So, at a max price of 5000 (going to go for the loan, probably not going to happen though) I've found two cars on autotrader that I really like. I figured if I got an Audi, I wouldn't get a turbocharged model as they tend to be more problematic (but I'm still slightly hesitant because of their reliability issues) and I would prefer the space of an A6 (been headed to the mountains with my friend a bit, he has a '97 model).
My criteria is pretty similar, but I'm more open to six cylinders now than a turbocharged four. I definitely want AWD (I think Quattro is better than Subaru's Symmetrical AWD), a sunroof, heated leather seats, and decent mpg as gas is going to cost five bucks a gallon this summer. Plus I want a reliable and easily maintained car, since I plan on getting 5-10 years out of it.
1997 Audi A6 2.6 Avant Quattro with 120k
I like the older body style a lot, as I said my friend has the sedan version, which by the way fits two boards, a pair of skis, and all our equipment in the trunk with room to spare. But they have minor bugs in them, and are regarded to as much more reliable than the more recent generations. The interior of this particular one is excellent by the looks of the pictures, but the lack of side curtain airbags in the newer one's as well as the lack of other modern amenities sort of sucks.
2001 Audi A6 2.8 Avant Quattro with 94k
This one is a newer generation, and while it has more quirks (namely door panels popping off and strange drivetrain issues) it has very few miles for the year and it is the most reliable model year for that gen according to Edmunds. With a bigger engine and more safety improvements like side curtain airbags I would feel more comfortable in it. I also like the black leather interior and is bigger than an outback. But I'm still antsy because of the problems the early 2000's Audi's and VW's are known for, especially if anything electrical goes wrong and the car just becomes a mechanical nightmare.
2000 Audi A6 2.8 Quattro with 115k
And, if I can pull together another grand I wouldn't mind getting a higher trim in the sedan body style. This 2000 Audi A6 is by far the coolest of the cars I've posted. And as I said, theres enough space in trunk for our boards and bags, I would most likely get one of the thule racks too.
Then theres the Subaru's. They would be the much more sensible choice since their much cheaper to repair, insure, maintain, and fill at the pump. But the four cylinder models don't have the power I want. Subaru turbocharged engines are much more refined than the Audi's, with the exception of the 2005. If I could find a Forester XT in my price range with decent mileage, I would jump on it. But their also smaller than the Audi. And less comfortable on longer drives (seats and road noise), and are less fun to drive as opposed to a German sportwagon.
2001 Subaru Legacy Wagon with 80k
I could beat the shit out of this car and it would be fine. Not that I would as I am more responsible than that, plus it has low miles. It would definitely get me to where I'm going everytime, and with some
style, not to mention be cheap. But it is sort of slow, not to mention it's a four cylinder and is sort of dull looking compared to the Audi. It would be really cheap to run and maintain for the most part, once I take care of the headgaskets. However, it isn't as safe as the A6 being smaller and lacking side airbags.
2002 Subaru Outback H6 L.L. Bean Edition with 151k
This car has higher miles than the others, but it fits the criteria better. It has heated leather seats, DUAL sunroofs, a H6 engine, and side airbags. Not to mention, the red is really sporty. But the interior still isn't the interior of an Audi. I can live with that if the car will last longer than an Audi, though. I think it would be cheaper to insure, too.
Any input on which car I should go with and reasoning for so would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot!