Luxury Wagons Work to Woo Families


I'm a wagon lover, and I'm not ashamed to say it. If things went my way, I'd have one of those big, wood-paneled ones in my driveway right now. However, most Americans don't share my enthusiasm for the old-school wagon. They have no idea what they're missing out on because today's wagons are often quite luxurious — and lacking in wood paneling.

With many of today's wagons focusing on luxury, these original grocery-getters have gotten pricey. A short list of wagons — Subaru Outback and Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen — can be had for less than $25,000.

Several luxury automakers are doing their best to woo families with high-end wagons, but they're not always as family-friendly as you'd think:


2013 Acura TSX Sport Wagon 
Starting price: $32,755, including an $895 destination charge
Family friendly? Good, but not great

The TSX wagon is the least expensive in the luxury wagon class, but it's also small inside. If your kids are out of child-safety seats, you can fare well in this wagon, but when I tested the TSX sedan my small family of three didn't have much legroom inside the cabin because of a rear-facing infant seat. The wagon and the sedan have nearly the same interior dimensions. The wagon's cargo area measures 31.5 cubic feet, and it also provides some shallow under-floor storage. Overall, the TSX wagon comes in a little small for heavy-duty family time.


2013 Audi Allroad 
Starting price: $40,495, including an $895 destination charge
Family friendly? Not so much

The Allroad, which is all-new for 2013, is both luxurious and athletic. However, this rugged wagon is better suited for off-road duty than strip-mall patrol. While it has seating for five, its snug backseat makes it more realistically a four-seater. The Allroad's cargo area is just 27.6 cubic feet, which comes in as the second smallest in its class when the second row is in use (and what family won't be putting the backseat to use?). While certainly delivering a sublime drive experience for Mom or Dad, whether carpooling or battling the elements, the Allroad doesn't offer many more perks than a midsize sedan when it comes to family friendliness.


BMW 3 Series Sport Wagon 
Starting price: TBA
Family friendly? Too soon to tell

BMW's redesigned 3 Series Sport Wagon will arrive at dealerships this spring. While the automaker hasn't released a lot of information, including pricing, BMW has said it'll be a 328i with xDrive all-wheel drive. The cargo area grows by 10% over the previous generation to 17.3 cubic feet. A power liftgate will be optional, and a diesel version is expected later this year. We'll have to wait to test-drive it to judge its family friendliness.


2013 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon/CTS-V Sport Wagon
Starting price: $43,045/$64,110, including an $895 destination charge
Family friendly? Not so much

You really want the CTS Sport Wagon to be family friendly, you really do. With it, Cadillac offers a smart balance of old-school luxury and modern engineering. Parents will love features like the power liftgate, OnStar and its performance chops. Those looking for thrills on the way to Gymboree will especially have lots to drool over with the CTS-V wagon's supercharged V-8 engine with 556 horsepower. Sadly, the CTS and CTS-V are built more for the gear-headed singletons with sport wagon fetishes than for most families. The wagons don't provide much in the way of fuel efficiency, and they have small interior dimensions for a wagon. However, the cargo area measures 25.4 cubic feet, which is respectable.


2013 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon 
Starting price: $58,605, including a $905 destination charge
Family friendly: Heck, yeah (except for the price)!

Oh, the E-Class wagon; what a tease. It fills all family criteria: It seats up to seven, thanks to two rear-facing jump seats that fold into the cargo area floor when not in use. The second row can actually seat three, and it can handle child-safety seats just as well as adults. The cargo area measures 20.5 cubic feet to the top of the backseat, according to Mercedes, but it seems so much larger. It offers a fantastic dual-screen entertainment system for the kids, an amazing massaging driver's seat for Mom or Dad and a more pleasurable driving experience than any crossover or SUV. But that sticker price — it's just not fair!


2014 Volvo XC70 
Starting price: TBA, but the 2013 model starts at $34,495, including an $895 destination charge
Family friendly: It has lots of potential.

