By on October 3, 2016

2006 Dodge Magnum SRT8, Image: FCA

If you were to take a moment to ponder the death of the wagon in America and had to put a timeline on when it all started, quite a few people would wager it arrived in the 1990s. That timeline makes a lot of sense, since that’s when the SUV craze really started to take off. But there isn’t a specific date when it all came crashing down, and that’s frustrating as a historian.

We can nail down the end of the Roman Empire to the year that Odoacer overthrew Romulus Augustus (476, if you were concerned), but there was never an “okay, no more wagons starting now” moment in our country.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the highlights of the longroof market in the Naughts.

As popularity in wagons waned, automakers launched an absolute plethora of long-roof options for American consumption. While I could point to 1983’s National Lampoon’s Vacation and the Family Truckster as an institution of Americana, the best examples of the wagon era were offered between 2000 and 2010. It’s as if manufacturers were saying, “Are you really sure you don’t want to buy these?” as they turned out the lights on production for most.

2005 Audi S4 Avant, Image: Audi

Audi A4 Avant

The A4 Avant wasn’t Audi’s first foray into the small wagon market, but it was certainly very successful. Starting with the B5 chassis in the late 1990s and continuing on into B8 production in the early 2010s, the A4 offered many engine and transmission configurations. Technically, it’s still available, though only in Allroad 2.0T automatic form.

Highlights: S4 Avant, B6 1.8T quattro Ultrasport, B7 2.0T quattro S-Line Titanium Package

2002 Audi S6 Avant, Image: Audi

Audi A6 Avant

Like the A4, the A6 was a popular large wagon option. The C5 chassis offered an amazing array of options, from the 2.7 twin-turbocharged engine lifted from the S4 to the V8 borrowed from the S8. Production continued into the C6 chassis, but fizzled out just past 2010. Before Audi stopped selling it here, you could get a supercharged 300 horsepower 3.0T Avant.

Highlights: S6 Avant, Allroad 2.7T 6-speed, A6 3.0T Avant.

2002 BMW 3 Series Touring, Image: BMW

BMW 3 Series Touring/Sport Wagon

As with the Audis, the genesis of the 3 Series Touring started well before they hit U.S. shores, but the small wagon only arrived here in the 2000s. Coupled with varying inline-six motors (though never the most powerful in the lineup, notably), with optional rear- or all-wheel drive, and available with a manual transmission, both E46 and later E91 chassis are still hot commodities in the used car market as BMW has moved to an automatic only, turbocharged, inline-four recipe. Still, the 3 Series Touring one of the few still available on the market today.

Highlights: Anything with a manual and/or Sport option.

BMW 530xi Touring, Image: BMW

BMW 5 Series Touring

BMW began selling the 5 Series Touring in the 1990s with the E34 chassis, but the large BMW wagon didn’t come into its own until the 2000s with the E39 platform, which BMW offered as the 528i Sport when paired with an inline-six with manual transmission, or 540i when a V8 propelled the long-roofer though an automatic trans. Popularity of the model continued with the E61 chassis. Though only available with all-wheel drive, both 530xi and later 300-horsepower turbocharged 535xi models offered a manual option before BMW discontinued them as part of the 5 Series’ move to the F chassis.

Highlights: See BMW 3 Series above.

2006 Dodge Magnum SRT8, Image: FCA
Dodge Magnum

While not the prettiest or the fastest wagon to make the list, that the Magnum came to fruition at all was impressive. In an age where American manufacturers had just about fully sworn off the wagon (and, at the very least, certainly the large wagon), the 300-based Magnum brought a bold and brash style, and some serious firepower in the form of a 425-horsepower 6.1-liter Hemi V8.

Highlights: Finding one of the elusive SRT-8 models.

Jaguar X-Type Sportwagon, Image: Jaguar

Jaguar X-Type Sportwagon

The result of Ford’s ownership of the British company meant plenty of platforms to borrow for new models, resulting in (unfortunately) the S-Type and (more fortunately) the X-Type. It was this Ford Mondeo-based model that took Jaguar in a new direction with all-wheel drive and an estate option. Also unusual to Jaguar was the five-speed manual and 3.0 V6, making this a very odd cat.

Highlights: It looks nothing like a S-Type.

Lexus IS300 SportCross, Image: Lexus

Lexus IS300 SportCross

While most Japanese manufacturers like Nissan, Honda and Toyota pulled out of the wagons segment in the ’80s and ’90s, Lexus took an abrupt right turn with its then-new IS. Attempting to attack the BMW E46 and Audi B6 five-doors, Lexus rolled out the offbeat SportCross. They sold very few here, maybe due to Lexus equipping all SportCrosses with automatic transmissions. At least it was rear-wheel drive and had an inline-6.

Highlights: Nothing to see here, move along.

Mazda6 Wagon, Image: Mazda

Mazda6 Sport Wagon
Didn’t I just say Japanese manufacturers abandoned wagons? Well, as with Jaguar, Mazda was owned by Ford in the 2000s, too. Platform sharing again meant that the Mazda6 got all-wheel drive and a manual in turbocharged Mazdaspeed6 form. For a few years, enthusiasts held out hope that the Sport Wagon variant would drop the Ford V6 and get the turbo-4, but, alas, in 2008, the wagon party came to an end. It was briefly a neat-looking if slow-selling option.

