Make no mistake, European luxury cars get a bad rap. Lately, they’ve been getting stuffed with technology features that, while innovative when new, are quick to break, costing owners a fortune. On top of this, with many of these cars being imported, parts are not always readily available on tap. Logically speaking, it would be cheaper to own something you don’t have to pay import fees to repair. Perhaps a good ol’ American muscle car would do?
Surprisingly enough, some European models are significantly more affordable to maintain than muscle cars. After all, muscle cars are not terribly economical, their reputations for reliability are not all that stellar, and big V8s have a lot of moving parts, which could hike up labor costs as a result. Here are some European luxury options that might just be a better bet.
12/12 BMW 3 Series (E46)
BMW’s iconic white-and-blue roundel would usually lead one to believe that the car that sports it will be a maintenance nightmare. However, the E46 3 Series stands out as one of the more affordable BMW models to look after.
Reddit user u/fuz9 reports that, in four years of owning his E46, he had to pay roughly $2,200 in maintenance. That averages out to $550 per year, which is a fairly affordable sum for a BMW.
9/12 Porsche Boxster/Cayman
Porsche has a reputation for being one of the few German brands that continue to hold a stellar record for reliability. It shares the same upper echelons of dependability as Lexus and Toyota, which says a lot.
Among Porsche models, the Boxster and Cayman are both very affordable to maintain, using the least fuel of the bunch while remaining mechanically simple.
8/12 Volvo XC90
In its first generation, the Volvo XC90 was the Swedish automaker’s best-selling model. This means that sourcing replacement parts, should they be needed, will be easier than for other models.
The first-gen XC90 also came optional with the Yamaha-engineered 4.4-liter V8, one of the most reliable V8 engines in existence. It was also optional on the S80 sedan, but the XC90 has fewer technological gimmicks to go wrong, making it the more reliable choice.
7/12 Mercedes-Benz E-Class (W124)
The most modern Mercedes-Benz to carry the legendary reliability it is known for is the W124 E-Class, produced between 1987 and 1995.
Owners describe the car as being ‘tank-like,’ with Mercedes’ obsession with engineering really showing through the car’s durability.
6/12 BMW 3 Series (E30)
The E46 is not the only 3 Series BMW that isn’t a headache to maintain. The E30, though hard to find, is a mechanically simple, economical sports compact that you can take care of with relative ease.
Because of its said simplicity, maintenance is quite affordable for most. Be sure to keep it in good nick, and when the time comes to sell it, you’ll most likely get top dollar.
5/12 Volvo 240
The Volvo 240 is a classic design that prioritizes mechanical engineering over technology and creature comforts. This makes it one of the most durable cars out there, with many examples over 30 years old and yet still on the road.
If the car looks too boring for you, don’t fret. The 240, due to its simple, Spartan construction, is extremely modifiable. See to the fullest potential of its tuning capability, and you could just gap a Mustang GT.
4/12 Saab 9-3
The Saab 9-3 is based on the ever-popular GM Epsilon platform, making a lot of its components shared with other cheaper GM models. On top of this, the car itself is quite dependable.
Best of all, since Saab hasn’t produced cars in over a decade, depreciation has dealt the 9-3’s market value a bad hand. Good for buyers, who can easily find one in good condition for less than $5,000.
3/12 BMW 3 Series (E90)
The last 3 Series on this list, the E90 may seem like a headache judging by its Chris Bangle design synonymous with many of its notoriously unreliable models (see the E65 7 Series).
Don’t let looks deceive you, however. The ever-scrutinous Consumer Reports rated it as “most reliable” in their testing.
2/12 Volvo S60/V70/XC70
Equally good as the first-gen XC90 is the second-gen V70 as well as the first-gen S60 that shares the same platform.
These cars could get pretty fun, especially with the V70 R and S60 R. As for reliability, the harshest critic of European cars, Scotty Kilmer, pointed out an XC70 model when talking about how “old Volvos last forever.”
1/12 Saab 9-2x
By far the most affordable luxury car on this list to own and maintain—much easier on the wallet than any given muscle car—is the Saab 9-2x. Endearingly referred to as the “Saaburu,” the 9-2x’s key to reliability is it being based on the Subaru Impreza.
Subarus have a reputation to go hundreds of thousands of miles, and the 9-2x is no exception. The only problems to watch out for are rust, but it’s virtually bulletproof otherwise.