If you’ve been in the market for a new to you vehicle and have a growing family or regularly haul cargo, equipment or just lots of groceries, you may be comparing minivans, crossovers, and SUVs. While those vehicles are excellent choices, there’s another vehicle type worth considering – the wagon.
Before minivans, crossovers, and SUVs, motorists relied on station wagons to drive people and cargo around safely. Many of the features those vehicles are admired for also apply to wagons.
Wagons are supremely functional in their ability to haul people and cargo efficiently. Many models offer outward-opening trunk spaces and third-row seating. Plus, unlike SUVs, which are typically not known for good fuel economy, many wagon models can deliver 21-40 miles per gallon.
A 2013 Subaru Outback, for example, gets 21 miles per gallon in town and 28 on the highway while a 2014 Toyota Prius V delivers 44 miles per gallon in town and 40 on the highway. Try finding a midsize SUV that can match that.
Just like SUVs, wagons can be divided into three sizes – compact, midsize, and large. Some look like more traditional wagons such as the Ford Flex or VolvoV60, while others like the Kia Soul or Mini Cooper Countryman don’t look so much like wagons but still fall in to the category. This range of styles gives wagons incredible flexibility.
You can use a wagon like a car or drive it like an SUV.
Most wagons have low entry points compared to higher floored SUVs, making them easier for children to get in and out of and for adults to load and unload cargo. Additionally, most wagon models offer all-wheel drive (AWD), which makes them easier to drive in impaired weather conditions.
Because wagons are such popular vehicles with families, it should come as no surprise that safety features like antilock brakes, front and full-length side airbags as well as stability control are standard on all models. Newer features like rearview cameras and blind spot monitoring are also becoming easier to find on used wagons.
Wagons can be either luxury class or non-luxury. As you’d expect, luxury wagons cost more due to their plush interiors and added entertainment, technology, and convenience features. Standard used wagons tend to cost less than their SUV or crossover cousins, yet they deliver similar features and functionality.
Used wagons can be found in a variety of models for $15,000-$30,000.
The Top Five Used Wagon Models
2016 Subaru Outback – This wagon received a 3.5 of a possible 5 rating from J.D. Power for its reliability, offers seating for five, provides plenty of cargo capacity, and was rated by Consumer Reports as the top used wagon for $20,000 or more. The IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) made the Outback a top safety pick in 2018.
2016 Kia Soul – It may be hard to figure out which category to put this vehicle in but it’s not difficult to see what makes this an attractive wagon pick. U.S. News gives it an 8.7 out of 10 and named it the best compact car for families. The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) gave this sporty wagon a five-star safety rating.
2015 Volvo V60 – This safe and sleek wagon received an 8.2 out of a possible 10 from U.S. News, has a three-star rating for reliability from J.D. Power, and ranks near the top of its class for safety, performance, and interior.
2013 Volvo XC70 – Volvos are known for their reliability and that pans out with the XC70, which received a 3.5 rating from J.D. Power. With seating for five and both four-wheel and all-wheel drive as options, this is an attractive wagon.
2013 Audi Allroad – The Audi Allroad ranks well for performance and offers a well-appointed interior. All-wheel drive comes standard, it seats five and gets 20 mpg in town and 27 on the highway.