By on May 9, 2017

[Image: Rudolf Stricker/Wikimedia Commons]

Long-time readers of this site know that your humble author was once a salesman at an Infiniti dealership. At the time, I’d have much rather been a salesman at a Lexus dealership. Perhaps it’s better that I didn’t get my wish, because being a Lexus salesman is an actual career that enables people to buy luxury homes and save for retirement and hold their heads up in their community. If I’d started working for a Lexus dealer back in 1994, I’d still be working at a Lexus dealer today, which means I would’ve missed out on a career that took me everywhere from the Ritz-Carlton in Wolfsburg to the podium at Sepang to the county jail.

You know, I’d be okay with that. Being a Lexus salesman would have been great. There would, however, have been one continual annoyance: explaining to people who bought the original 1990 LS400 for $35,000 that their replacement 1998 LS400 was going to cost a minimum of $53,999. That’s a hefty bump for what was basically the same car. I suspect that a lot of first-gen LS400 buyers ended up buying an ES300 for their second Lexus; by 1998, the well-equipped sticker on that car was $35,000 or slightly over.

There’s nothing quite as disappointing as finding out that your budget doesn’t allow you to purchase the modern equivalent of the car you already have. But that’s the situation facing today’s “Ask Jack” participant.


Brandon says,

I currently own a 2007 VW Passat V6 4motion wagon. It has been the perfect car and a jack of all trades. No major repairs have been needed and all electronics work perfectly (memory/heated seats, sunroof, power windows, power hatch, etc). The V6 has been great and I probably take the power for granted. The utility of the wagon has always been helpful with house and yard items, dogs, moving, and the like.

All of that said, the wagon is now getting close to 200,000 miles and I’m sure there are repairs looming that will cost more than I want to put into the car.

I have been looking at a replacement but nothing has really stood out. I’m in my 30s, married with two large dogs, and my budget is $30,000.

The obvious choice would be a GTI, but I’m not sure it would have the cargo space and room I’m used to. Maybe a Golf Sportwagen 4motion, but would I be unhappy with the lack of options as it’s only available on the base S? The Alltrack has more options, but I hate the pretense of people thinking I bought a CUV, as I think the whole CUV craze is crap and what we really need are more wagons.

Wait for the new Buick Regal wagon and hope for major discounts? I’ve heard the soon to be released Elantra GT sport will have more room than the GTI and Civic hatch, and the sedan has been getting rave reviews.

Brandon’s facing a couple of major problems here. The first one is that Volkswagen no longer offers a Passat wagon. But even if they did, it would most likely cost more than the base V6 4Motion sedan, which runs about $31,000 after destination. Equipped like Brandon’s description of his current Passat, it would likely be closer to $36,000.

The closest thing you can buy to a loaded Passat V6 4Motion sedan right now is the Subaru Outback 3.6R Touring, which retails for $39,070. That’s a whopping thirty percent above his max budget. Keep this in mind, however, because we will circle back around to this idea in a minute.

The only options that Brandon mentions with any enthusiasm are lesser VW models and the Buick Regal wagon, which is fundamentally a European Opel with a splash of woodgrain and Chinese-market cred. From this, I’m going to make the assumption that he’s a bit of a VW/Euro snob. Well, Brandon, I’ve been there. If you look at my personal vehicle ownership history you’ll see over a half million dollars’ worth of new Volkswagens sprinkled in there with the Porsches, Bimmers and Benzes. There was a time in my life that I didn’t even think about buying anything without “German engineering”.

The day came, however, when I followed the example of the Apostle Paul. I put away childish things. I started looking at all the options and judging them on their merit. I recommend that you do the same thing. The Golf Sportwagen is going to disappoint you. It’s considerably smaller than the vehicle you have now.

Your mention of the Elantra GT makes me think that you might be open to the idea of something that isn’t European or Euro-influenced. But the Elantra, too, is going to be awfully small when compared to the Passat. One does not simply walk out of a mid-sized wagon into a compact wagon. Not unless he wants to start packing light.