Highlights: Hey … neat.

Mercedes-Benz C300 Estate W203, Image: Daimler

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate

With the W203, Mercedes-Benz finally brought the Estate version of its baby Benz to the U.S. after snubbing us with the W202. Unfortunately, it was in the midst of the changeover in styling and a move to water-based paint as well as some generally poor interior quality. It wasn’t bad-looking as a wagon, but it’s better to skip this one as we received Daimler’s best effort: the C55 AMG Estate. Mercedes-Benz opted to drop the small wagon in the U.S. after introducing the better looking W204 replacement in 2006.

Highlights: It’s not a Chrysler?

Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Estate, Image: Daimler

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate

While the W210 marched into the decade as a stately wagon option for Carmella Soprano-types, they lived a hard life and make the degradation of the C-Class look like a walk in the park. Still, you could get the mega-V8 powered E55 in wagon form. The W211 replacement looked the business and came with even more craziness in the motor department, ranging from the now-supercharged M113 V8 with a kicking-and-screaming 469 horsepower, to the refreshed E63 model with the 6.2-liter V8 that broke the 500-horsepower barrier.

Highlights: Anything with an AMG badge and no rust.

SAAB 9-3 Aero SportCombi, Image: Saab

Saab 9-3 SportCombi

The death of Saab was for many fans a sad moment, and a loss for the enthusiast world. While wagons hadn’t really been a traditional staple of Saab before the 2000s, it did offer us some nice options in the 9-3 Aero. Production culminated in the cartoonishly named but seriously quick 280 horsepower, turbocharged V6 2008 Turbo X SportCombi, which premiered the Haldex-derived Cross-Wheel Drive (XWD) system.

Highlights: If you can find one …

SAAB 9-5 Aero Wagon, Image: Saab

SAAB 9-5 Wagon

The 9-5 wagon was more ubiquitous than smaller Saab wagons, and again offered in Aero form. Though unusual, they were certainly distinctive. Though Saab is gone, many of these are still soldiering on. The turbocharged Aero was good for 260 horsepower by the end of the run and could be had with a manual.

Hightlights: Pre-facelift 9-5 Aeros.

Subaru WRX Wagon, Image: Fuji Heavy Industries

Subaru Impreza/Saab 9-2X

The GD chassis gained some bulk over the outgoing GC, but fans quickly forgave this as the WRX finally arrived on our shores legally. It came as a wagon, too, though opting for the fifth door dropped the flares from its exterior. Saab also got a version thanks to some strange marketing in the lightly cloaked 9-2X. Despite that, both of these rumbling turbocharged flat-four wagons are still very much fan favorites.

Highlights: Find one that isn’t modified and/or rusting.

Subaru Legacy Wagon, Image: Fuji Heavy Industries

Subaru Legacy Wagon/Outback Wagon

The BH and later BP chassis Legacy models took Subaru to new heights of popularity and became the do-it-all family favorite in New England and Colorado in Outback Wagon form. The BP introduced more motivation in the turbocharged 2.5-liter motor borrowed from the STi, and it was available in both Outback XT and Legacy GT form. Though they have some pretty serious known long-term faults, few packages can offer the same performance and all-weather capability.

Highlights: A manual turbo model without blown headgaskets.

2010 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen, Image: Phil Brown

Volkswagen Jetta Wagon/SportWagon

As you learned in my last post, Volkswagen produced a Mk3 Variant, which it never brought to the states. That changed with the Mk4 Jetta and has gone strong (barring certain pending lawsuits) ever since. While the Mk4 generation isn’t known for the best quality, they’re economical commuters — at least until Volkswagen cleans them up.

Highlights: Mk4 TDi, Mk5 brought with it an inline-five and better quality.

Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Wagon, Image: Volkswagen

Volkswagen Passat Wagon

Volkswagen went decidedly upscale with the B5 Passat, moving from a Golf-based platform to the Audi B5 chassis. With revisions in the B5.5, all-wheel drive and a plethora of engines were offered, ranging from the AHU 1.9 TDi to the wildly complicated and unnecessary 270 horsepower W8 technical exercise. The revised Golf-based B6 continued offering an upscale wagon with optional all-wheel drive (though no more manual), but the Mk5 underpinnings meant you could get a punchy 276 horsepower 3.6-liter VR6 under the hood, which made this a speedy sleeper.

Highlights: W8 4Motion six-speed, 1.8T 4Motion five-speed, 3.6 VR6 4Motion.

Volvo V40 Wagon, Image: Volvo

Volvo V40/V50

Reintroducing the V40 to Volvo brought a new small car to the brand. And, especially in wagon form, it was pretty handsome with a sloping glass echoing the legendary 1800ES design. But, it was never really much of a challenge to the established German norms until the redesign in 2005. It looked quite heavy (and was), but upped the ante. The top-tier T5 model featured optional all-wheel drive, an optional manual transmission, and 218 turbocharged horsepower — enough to outpace most of the equivalent Audi and BMW wagons.

