Well, it’s been a few weeks so I suppose that it’s time to introduce the newest addition to the GCFSB fleet. My wife and I spent months searching for a potential replacement to her Subaru Outback. She had bought the Subbie new in 2006, and under warranty it had been a great car. However, once out of warranty it had been problematic; unable to go much more than 10,000 miles without eating a wheel bearing, dumping oil all over the exhaust or any other number of various maladies. The “big one” was the timing belt service at 103,500 miles; already pricey on Subarus, it became obvious as we got close that the 2.5 liter boxer was suffering from the notorious head gasket failure. A $800 job soon became a $2,800 job. As my wife pointed out, those are the types of repairs you’d expect on a nicer German car, but not ones you’d associate with the stars of Pleiades. How Subaru has managed to maintain a reputation for quality is beyond me, and with prices of new Outbacks well into the $30,000 range, suddenly the gap to some of the German cars wasn’t so outrageous.
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?
Family life – it’s a mixed blessing. I could never have imagined the unintended consequences expanding my family by 50%; in terms of space consumed, physics and logic told me that there was no way that the amount of space required with a small child would increase any more than…say, 50%. Yet, the reality of adding to my family is that the amount of space required for even what seems like the most miniscule trip increases disproportionately to the size of the package that arrives. Babies are a bit like those magic sponges in a capsule I got when I was a kid; once they hit air, they expand to 200-300% the size they were. So, long story short, when you have a family you likely need more space.
Over the past few years we’ve seen a general backing away from wagons towards the bane of most enthusiast’s existence, the S.U.V. and the “crossover” – many of which are really just tall wagons. So what are the options if you want to maintain an enthusiast’s lifestyle whilst still surviving the onslaught of baby-themed items? Well, for around $10,000 you can get some pretty diverse rides – so let’s see what’s the one you’d choose:
So you like the E55 wagon we featured yesterday but need something a bit more practical to deal with harsh winters? This BMW 535xi Touring would be a nice substitute and gives the serious driver the added benefit of a third pedal. Yes, this 2006 example for sale in Tennessee is one of a few that came with the 6-speed manual mated to the 3.0 liter inline-6.
Fun all-wheel drive wagons are my cup of tea, which directs my attention towards Audi and Subaru most often. I know there are others out there, but they seem few and far between. Thus I was surprised intrigued when I happened upon this 2006 BMW 530xi touring on eBay. It’s no S- or RS-wagon, but it’s a fun and useful AWD 5-door that could take on most any situation. I’ve never been smitten with the E60 5-series, but the M5’s beefed-up lines helped distract from its other styling shortcomings, and as usual the wagon helps balance things out in my eyes. Put those things together and you’ve got a pretty fine, more fleshed-out design as seen here. The 260hp I6 won’t blow minds, but will do just fine in getting the family up the mountain.
This is a newer car than I’m usually interested in, either for myself or for writing up, but something sounds appealing about cruising in a nice, big, capable BMW right now. I’d want the Competition rims in something other than chrome (satin or black please), but beggars shall not be choosers. Looking around at similar 5-series, it seems like the price is pretty reasonable for a car looking as good as this. Definitely proves that there are other enticing AWD wagons beyond the old guard of Audi and Subaru.