I've had multiple Volvo wagons (240, 740, V70's), the newest being a '00 XC (turbo,AWD). Hard to go back to a sedan as you get used to all the space.
We recently sold the '00 XC (205,000 mi) & kept the '98 V70 base as it's nice & simple. I'll try to list random snippets of info that I've gathered:
The first generation V70 (98-00) were a make-over of the 850 so there is some part interchangeability there, some less expensive parts.
The '98 was the last year before the "drive-by wire" electronic throttle control which you will undoubtedly read about.
The '98 has a regular distributor & a throttle cable. Individual spark coils after that.
Typical things that fail; ABS controller (can be rebuilt for around $150), lower ball joints, heater core, window switches, front wheel bearings, electronic throttle module (post-'99)
2001's have a high incidence of automatic transmission failures (class-action suit maybe?)
XC's & AWD's have a whole other set of problems related to the overly-complicated AWD system. We loved the car but it HAD to go ($$$), sounds like you don't need that anyway. That one had a turbo & inter-cooler, never any turbo issues.
All that said, I really like my '98 (165,00 mi) & don't plan to get rid of it anytime soon. It's a non-turbo base model with a 5-speed manual (cloth interior, great 4 wheel discs, power windows, locks, cruise) but is still super comfortable & I can also tow a small trailer with it without any problems. No real bodywork issues other than small surface rust spots even up in the rust belt. Solid cars.
We have also had many Subarus and currently have an Outback wagon sitting in the yard with a probable head-gasket issue. They really go in the snow & are generally reliable but are not cheap to repair. My other gripes with them are lousy seats, worse headlights, expensive exhausts, marginal brakes & they're a good bit smaller inside than a Volvo wagon. They also seem to still suffer from rust more than most cars.
My son & I are just finishing up some work on his '02 Passat 4motion (AWD) wagon (same as Audi A4) that he got from another relative. A nice car to drive but an INSANELY complicated front end which it seems has a high failure rate. The FWD are maybe simpler? Body has held up well & engine runs well too. Transmission itself is fine but for some reason VW put the trans controller under the passenger floor carpet where it gets water-logged (from a leaky sun-roof) and acts up or fails. So he's dealing with that. Don't know if the Jetta is the same.
Hope some of that helps & good luck with your quest.
Is that "Chucktown" as in Charleston, SC?