Station Wagon buyers guide - Spring 2008 - The Mommy Insider

Station Wagon buyers guide – Spring 2008

by Alicia in Travel

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Best Family Station Wagons: A Buyer’s Guide By The Car Family

Starting from its humble beginnings carrying passengers and their luggage from railroad depots, the “station wagon” emerged as an incredibly versatile and easy to live with family vehicle. In recent years its status has diminished with the availability of cheap gas and drivers who chose to drive tipsy SUVs. Too bad. The station wagon offers much better fuel economy, is safer, is less costly to maintain and offers more usable family friendly cargo capacity.

Here is a review of all the station wagons we have tested and each one was a delight, unlike driving overweight, gas swilling SUVs that are so unsafe that the industry created a special safety category to evaluate them called rollover rate.

The definition of what is a station wagon has been blurred by the
introduction of hatch backs, essentially a sedan with a fifth door
instead of a trunk lid, and smaller mini-vans. We have included all of
these under the station wagon heading because they are essentially
oriented for carrying at least four people and a dog in comfort and
with decent fuel mileage.

Best station wagons for the money: Dodge Caliber, Kia Ronda, Subaru Impreza, Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix/ Mazda 5.

One to wait for: Volkswagen Jetta

Best Wagon to Carry Infants: Volvo V70, Saab 9-5

Favorites by price range:

* $15,000 Scion xB, Suzuki SX4. Under $20,000 Subaru Impreza, Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix, Kia Rondo, Mazda 5

* Under $30,000 Saab 9-3 Sport Combi

* Under $40,000 Volvo V70, Subaru Outback

* Expensive: Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5 Series

Personal Favorites

Mom’s favorite: The BMW 5 Series rides wonderfully and has
exceptional brakes. The cargo capacity could be improved, but you can’t
ignore its handling. Second choice would be the Volkswagen Passat. It
looks good, but what it is best at is doing its job without any
troubles. In the past I would have chosen the Volvo V70, but I find the
base model underpowered and the T5 very expensive.

Dad’s favorite: The Kia Rondo is exceptional. It gets good gas
mileage, holds everything, and is priced in the middle teens. Second
choice would be the Pontiac Vibe. It is just big enough and with its
exceptional gas mileage and handling and reworked styling and good
resale, this is a tough wagon to pass up.

Not working female MBA’s view: The Mercedes wagon is so elegant
and so cavernous it is my choice. The performance is exception and
there is room for everything. Second choice would be the Saab 9-3. It
gets wonderful fuel mileage and the seats and ride are both firm and
comfortable. Plenty of power and room. Of course, the Audi A4 has the
best interior and ride.

Working My Way Through College male’s view: The Subaru Legacy is
what a station wagon should be. Handy, have good fuel mileage, and be
able to go where the action is whether it is touting a bike, snow
board, surfboard or four good friends. This wagon does it all. Second
favorite, Mazda 3 or 5. Handle great, and need less filling and
building open source computers and servers doesn’t make you rich.

Best station wagons for gas mileage (commuting)

Note that some models require premium fuel. We selected the highest
rated model for this section. Usually the four cylinder powered models
get in the mid 20 mpg average in daily driving, the six cylinder models
around 21 mpg in mixed driving and the V8 models about 19 mpg. For high
performance cars subtract between 10 and 30 percent.

Mixed Driving gas mileage figures – MPG

Mini Cooper 30

Vibe/Matrix 29

Kia Rio5 29

Scion xD 29

Chevrolet Aveo 27

Dodge Caliber 26

Mazda 3 25

Volkswagen Passat 24

Volvo V50 23

Audi 2.0 23

Saab 9-3 23

Suzuki SX4 23

Kia Rondo 22

Subaru Impreza 2.5i 22

Suzuki Forenza 22

Volvo V50 T5 22

Audi A6 22

Jaguar X-Type 20

BMW 3 Series 20

Volvo V70 19

Mercedes E-Class 18

BMW 5 Series 18
For a complete review of all the station wagons go to

Buyer’s Guide to Station Wagons: Gas mileage and safety

for a list of all vehicle websites go to

for more vehicle reviews go to

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a commission when you buy something. If you'd like to know more about the links featured in my posts, how I do and choose reviews, or choose advertisers, check out The Mommy Insider editorial policy.

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