Welcome to Depreciation Appreciation! Every month, we’re going to dig up an example of how depreciation can make for an extra- fantastic used-car deal. This month? A once-costly wagon that’s winter-ready with All Wheel Drive, and ready for your budget with a reputation for reliability – and all at a highly compelling price-point. If you’re after a winter-ready ride that’s big on upscale accoutrements and flexibility, take a look at the 2007 to 2012 BMW 3-Series Wagon.

The Sticky

As one of the world’s most popular luxury cars, BMW knows a thing or two about building the 3-Series, and building it well. The last generation 3-Series wagon got legendary BMW straight-six power for silky-smooth performance, offered xDrive AWD for tackling the sloppiest of driving conditions, and packed no shortage of upscale feature content to give drivers a taste of the motoring high-life on every trip.

Approximate New Value

Just 7 or 8 years ago, this stately wagon would relieve drivers of no less than about $45,000 plus taxes and fees for a base-model unit, while options and accessories could drive the price up by thousands. All units got xDrive AWD and a 3.0L straight-six.

Approximate Used Value

Today, examples of used 3-Series wagon models can be found for well under $10,000, even with reasonable mileage. Here’s an example from Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec, with dual sunroofs, 178,000 km, and an asking price below $8,000. Here’s another used example from Alberta, priced under $9,000. With careful shopping and attention to used-car checks, you’ll have little issue getting into a well-cared-for 3-Series wagon for $10,000 or less.

Why You Want One

Mostly, because for the same money as a few-year old Focus or Fit, you could be rocking a luxurious BMW with room for the family, the dog, and a roof-rack full of ski-trip gear. Excellent AWD system performance and a comfortable ride keep drivers moving along with confidence and peace of mind. Ditto the xenon lighting system. Owners rave about styling, luxury, status, refinement, performance, handling, ride quality, and the overall feel to the 3-Series driving experience.

Look for navigation, power heated leather memory seats, a sunroof, upgraded audio, and plenty more.

Test Drive Tips

Thinking 3-Series Wagon? Think electronics. Watch for any Check Engine or other warning lights in the instrument cluster, and consider a pre-purchase inspection by a trained BMW mechanic mandatory, including a scan of the 3-Series Wagon’s electronics systems. Start the engine from dead cold, ensuring the seller hasn’t pre-warmed it, and listen for any unwelcome ticking sounds from the top of the engine, with the hood open. Some owners have reported issues with noisy valve lifters, which may require replacement. Check leather seating, for signs of cracking or excessive wear, and scrutinize the condition of the paint and trim around the outer edge of the cargo loading area. Finally, be sure all power windows, power locks, the keyfobs, the hatch release, and the sunroof all work as expected.