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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
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 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..

  • Chris P Bacon I had a chance to drive 2 Accords back to back as rentals. The first was a base ICE LX. I was underwhelmed. The next was a Sport Hybrid. Like night and day. So much so that I ventured on to the grounds of my local dealer. Was looking for a Sport or Sport-L. Autotrader showed nothing within 250 miles. Dealer confirmed. Told me I'd have to "get on the list" for a delivery, and there was a non-negotiable $3k "market adjustment". I guess I'll have to hope to see one on the Emerald Aisle again.
  • DungBeetle62 I just this past weekend rented one of these for 5 days in SoCal and with $5.29 the best I could find for gas, this ride's wonderful combination of comfort and thrift was welcome indeed. My biggest real beef is with the entire Accord product line - with that angle of backlight, not having this as a 5-door hatch seems a real waste of space.
  • RICHARD I bought my wife the exact car in the picture 3 weeks ago. Acceleration is average for the class. Smoothness of the powertrain, competent ride dynamics, quietness, and comfort are definitely pluses. The styling is restrained for sure, but we weren't looking for a shouty car that doesn't deliver on the design statement. She drives about 8,000 miles per year, mostly around town. At the current rate, we expect to buy about 16 gallons of gas per month. This really is a car that appears to do everything well rather than excelling at a few things to the detriment of others.
  • Ajla "2010-2019 Borrego"The Borrego only had model years 2009 - 2011 in the United States. The Borrego/Mohave did exist in international markets beyond them but the NHTSA of the United States would not be handling a recall on those. It's annoying that apparently the manufacturer, the federal regulator, and automotive press didn't notice this.
  • SilverCoupe The last Accord I test drove was in 1978, but I ended up buying a VW Scirocco instead. The Accords have put on quite a bit of weight since, then, but then again, so have I!