Highlights: At this point, pretty much just the T5 AWD.

2006 Volvo V70, Image: Volvo

Volvo V70

The second-generation P2 chassis V70 improved considerably in the looks department and enthusiasts rejoiced in the return of the V70R. With a tuned up version of the turbocharged inline-five channeled through all four wheels thanks to a Haldex differential hooked to a manual 6-speed transmission, these 300 horsepower screamers have a serious (and deserved) cult following, especially when paired with a six-speed manual.

Highlights: Any R model that has been properly maintained, especially when painted Flash Green and paired with a six-speed manual.

2014 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon, Image: General Motors

Honorable Mention: 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon

Though production didn’t start until 2011, the slightly garish but outrageously ostentatious CTS-V wagon brought a modified LS9 Corvette ZR1 motor and six-speed manual into a Cadillac wagon. It doesn’t get much more otherworldly than this. Coupled with the W212 Mercedes-Benz E-Class AMGs, it gives us longroof lovers hope that more hi-po wagons will come our way.

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131 Comments on “Naughty Five-Doors: The Wonderful World of Wagons in the 2000s...”


  • avatar
    nguyenvuminh

    Great looking cars, and practical too. Too bad the market has moved away from them.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The A4 Avant was available in the US through the 2011 model year, so that’s not really “early 2000s.”

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The I-6 3.0 is a great engine, and I think the rarity alone makes the SportCross desirable. Finding one at all is tough, and one which hasn’t been A) ruined by tuner mods bro or B) beat to hell is near impossible.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Guy here at work has one. Just quirky enough to be interesting, but sadly only offered with the slushbox.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      The Sportcross I bought for my mom last year had low miles but was kept street parked in DC for 11 years. It was in really rough shape. I paid too much for it and it needed a ton of work.

      Fortunately the majority of the parts from a sedan work on the X so finding a junkyard with an IS became a bit of a treasure hunt for me. And because of the prevalence of the Toyota Altezza Gita (Sportcross in the rest of the world) it’s not impossible to find what you need.

      Now, a year after buying it and 6 months after finishing it and handing it over, I have been in search of one of my own. It’s one of the best all around cars I’ve ever driven. Easy to work on, cheap to maintain, and 2JZ reliable. It handles great and has just enough power to have a great time. I’m willing to travel across the country for the right one.

      • 0 avatar
        is_lander

        I was always a hatchback and sport wagon fan. In the U.S. that is not a popular thing unless you are a Subie owner. Although the new Civic hatch may sway some people back.

        When the IS Sportcross came out, I really wanted one, but no manual! Years later a I finally got one and never looked back. With the abundance of IS/Altezza tuner options, I could always put a manual in later (so I reasoned). But since it is pretty much bomb proof, that might take a while. The best part is, not too many people liked it when it came out. That made it even more attractive to me and somewhat exclusive now.

        These days in a sea of cross-overs, everybody loves my Sportcross. Because they are rare, people see it and think it is a new Lexus; like that tiny Hybrid CT200. But No gas sipping electric motor here. There is a 2JZ sitting in there with rear wheel drive. With handling that can rival the Euro sport wagons.

        @Land Ark – I was willing to travel a little further to get one. I still see a handful of these IS Sportcorsses in the DC area; including a twin to mine in the Alexandria area. I was lucky to get a low mileage example in the South with no dings; but this was more than 10 years ago now. Mine has fairly low mileage for its age at below 90k miles. Currently the one and only new ding, was put there by my wife (yes I eventually forgave her). I will drive this car to its end and my sons will not! Time to get another old hatchback (with manual) for them to play with in a few years.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I’m disappointed you don’t have a note on the TSX Sports Wagon. Or does that slant in the roof disqualify it as a station wagon.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    With the exception of the VW which is still around and the Subarus which are still very much in demand, the other vehicles represent the entry level premium/luxury price range or level (or higher).

    Cars for families with one child and a designer dog. Taking their child to ‘play dates’ and tutoring.

    Where are the base level, full or mid-sized wagons of the 60’s and 70’s. Fords, Chevies and Plymouths? Bought by families with 3 snotty nosed kids and a mutt and used to haul them on camping trips and Sunday drives.

    Those were the volume sellers and the D3 apparently abandoned that market.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Ford sold the Taurus, Sable and Focus wagons, but they weren’t mentioned here. Saturn also offered the S and L series wagons for the early part of the 2000s.

      The Ford and Saturn wagons just declined in popularity until they were finnaly gone, not worth producing anymore. Its not like people were beating down their doors to buy them, I don’t blame the OEMs for not continuing to make vehicles that don’t sell enough to justify themselves.