Here’s what you need to do. You need to put on your negotiating hat and you need to visit the local Subaru dealer. The Outback 2.5i Limited is equipped the way your Passat was. It’s $33,000 but you should be able to chop a little bit off that sticker and get close to your budget. If that $30k is what they call a “hard stop” in modern corporations, you’ll have to drop to the 2.5i Premium.

You’ll miss the power of the V6, but there is no V6-powered conventional wagon out there for thirty grand out the door. Especially not with AWD. The closest thing is a Hyundai Santa Fe at $33,000.

Get the Outback. It’s not quite as cool or as Euro as a Passat, but there are compensations. Resale value is good. There’s plenty of room in the current model; it’s bigger than your current Passat. And you’ll be in good company. It’s not quite as disappointing as replacing an LS400 with an ES300, that’s for sure. You might even end up regarding it as fondly as you do your Passat. Stranger things have happened.

[Image: Rudolf Stricker/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)]

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129 Comments on “Ask Jack: You Shall Not Passat?...”


  • avatar
    TOTitan

    The problem with choosing a Subaru Outback is that they drive like an appliance. I have a 16 Golf Sportwagen SE tsi and it makes me smile every time I drive it. If Brandon enjoys driving he should get a Sportwagen.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      He can also chip it for more oomph… but the 1.8T is good enough that that’s unnecessary IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        TOTitan

        I use a Neuspeed Power Module on mine which bumps the hp to 200 and the torque to 250 by tricking the computer into making the turbo give 5 more pounds of boost. It is fun, quick, and useful daily driver, errand runner for me. For road trips the 335d comes out to play.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      But at least, Subaru and VW have about same long term reliability.

    • 0 avatar
      brawnychicken333

      Had an Outback not long ago-definitely appliance like. It’s the sensible shoes of the automotive world if you live in a snowy climate. But the Golf is so much smaller and less usable. The Outback swallows an absurd amount of cargo with or without the back seats down-and the rear legroom is great if you have people in the back regularly.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        My Outback is a beast in the rain too. We don’t get snow here.

        Appliance? Meh – at 85k miles mine feels tight and loves to play.

        Congrats on achieving 200k on your Passat! That’s a museum piece…

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          I’ve driven a 2015 or 2016ish 3.6R Limited, and would not really consider it “appliance”-like.

          It’s not *quite* as responsive and zippy as my XC70 (in Sport mode, especially), but mostly within rounding error.

          (Low-spec Outbacks are closer, simply because the 2.5 is not the engine the 3.6 is.

          But I’ve also driven a low-spec 2.5 Outback and it frankly was just fine for normal human beings, not gearheads.)

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Hey, what *about* an XC70? I know they’re difficult to find, but if the LW has already taken the plunge on a complicated Volkswagen, a Volvo isn’t much of a leap.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            I must concur with XC70 suggestion.

          • 0 avatar
            BiturboS4

            I concur: XC70. I’ve been looking at them and depending on what part of the country you live in, they are available for between $10k and $25k depending on mileage. It perhaps fails the “fake CUV” test, but with the Volvo brand, it’s got legit wagon cred. Plus, turbo inline 6!

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          “My Outback … feels tight and loves to play.”

          thanks for a good laugh. I’ve bee in too many Outbacks to believe in “tight Outback”. Before this latest iteration, it was a total penalty box

    • 0 avatar
      Rick T.

      Same here except the S. While I wouldn’t mistake it for the MB E500 we also have, it’s plenty good enough for commuting a mix of suburban and rural roads. And on the other hand, it’s only just been in the shop for its first oil change and tire rotation. The Benz had already been in for warranty work three times in those amount of miles.

    • 0 avatar
      Driver8

      We have a TSI SE in our stable as well and are very pleased with it. Unless he’s in VT or similar, I’d probably forgo the AWD. If you must have AWD, the S is fairly well appointed…you get heated seats, but downgrade to cloth, and 16″ wheels (IMO the best NVH/handling compromise).

      Otherwise, bite the bullet for the lifted one and lower it.

  • avatar
    vvk

    I will go out on the limb here and suggest a Mazda CX-5. The *crazy* roomy interior combines well with plenty of cargo capacity, good performance, well weighted steering, great fuel economy, reasonable comfort and ergonomics. The new model has many good incremental improvements, too. I think it would be a really good choice.

