Well, THAT'S a pretty sweeping statement, Dennis....!
I would probably phrase it more like - a well-maintained Audi would be
as reliable as any other car of the same complexity and year range.....
The GL is a fairly straightforward car with minimal electronics. Moving
to a '98 - '00 Audi will get you a car that is significantly more
advanced in terms of systems - drivetrain, computers, interior
electronics, etc.... The problem is, you probably won't be able to find
a good one in the price range that you mention.... A quick look at
Kelly Blue Book suggests that a '98 A4 with 1.8T engine, 5-speed manual
and quattro, with average mileage, would retail for over $11k in
Maintenance would be no more expensive than a BMW or Mercedes of the
'04 A4 1.8Tq MT-6
Central NJ USA