      If you think outside (or inside?) the box, the Scion xB, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Chevrolet HHR and similar cars were pretty much compact wagons that just weren’t marketed as such.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        I owned three Taurus/Sable wagons. The last of which was a MY 2000, so it qualifies in this discussion. Awesomely great cars (all had the 3.0 Vulcan) because they were so damned practical.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        I remember my friend’s family buying a brand new ovoid Taurus wagon in 1997 or 1998, in an upper trim with the DOHC Duratec, nice alloy wheels, and painted an awesome emerald green. Fantastic car, I remember riding in the rear mounted seats to the state fair (for fun, it was just his parents in the front row). Man I miss the 90s! They had it right up until a few years ago, it was very well taken care of and didn’t seem to show much rust at all, quite an accomplishment in Upstate NY considering the sad shape of similar aged Taurii by that point in time.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Exactly. So why the emphasis on the ‘Eurotrash’ in this article? The Magnum was a bit of an anomaly, the windows were so small that driving in one felt much like driving in a cigar tube or submarine.

        And we seem to have forgotten a market niche/vehicle type that emerged in the early 70’s when second cars began showing up with regularity in suburbia. The small ‘mom’ wagon. The Ford Pinto wagon was the vehicle of choice for many in my neighbourhood. We had a VW Type III ‘squareback’ shooting brake (3 door wagon) which was later replaced by a Type IV with a similar configuration. The Type III’s were actually quite popular.

        AMC helped popularize this market niche and eventually came to exemplify it with their AMC Eagle wagon from ’79 to ’87.

        The Mitsubishi Sportback, Suzuki Esteem, Ford Focus and Chev Optra wagons, representing the remnants of this type of vehicle. I believe that only VW and Subaru are still carrying on marketing small wagons in North America.

        • 0 avatar
          NickS

          Arthur, the Europeans, unlike the domestics, did an amazingly good job of making station wagons very functional and very sensible.

          The winners of that era were all the european makes mentioned here, the Avants, Passat wagon, legendary Volvo, and Merc and BMW, as well as Subaru. Acura came with the TSX, late to the party though.

          The early Jettas were small size SWs in my mind and not really the bona fide family wagon. Everyone I know who has one is driving it with a cargo box on top (and noone bothers to take it down).

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Most are still being driven in Savannah, GA, today. Allot of 3-series, E-class, VW wagons, seen this week.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Nick I don’t see how any of the European wagons are any more “sensible” than a Taurus wagon in terms of utility, and I’d argue they’re less sensible in terms of cost of ownership (long term especially). Let’s talk sensible when the air struts fail on the back of a E-class wagon, or the 6-balljoint front end on an A4 or A6 avant needs to be rebuilt before 100k miles, or the Volvo’s airbag light stays on and then dash display is all scrambled from failed solder joints. To be entirely fair, the Taurus needs diligent transmission maintenance, and an eye kept on its rear springs that like to rot out and break (cheap to replace), and in general a greater susceptibility to corrosion.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      They morphed into minivans which, arguably, are better vehicles, having a taller profile (ever try to carry a couch in an station wagon?).

      Although I really miss looking a the world backwards from the rear -facing seat. There was a special quality to that experience.

    • 0 avatar
      spreadsheet monkey

      “Where are the base level, full or mid-sized wagons of the 60’s and 70’s. Fords, Chevies and Plymouths? Bought by families with 3 snotty nosed kids and a mutt and used to haul them on camping trips and Sunday drives.

      Those were the volume sellers and the D3 apparently abandoned that market.”

      With the Journey and Grand Caravan, Dodge is still very much targeting those customers.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    Post millennium nostalgia makes me feel old. And then I think some of the comments are insufficient, and I feel even older.

    The first Volvo V40 was a resounding success, developed by NedCar, but it didn’t quite match Volvo’s quality standards. V50, based on a Focus platform, but developed by Volvo, and the later, new V40 are entirely different cars.

  • avatar
    redliner

    I’m looking for a mint-condition Volvo V70r manual.

    Finding one without too many miles or thousands in deferred maintenance is near impossible.

    I always loved the wide, long and low square look of the v70r

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      There is a cream-puff 56K mile 2006 V70R with a six-speed manual for $13K on Seattle Craigslist right now (search “v70r” in cars for sale by owner).

    • 0 avatar
      Ashy Larry

      In a fit of stupidity I am still shaking my head at, I sold my 2004 V70R 6sp (owned since new) in 2013, with 90k miles on it. I really want that car back. It was literally everything I needed in a car — fast, manual, tons of room (including tons of cargo room), amazing front seats.

      I kick myself to this day, two cars later, as I am still hunting for the perfect mix of fast and utility. My current Golf R is close but it is a hair too small and obviously does not have nearly as much cargo room.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        I still have my 2004 Saab 9-5 Arc with high mileage picked up out of Georgia a few years ago. With JZW Stage 4 it is a hoot to drive but lacks refinement of today’s cars in NVH.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Oh, and does my (recently departed) 2004 Lancer Sportback Ralliart not qualify as a wagon? I certainly used it as such. Hated that it was only offered with automatic, as had it come with a manual, it would have been darn-near perfect (well, until the timing belt went, thus ending the engine’s seemless performance with one rather final act of compression).

    • 0 avatar
      Carter Johnson

      Good one too and certainly worth a mention. The Focus Wagon also isn’t on here, but worth mentioning that it was produced.

