Buy/Drive/Burn: A Luxury All-Wheel Drive Wagon Awaits

buy drive burn a luxury all wheel drive wagon awaits

Our previous entry into Buy/Drive/Burn asked which brougham personal luxury coupe you’d choose from the Big Three for the 1980 model year. Today we’ve got a different Big Three — two Germans and a Swede. (Read ground rules here.)

All of them offered luxury wagons with all-wheel drive around the turn of the century, and we hone in on 2004 today. Which one will you drive up to the Alps and then set on fire?


Audi A6 Allroad

Before the CUV craze started, Audi applied some cladding to its A6 Avant, jacked up the suspension, and increased the price to create the A6 Allroad for 1999. Available with either a 2.7-liter biturbo engine or the full-fat 4.2-liter V8 (an excellent engine), the Allroad sold in relatively low numbers in North America until it was cancelled after the 2005 model year.

Volvo XC70

Much like the Audi, Volvo added cladding and ride height to the all-wheel drive potion to create the rough and ready XC70. First available for 1998, the V70 XC (or Cross Country), name swapped to XC70 in 2003, midway through the second generation. No inline-six in 2004; we had a 2.5-liter I5. The XC70 received a third generation, surviving through 2015 before its replacement by the larger (and elegant) V90 Cross Country.

Mercedes-Benz E320 4MATIC

For the more traditional, cladding-free luxury customer, Mercedes-Benz held onto a traditional wagon format (and still does), while offering its 4Matic system to power all four wheels. Brand new in 2004 (the DaimlerChrysler era), the W211 E320 wagon sported revised but conservative styling that was similar to its predecessor. It’s powered by the standard 3.2-liter V6, because this was a time when the numbers on the back matched the engine’s displacement.

Three different wagons providing the same sort of luxury experience and maintenance opportunities. Which one goes home with you as you speed away from an arson event?

[Images: The Truth About Cars, Audi, Volvo Cars, Daimler AG]

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  • Kmars2009 Kmars2009 on Feb 09, 2018

    If we're going to be criticizing Volvo, let's get the facts straight. The 1st gen XC was on the old 850, then renamed V70XC in 1998. The second P2 came out in 2001 and ran through 2007. It was renamed XC70 in 03 and given a 2.5T engine. All previous models had the 2.4T engine. The last gen was enlarged in 08 and carried on until 17. It now had a 3.2 6cyl in it. I personally own a P2 2002 V70XC. It's been quite reliable, however, like any car...must be well maintained to go the distance. Mine has 218,000 on it and is still going strong. One major thing must be noted about these AWD cars. Multispeed transmissions must be servic regularly...as do the angle gears. Like every 40K miles on both...or u might as well burn it.... literally. Anyway, I love my volvo! As parts ware, I replace them. The body and interior are doing fine, even in the AZ sun. (Again...take care of the leather) I will drive it until it dies. I use synthetic oil and it runs like new...even the turbo is fine. I'd buy another Volvo in a heart beat!

  • B234R B234R on Feb 10, 2018

    Burn: Mercedes. Never liked how it drives, or the interior. Looks ok on the outside but that doesn't help much. Since in -04 it would be just before the M272 that has the balance shaft gear issues this might be the least expensive to run, but i've always been willing to pay more to actually like the car(s) i drive, particularly after trying the low-cost option a couple times and hating every minute of driving the pos kias.. So, the mercedes can burn or whatever, don't even really care. Buy: Volvo, mainly because of three things: lights, seats, even the crappier ones beat anything in a W211 and A6 apart from the recaros in the audi and the "sport" or whatever they were called are just a bit better the aforementioned recaros. This of course is a very personal thing what fits your behind might be completely the opposite. And the third is running costs, since i happen to know what to do to prevent and do if things go awry on one of these it would be cheap to own compared to the A6 and the Mercs cost don't matter.. Drive: Audi, this is the one i'd prefer driving, (with the right seats) but even though i work at an indie VAG specialist shop, i consider buying an old allroad with a 2,7T or 4,2 financial suicide.. Unlike the volvo, knowing what to do doesn't save the day here and while some things might not cost thousands when doing them yourself, it feels like most repairs start with removing the engine..

  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.
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