    The Subaru Outback is also a great choice. Ugly interior but otherwise pretty much perfect in every way.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      He says “the CUV craze is crap.”

    • 0 avatar
      Speed3

      Sorry but if 30K is your budget (looks like you didn’t index it to inflation), then your best bet is a crossover. And if you really can’t spend more than 30K then strongly consider buying used.

      OR, get a Volvo V90. Best new wagon hands down – I’d definitely take it over an Outback.

      • 0 avatar
        MLS

        The V90 starts around $50K. It’s not a reasonable alternative to the (no longer available) Passat, much less the Outback.

        • 0 avatar
          FuzzyPlushroom

          I’m still with Kyree on the idea of a CPO XC70, if waiting for the Regal Crosstour to finish making a splash would be too long.

          I’ll say this, though… now that Subaru’s worked out seats that don’t mutilate your lower back, I’ve known a few people who’ve gone from European cars to Subarus, including the guy who sold me my car. (Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but lumbar support is no joke.)

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    If your take home pay is not keeping up with inflation, you probably shouldn’t be buying brand new cars. The Outback will feel positively asthmatic after the glorious 3.6 VR6. He should get the 3.6R, gently used. Non-WRX adjacent Subaru owners are a responsible, well-heeled bunch and probably the best folks to buy used cars from. One of their biggest current marketing pushes is a safety feature that “avoids trouble” FFS.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    How about Ford Fusion Sport AWD?
    They are available below $30K. Here is one under $26K https://www.koonssterlingford.com/new-inventory/new/Ford/2017-Ford-Fusion-b72119a60a0e0a6b278b25045e266f0a.htm

  • avatar
    Lampredotto

    If preowned is an option, then a CPO Acura TSX Sport Wagon might fit the bill. No V6 or AWD, but reasonably entertaining and luxurious.

    • 0 avatar
      steverock

      I came here to post the exact same suggestion. I had a 2011 TSX Sport Wagon I bought as a CPO and it’s one of the best cars I’ve ever owned. Only traded it in because I needed more backseat space for the kid’s car seats. I really miss it.

      I almost bought a Outback 3.6R but it just didn’t do it for me. I ended up in a 2015 Passat 3.6 SEL Premium. I miss having a wagon but the Passat is just a nice car to drive. Love the power. I don’t know if I’ll get 200k miles out of it but I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    FWIW, $35k in 1990 was the same as $44k in 1998. Not THAT ridiculous of a price hike.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      But a 1998 LS400 was essentially the same as a 1990 LS400.

      This now makes me wonder how much a similarly optioned 1987 Cadillac Brougham cost compared to a 1992 Cadillac Brougham for what was essentially the same car.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      A 23% price hike AFTER inflation is not a huge price hike??

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        Not when you can also afford a train, I guess.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          FWIW, a 1990 Mercedes 560SEL MSRP’d for $74k, 1998 S500 was $87,500; so the spread between the Lexus and the Mercedes didn’t change much (~$39k in 1990, $34.5k in 1998).

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            Uh-huh.

            You’re comparing the move from W126 to W140, in which the car gained everything from half a ton of weight to little electronic fender finders, to the eight-year aging of an unchanged platform. :)

  • avatar
    Pantherlove

    Chevy Cruze Hatch?

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      2007 Passat wagon:
      188″ long, 35.8 cubic ft with seats up, 61.8 with seats down

      2017 Cruze hatch:
      175″ long, 22.7 cubic ft with seats up, 47.2 with seats down

      As much as I hate Subarus, I think the Outback might be his only reasonably priced choice unless he goes to the CUV dark side.

  • avatar
    Digdug

    He could buy my 2007 E63 wagon that I’ll be selling soon. Lots of room and power to spare. Of course being TTAC, my lifetime mileage of 15.2 won’t attract a lot of attention.