      • 0 avatar
        spookiness

        I was the happy owner of a Protégé5, and unhappy owner of a 9-2x. WRT Magnum, I dislike the trucky front end, preferring the 300C Touring model offered internationally. I have seen at least 1 Magnum converted to a 300 front clip locally, and I’m sure there are others.

        • 0 avatar
          threeer

          Yep, also had a Protege5! Fun little ride. Wish I would have had the P5 and LSR (just TOO long of a name to type each and every time!) at the same time. P5 was probably the overall better handler and a tad more fun to drive, well it also had a manual trans and sunroof, neither of which was available on the Lancer. But the Lancer made a fun little growl and was beyond unique. I can still count on one hand how many Ralliart variants I’ve seen, given they only sold Sportback of that body style for one year (2004). I may have seen a total of a dozen of the Sportbacks, period…both Ralliart and non-Ralliart version. Was really, really bummed when the engine went south.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    So many wagons, so little time.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Proud owner of an 04 E46 wagon. Picked it up 2 years ago for cheap price. Is a great all weather commuter though 20mpg premium is less than ideal. In the wagon version the back seat was moved a little further back so it is the only E46 that can sit people comfortably in the back. Wife just bought 16 Golf Sport Wagon. I prefer the BMW.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    In 2010 I bought the first ’07 Legacy GT wagon I had ever seen. 2005 was the only year of the 5 speed manual (though I’ve heard of a few 2006 bleed overs) and both ’05 and ’06 suffer from a similar issue as the V6 Mazda6 of the wagon generation where the pre-cats come apart and get sucked into the intake to predictable results.
    2007 was the first year they did away with the pre-cat (up-pipe) and they also rerouted some of the oil lines which tended to cause starvation quite easily in the ’05-’06s.
    ’07 GT wagons are next to impossible to find. At any given time there may be one for sale in the US. It was the last year of the Legacy wagon in the US and I doubt they were produced for the full model year.

    It is an amazing car in nearly all aspects. With a simple tune (which you need to do anyway because the stock tune will destroy the engine) and a modified down pipe, it goes from pretty quick to shockingly fast. If it weren’t for the fragility of the engine if not maintained 100% it would be impossible to beat. Though even 100% maintained motors have been known to go without notice.

    Subaru got a handle on the headgaskets for this motor it seems. People still have problems with them but not nearly as the previous generations did like clockwork. But you trade that 110,000 mile engine replacement for a 120,000 mile top end rebuild because of the turbo anyway.

    The BL/BP Legacies don’t have the traditional following of the previous generations, I assume because they went up market and have held their values.

    I have just under 72,000 miles on my ’07 but I’m already starting to worry about the future. I plan to do the timing belt service early next year along with some other supporting longevity modifications. Hopefully I’ll have it for years to come.

    • 0 avatar
      FAHRVERGNUGEN

      +1

      I have 99k on my ’05 LGT and agree that it is an amazingly quick car. Didn’t know about the pre-cat but i did spring for a new turbo last year.

      As for the future, it can worry about itself. I really wanted the TDI to be around so it could perhaps replace it, but just as well.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      @ Landark,
      I’ll keep you posted, but so far (98k) my 05 hasn’t popped a gasket or ground up it’s cat. In the mean time, I’m loving the clutch. The stupid thing is still pretty to me.

    • 0 avatar
      SP

      Land Ark,
      Do you have any sources explaining what are the issues with the stock tune? I ask because a relative has a 2005 Outback XT. She researched it before purchase and found that the turbo oil screen needs to be cleaned regularly to help prevent oil starvation. But a tuning issue didn’t come up. (She probably won’t want to hear that she needs an aftermarket device, but I figure I should file the info away just in case.)

    • 0 avatar
      bortlicenseplate

      Mine’s a 2006 Legacy GT Limited 5mt, bought in 2009 with 45k miles, now approaching 110k. It’s a Canadian car; up here you could get the manual until 2008. Turbo failed and was rebuilt at 70k, replaced the clutch at 80k. Otherwise it’s been pretty reliable. I’d like something newer, but as has been mentioned above, there’s really nothing else that comes close for utility, speed, value, and driving enjoyment.

      I guess the biggie to look out for is the head gasket thing, which I admit i don’t know much about and clearly need to get educated on; otherwise, seeing as there’s not much out there for us Wagoneers, I’ll hope to drive this one into the ground, as any kind of upgrade would seem to be an unwelcomed compromise. Used BMW wagon? Close, but pay BMW prices and run-flats. Volvo V60 Wagon? No spare tire, rare and pricey in the required used T6 AWD guise, aging platform. Used Porsche Macan? Close again, but need a few more years of depreciation, not to mention Porsche running costs. Subaru WRX/Forester XT? Jetta Alltrack? None offer a substantively better driving experience. Subaru really did hit a high watermark with our cars – hoping we get to enjoy ’em for a while still.

  • avatar
    devyanks90

    No love for rebadged, no haggle priced Opel wagons? (Saturn LW Series)

    Learned to drive and parallel park in a 2002.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Let me just add that Texas registered my A3 as a station wagon, and I’m not about to question the great state’s bureaucracy.

