Everyday Driver begins Big Sedan Challenge madness

Since the early days of their Car Debate podcast, the Everyday Driver team has been joking about cheap Phaetons. It stems from an age-old adage: what used, older luxury sedan could you buy for the price of a new, entry-level economy car? We all know the answers are extensive, but Todd and Paul have put in place the “Big Sedan Challenge” to find out if the reliability of older luxury cars is as scary as we think, if they’re wildly expensive to maintain, and, really, what the ownership experience is like and if it’s a good way to get a lot more content than similar money spent on a cheap econobox.

It would have been easy for the Everyday Driver crew to take the all-too-common attention-grabbing angle of “We bought the cheapest [insert crappy used car here] in the country!” But, as they regularly do, they took the mature route instead. Ever grateful for fan help, the ED crew turned to crowd-sourcing to make this project happen. Hitting their target goal allowed one vehicle to be purchased. But they couldn’t stop there. Enter a second potential time-bomb which their own money went towards purchasing.

Car number one is that which has been the source of long-running jokes: a Volkswagen Phaeton. Essentially a Bentley Continental but made for the not-as-wealthy, the big VeeDub was the brand’s most expensive vehicle ever sold in the States. Known for a plethora of issues and forever being underwhelming, the only thing that outdid its size was its disappointing sales. That, and how complicated, expensive and difficult it can be to repair.

Car number two is a Maserati Quattroporte. Descriptive in name as it is overly complex, the Italian four-door boasts a Ferrari-derived engine and, crucially, fender vents. Miraculously the PickeFork company’s fifth-gen “QP5” luxo-barge has the potential to surprise in its driving dynamics and charm. And, more likely, the possibility of disappointing in its unreliability.

I applaud the Everyday Driver team for making the Big Sedan Challenge happen. It’s as much an attempt to prove the wild depreciation of luxury sedans as it is a test to see how second-hand (or fifth-hand) cars hold up in the real world. I’m genuinely curious to see how things pan out…from afar, with my credit card safely tucked away and my mind at ease knowing it won’t be paying when things inevitably go wrong.

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10 responses to “Everyday Driver begins Big Sedan Challenge madness”

  1. BJ Avatar

    I too, like to shove hot pokers in my eyeball.

  2. outback_ute Avatar

    Conventional wisdom would say it is not a matter of if they will have expensive repairs in their future, but when. I suppose if you DIY and have a backup car it could work.

  3. 1984resident Avatar

    I daily drive a Phaeton. Its at 135K miles now. The car is 50% sensors and those fail and are expensive as hell to fix, but the powertrain is solid. You can find some V8 Phaetons at 200K miles. The reputation of awful reliability is exaggerated. It is expensive, it will take time to bring the parts from Germany but the car what withstand a lot. The Maseratis are truly awful unreliable and expensive. No contest.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      This is basically every used VW: Sensor fails abound. Around here, a VW and a Toyota, which start at similar prices new, will be 70-80% apart as eight-ten year old used cars because of the expected failures the VW brings with it.

      How long have you had it? How is the opinion on the Maserati informed?

      1. 1984resident Avatar

        This is my 2nd Phaeton (Had my first one, a 2004, for 4 years, from 78K miles to 146K) This second one has been with me for 4 years too, from 90K miles to 135K) I havent driven the QP, but suffice to say, the one my indie mechanic fixes is always there at his shop for some reason. Lives there practically.

  4. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    I spent a day with a Quattroporte once; the fact that its Skyhook system was playing up made it all the more memorable. It would literally go from lithe, responsive and willing to uncontrollable juggernaut at its own will.

    I adored it.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Damn, they were so close to provide a valid explanation for that behaviour in the system name…


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