I will be enrolling in graduate school soon but will be commuting
about 100 miles each way, twice a week for about 3 years. This is on
top of working full-time. I need a car that can provide this
transportation. I am looking at a 2000+ Maxima, a 1999+ BMW 3-Series
or a 1999+ Audi A4 or A6. I will be spending about $15k-$17k for this
car. Obviously repair costs and reliability are key factors for this
The BMW and Audi would be my choice in terms of driving pleasure but in
general be prepared for higher repair costs with the Audi and BMW autos; if
reliability and costs are one of the most important issues to you I would
stay away from Audi altogether. They are nice cars and fun to take skiing
but everyone I know that has an A4 or A6 has spent quite a bit to keep them
on the road. My boss purchased a brand new A6 last year and it has been in
the shop a couple of times for the infamous coil replacements and has
already had the transmission replaced ! Also at work, one guy sold his 2000
A4 3.0 Quattro to somebody else at our company and let's just say the
transaction hasn't been to the satisfaction of both parties. The car was
properly maintained and through no fault of the previous owner, has required
imagine owning a 3-4 year old Audi.......
The Maxima should provide bullet-proof reliability, be pretty fast with that
nice V6 but a notch below the BMW and Audi in the fun to drive, one with the
The Bimmer isn't likely to meet your price point, but it will be the
most satisfying car. Also you should consider poor weather behavior.
A 3-series ix which has all-wheel drive might be good for you, if you
find a good price. I commute in Michigan daily about 70+ miles round
trip in a 1992 325 with a 5-speed, now up to about 140k miles. I
don't like the reduced security in snowy weather or the high cost of
dealer maintenance, but the car is phenomenal in any other conditions.
I have not put snow tires on it, and maybe I should have. After I got
a few things restored, I have had no failures that prevented using the
car, even on vacation trips.
I think there is ultimately more durability in a BMW than in a Nissan,
though the frequency of repair in a Nissan will be lower. I would not
trust Audi at this point, because I hear too many stories of VW
products of recent years leaving people immobile. It's too bad,
because I've been thinking of looking at an all-wheel drive or
front-wheel drive sedan (325ix, quattro, or 9-5).
Ken: Don't hesitate, do it now. All-season tires are a poor compromise in
any conditions, but worst in winter weather. Good, modern technology snow
tires are incredible by comparison. Don't saddle a great machine with such
I've done winter driving in Michigan and you should be on WINTER or
even SNOW tires. If you commute you often have no choice but to be
out there on whatever tires you have.
...yes, you should heed your own advice.
After I got
I find VWs very disappointing to own especially with regard to
durability. They look nice and even drive well but don't seem
designed to last. Their engines seem to perform well but also seem
not to be designed with durability in mind. VWs tend to look and feel
tired as quickly as the rest of the non-luxuary marques...with a
puddle of oil under them to boot. Recent models seem to have
I don't lease and only buy to own for the long term so I care about
IMO, the new Audis have the best interior fit and finish but are too
staid for my taste. Audi exteriors are too egg-like to me;
plain-looking. I could never gather enough interest to own one.
I don't like FWD and think they're potentially more dangerous than RWD
in Winter. If traction is an issue I'd pick an AWD - Subaru or BMW.
Always pack a shovel in Winter.
And, if you're following that advice, make it a *long* shovel; because
shoveling snow from around the wheels doesn't help. You've gotta get it out
from under the *bellypan* of the car to get it unstuck.
Don't ask me how I know. >:^[
(Been there; done that)
These are good choices but you would also be very happy with a honda 2002
V6 or a Lexus 1999- 2000 with that money.
I spent 4 years commuting every single week between Long Island, NY and
College Park in Maryland (239miles each way) with a used 94 Saturn my dad
bought for $5000 at that time. Never had a single problem. Gave it to
someone else after 179K miles. Still running strong. Very savvy in gas (15
fills a tank) reliable, and parts and service are really cheap too.
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