  • avatar
    e30gator

    I bought an ’01 Volvo V70 T5 after a string of older Volvo products. Aside from its voracious appetite for ignition coils and light bulbs, it was a sweet car to drive.

    I’d found the best combination of sportiness, economy, safety, and practicality, or so it seemed. It was much better at being a family car than our ’09 Aura when it came to swallowing strollers and diaper bags (the trunk opening on the Saturn was tiny) and it was a comfortable commuter for my 70 mile round trip to work at the time, but the back seats were too cramped and getting the kids in and out of such a low car was a literal pain.

    After a relatively short ownership experience, I succumbed to minivandom and never looked back, and the Z3 is still sitting in the garage for when I “need” something sporty. And that’s just it; sometimes two cars are better than one.

    • 0 avatar
      CoastieLenn

      How many times did you see the “Bulb failure, Position Light” message? LOL!

      I know as a Volvo dealer service rep, not a day went by that an owner didn’t say that they had a bulb out. Reason? Most thought it was faulty bulbs or wiring. Not so. Unless you had the computer reprogrammed (on the 2001+ cars) or knew to turn the little screwdriver knob on the headlight switch (1993-2000 cars), the lights were on ALL THE TIME. Why? Because in Sweden, it’s illegal to drive a car on the road without having all your lights on. Why they didn’t bother to reprogram for foreign markets, who knows.

      • 0 avatar
        e30gator

        The “bulb failure” light was a mainstay of the dashboard of that car. I never had it reprogrammed (though I wish I’d known about it back then), I just had a Tupperware full of extra bulbs from the junkyard that I popped in on an almost weekly basis. My ’88 240DL wagon and ’96 850 sedan were just as bad in that regard.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “sometimes two cars are better than one.”

      Always.

      • 0 avatar
        e30gator

        It seems impossible to have the practicality of something like a minivan (which I absolutely need) and the driving experience of something absurdly impracticable (which I want). If any company can successfully mate the two, I’d be the first in line…maybe we’re ready for an Impala SS “wagovertible”.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    BMW E34 5-Series Touring was offered in Canada. I’ve seen a few 525i as well as a lone 530i.

    Also, Ford in the early 2000 had a Taurus wagon.

  • avatar
    LambourneNL

    Both E46 and E60 wagons could be had rear wheel drive only, with a choice of several 4 and 6 cylinder engines in Europe. All with stick shift, basic cloth seats and no nav unless you paid extra.

    BMW USA seems to insist on tacking on 15k worth of extras before they will sell you one.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I’ll make the argument that the best wagons were in the late 80s-mid 90s.

    Camry and Accord wagon were both excellent in both of their generations, Civic Wagon and Corolla wagon, Tercel wagon, the curious Mitsu RVR-derived Eagle Summits, Plymouth Colt Vista, Subaru loyales, Legacy wagon turbos, diamante wagon, Caprice and Roadmaster wagons, Cutlass Ciera and Century a-body wagons, Escort wagon and Taurus wagons, 200/700/900/V90 RWD volvos as well as fwd 850 Volvos.

    I’d argue that the 2000s were the beginning of the unfortunate d-pillar slanting where cargo space was cut in favor of aesthetics, although even the 96-97 Accord wagons saw some of that.

    • 0 avatar
      Carter Johnson

      D pillar cutting started with the C3 Audi Avant circa 1984. There were some good 90s wagons you missed, like the 20v turbo S6 Avant, but on balance the fastest, best equipped and nicest driving wagons came in the 2000s I think. This lineup was really based on performance. Also, B5.5 VWs, the E61 and a few other 2000s wagons are quite square in the rear.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Carter I soundly reject the trouble-prone Euro cars of this era, although I would not turn down a B5 Passat or A4 with the 2.8L V6 and stick. If I could buy a factory-fresh Civic Wagon RT4WD with the super low-1st gear manual transmission, I’d gladly take that over any number of faster and more luxurious European offerings. Or maybe a Diamante Wagon.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          Probably as close as you get on this continent, assuming the underside isn’t junk:
          http://bringatrailer.com/2016/09/05/rare-realtime-4wd-6-speed-1988-honda-civic-wagon/

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Mother of God. I must have this!

            I was super jealous when we’d go to Russia and see the Honda Shuttle “Beagle” editions, with 130hp ZC motors, RT4WD, and cool two tone green over slate paint jobs and factory bullbars with foglights. They sold them until ’96 in Japan I think.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      On my way to the store Saturday, I saw an early 90s Accord Wagon, in black over tan – still doing DD work as it had car seats and kiddies in the back. It didn’t have any rust on it(!).

      Such a clean design with lots of glass. Nice polished alloys so I’m guessing it was an upper trim. It did have cloth seats though.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        A coworker had a Cali-transplant (rust free) ’92 EX Coupe in that mist green color. Tan and black interior, 5spd, seperate armrests on the seats and pretty loaded up for the time period. 210k miles, ran great with plenty of zip left in it. His had been stolen in San Diego a few years prior and recovered rolling on steelies so he lost those nice polished alloys you speak of. I replaced the axles on it (torn original 24 year old boots), and it had a loose bushing in the rear end. The rest of the suspension was still perfectly tight, impressive indeed considering how old it was, and that it had spent some time driving Indy’s East side for a few years at that point.

