For the last two years, my daily driver has been a used 2006 Audi A6 Avant (bought outright in cash). Living in Minnesota and attending college in a rural part of the state, it’s the ultimate vehicle. It swallows 4 people and gear for a spring break Chicago vacation, gets through the snowstorms, and has heated seats and steering wheel. It even averages 24 mpg!
However, its mileage has reached the point where it’s no longer economically feasible to hold onto (repair-wise) going into the spring of 2017. I’m trying to hold off until used car prices fall, because of lease returns. With a budget of $15,000, I’m hoping to get five-plus years of use out of my next vehicle. My search has gravitated towards larger vehicles that are kinda low-volume players (with a slightly better reliability record) like the Lincoln MKT, Toyota Sequoia, Lexus LS/GX, Volvo S80, etc. Something bigger and a little more cushy. So, what do you recommend?
Easy! Go get another Audi A6 Avant. Oh, wait, you said something that was reliable and would last for five years. My bad.
If my brother were writing this, he’d tell you that you don’t need something so big, and that you should just rent an SUV for those vacations, and that you should go buy a Fiesta ST and a set of snow tires. Coincidentally, my FiST, complete with a set of snow tires and wheels, is coming up for sale in February. No? Okay, fine. I tried.
I think you’ve got a nice list of potential choices. I’m guessing a bit at your age, but since you said that you’ve been attending college for the last few years, my assumption is that you’re a traditional student in your early-to-mid twenties. If that’s accurate, I’m a bit confused about your desire to own car/brand that would normally be driven by somebody about twenty years your senior. But perhaps you’re from an affluent family and you’ve always been one to drive a luxury or near-luxury brand, so that’s just your jam? There’s no judgment here, just curiosity.
Before we dive into your list, I have a couple of other recommendations that you might want to consider:
- Ford Flex. This one is obvious, due to your preference for the MKT. I’d look at a non-EcoBoost V6 if you’re really wanting to reduce potential maintenance headaches.
- Subaru Forester/Outback. Maybe not as large/cushy as you’d like, but with more of that off-road/winter-time cred, and oh-so-Minnesota!
- Lincoln Navigator. Why not? They’re huge and don’t seem to hold value as well as corresponding MY Escalades. Yes, the mileage sucks, but they’re pretty bulletproof.
- Jeep Grand Cherokee. I actually genuinely like this idea. If you can find a later-model, Pentastar GC, that would be MY personal choice.
But, from your list, I’d probably go with a Lexus GX. It meets every stated requirement for the vehicle. I’m not personally aware of any known issues with them, and the Googler didn’t turn up anything significant, either. It will probably hold resale better than any of the other vehicles listed, too, so in five years it might not be worth that much less than you’ll pay for it today. Here’s a nice example in a beautiful color that’s aged particularly well. They don’t look that different from the modern-day Lexus GX, either, so nobody will know that you’re rolling in a car that’s getting ready to complete its first decade on the road.