Author: WagonFan
December 11, 2007

When I got my Subaru Impreza WRX STi back in 2004, my life was very different. I was single and didn’t really have any concerns other than myself. It’s a great car for someone like that, but my life has changed significantly since then.
I married my longtime girlfriend MR and had a son with her. Her sister moved in with us not too long afterwards — a mutually-beneficial move, as she needed a new place to stay and we could use someone to help watch the boy and help out around the house.

It took a while, but I finally conceded that the STi wasn’t the perfect family car that I had tried to convince everyone (including myself) that it was. I wanted a car with more room and comfort for my rapidly-growing family; something that could handle our now-frequent trips to Disneyland (aka DisneyLINE) and other areas in LA; something with good reliability and gas mileage (at least, not worse than ol’ Subie); and finally, I wanted to sacrifice as little performance as possible. This last part might seem out of place, but you have to understand that I view power and handling in a car as the ultimate safety feature. Given the choice between a crash in a five-star rated car and avoiding a crash altogether, I’ll take the latter.

So that was my shopping list. My CFO (my wife) told me what my budget was in terms of monthly payments (a few hundred over what we were paying for Subie), which gave me a decent size pool of choices. I considered getting something on the extreme side of practical with hardly any performance (Honda Ridgeline), but I was underwhelmed when I got a good close look at it in person. We also looked at the Mazda siblings, the CX-7 and CX-9. They are great as far as SUVs go, but again it was just too much of a sacrifice of performance from what I was used to. That, and I am really trying to not drive an SUV, just on principle.

I had considered waiting for the new STI and Evo to hit U.S. shores, but honestly, I just wasn’t patient enough. Also, they’re both in the first year of a completely new design and I’ve learned that lesson with my last Subaru. Never, ever buy the first year of a new design or model, if you can avoid it.

I was running out of options fast, when my boss rolled up to work in his new-to-him 2005 Audi A4 Avant, black with tinted windows. Nice. When he told me how little he paid for it, I decided to check out some Certified Pre-Owned Audis for myself. Being a “car guy”, I went straight for the S4. New, they are wayyyy out of my price range, up near $60k. However, I found a lease-return 05 S4 Avant with some nice options for just under $40k. With some of the best negotiating of my life, we were able to get the monthlies down into an area that we could afford. WOOT!!

So I bid a lingering farewell to Subie, took some pics for old time’s sake, and let her go. It was a nearly impossible decision until I reminded myself of how she used up a quart of oil every 1000 miles. That is totally unacceptable in a modern car, and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

So now I’m the proud new owner of a Dolphin Gray 05 S4 Avant. It does what it’s supposed to do very well – road trips, commuting, a bit of fun here and there, and keeping my family happy and safe. It looks pretty good too.

One thing I hadn’t realized was that S4 Avants are about as common as unicorns. That was a nice surprise, as I was starting to get a little tired of seeing STis all over the area where I work. I think I’ve seen one other S4 Avant on the road in my entire life. I definitely haven’t seen another one since I got mine, not even at a gathering.

The first weekend I got it, we used it to move my wife’s items out of her storage garage. It was a great trial-by-fire for the new wagon, and it handled everything we needed it to, including her papa-san chair! It was like a small pick-up but without having to tie down everything in the bed.

More to come, stay tuned!

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