Volvo has teased consumers with some photos and information about the 2014 XC70. This refreshed wagon certainly has the potential to be the ultimate family hauler, but until Volvo releases the pricing information, I'll withhold judgment. The XC70 seats five, and for 2014 the backseat is split 40/20/40, which makes it easier to haul two kids and longer cargo at the same time. The City Safety system, which can stop the car at speeds up to 31 mph if an obstacle is detected, is standard. The cargo space behind the backseat is 20.3 cubic feet, and integrated booster seats will again be optional.

I'm still waiting for that magical wagon that's affordable and still has some luxury (wood paneling optional, of course).

Research Wagons 
Why Buy a BMW 3 Series Hatchback When There's a Wagon 
More Family News



You know, aside from the Prius V, Subaru Outback, VW Jetta wagon, maybe the Mini Clubman and Toyota Matrix...this pretty much sums up the wagon selection in the US. I guess we have other types of vehicles to "make up" for that discrepancy like the boxy vehicles or crossovers or small SUVS, but then again so does the rest of the world...

Perfect vans I must say, these are ideal for the small went out for families or going for camping etc.

Dan Bohannon

We have a 2007 Ford Freestyle, 7 passenger "crossover" that we love. I call it a station wagon (which it is)to annoy my wife. we were sorry that Ford discontinued it.


Surprising omission of the Ford FLEX from your article. The FLEX is true-blue wagon through and through. Just think how excited you could be with a wood paneling addition and a Beach Bopys CD stuck in repeat mode!!


It's just me and my wife now. But we have both the Subaru Outback and the Toyota Matrix. I believe a car is for moving your "stuff" around. That might be people or goods. It's nice to have the extra cargo capacity. Plus... I'll admit it... my dad always had Ford Station wagons (without the wood sides).

Russell Nash

Ford Sells a station wagon version of the Taurus in Europe, under the model name Mondeo. It has been a family favorite for decades.


Honestly,I drive a 2004 Pontiac Vibe (Toyota Matrix with a different face and back line) and am quite impressed with the whole package.:)
I've got 105,000 miles with nothing other than regular maintenance and it has NEVER left me stranded road side.
My Mom always had a wagon...and Dad always had a truck. When Dad retired, his 3rd pick was a Pontiac Torrence (?)which Mom still drives. I hate the wagon/CUV/SUV debate and Mom still gets mad when I call it a "truck". ;)
Crossovers are a waste. Get back to real CARS !
When I can't see beside me when pulling out of a parking space because everything around me is taller...with blacked out windows and taller than it REALLY needs to be, there's a problem.
If you want a TRUCK...BUY ONE !


You forget the Subaru Outback?????

I love our Subaru Legacy GT(turbo) wagon with manual transmission. A hoot to drive and decent with the fam.


I wish my fellow Americans would get over their wagon phobia. They are cars with good load space and practicality, without sacrificing the handling characteristics like an SUV or Crossover does. I recently convinced a friend to buy an Outback to replace her totaled Explorer. She insisted "no wagons" until she actually went and drove one. Now she couldn't be happier.

Europeans have great wagon choices and also a bunch of great hatch choices that we don't get here and it's our own faults.

Steve Tenbrink

I always thought wagons made much more sense than sedans. We've owned a Ford Taurus wagon in the past and now own a Subaru Outback. I can't imagine paying more than $25K for a vehicle but that's just me. Oh, and by the way, with the 2.5 engine and the CVT transmission I routinely get 30 to 35 mpg. I bet the luxury wagons don't come close to that.

Rusty Love

I have owned 14 Volvo wagons over the past 45 years, and there are 5 in the family right now. They are solid, comfortable, and some of them have really good performance. Sadly, I doubt a new Volvo is in our future, as they are just not the same cars as the old good ones. My personal favorite? My 1985 245 Turbo!

I've loved every wagon we have had (9). They just get better. From Studebaker Lark to AMC Rebel to LTD Country Squire to now our 3rd MB E wagon (2011). I have the 2014 E63 wagon in my sights, but they haven't priced it yet! Upward.

Wagon Plus

We are on our second E350 wagon. Yes, they are a bit pricey but you get so much for your money. The multi-contoured seat function is a must for anyone that drives any distances. The auto lift gate is essential for loading kids, groceries, animals, etc. We also have an ML350 but the preferred mode of transportation is the wagon.

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