I own a boat but I need a car

I have to keep my pick-up truck for our boat. My wife HATES the Grand Cherokee that is her transportation. We live at the end of a dirt road, at the bottom of a hill in Maine. I am about to have to comute to a new job for about 10 months.

The current line of thinking is that we sell the Jeep and buy some all wheel drive car that is more economical and more stylish - wife needs stylish - than the Jeep.

We have looked at used Audi A6 AWD, Mercedes E320 4matic, and the Volvo S60. Wife reports that the Vovlo is “ugly” and too small. Wife thinks the A6 is “sexy” but I fear the repair costs. We both like the 4matic but again, I fear the repair costs.

Subarus are out of the question.

IS there some other vehicle we should consider?

Should I fear the Audi A6 as much as I do? I would rather chance a Mercedes 4 matic. Oh, the vintage we are looking at are all about 2001.

One Audi has 76k miles and one 4matic has 110K.

What to do??

Why are you limiting your search to AWD cars? Is your dirt road so bad that you really need AWD? Otherwise, consider any number of FWD or RWD vehicles for a long commute. Why spend the extra $ for AWD parts, maintenance, and gas?

I’d suggest picking up a Consumer Reports Used Car Buyer’s Guide at your local bookstore. You may find more reliable choices that suit your tastes.

I must agree with the other posters.

All your choices will come with expensive repair bills (when repairs are needed).

You mentioned a hill enroute. In winter Maine gets a fair amount of snow yes? In which case, regardless of what you eventually buy, also purchase 4 (four) good winter tires (mounted and balanced) on steel rims for winter driving.

You have a complex “beaty and the beast” set of circumstances. Agree with previous posters that if your truck pulls the boat and you don’t have 3 children or more, you have a wide choice of economical vehicles with good traction.

Let me first state that “ALL SUVs ARE UGLY”, in my humble opinion, but people like them because they are (still) in fashion. What is really ugly is the repair bill on an AUDI emptying you bank ccount!!! If money is an issue, used Audis have often been the cause of marriage breakups! The regulars here do not profess to be fashion consultants, but most agree that SUVs look ungainly, especially covered with rural road mud.

To get secure traction and a good ride, consider the Honda CRV, Toyota RAV4. With winter tires these will go through any NE winter storm. All the vehicles you are considering have high and expensive maintenance and have below average reliability.

Personally, I would take the E320 with 110K miles over the A6 with 76K miles if I was looking for a AWD wagon, but it would be very contingent on the condition of the individual cars and a very thorough pre-purchase inspection by a specialty shop or a dealer (expect to spend a couple $100). I would not jump on the first one I found either, there are plenty of these cars available; shop carefully. Also, consider shopping for a southern car.

I also, unfortunately, own an old Cherokee (in my case, my wife likes having a 4WD available); it’s certainly the opposite of “stylish” (I keep hoping it will die so I’ll have an excuse to dump it).

Some of those 4WD cars you listed don’t have a lot of ground clearance. Without the ground clearance, 4WD is not going to do much for you. You might be better off with a FWD and some real winter tyres not just all season tyres.

The 2WD E320 is RWD, so that won’t work. The A6 wagons may only be AWD, I’m not sure. The AWD is helpful unless we are talking about deep snow, then you need a truck/SUV anyway. The only problem with FWD is that you are stuck driving a FWD car in dry weather too (not much fun).

For the first 17 years of my life I lived in a rural area, and believe me, ground clearance was the first consideration in getting through snow, since the snowplow usually showed up after we needed it. So, our pickup truck with snow tires and some weight in the back always made it through, while the family Oldsmobile had to wait till the roads were plowed.

OP needs a vehicle with good ground clearance, preferably front wheel or all wheel drive. No amount of 4Matic sophistication will get you out of deep ruts that hang up the centre of the car.

True, but I think most people end up doing what I do; drive your real cars when it’s nice and keep a winter POS around for the days you really need one. In the OPs case, I would probably keep the jeep as a winter beater and have his wife just buy whatever she likes as a daily driver. She can still drag out the jeep on snowy days, it’s just a PITA to have an extra car hanging around, being ugly all the time.

You could buy a 2004 Infiniti G35x for about $20,000 (1st year). Unless you want to stay around $10,000 this might be an option.

I’m guessing he’s in the $18-20K range now with these two cars, at least he would be in denver.

I also, unfortunately, own an old Cherokee (in my case, my wife likes having a 4WD available); it’s certainly the opposite of “stylish” (I keep hoping it will die so I’ll have an excuse to dump it).

isn’t that the way it works out. the stuff you want to die just keeps on going no matter what you do to it. just like those Top Gear episodes where they abused the bejesus out of a little Toyota pickup truck

Yup, this stupid jeep just won’t die (the drive train won’t anyway, all the other “non-essential” parts are falling apart), it just keeps annoying the neighbors with its ugliness and dripping oil in my driveway. It’s not really worth anything, so there’s no point in selling it, and it’s not really worth fixing. My daughter claims she wants it when she gets her license, but it’s too much of a POS to give to her, so I’ll have to buy her something else anyway. I was actually thinking about getting my daughter a E320 4matic that would do double duty as the family’s winter car.

Diamonds, and gold don’t depreciate like Automobiles.

“Diamonds, and gold don’t depreciate like Automobiles.”


The Audi is the best choice you named. Their reliability is average across the board. That means that one is much like another. There are no really bad models. That means to me that they know how to build them and don’t have enormous guesswork built into any single model of their cars. It is also designed to keep you alive in a rollover.

I have one big problem with VW/audi; timing belts.

I’d take the 320 drive-train over the audi anytime, it’s a very solid design. However, the 4matic system can get a tad pricey if it needs attention. I would also take the W210 benz over the audi in a crash (although I’d still feel much safer in one of my old ones).