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I Need A Family Friendly Car That’s Fast And Unique! What Car Should I Buy?

What Car Should You BuyThe experts at Jalopnik answer your car-buying questions.  

Brian’s wife loved her Audi Allroad but it met an untimely end. She is looking for a replacement wagon but wants something a bit more unique this time. She has a fairly healthy budget for an all-wheel drive hauler. What car should she buy?

(Welcome back to What Car Should You Buy? Where we give real people real advice about buying cars. )

Here is the scenario:

My wife’s 2018 Audi A4 Allroad just had an untimely death at the hands of a late-’90s Jeep Wrangler and we’re looking for a replacement. We love love love loved our Allroad, but are thinking about moving to something different, because as my wife says “there are just too many Allroads in our area and I want something a little more unique.”

Now that you’re done laughing about the number of Allroads by us, we live right in Auburn Hills, Michigan so I see E-trons and Allroads on a daily basis. Sooooooo…. here’s what we need. We’re looking for ideally another wagon that’s just as safe as our last few Allroads and will fit the usual stuff required for driving around a three year old. I’ve got a Grand Cherokee so probably don’t need/want another SUV. All-wheel drive is a must and something new/newer would be ideal. A brown, manual, Golf wagon would be nice, but again we see Golf wagons on the daily.

In summary we want something unique, AWD. Something with power that can fit all my kid’s crap. Newer/newish, and not an SUV. A manual would be nice, but that’s a pipe dream these days.

As for budget we can spend up to $70,000.

Quick Facts

Budget: Up to $70,000

Daily Driver: Yes

Location: Auburn Hills, Mich

Wants: A wagon, something unique, safe, with some power, maybe a manual

Doesn’t want: An SUV

Expert 1: Tom McParland — This Is My Jam

Image: Raphael Orlove (Jalopnik)

When I see “I want a wagon and I have a lot of money to spend” that puts me in a happy place. While the wagon selection in America is slim, there are some solid choices. Of course, my gut wanted to tell you to get a used E63 AMG since they are available for a “reasonable” price since you need “something with power” but if I’m honest that’s probably a bit overkill. There is also the Volvo V90, but the real “wagon version” is factory order only, and I imagine with a recent accident you don’t have the time to wait.

A middle ground between the very cool V90 and the E63 is a very lightly used E-Class wagon. You can save a few bucks by going with the slightly older E400, or try to find a 2019 E450 that gets a power bump from 329 horsepower to 362 HP.

While that’s not quite the same as the tire-shredding AMG, it’s quicker than the Volvo and a bit step up from your Allroad.

Most importantly a well-equipped E-Class Estate (that’s how fancy people refer to wagons), will be loaded with all the safety tech you could ask for, and coddle you with a supremely luxurious interior. There are even jump seats in the back, and what kid wouldn’t love to hang out in the hatch. Just ask these blog-kids:

Image: Raphael Orlove (Jalopnik)

Look at all the fun they seem to be having.

While E-Class sedans may be fairly common in your area, the wagons are sure to be unique, and you may have to do a bit of a wide search to find one that fits your tastes. Here is a certified pre-owned 2019 with only 6,000 miles not terribly far from you in Ohio.

Expert 2: David Tracy — In Many Ways, This Is The Obvious Answer

Image: Cadillac

The 556 HP Cadillac CTS-V is fast as hell, it’s available as a wagon, you can get it with a manual, and it’s new enough that it contains some good crash safety tech. No, it’s not all-wheel drive, but just drive your Grand Cherokee when it snows, and if that’s not possible, slap the best winter tires you can find on the Caddy and roll with it. You need this car, because we all do.

If you don’t want to budge on all-wheel drive, maybe just buy a Subaru Outback, and, for when you’re feeling a bit bored driving the same car everyone else has, just have an old AMC Eagle sitting in your garage as a backup wagon. We all need a backup wagon, anyway.

Expert 3: Raphael Orlove – That’s Ferrari Money

I am still in the part of my life where I look at any car over four grand and think oooooooh damn that’s pricey. It’s a big step for me! I used to think the same of anything over $1,500 and over $600 before that. But $70,000! That’s Ferrari money, and family Ferrari money at that.

You see, you’re already in the zone for a nicely-used Ferrari 456, possibly the most elegant of the 1990s Ferraris, unless you find a 575 Superamerica in blue. This is a four-seater car, comfortable and low-key. Sure it has a 5.5-liter V12 up front, but it’s still got an actual frame and is about as old-school and simple a design as you’re gonna get from any modern Ferrari.

Finding on in your price range isn’t all that hard (here is a 1997 car in green and a 2001 in silver), if you’re willing to forgo the manual.

Expert 4: Patrick George — Trade Your German In For A Swede

Photo: Patrick George

As you yourself note, wagons are getting harder and harder to come by in this country, let alone with a manual gearbox and a respectable amount of power. You could quit your lives here, move to Europe and get something like an Alpina wagon, but that seems like a lot of work. It is probably not feasible. Similarly, I could suggest you buy some weird older wagon, but you say you want the newest safety features. Some compromises are in order.

Tom is right that they’re special-order only these days, but I really like the Volvo V90. If you need one sooner, consider the V90 Cross Country. Same car, a bit more ride height, and very similar to your Allroad—only way more unique. They’re priced well for all the style, comforts, power and safety tech you get. It’s as attractive inside and out as modern cars get.

I found plenty near you in the $50,000 range, well under your budget, but here’s a nice T6 AWD for a hair under $68,000. Go take one for a test drive. I think you’ll like it.

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