We drove up to Boston two days ago, but we're not driving back. We're riding on a bus. That's because our car, a 2000 VW Passat wagon, developed fatal transmission problems, and had to be put down.
For some perspective, consider this: All My Rides is a blog post I put up almost ten years ago, listing all seventeen cars I had owned or driven as if I owned them. (For example, cars owned by my parents or my wife.) That list stayed good until yesterday. The Passat was the 17th. But it's not the last, because we do need #18, soon.
I'll miss that car. It was comfortable, handled perfectly, and was remarkably noise- and trouble-free for many (but not all) years. It was also ideal for hauling stuff around: far more roomy than most modern SUVs, which sacrifice cargo space for muscular-looking bodywork (and poor visibility through pinched windows and around wide roof pillars).
What's next? I don't know. I'd like another wagon, and I don't want to spend a lot of money. The Passat was only 5 years old and cost just $5k when I bought it, and I'm looking to spend in the same range again.
On Craigslist in New York, there are lots of VW (mostly Passat) and Audi wagons in the $5k and under range, some with less than 100k miles. I'm also interested in the Scion Xb, a box on wheels that I've driven a few times and like a lot. Lots of those in the same price range. None as cushy as the two German makes, but still appealing. And far less trouble-prone and expensive to repair. Advice welcome.