        • 0 avatar
          cgjeep

          A lot of the Honda Accord wagons were stolen as their motors had a little more torque in the tuner crowd liked them for transplants.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            Are you sure? I thought Accord wsgons had closer axle ratios or something (thus their slightly lower mpg).

            If they were popular for their engine Im surprised they didnt steal Oddyessys from that generation.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Yeah I’m kind of doubtful about this as well. Even if it did make marginally more power due to something like exhaust routing differences, who wants to steal a car for a stinky F22 motor when there are preludes that can be plucked for their much more desirable H22 VTEC motors?

          • 0 avatar
            cgjeep

            Read an article from old Magazine in mechanics waiting area. Had something to do with H engine vs F engine. I’m not a Honda person.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      I forgot our ’87 Civic Real-Time AWD Wagovan. A fantastic little vehicle. The choices were between that, a Toyota ‘tall boy’ wagon, a Nissan Multi or an Eagle Summit (built by Mitsubishi).

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    That’s quite a lineup of expensive luxury wagons, but it’s fairly easy to date the end of the wagon by looking at the mass-produced wagons. The end, or beginning of the end, came in 1995, when the tall wagons imported by the Japanese saw their eventual replacement by the Toyota Rav4 and Honda CRV, both introduced in 1995. There’s your date.

    Before 1995, you had many choices of tall wagons, some with AWD. They were all compact/sub-compact models (Nissan Stanza, Toyota Tercel, Honda Civic) and they sold very well. You didn’t mention the American full-size wagons, but the Japanese models were the big sellers, the Taurus/Caprice models selling a small fraction of the compact Japanese.

    Some of the Japanese tall wagons continued up to 1999, but the intro of the CRV and Rav4 in 1995 was the turning point for mass-produced wagons. The SUV/CUV era began right there.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Lorenzo you make a very good point, I’m inclined to agree. Looking around my hometown of Ithaca NY that used to be a hotbed of Tercel 4wd wagons, Eagle Summits, Loyales, and Civic RT4wd wagons, there are at least as many new CRVs, Rav4s, and of course a plethora of Subarus (Crosstrek and Outback mainly). I remember the ’96 Outbacks taking the college town of 30k permanent residents (60k with students) by storm. They were absolutely everywhere in just a years’ time or so. Same story repeated in ’04-’06ish with the 2nd gen Prius, of which there are still a metric ton of on the street. They seem to hold up very well to salt, except for the underutilized brakes (rotors always rust out before they ever get used up, calipers freeze). It’s also neat to see a prius plugging along a dirt road out there in the sticks, driven by an avid hiker or one of the ‘back to the earth’ type folks that have built houses out in the hills surrounding Ithaca.

    • 0 avatar
      Carter Johnson

      But the fact that all these wagons were produced after means 95 can’t be the date. Some on the list weren’t even introduced in the U.S. until after that date (or well after!)

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Carter I think Lorenzo’s point still stands though. Introducing people to these high-roof, higher traction and higher clearance vehicles that still drove more like cars than like true old school SUVs, and the resulting explosion in sales, ate away at the wagon demographic. The 1st gen CRVs literally took parts from the RT4wd Civic wagon, I’ve even heard rumors that the floorpan stampings are almost identical. The CRV had great space utilization with a roomy and airy cargo area and second row, greater than most wagons it shared a footprint with. I remember at one point my family was new-car shopping in the late 90s, we ended up looking at a Chevy Tracker (tight everywhere), a gen 1 Rav4 (tight rear legroom), and then a CRV. The CRV was out of our price range at the time, even lightly used as I recall. But boy it was a revelation in how roomy it was, how smooth it drove, the picnic table, etc. There was nothing else like it! We ended up deferring the car purchase a few years and bought a newer 4wd version of the ’89 MPV that we already owned.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          I agree 100%. If you compare the first edition CRV to the ‘RealTime AWD Civic Wagovan’ you can see that the CRV is basically a ‘raised’ version.

          So yes, the argument can be made that Cute’utes killed the small wagon segment

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    You know, I was just thinking it’s odd how Nissan gave up on wagons before everyone else, and Infiniti never had any wagon action at all.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Corey the Nissan AD/Wingroad is one of the single most popular JDM imports brought over through the Russian Far East. Beloved by the legion of gardeners in the country for their versatility, it’s even acquired its own nickname ‘vinograd’ (grape) for sounding sort of similar to ‘Wingroad’ when said with a heavy Russian accent. The ‘AD’ is often seen in stripped down courier trim with white paint, unpainted bumpers and steel wheels.

      In Mexico they got the B13 Tsuru in wagon trim, too bad the US never got that either. We had the Axxess for a bit there, a Eagle Summit look-alike in terms of ‘tall wagon’ layout. The older B12 Sentra was made in a really neat 5 door liftback body, and I want to say the stanza had some sort of variant of that as well? Oh there was the Pulsar NX which had that very upright rump with a triangular rear window.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Man that Wingroad, went from looking terrible on the old ones to looking wak on the new.

