My DD, an '02 Impala LS, serves me well enough as a highway commuter car but by this summer I hope to upgrade into something more worthy. I'd been thinking RWD - an E34/36/46 or an IS 300 - but for next winter (especially if it's going to be as brutal as this one) I'm thinking AWD, and that the B6 and/or B7 Audi A4 may fit the bill.
I haven't driven an Audi in years - the last one I drove was a friend's B4 90 back in the...90's. I found it to be nicely equipped - especially, um, compared to the 1986 Buick Century Estate that was my DD at the time - and it seemed to handle as well, or better, as any other German car I had driven at that point (E21, E30, E36, W126), and the grip from the Quattro made me feel like a much better driver than I actually was at the time (when I was 19).
Since I have very limited experience with them, I'm a bit confused. I've heard that particular models of Audi, like the 90 and the 1st generation B5 A4, are not very reliable, even for a German car. That German car reliability goes something like "Merc-BMW-Audi". But I think "what I've heard" is out of date. At a certain point, that was probably true, but during the last decade, it's probably "Audi-BMW-Merc". So I guess what I'm asking is, how does the B6/B7 stand up, reliability wise, compared to the other Germans. Or even the Japanese, or Americans?
Another point of confusion is which type to look for, the B6 (2000-2006) or the B7 (2004-2008). The B6 would be much more in my price range (somewhere around 4-6k) but the B7, I've read, is more reliable than the B6 - quite a few bug fixes, as it were, were put into the subsequent generation.
The facelift I could live without, I like the looks of the B6 more. On the B7 with a European license plate, it splits the massive gaping mouth of a grill in two, leaving only a bit of the trim to either side. It looks good. In North America though, our smaller, rectangular plates accentuate that gaping maw.
And yet more confusion: engine choice. Turbo four or V6? My preference is for the V6, but I've read that the turbos have better performance than the raw numbers might suggest, and that they're obviously better on gas. But the V6 sounds better and has he performance needed to keep up with modern traffic. I've always loved the small car/big engine combo, of course, but this often means the engine bay is cramped, making it harder/more expensive to work on.
So humbly seeking the wisdom of Oppo: what are your thoughts, opinions and/or experiences with the B6-B7 Audi A4?