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(I posted this yesterday on the "Buying a car" board, but I thought I might get more responses here after I found this board.... the original post is here:

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=17472715




We are considering these two cars:

- Passat GLX Wagon 4Motion
- Volvo V70 XC

We drive on rutted gravel roads regularly, which in the winter are usually coated with a couple of inches of snow, hence the need for AWD. We don't technically need the ground clearance of the XC (the Passat's will do) but we don't like the vanilla V70 looks too well. We are seeking a quiet ride, though, and are a bit worried about road noise from those big tires (I have not been able to find dB measurements for the two cars, I would love to know if there is a source out there). Oh, and we often carry cargo like 2x4's, baby, kayak, mulch, whatever, there always seems to be something. We have narrowed the field to these two, we are not really interested in minivans, or large SUVs.
As it turns out the Passats are in very short supply and their price is quite firm, whereas there seems to be plenty of XCs around, so there are "incentives" available which bring the two cars within about $1500 of each other. The Passat MSRP is about $33K, and the GLX trim includes pretty much everything one might want as far as options; the XC's around here come equipped with some options that bring them up to the GLX feature by feature (close enough for me anyway) and I think I will probably end up paying something in the neighborhood of $35K, instead of the $41K on the window sticker.
Interestingly our Volvo and VW dealers are one and the same company so I could test drive them side by side today. The (relatively pleasant and knowledgeable) salesman did not show much bias, saying they are technically both very fine cars. Another salesman did keep saying the Volvo was "much more car", "in a class with BMWs and Audi's", "lower maintenance costs", and a bunch of similar canned sentences, which did not really sound like they were backed by too many facts :-). I do subliminally like the idea of buying something that is labelled $41K for "only" $35K, though.
Not an easy decision for us, opinions would be very much appreciated.
BeenFooled
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