  • avatar
    phreshone

    Must it be AWD? The Sportswagen becomes an option again – but it has less cargo room than Passat

    As someone looking for replacements for 9-5 Sportwagen, and thus researched a lot of wagens/CUVs, I think if the Passat is running well, wait for the Buick. Looking at cargo volumes, it will be the largest wagon in the US market when it gets here (Bigger than V90, more cargo space than most CUV’s). And you really shouldn’t have to worry about 1st model year issues as it is essentially already being sold in Europe

    Oh. And Ford Flex. (Fortunately my girl likes it, and is at top of list currently)

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    I usually find myself agreeing with you Jack but come on man. Way off base on this one. He needs to suck in his material gut and go GTI or Elantra GT. The Outback has bloated up into a CUV. Fittingly, it’s only available with a CVT. No manual. Underpowered. Bleech. He will be sick of that boring ride in about a month.

    Basically, the car guy is left with the choice to go smaller or sell out. Don’t give in. Go small and just pack lighter. My parents had an Olds 442 rag top as the sole family truckster and we lived.

  • avatar
    Menar Fromarz

    Keep driving the Passat. The looming repairs are a pittance vs the cost of a new car. Besides, you like the vw a lot. That counts for something.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “I’m sure there are repairs looming” = “I’m sick of the torn seats and peeling clearcoat, and I don’t like the bouncy ride and loose steering but don’t want to spend $3000 to overhaul the suspension, but I think of myself as too responsible to give in to new car fever.”

      • 0 avatar
        Brandon

        Actually, the leather has no cracks or tears, the paint looks great for a 10yr old car, and nobody thinks the car has the mileage it does.

        But you are correct, struts, bushings, and motor mounts will need to be replaced this year. Add to that the engine has 200k, and you never know which trip might be its last (currently it runs great, doesn’t burn any oil, and compression is only a few psi down from brand new).

        • 0 avatar
          HotPotato

          I feel you. My Passat V6 wagon looked and ran like brand spanking new–mostly–but keeping it that way was not cheap…about a new car payment per month averaged out over a year, as my exasperated wife’s spreadsheet showed. So I traded the Passat for a Ford C-Max Hybrid. More body flex and less cargo room, but surprisingly good torque, handling, road manners and NVH, plus double the MPG, great visibility and a fantastic open feeling in the cockpit. Rear seats fold flat with one tug on a lever, too…great for dogs.

          I love the C-Max, but I still miss the Passat every day. The Regal Wagon is the closest thing I’ve seen. I’ve admired several (badged as Opels) in Europe, and they are gorgeous, built on a rock-solid good-handling Euro platform, and should be available here with 2.0T or V6 power. My fear is that, depending how GM prices them, you might have to wait a few years for them to come off lease. Euro wagons are pricey as hell, and that’s the car’s competition.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheatridger

            That’s a left-field choice, but its the same trajectory of my months-long search for my daughter’s first car. Last winter I was about to buy her my trusty mechanic’s B5.5 Passat V6 4Motion. High miles, but everything was perfect, he said- but the test drive revealed that the steering had absolutely no self-centering. You had to steer the wheel manually back to straight after a corner. Other B.5 Passats I tested showed the same behavior. The only one that didn’t needed $3k of repairs. Then I showed her a B6 Passat like the OP’s. She hated the styling, it reminded her of a Buick Roadmaster wagon we used to make fun of when spotted on the school run.

            Wandring outside my personal VWAG bubble, doubled the original $5000 budget and started researching the funnest CUVs. Acura’s original RDX caught my fancy, but two high-milage examples I had inspected each needed too much work. She wanted a Subaru like half her friends at college have. The budget doubled again, but even $15,000 wasn’t enough to buy a low-milage Subaru. (Denver is at Peak Subaru; I found a 2004 Forester identical to the one I sold five years ago, same miles, listed at the same asking price!) The CX-5 would have been my choice, but prices were too steep.

            A Tiguan was our default choice – my wife has one – and many were available at low-teens prices. But just before our final shopping began, my GTI suffered oil leaks, a flywheel failure, and I suffered a $3000 repair bill. Did I really want to own three 2.0 TSI engines?

            The C-Max came up in a last-minute search of “anything under $15,000, under 50,000 miles, with a proper tailgate.” (No CRVs or RAV4s need apply.) Just past the giveaway Nissan Leafs, the Ford C-Max popped up. I took a short test drive, and met her in Seattle where she took a long one. We both couldn’t stop smiling at the car’s performance, utility, economy and uniqueness. Her 2014 SEL cost just $14,000, with 42,000 miles and some powertrain and hybrid warranty in place. The first three years carved about $20,000 off the original price, bad news for the original owner, good for us.

