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Opinions on used car purchase (VW, Subaru,....)

Greetings ~

We are in the market for a nice, used wagon. At this time we’ve narrowed our search down to a few models:

07 VW Passat Wagon 2.0T (37K @ $14K)
05 VW Passat Wagon GLS (50K @ $9K)

The current family flagship is a 01 Subaru Outback, which we are quite happy with, but at 170K we’re thinking it might be time to think about something with a few less miles under her belt. Too many miles to be the daily commuter, plus road trip car, plus do everything car. She’ll be put out to pasture where she won’t have to do it all everyday.

I’ve never owned a VW before, and while they seem very nice in the test drives, I’m a bit unsure about their reliability, and performance in snowy conditions (both are FR drive). Winter performance and reliability have been a given for for use, coming from the Subby.

I’m also intrigued by the Subaru Legacy Wagon GTs (Limited), probably '05 Oh La La. This car seems to have it going on. Performance and legendary Subaru’s reliability and all-wheel drive. Problem is, they are tough to come by and pricey, with a 80K car easily running into the $10-12K range.

We’re aren’t desperate to purchase a car immediately, but we are looking in the near term, and I’d hate to let good cars, with low miles and a competative price slip away because I was doing too much fence riding. I’m afraid I’ ve done it again, I’ve researched myself into a corner, where I think I’m gun shy to pull or not pull the trigger (ha ha)

So, Opinions…? Do I wait and hunt for a Legacy wagon GT to become available or go after one of these VW with low miles and favorable prices?

Any help would be greatly appreciated; (Passat Wagon owners…?)


PS: Any other suggestions on mid-200s era, wagons would also be appreciated. I’ve looked at Audi, VW, Volvo, Subaru, even BMW, Merc, but have twiddled it down to these.

That brings up the point I often stress.
– in this small town…none of the above !

There is zero servicing available for at least 140 miles one way from here.

Always consider YOUR long term servicing ( ie; overall cost of ownership ) no matter what the purchase price may be.

When buying used cars, I would keep it simple and basic, something that’s fixable by local mechanics and has wide parts availability…The choices you have listed do not fall into this category. You might luck out and buy a problem-free car that delivers good service or you might end up with a problem child that nobody can fix and those who try to fix them charge a lot of money for their guesswork and experiments… All Wheel Drive, Traction control, Stability control, 10 airbags, GPS, rear view camera, remote starting, locking, alarm, from a key-fob are all potential repair nightmares waiting to devastate your budget…

Consumer reports shows that these two model year Passats were not that good overall. Best used car verdict for Passat were 2008 and 2009. That may sway your decision. I also read where the newer Passats seem to be more reliable. Time will tell.

I have certainly had good experiences with vehicles that weren’t judged as really reliable, so these two cars could work out for you.

The 2005 car is more of a risk. There are engine and CV joint issues that crop up often enough that you should look elsewhere.

The 2007 has minimal problems.

You didn’t say what options are on the 2007 car or whether it is auto or manual transmission. If it is absolutely loaded with auto trans and on a dealer’s lot, it is worth $14,000.

I would stay away from VW if you want to save $. Thats from a guy who owns a MB. The VW line has been a money pit for the last 12 years. Certainly worth staying away from. Any reason no US models? Their CR ratings for almost all models top VW. Always topped them for repair costs.

I always read CR repair ratings with a grain of salt. Their ratings are accurate, but they do not tell you the average price difference for each model. Since I started paying attention the CR auto ratings, I bought one Honda and 3 GM products; the oldest is 1998. I never (ever) even approached the difference in sales price between the lower priced cars I bought and their leading competitors. I took advantage of perception and its influence on price to save thousands.

You may do well with the 2007 Passat, but make sure that it was maintained well. Are there repair and maintenance receipts available? Take it to a mechanic you trust for a pre-purchase inspection if you can get the cost to a comfortable point.

I’m not a fan of used VWs or Subarus 2005 or older (head gaskets). Can you find a 2007 or newer Subaru in your price range?

My suggestion? Wait. Wait until your current ehicle actually begins giving you problems.

Buying a used car is always a crapshoot, even if you do the prudent steps. Why get rid of something that has no problems in order to replace it with a risk?

Note: if you were buying a new car, my thouhgts would be different. But you aren’t. You’re replacing a used car of knowm reliability with a used car that may have hidden problems. Where’s the gain?

The idea that modern vehicles with their added electronics are less reliable is not born out by facts. What is born out is the past history of car makes in general. Subarus tend to be more reliable in awd form then most fwd cars. I would check Consumer Reports auto guide and get a list of acceptable cars with nearby dealerships and available service.

Generally speaking, I would stay away from VWs with their past history.

My favorite mechanics love Subarus, as with the VW’s maintenence is a key issue,try for a newer VW or a bit older Subaru that has been well maintained(that temp guage is on there for a reason and Folks please do not neglect coolant changes) I’ m going out on a limb and saying a well maintained Subaru(to my specs) will probaly never give a considerate right foot-Kevin