Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Mid Week Match-Up: A Wagon for Winter

This week's Mid Week Match-Up request comes from Kenn who writes:   I'm looking to replace my 01’ Mercedes-Benz E320 4Matic Wagon (just about to tick over 250k miles) with something similar. I need something that can fit my 110lb German Shepard and can take on MN winters (though I’ll likely buy snow tires for whatever I buy so AWD/4WD is not a must). I’m looking at wagons, larger sedans and SUV’s (will consider crossovers….but not happily) and always want something a little unique, fun and that I can work on myself (automatic gearbox). My budget is 10k and I live in the Twin Cities in MN.  Thanks for the help!

For someone searching for a late model German sedan where AWD/4WD is a must, my mind instantly goes to Audi.  Yes, they can cost some serious coin when something goes wrong, and they are complex/heavy vehicles...but how many other ways can you get into a car with a big V8 mated to all four wheels?  Take a look at this 2007 Audi S4 here on eBay bidding for $4,494 with 3 days to go, located in Canton, CT.

What do you recommend? Comments below.


  1. 2005 9-5 Aero Wagon for something under 4k?
    Unique? Check
    Fun? Has some scoot and can be upgraded easily enough - Check
    Autobox? Check
    Room for canine? Check
    Half the mileage of your current whip? Check
    Local to you? Check
    Seller willing to deal? Looks to have been on the lot since at least autumn, so I'd wager yes.

    1. Hate to be a bubble popper, as much as I love me some 9-5 wagon (and trust me, I LOVE these things) they all rust at the same location - bottom of the "dog leg" between the rear door and the front lower part of the rear wheel arch.

      They rust from the inside out and the rust there is as impossible to stop as it is on Hondas in the "Honda [rust] Spot" (rear of the wheel arch where it meets the rear bumper plastic in every Honda ever).

      Nothing that can be done once it starts, aside from what this car has already had done to it (cut, weld, spray w/POR-15 or other inhibitor and hope you get a few years out of it before you have to do it again). Note the black portion of the lower front portion of the rear wheel arch in the pics... it's not black there from the factory. Open the door and the rust is present on the door jam as well, usually.

      In my experience, the majority of them have this if they've been driven in salt for ~7-10 years. The rest of the car will be flawless, and this part will always be rusty unless you're looking at one from south of the mason-dixon.

      Sorry, I'll leave now.

  2. That Saab looks like a great find. I have nothing specific to offer, but I do have some general comments: unless you are doing serious off-road stuff, FWD with four good snows is a really capable set up for winter. I routinely drive around AWD vehicles in blizzards. The advantages are many: less expensive, lighter, easier/cheaper to repair, more pleasant to drive (IMHO). Good luck on your search.

  3. They made an AWD V8 Magnum (Dodge wagon thing) for a year or two. Those prices are hovering around the $10k mark with the 5.7l Hemi. I've been in an RWD Magnum with the 5.7 and "get up and go" doesn't begin to cover the violence of action with which the thing turns rear tires into smoke and money. When it does hook up, it goes like stink.

    I assume that AWD would help the traction issue. Plus, I read somewhere on the internet (must be true!) that these things are based upon a previous generation Merc E-Class platform... so it'll be somewhat familiar coming out of an '01 E-Class 4-Matic?

    Just a thought.

  4. 2008 Caddy SRX AWD with 55k mi in St. Paul


    1. I've got that same car. It's great in a straight line, it wants to go 80 mph all day on the interstate. But if you try to drive a curve, it wallows like a, well, like a Cadillac. Too bad, its a good car otherwise.

  5. How about the nicest or newest Volvo V70 or V70R AWD you can find?

    As for a "car with a big V8 mated to all four wheels" Volvo also offered the XC90 V8 AWD and the S80 V8 AWD sedan, both of which (2007+) are now entering your price range. As is well known, the V8 in those was assembled by Yamaha in Japan.

  6. Assuming 4WD is desirable/necessary, you can have an E53 X5 for under $10K, personally I'd lean toward a V8 without the sport package for that usage.

    GMT800 and GMT900 Tahoe/Yukons are also decent drivers.

    I'm sure I could find a Benz ML55 of similar vintage for under $10K if I looked.

    Volvos of the post-200/700 era just seem fragile to me.

    Mid-late '00s Ford Explorer?

  7. The word “special” on the front windscreen of this Cold War beauty is an understatement. Despite its age it appears to be one of the cleanest examples of a Quatum Wagon anywhere in the world. Not to mention how close it is to the potential buyer.

    Our requester states that he would like a “wagon, large sedan, or SUV.” And in that order. It’s no mistake he lists wagon firsts. This puppy will get you to work on a daily basis just as easily as it will get a cello to an orchestra rehearsal in a raging Minnesota blizzard. With only 52k turns on the clock, the Quatum has plenty of leap left in its step. If maintained and treated well, there is no reason this vehicle won’t last the one-way moon trip your MB has blessed you with.

    The words “unique” and “automatic” don’t belong in the same sentence when considering a vehicle of this significance. I doubt you will even have time to realize you are changing gears when you are constantly admiring West German craftsmanship. Rest assured you will feel “automatic” driving this vehicle around town.

    At $6795, I think there is some room for negotiation, thereby bringing you in significantly under budget. Is this a museum piece on wheels? Yes. Does it have the potential to crush your soul when you need it most? Absolutely. That being said, find a good bank or bury your savings in the backyard. You’re going to need it later.

    This car is in a good place and appears well sorted. You will be a driver as much as you will be a curator. If you confront the realities up front I don’t see how this car could be a disappointment.

    -Mark Skids

    1. Mark,
      That is a great write-up -- any chance you want to write for DailyTurismo? Send me an e-mail--

      DT Editor


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