            Now my wife says she wants one. I’ll keep my GTI, because Ford can’t match those wonderful seats. But I’m very happy to find this hidden gem of a car. Sometimes, you just have to go off the reservation, to shift your thinking.

            Now I want to borrow the Ford, to go out and race Priuses.

    • 0 avatar
      Ermel

      This. $30k should make an ample repair budget to carry that Passat over into young classic age, when deprecation becomes negative.

    • 0 avatar
      cgjeep

      The repairs aren’t always a pittance and often some in large chucks that are hard to budget. For example I finally bit the bullet and bought a new 4 Runner. Payment just under $500 a month. My beloved Jeep was averaging about $250 a month in maintenance/repairs. In 5 years I’ll have close to 20k equity in the 4 Runner. In 5 years I would have 1k equity in the Jeep if it lasted that long.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    How often do you use all of that cargo room? Every couple weeks, or twice a year?

    If “every couple weeks?” Then spring for the Outback 3.6R. It’s more boring than your Passat, but it’s pleasant to drive and d4mned useful.

    If “twice a year?” GTI, without a second thought. Hyundais still handle and steer like Hyundais and driving one will be a nasty shock after your Passat.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Actually, the current Elantra GT is one of the few Hyundais that handles remarkably well. It sort of *is* a good alternative to a Golf. I can’t imagine Hyundai would ruin that with the upcoming one (although I think they ruined the styling).

    • 0 avatar
      Brandon

      As my email stated, we have 2 large dogs that frequently drive with us. Keeping them in the back really helps keep the interior in great shape.

      The New Elantra GT Sport is probably the option that interests me the most ATM, depending on how well it utilizes its space.

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        Just how big are your large dogs?

        Lab, German Shepherd large, Rottweiler, Cane Corso large, or Great Dane, Mastiff large? Some people consider a 60 lb dog large, others consider a 120 lb dog large.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Get a CUV.

    The car market is dying.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    What is the Passat’s condition? Has Brandon kept up with maintenance? Is it badly rusted? If it’s in good shape, he should consider keeping it. He can fix a lot of stuff for less than $30,000.

    The biggest down side to maintaining an older vehicle is that its utility greatly exceeds its cash value. According to the Kelley web site, the Passat is worth only $1k or $2k. If it is totaled in an accident, Brandon won’t get more than that even if he just spent several thousand dollars on repairs that would have kept it going for a long time.

  • avatar
    brawnychicken333

    Was in Jackson Hole this winter. Lot’s of Subies for sure-but nothing on Burlington VT-or anywhere else in VT for that matter.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      I think the point of the story on Jackson Hole Subies is that Jackson Hole is a very wealthy place full of very wealthy people, so it’s interesting that they choose to drive Subarus which are normal priced. Vermont is a place populated by people much more ‘normal’ on the income scale, so it’s less surprising that they buy Subarus in droves.

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    I think the mistake here is looking at the Alltrack as a CUV.

    Yes, they call it that. Just like Subaru calls the Outback one.

    They ride higher than his current Passat, but can be lowered. They are wagons.

    He should get the Alltrack, the closest descendant to what he has, and stop giving a damn about whether other people think its a CUV.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      Agreed. A little plastic cladding and an inch of rise does not an SUV make. The Alltrack is criticized for exaggerated claims about minimal alteration, and now you’re bashing it as if it was truly an SUV. The Alltrack rides about as high as an older GTI, and lower than today’s Subarus. A roof rack would replace the cargo space lost to the shorter chassis.

      You should stop judging the cars from the outside in, and go out test-driving. Size and stance need to be judged in person, not online.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Take a long hard look at how important “seats up” cargo capacity is. If it’s “handy but not necessary”, get a GTI–it will still provide all of the VW-ness you seem to have enjoyed in the Passat.

    If it’s non-negotiable, get the Sportwagen 4motion or Alltrack, or even risk waiting for the Buick. The seats up cargo volume of your Passat is ~35 cubic feet. The Golf Sportwagen isn’t much smaller–30.5 cubic feet. If you want to avoid the CUV image the Alltrack is a better choice than the Outback, if for its rarity on the road more than anything else. It apparently drives very much like the non-Alltrack version as well.

