S/V40 Purchase/Ownership advise
We have 3 young boys (5, 3, 1) and currently own a heavily modified Pajero as our only vehicle. This does the school runs (80km per day) and shopping duties, pretty much everything. I ride a pushy to work whenever possible, but looking for something a little smaller and as a second car for the daily. The Pajero will become the weekend car and my ride to work if it's wet.
Initially looking at Toyota Corollas, Lancer wagons etc. but then realised for the same price, if not cheaper, I can get SOOO much more vehicle in a Volvo! My Dad owned 2 of the old 200 series wagons and they were bullet proof, took us on many journeys from Adelaide to Perth and back fully loaded.
So looking at under 10k which from what I can find lands me in 2006/2008 S40 and S60 territory with 100-150k on the clock. My main (and extremely uneducated) concern is ongoing maintenance costs. I've always owned Japanese vehicles that have been very easy and cheap to service/repair. So looking for advise as to whether I should steer clear, what should I be concerned about with these models and what are they like to work on. I do most of my basic servicing, oil/brake changes myself, but do 'normal' mechanics shy away from the European vehicles?
At what age can kids use the inbuilt booster seats instead of their bulky kids seats?
I was also looking at the VW Passat, but I like the idea of owning a Volvo... it's different and I have a soft spot for them.
Any advice would be appreciated!