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I may take the VW buyback, what similar used car should I get for the money?

My 2013 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen TDI Highline edition is a great car, but considering what’s happening with the diesel scandal, I’m likely to consider the buyback option if it turns out to be reasonable. I’m considering used vehicles such as the Subaru Outback, BMW 328i xDrive wagon, or the Volvo V50 or XC70. – Dave

Don’t count your buyback until it’s hatched – the Dieselgate deal won’t be before the courts for approval until March.

But, if the deal happens, getting rid of your wagon – instead of getting the emissions problem fixed – is something to consider, says George Iny, president of the Automobile Protection Association, a subscription-based watchdog.

“It gets expensive to keep running after 150,000 kilometres,” Iny said in an e-mail. “Transmission, fuel pump, other repairs.”

Under the proposed deal, owners will get a cash payment and can either get the problem fixed, trade in their cars or get the buyback, with adjustments for options and mileage at the time of the actual offer.

When? That’s “TBD,” Volkswagen’s website said.

For a 2013 SportWagen, the proposed buyback range is $7,488 to $23,004 – plus a $5,500 cash payment.

That puts you in Subaru territory – unless you want to get an older car than you have now.

A 2015 Outback, the newest generation, is $24,959, on average. The 2013 is out there for around $20,000.

“Though most small SUVs have rear seats designed for jockeys, the Outback can carry two linebackers and their coach – as well as their shoulder pads and sackfuls of footballs,” Consumer Reports said of the 2015 Outback. “With its elegant blend of SUV- and car-like virtues, the Outback makes a strong argument for the return of the wagon to America’s driveways.”

The 328i xDrive costs $37,309 on average for a 2014 – the diesel is about $4,000 cheaper. There wasn’t one in 2013, so you’d have to go back to 2012 ($24,753).

Same for the XC70. Volvo didn’t sell the V50 after 2011.

“All the cars he’s looking at are interesting to drive and have their virtues – the Volvo and BMW will cost more to operate and should really be purchased with extended warranties,” Iny said. “The Subaru is bland, but likely the cheapest to run.”

2012 BMW 328i xDrive Touring wagon

BMW

Fifth generation: 2004-2012

Average price for base: $24,753 (Canadian Black Book)

Engine: 3.0-litre inline-6

Transmission/Drive: six-speed manual, six-speed automatic/All-wheel drive

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 13.4 city; 9.3 highway (automatic), premium gas

BMW introduced a brand-new sixth generation 3-Series sedan in 2012 – but the wagon stayed the same. But the same was still better than most, reviewers said.

“No other entry-level luxury model can match the Bimmer’s exquisite combination of athletic handling and premium ride comfort,” Edmunds said.

It also liked the “smooth and powerful” engines and upscale cabin. It griped about limited interior storage space, limited rear headroom and pricey options.

Consumer Reports gave the entire 2012 3-Series lineup below average used car reliability, an improvement over its lowest rating – the worst of the worst – in 2011.

You may have trouble finding one – when we checked, there were only two on Auto Trader for all of Ontario.

There were four recalls for the 2012 3-Series. It’s part of the recall of potentially explosive Takata airbags.

2012 Volvo XC70 3.2 4D AWD

Volvo

Third generation: 2007-2016

Average price for base: $28,485 (Canadian Black Book)

Engine: 3.2-litre inline-6

Transmission/Drive: six-speed automatic/All-wheel drive

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 13.1 city; 9.7 highway, regular gas

By 2012, they weren’t making ’em like the XC70 any more. Instead, crossovers offered more space and better fuel economy.

“The Volvo XC70 hasn’t developed much beyond its wagon heritage, and countless appealing crossover vehicles have hit the market since the XC was introduced just before the millennium,” Edmunds said. “But the Volvo does excel in some areas like safety and capability, and sometimes those are the key selling points to buyers with active lifestyles.”

XC stood for cross country – and it started as a beefed up V70 (Volvo stopped selling the V70 after 2010). There was also the T6, a 3.0-litre turbo version.

Edmunds liked the “exceptional” seat comfort, safety features including standard City Safety collision avoidance and the cargo capacity. It didn’t like the unimpressive handling, “so-so” fuel economy and the 40.5-metre braking distance.

Consumer Reports gave the 2012 XC70 average used car reliability.

There was one recall to fix a loose wire harness that could deactivate either front airbag.

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