    I don’t see anyone enamored with the drivetrain performance of that 280hp Passat being happy with a 2.5 Outback wheezing its way off the line and up the onramps, so that will be another “take a long hard look” factor.

    • 0 avatar
      japanhusky

      I don’t think the V6 Passat puts out anywhere near that much power. The W8 maybe but not the V6.

    • 0 avatar
      Brandon

      OP here, you really need to research the vehicle in question. the 3.6 VR6 motor absolutely puts out 280 hp, and when new 1/4 mile times in the 14’s. A 4cyl Outback isn’t even playing the same sport.

      The thing I hate most about the Alltrack isn’t that it’s thought of as a CUV, but the butt ugly plastic cladding they put all over the dang thing. And yes, I’m aware the Buick will most likely have this same feature…but I was holding out hope.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Hopefully used is an option. With the Passat approaching 200k miles, Brandon is clearly not one of those drivers that lives in terror of repairs from the first night that the warranty expires.

    He might be able to track down an 2010+ E350 wagon with enough room in the budget to spare for repairs. I’m not sure the maintenance would be much worse than on the Passat anyway. He could also choose from the previously mentioned TSX sportwagon or probably any number of Volvos.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      E350 wagon checks all the boxes if he’s open to used, and it’ll be a significant step up in interior quality from the Passat. Keeps him in his price bracket, too.

    • 0 avatar
      Brandon

      I’ve not been able to find any 2010+ E series or 3 series wagons around me in my price range. The ones I have been able to find have 50k+ miles, which is a little more than I would want on a used german vehicle I haven’t owned/maintained.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    For new options, on paper at least, a Kia Soul has similar cargo capacity to the Passat Wagon. It would mean an engine downgrade for sure, but Kia’s are always well equipped for the money.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    If Brandon hates the pretense of buying a CUV that comes with an Alltrack, I don’t see how an Outback is any better.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Well, I think I identify with this. in 2010 I bought a 2000 GS400 for CAD$13,500 and it’s turned out to be a screaming deal of car. Right now I’d have to move down to an IS250/350 or an older GS300. I just don’t like the 3rd-gen GS as much as the 2nd-gen, soooooo, probably going to look for a creampuff 2003/4 LS430 in a year or two. It will be an older car than I want, but any year LS is a damn fine car if maintained well.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Grab a minivan if you value having lots of interior space. There’s no reason to pidgeon hole yourself into only wagons beyond hipster cred. Alternatively there are a number of 4 door hatches in the market.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The main problem is that the market for semi sporty, affordable wagons died around the time he bought that Passat. There just aren’t many options anymore. And if he’s used to something entertaining to drive, a four banger CVT Subaru is bound to disappoint. So…

    1) Wait to see if the Regal turns out to be good. But I have a feeling it’s gonna be more money than he wants to spend.

    2) Therefore…Golf Sportwagen 4Motion.

  • avatar
    dchturbo

    GTI is probably the closest thing that will make you happy. A Subaru will never, ever satisfy the fun-feeling you’re looking for. They are good cars, but they are not fun vehicles.

    The newest GTI is probably close to your current Passat in terms of size, so I would at least check it out. I would also not own any VW product off warranty. I think they’re garbage but they sure do drive well.

  • avatar
    ajla

    For your consideration:

    masseycadillacnorth.com/VehicleDetails/certified-2014-Cadillac-CTS_Wagon-3.6L_V6_AWD_Performance-Orlando-FL/2928880083

    Last year of the 2G CTS. Uses the LFX V6 instead of the LLT. It’s the AWD “performance” trim, so it is FE2 suspension, limited slip and larger brakes. And under budget.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I think those were actually still pulling fairly well for Cadillacs.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      The CTS wagon is an excellent suggestion.

      A few years ago my wife was in exactly this situation, looking to replace the old Passat wagon.

      She decided on a GTI but there’s no denying it has less space than the Passat.

      If living with a little less space isn’t an option I think I’d be prepared to travel and buy the cleanest, lowest mileage used wagon I could find. One of
      1. CTS Wagon
      2. Mercedes E350
      3. The last year a Passat wagon was available.

