I’m seeing on the money, or should I keep looking?

  5. I just picked up an e46 325iT and am looking to replace a ’95 E320 wagon. Have been thinking long and hard about the E500s of this generation, but have been put off by the road test reports and forum comments which all put down its handling or bemoan the gutless sound of the 5.0 or how expensive the airmatic is to fix.

    That 4.2 Allroad seems pretty nice, though. Seemingly hard to find with the V8. I don’t agree that it looks more dated compared to its competition – especially when some of the competition is the finicky, detestable bangle wagon shown here or its corporate sibling passat.

  6. I don’t even have children but I want them all in this order;
    1. Audi 4.2
    2. BMW
    3. 4 Motion
    4. Merc

    p.s. fun write up!

  7. Hi Ken,

    Off the top of my head, I’m not sure which V8 the D3 used at launch. The D2 utilized a different motor than the Allroad did; the 4.2 V8 in the A6 4.2 V8 and Allroad shared structure with the S4’s V8, instead of the one that the S6, A8 and S8 used. This was important, because the later utilized a cambelt while the former used the rear-mounted chain system. That system has proven to be somewhat problematic; potentially leading to premature failure – though it seems to happen mostly in S4s, from what I’ve read. But, in comparison, the 2.7T V6 twin turbo has a much worse reputation for failures; near certain turbo replacement necessitates dropping the motor from the car, along with coil pack problems common to this generation of VAG cars. When you put that motor into an Allroad, then, you’ve got not only the complicated air suspension problems and others, but the motor as a potential woe too. For example, my parent’s 2.7T 6-speed Allroad when through 5 suspension changes, one pump, and continued to fail. There are known upgrades which seem to work well – but then, the car you’re buying should be priced accordingly.

    The pictures of the engine schematic that I found for the ’04 A8L seems to indicate it’s belt-driven rather than chain driven, so experience would say it’s a safer bet.

  8. Sorry, one more Ken, missed the last part:

    Re: pricing, I’d probably hold out for a well-maintained perfect example; if, for example, I was buying a S8, I wouldn’t mind paying a premium for the right one as long as everything checked out. The D3s are still falling in value but you’ll balance condition with saving a bit of money; most seem to still be in good shape but the one’s I’ve seen around 10K-11K don’t seem to be the ones to buy.

  9. @JCHouston – hmmm, I have a three year old and we have two wagons – 02 Passat, 06 Outback. You’re definitely bent over to do up the belts, for example, but in neither one do I feel like we’re loading down. If anything, the profile of the Outback is the problem, because the sloping and small rear door means the opening just isn’t as big as it should be, but our son has just reached the point where he climbs in himself – problem solved!

  10. @Carter – Thanks for the explanation about the 4.2 engines – that clears things up quite a bit. Also re: pricing, that helps and fits my thinking.

    Incidentally, the car that is about to be replaced is a Volvo V70T with 170K miles. It should go to 200K at least with no problem before major repairs, but having seen two kids (and several dogs) from car-seats to their teens, is well worn. Unfortunately it’s a bit too big to turn a teen lose in on their own (and would allow them to pack too many friends in with them) so its time to replace this wagon.

    We’re leaving in a few minutes to look at several cars – that E500 you wrote up isn’t too far from here, so I’ll try to drop by and take a look at it, too; but frankly the miles make me very nervous, and being from a dealer there’s not going to be any maintenance records to check.

  11. Did not get to see the E500 yesterday, but did look at an ’06 A6 wagon, ’12 A4 wagon, pretty much the entire Audi 2015 lineup, and an ’09 528i. But what I fell in love with, and came home with, was an ’06 A8L.

    Thanks GCFSB for all the great write-ups and info, as well as answers to various questions! The site continues to be a fantastic way to be exposed to vehicles I might not otherwise be aware of, and helping me to narrow in on what I wanted to next.

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