Not sure if this would be appropriate “piston slap” fodder or not, but here goes:
Our blossoming family recently expanded to five. My wife and I, and a three year old, a 20 month old and now a 2 month old fill up the house. We occasionally travel with our 75 lb dog. Knowing the Volvo Turbobrick would not handle the cargo/dog/people, and the PT Cruiser remains the most reliable vehicle ever built (even if the timing belt changes are a big pain) we decided to sell the Volvo for something more appropriate, if a lot slower and FWD.
Enter the Freestyle. We routinely get 28 mpg on trips, parts are cheap, we have lots of cubbies for kid’s junk and the car seats fit easily. I purchased a high mileage (150k) example that was a one owner (ish) with all receipts. It was a fleet car for some guy who then bought it when his company was done with it. It had the CVT replaced at 118k miles with a remanufactured transmission from Ford, installed at a dealer.
My mom’s 1998 V70 with 215k miles is starting to leak coolant, with no major puddles on the ground. I told them to look at the oil to see if there were any signs of the coolant in the oil. I personally think the time with the Volvo is almost over as the dealership (an independent dealership) said that its time was slowly approaching about a year ago, but they couldn’t promise how fast. My mom loves this car and my dad likes it too. Her requirements are preferably station wagon, heated leather seats, and automatic. They live in Michigan so it gets cold. AWD is not a necessity, and she knows that snow tires work just fine. She does haul a bike on occasion, so it must be easy for her to haul the bike without having my dad there at all times.
She loves her Volvo and would like another if she could find one that would be reliable. I recommended the Outback, especially the 2005 and later models. What are other possibilities? Their budget is around $15,000 or less. They tend to drive their cars into the ground, so reliability is more important than the badge. What should she look at?