      I don’t consider the Outback to be any more of a wagon than an Alltrack is.

    • 0 avatar
      Brandon

      I had kind of forgotten about these, So far, this is the option that makes the most sense given my budget.

      Thank you,

  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    If you like what you have, why not find another with half the miles? Or if you need something different, find an ’05 Subaru GT LTD which is TOTALLY not a CUV and gives all the bells and whistles at a fraction of what it would cost to replace with new. (not that there IS a replacement…)

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    Jack’s about right.

    Or, since he hates “crossovers”, a lightly used V60 T5 or T6.

    (DLR Nordic here in Portland has a 2017 V60 T5 Premier for 31k, with *5* thousand miles on it.

    The Volvo Dealers have similar price points around 10kmi, which is still “basically new”.)

    • 0 avatar
      Acd

      Good suggestion. It may not be a roomy as his Passat but will drive better than a Golf Sportwagen/Alltrack and like most Volvos has great seats.

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      @Sig….I agree, CPO Volvo’s are a great value and have the best CPO warranty around. Just google “CPO Volvo” and you will find every one available in the country.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    Base Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo – MSRP $33,695 – can be had for less with negotiation.

    Handles well enough for its size, great V6 engine – AWD – and a decent trunk.

    Will do reasonably well off-road too.

    We love ours.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    A Colorado doublecab 4×4 in the USA starts around 30k.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Guy wants a sporty driving wagon, ideally with a stick and you suggest a crewcab pickup truck? C’mon now!

      EDIT: I had just assumed the stick shift requirement, the point still stands though.

  • avatar
    Peter Voyd

    I am surprised nobody suggested a Focus ST yet.

  • avatar
    darkmagik

    ha … v6 4×4 wagon dream is gone w/ the 90s.

    // jetta sportswagon or all track is your best bet for “under $30k”. but that’s 180hp 4 cylinder
    *bonus* you can find TDI sportswagon on cars com fully loaded for $25k, “new” & get 11 years warranty + $160 – 3 yr maintenance free from VW.

    // CUVs are new wagons … there’s new tiquan coming … 3 rows, again 4 cylinder. starts at $25k
    // atlas … huge & v6 will cost your $40k

    // only new v6 “wagon” that is close to what you’re looking for is the infinity QX50 … it’s based on q50 (formally g) sedan. awd 2017 start at $34k.

    /// then … there’s used audi s4 wagon … v8, 2008. $20k,
    can even find manual, but make sure to get aftermarket warranty with that ;)
    & finally s6 wagon, 2011 v6 w/ about 30k miles will run you $30k … that’s the closest to what you looking for …

  • avatar
    CaseyLE82

    I mean I drive a 26 year old minivan and there’s no way I could afford a new version (then the 1991 Toyota Previa, now the 2017 Toyota Sienna). My Previa is worth like $2,500 max, the Sienna with all the options I would want would be roughly $40,000. Out of the question! I know the pain.

  • avatar
    Eddie_B

    Jack, great piece on R&T about the Porsh, and good plates to boot.

  • avatar
    RS

    Since there isn’t really anything like it, some refurbishing of the current Passat would do wonders for 5-10% of the $30k you’ll blow on another depreciating vehicle. New tires/struts/replace some worn interior bits/a good detailing…etc.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    Isn’t the Buick wagon also only coming in SUV drag like the VW Alltrack? If they have a version without black wheel
    Arches and unnecessary extra ride height I may be interested, too. Just wondering if that even matches the desires of the writer… AWD, wagon, and not a “CUV.”

    Also, for perspective, wasn’t that huge price rise of the 1999s Lexus related to big fluxuations in the exchange rates? I recall that the Nissan 300zx also went up in price substantially at the same time.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      The Eighties was the decade that the dollar sank against the foreign competition.

      The primary reason the price of the LS400 went up was that they were pretty much loss leading it to begin with.

  • avatar
    deanst

    The obvious answer here is the Ford C-Max! Practically impossible to get to $30,000 even on a titanium edition with all the options, and after $5,000 + in discounts. Not really a CUV, closer to a wagon, and euro roots. Power not as strong as a v6, but the quick electric power around town makes it interesting. Might even be able to get the plug in version cheaper, depending on the government rebates in your region.

