Contrary to popular belief, I am not the wicked wagon hater that much of TTAC’s readership thinks I am. Perhaps I am a curmudgeonly realist when it comes to market forces – but I still like wagons. The fact is, I grew up in wagons, owned a wagon and might be just above the cutoff point where I can remember them dominating the family car segment, rather than crossovers or SUVs.
I’ve decided to put together a list of my favorite, and least favorite wagons of all time for your perusal. Your own comments are welcome as always.
5) Honda Accord Wagon – Seeing as how I grew up in these cars, I had to give them a slot. They are not the fastest, or sportiest or most elegant wagon to ever roam the earth, nor do they have the nerd/Ivy League cachet or a Volvo or Saab, but they are mechanically robust, if prone to rusting prematurely. The Kreindler household would get a new one every six months, until one day, they were no more, replaced by a first-generation Odyssey.
4) Volvo V70R – This seemed like the coolest car on earth when it debuted during my freshman year of high school. 300 horsepower was a substantial figure back in 2003, and the cabin-adjustable Ohilns shocks, big brakes and manual transmission wrapped in a wagon shell were the perfect anti-dote to the douchtastic, mustard color E46 M3s that were so popular at the time. But the harsh realities of Volvo ownership managed to spoil the later “R” cars for me. Alex Dykes’ tales of woe were sufficiently off-putting, while a friend’s father that owned an S60R described it to me as “the worst car ever” in terms of reliability.
3) Buick Roadmaster – Before I bought my first Miata, I nearly bought a 96 Impala SS. And this past summer, I nearly pulled the trigger on an LT1-powered Roadmaster, complete with wood paneling and a rear-facing third row seat. The B-Body wagons were already on their way out during my childhood, but there is something quaint and nostalgic about the faux-wood, the third row seat and of course, a small-block V8 in a rear drive wagon.
2) Subaru Outback 2.5XT – What do you get when you combine the Subaru Legacy 2.5GT’s drivetrain in an even more discreet package? This. Raised ride-height be damned, I would take it in a heartbeat.
1) Mercedes-Benz R63 – for such a rare car, there seem to be a handful of R63s around town. Sometimes they’re driven by grey-haired men, more often by women who probably aren’t aware that they’re driving such a special car. I don’t even know if it really qualifies as a wagon either. But it’s damn cool and uses the naturally aspirated V8. I’ll take it.
And 5 that aren’t so cool
5) Ford Granada Wagon – the first time I went to England, this car lasted all of 20 minutes before the brake calipers seized and we had to return it for a Volvo 760 “Estate”. By all accounts a wretched car in general.
4) Lexus IS300 Sportcross – it looks really cool and it’s obscurity factor makes it an object of fetishization amongst car guys, but that sloping rear hatch means cargo space is compromised. And it’s automatic only.
3) Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 Wagon – a 180 degree turn from the rock solid W124 wagons. A quiet, comfortable vehicle I remember fondly from my youth, unfortunately marred by one of the worst reliability records of any M-B product.
2) BMW 5-Series GT – at one point, you could get a 535xi Touring. And then this hunchbacked turd came and replaced it.
1) Cadillac CTS-V Wagon – if I never hear about this car again, it will be too soon.