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post-Volvo future?

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


We've been buying a new, bottom of the line Volvo station wagon with a manual transmission every ten years for three decades. Our 2007 V70 just had its first significant reliability-related repair. This is our one and only vehicle, so we're shopping for its replacement. We need something reliable, something we can haul a lot with (on the roof, in the back, in the seats). We do construction. We have a dog. We go camping. We drive on long (500-2000 mile) trips. We like a car that corners well, although lots of power and acceleration matter less.

The Volvos have been great in terms of functionality. The 1998 V70 was fun to drive, and the 2007 V70 is somewhat less so, but very comfortable. The 1988 240 was a tank, but we could get seven people in (kid seats in back), preventing the mini-van which would have not worked at all for us.

Volvo no longer makes the car we need with the end of the V70/XC70 family. We've found a 2016 XC70 demo at a dealer for a price at the upper limit of our range, which gets pretty close for functionality, but the added height is a pain for those of us who are short and who load boats and plywood and lumber on the roof fairly frequently. It seems the right car for the long trips, but we also hear a lot of issues about reliability. And repair costs for Volvos are fairly high as they begin to age.

The other option would be a front-wheel drive VW Sportwagen. Better fuel economy, but maybe not as comfortable for long trips, and perhaps not the tough hauler that our Volvos have been. And there's the manual transmission question...

Anyone else with this dilemma? Suggestions? We've tried Subarus (nope) and taken quick glances at other wagons, most of which are either mini-SUVs (too tall) or micro hatchbacks (too small).

Priorities: Reliability & durability / Fuel economy / Handling

Need minimum of 5 seats

Will consider new cars only

Maximum price: US $ 38000

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Response from Dnslater

11:17 am February 20, 2017

If you don't like the Subaru Outback, which has blossumed into a full SUV, and don't want to go SUV then the VW Sportwagen or AWD Alltrack is probably your best option. Remember they are also making an AWD, non Alltrack version of the Sportwagen. They give up a bit of space to the V70, but otherwise are solid vehicles and have good back seat space. They feel high quality and have good handling on the solid VW/Audi MBQ platform. A roof cargo carrier adds a ton of utility. Other European wagons offered in the U.S. aren't nearly as large (Allroad, V60, 328ix, etc...). Engine has decent power and economy is good.

The Sportwagen unfortunately only comes in a manual in base "S" trim, but this trim is well optioned. The Alltrack has VW's excellent dual clutch automated manual, which is a brilliant transmission. My TDI had it, and my GTI has it. Shifts are lighting quick and the manual mode is quite good. It just costs $450 or so to have it serviced every 40,000 miles.

I had a TDI version of the previous Jetta Sportwagen and loved it. I went with a GTI when VW bought my wagon back, only because my wife drives an Odyssey so it isn't our only car. If it was, I would be driving a Golf Sportwagen or an Alltrack again.


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Volkswagen Golf Alltrack
Volkswagen Golf / Rabbit / GTI

Response from LectroFuel

9:19 pm February 20, 2017

Unfortunately, manuals are becoming obsolete and it's hard to look past that. You might not like Dnslater's choice of a Golf Alltrack because you mentioned you didn't like lifting things into a car with a high load floor, you didn't like Subarus (the Outback is lifted), and you like cornering ability. The Golf Alltrack is a good choice if you off road often, but it doesn't have the same handling ability as a Golf Sportwagon, which has a lower load floor, gets better MPG, rides nicer, and has better handling.

I'd recommend the Golf Sportwagon because of those reasons. You can get a fully loaded one in your budget easily at below $33k. The Alltrack would be $3k more only for off road ability. Also, a TDI would work for you well, but we all know how that ended. The Golf Sportwagon SEL with lighting and driver assistance package is what you should get. I couldn't add a picture of the Sportwagon to the left, so I used a golf plus (I don't even know what that is).


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Volkswagen Golf Plus

Response from Dnslater

8:14 am February 21, 2017

Keep in mind that the Alltrack only has a "lift" of .6", so the additional height of the cargo area is not really an issue. It is essentially an appearance package compared to the AWD sportwagen. They do come more nicely equipped than the Sportwagen version so you are paying for some added value. That said, the Golf Sportwagen is the more economical choice and is a great platform for upgrades.


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Response from colin42

10:31 pm February 21, 2017

If you could consider used an Acura TSX wagon would work for you, howevery they've been out of production ofr a few years now.

Buick are due to release a wagon of the Regal later this year, if you can wait that long. Other than the VW there really aren't many choices.

So I'd suggest trying a few of the compact SUV's - Mazda CX-5 would be my choice or even CX-9 if you want a little more space.

Finally consider a Ford Flex - again might not be to your likling but it's close to a large wagon. MPG is on the low side but certianly easy to eat the miles


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Acura TSX
Mazda CX-5
Ford Flex

Response from Dnslater

6:52 am February 22, 2017

Forgot about the TSX. Nice handling car and space is similar to the Sportwagen, which is to say much larger than the other German compact wagons. You can still find them with relatively low miles if you look carefully and with the naturally aspirated engine they will run forever with cheap maintenance. One of the downsides is the 5 speed auto.


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Response from avshelden

10:45 am February 24, 2017

There was a good discussion on wagon options a few months ago here:

One member posted a great spreadsheet comparison of late model wagon options.

Another (older) option not preivously mentioned that I've thrown out there before would potentially be a Dodge Magnum. It didn't appeal to me style wise, but it may check off your boxes for low roof height and cargo space. Granted, you did specify desire for a new car.

Good luckb


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Dodge Magnum

Response from mkaresh

8:34 pm March 8, 2017

Volvo is offering the new, non-lifted V90 as a special order model. Stunning wagon. But too expensive? No manual transmission, alas.

At the other end of the price scale Hyundai will be offering the new 2018 Elantra GT with a 1.6 turbo + manual transmission. It will be at dealers this summer. Might have to wait a few more months after they arrive to get an especially good deal on one. Could really hit the price + space + handling combo.


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Volvo V90
Hyundai Elantra GT

Response from NormT

2:18 pm July 12, 2017

For under $30,000 I'd wait for the Buick Regal TourX. It has torque vectoring AWD with Twinster twin clutches that allow power to any one wheel when the other three are slipping (unlike VW All track that only sends 50% of power to rear wheels). Plus it has 70 or so more horsepower or same as a base Volvo V90 wagon is almost double the price of the Buick.

Best deal going for car-like driving, 30+ mpg highway, and state of the art all wheel drive system for under $30,000. The interior cargo is the same size as my old Saab 9-5 Arc wagon.


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