    • 0 avatar
      cgjeep

      The GSW has more room in it, at least in the cargo area. I think he will be placing dogs in the back. The passenger area in the CMAX has more space, at least it felt like it did. I love the CMAX but my wife liked the GSW more.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Agreed C-Max falls well short on cargo, only the Prius V would be a contender, except for the relatively gutless powertrain.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        Preparing to buy a C-Max, I compared the cargo volume to our family “big car,” a Tiguan. It looks smaller, but it’s the same with seats up or down, within one foot.

  • avatar
    Mike N.

    Having owned 3 Passats and a GTI, I too wished that VW would still sell a Passat wagon here, I’d seriously consider one.

    That said, I would suggest a used W212 E350 wagon. You can get a 2013, the first year of the facelift, in your price range (be careful that lot of them have MB Tex instead of leather). I like our 2007 E350 sedan (W211), and it will be replaced with a gently used E350 wagon in the near future.

  • avatar
    Nurburgringer

    What’s lamer than someone “needing” 4WD (snow tires with FWD work fine, and are super fun with RWD) is the dearth of RWD/6 cyl wagons. Have to go back to an E91 for that.

    • 0 avatar
      Brandon

      My wife is from upstate NY and has to make trips there, from Ohio, by herself. I feel better about her making those drives in one of the worst snow areas of the country (lake effect) when she has AWD. And before any snarky comments, nobody ever said I didn’t use snow tires.

      AWD + snow tires > FWD/RWD + snow tires

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      Some of us have a steep, snowy driveway at the end of our suburban commute. And for the rest of the year, AWD is a better way to get the power down, avoiding torque steer, and oversteer. So it can be nice to have, if not essential.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I’d say most loaded up GSW that you can get with a stick shift, put the difference into a Stage 1 (or more) tune to wake the 1.8T up closer to VR6 levels.

    EDIT: I guess stick shift is not as big of a deal. Is AWD a true must have?

  • avatar
    Brandon

    I’m the guy who wrote in with this question, I never thought it would make it to the website.

    Jack, thank you for answering my question, it is much appreciated. As much as I typically agree with your assessments, there’s no way I could own an Outback. They are much larger visually and under-powered. Subaru resale value and owner loyalty have made me question that at times, but I don’t think I could ever pull the trigger.

    The 3.6 in the Outback feels like a tractor motor compared to the VR6. 15.7 seconds in the 1/4 mile…isn’t that 4cyl Accord times? The gas mileage in the H6 Ouback was also disappointing. I know it’s rated 1 mpg better than the Passat, but that has not been my real world experience.

    I’m not a huge German/Euro automotive fanboy, but they are about the only ones who make true wagons.

  • avatar
    DirtRoads

    Brandon I have an ’02 Passat GLX 4-motion wagen and I like it well enough. Not sure there’s anything on the market i would like that fits that bill. Then again, years ago I swore I’d never buy a gd VW (I used to work on them).

    I was never impressed with its power though. The AWD sucks the guts out of it. Although if you wind up the rubber band (like the old Fiats I used to drive) you can snap it along pretty well.

    Good luck in your search.

    Hey, mine only has 170k on it, you could trade me :)

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Slightly similar situation; more years, 1 kid vs. 2 dogs, and fewer miles in a car no longer like anything made for close to the old price. The answers that speak to me (if I stay wagon) are the used Caddy and the possibly affordable if sales fall flat Buick. For me a switch to a used lux sedan makes more sense, I nearly never use the cargo space anymore prefering to let contractors do that crap now.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    Brandon sorry I haven’t read every comment so sorry if this was addressed already , but have you considered going the carmax route? It’ll probably be a bit pricey, but you can ship one in from any of their stores and put a big nice long warranty. You may have to compromise on something (mileage or AWD), but they have V70s, CTS’s, and TSX’s that might meet your requirement. The F30 328ix wagons are showing just over $30k with low mileage. You might luck out with a CPO V60 as well. I’m guessing the Cooper Clubman isn’t big enough? Good luck!


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