Some people like shopping for a new car other people love shopping for a new car I am not either of those people. Unfortunately, the lease on my current SUV was almost finished so I had no choice but to find a new vehicle. This time I was looking for a vehicle that I could buy and drive for a long time. Which meant that reliability and total cost of ownership would be more important factors than they had been in the past.
First I made my list of “must haves”:
- Super safe was definitely a priority. I was looking for 5 star crash test and IIHS top safety pick.
- All wheel drive to get us through the winter safely.
- More safety features: back-up camera (drop off/pick up at daycare is nerve wracking without one) blind spot warnings and parking sensors to make sure I don’t hit anyone or anything.
- With a second baby planned additional cargo space will be key but nothing too big (see #3).
- Panoramic sunroof. I got hooked on this when I had my Mini Cooper. I’ve pretty much convinced myself it is as good as having a convertible.
- Finally I wanted an automatic tailgate. Believe me, the convenience it provides when you have a baby or toddler in-tow is totally worth it.
After some initial research online I narrowed down the field of options to three serious contenders:
- 2015 Mercedes GLK 350 4Matic, Premium Package, Multimedia Package, leather,lane tracking, park tronic, prepaid maintenance 3 years (MSRP $53,205!!!)
- 2015 Audi Q5 3.0 Quattro Premium Plus, Multimedia Package (MSRP $49,400)
- 2015.5 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD, Leather, Climate Package, BLIS, Proximity Package ($47,680)
Once I had narrowed down the field I found this great comparison by MotorTrend that is definitely worth watching if you are considering any of these vehicles:
Mercedes GLK 4Matic
That weekend we headed off to the dealerships to see each of the SUVs up close and take them for test drives. The GLK was up first and was at a serious disadvantage due both to it’s price tag once I had added all of the options needed to meet my must haves and the fact that my last two cars were GLK’s. There is something slightly anticlimactic about getting a new car that is the same as your old car.
That being said, the 2015 GLK was an improvement over the 2012 model. I really liked the updated exterior styling but wasn’t a fan (no pun intended) of the new interior vents. The test drive went really well. The handling was really good. It felt solid around corners and was easy to maneuver due to its small turning radius. The new model definitely had more pick up than the 2012 model and like all Mercedes, the fit and finish were exceptional. Inside, the cabin was super quiet with minimal road noise which I love and had gotten really accustomed to over the last two mjust odels. Of course the dealership experience was great.We have a fantastic sales guy who is always helpful without being pushy.
On the down side the total price once all of the options had been added was high. Maintenance for the Mercedes is also quite expensive and it takes premium fuel. So in addition to a high purchase price the cost of ownership would also be high. As far as safety, the 2015 GLK was rated Good (the highest rating) by IIHS but had not been rated by the NHTSA. Additionally we wouldn’t be getting any additional cargo space. Also this might sound strange, but I was a little embarrassed to be driving a Mercedes. When vehicles came up in conversation with coworkers or my staff I would just say I had a small SUV rather than admitting I was driving a Mercedes. I didn’t like the idea of people judging my family and our financial situation based on the car I was driving. In the end, the GLK was a great vehicle, it just didn’t have everything I was looking for.
Next we headed over to the Audi dealership. Now, I have to admit that I have never driven an Audi and I had no idea what to expect. The Q5 had great exterior styling and I really liked the cabin. My husband felt like it didn’t match the Mercedes in terms of build quality, commenting that there was a less solid feel to it overall.
I was pleasantly surprised by the test drive because the Q5 was actually really fun to drive. Yes, I said fun to drive! I felt like it “stuck” to the road through corners and the handling was very responsive. It had also been rated as Good by IIHS but only had a 4star crash test rating from the NHSTA.
The Q5 had more cargo space than my GLK but also required premium fuel. It was also irritating that the only way to add the back up camera and parking sensors was to add the $4,000 technology package. Finally the maintenance for the Q5 is also expensive and I had heard from a few people at work that the long term reliability could be an issue.
By now we had burned through most of the day (and the end of our toddler’s patience) so we had to put the last and final test drive on hold.
Two weeks later we were at the Volvo dealership to see the 2015.5 XC60. The Volvo by far had the most beautiful white color of the three. You really have to see it in person to appreciate how pretty it is. The exterior styling was fantastic; a perfect mix of clean lines (like the GLK) with enough soft rounding (the dominant styling of the Q5) to make it look modern and less aggressive. I was equally impressed by the interior which had a high quality, modern feel. The cargo space was definitely the best of the three but the overall size didn’t feel too big for me to handle.
I was really excited to test drive the XC60 and it didn’t disappoint. The ride was smooth and while it wasn’t quite as “fun” to drive as the Q5 or as quiet as the GLK it had great responsive handling and I had no difficulty maneuvering it in parking lots or parking it in tight spots. The XC60 also received a Good rating from IIHS earning a 2015 Top Safety Pick+ as well as a 5 star rating from NHTSA. This shouldn’t be a surprise since Volvo are known for their safety. They were the first vehicles to include a feature (City Safety) that stops your be vehicle at low speeds to avoid a crash.
All new Volvos also include free scheduled maintenance for the first three years. Oh and it takes regular gas! No more premium fuel prices! I also found numerous forums with people touting that there Volvo was in great shape even after 150,000+ miles so I wasn’t concerned that reliability would be an issue. In the end it was a no brainier for our family to go with the XC60. We are now officially a happy, satisfied two Volvo household since my husband has the X60 AWD.
I hope this review has been helpful. I know I couldn’t find any comparisons from a mom’s perspective when I was trying to research these vehicles. If there is anything I didn’t cover that you would like to know, just leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to respond.