        Terrible:
        https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ef/Nissan_Wingroad_002.JPG

        Wak:
        http://www.weblogsinc.com/common/images/3060000000048838.JPG?0.7961360881041714

        I love the Nissan Axxess. Just a one year little dalliance, though Canada got it for a few more years. There was one on CL way down in Kentucky a little while ago, with two-tone and a sunroof!

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          I rather like the staid and utilitarian styling.

          This is what you see most commonly there, in this basic trim, always in white or grey:

          upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f2/NISSAN_AD_VAN_rear.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The AD is sooo plain! But I like that better for utilitarian purposes. It looks like every car in Australia.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Those steel wheels and fat tires are just what the doctor ordered for the locale that they are used in. Steel wheels can be hammered back into somewhat usable shape, fat sidewalls hopefully prevent the need for such repairs in the first place. Guys running these RHD imports from Vladivostok out to western Siberian cities about a decade ago before they paved the Eastern section (anything East of the city of Chita) would load up on spare wheels/tires right when they bought the car. The brutal gravel roads would typically cause at least one (if not two or three or four) punctures over the course of the drive West.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I can recall doing similar preparations for The Oregon Trail.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Just make sure a thief doesn’t steal four of your oxen.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I knew I forgot something. OxLock(TM)

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            It’s rather Mad-max ish :)

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzGZ0nxs9bQ

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrnOBl_qX0Q

            My favorite is the “caravans” of one car pulling a second one behind it, with a steel shield covering the front end of the one being pulled to protect it from all the flying gravel. These guys had it down to a science. This whole JDM-gold rush is definitely past its heyday now. Roads are better, fewer road bandits, less favorable import tariffs and a ton of restrictions. The end of an era you could say.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            It’s funny you guys mention farm animals in an article about wagons, my cousin just picked up an ’03 Caldina (Toyota corolla wagon basically) that he got for a pretty good price because the interior was really filthy from…. transporting goats and sheep in the back! He bought it from some native Altai people (Mongolians basically). Needs a full suspension refresh (that’s a given), and will probably need the engine re-ringed to cut down on oil consumption. Cars really earn their keep out in those parts!

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Are small pickup trucks not available or too expensive there?

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I think it’s a matter of cost. Tons of older Hiluxes, L200, global ranger, BT50, etc. More than a few Chinese GreatWall hilux clones as well. Cheaper than that there’s a whole slew of Soviet 2 ton trucks, hold overs from the 1960s (GAZ 52/53/66, Zil 130/131, etc) that can be bought in running condition for $1000-3000. Many people want the fuel economy and every day convenience of a wagon, but they still need to haul goats to market :)

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @gtemnykh

            Its an Oregon Trail reference.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            @28 oh I’m well aware, just sharing a funny somewhat related anecdote.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            How much does a goat cost?

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          I found an Axxess in a junkyard a few years ago. Kinda felt like a Nissan take on the GM Dustbuster vans.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        The “Stanza Wagon” of the ’80s was the Nissan Prairie.

  • avatar
    wintermutt

    my wife would buy a good used 5 series wagon in a second. but try and find one…

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    “Highlights: W8 4Motion six-speed”

    I think you may be missing a “not” in that sentence. As in “Not the W8”

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Agree.

      • 0 avatar
        CoastieLenn

        Were the W8’s that bad? I’ve always lusted for one. Not as much as a cherry V70R 6 speed, but a close second.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Take the issues of a typical VW 4-cylinder, double it, then add in much more complex engineering on top of that. Oh, and a dollup of “this isn’t quite finished but what the hey.”

          http://jalopnik.com/the-ten-most-complicated-car-engines-ever-made-1480327502

          It’s awful.

          • 0 avatar
            Carter Johnson

            But I’m glad they made it, and this isn’t a “should you buy a used one” article. It was pretty cool and would have been fine under warranty for the first owner.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            You say that, but when your highlights lines on the other cars in this list tell you which one to buy, it’s kind of a mixed message.

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          See i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s–QCHNbF59–/c_scale,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/1229201893631931752.png

          • 0 avatar
            cgjeep

            Parents have an 02 W8 sedan. Bought new. Only had one MAF sensor and a gasket for the driveshaft as the only two problems they’ve had. There are only 40k miles on it but still a good record for a 14 year old car. I totally jinxed them now.

  • avatar

    Can’t believe you guys forgot the 04MY-only Lancer Sportback with the bigger motor from the Ralliart sedan…

    http://www.motorsportsflorida.com/2004-Mitsubishi-LancerSportback/Used-Wagon/PalmHarbor-FL/8179309/Details.aspx

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    With the exception of the Jaaaaag, I don’t think there’s a car on this list that I don’t want to own.

    One little niggle though… The Volvo S40/V40 was never offered with the T5 or 2.0D outside of Europe (I think). North America only got the Mitsubishi partnered 1.9T. About 160hp/tq so it wasn’t quite up to snuff with the T5 but still pretty impressive for what it was. They were also only ever offered with a 5 speed automatic (4 speed for the 2000 MY). With a little brake boost provocation, they’d roast both front tires across a full intersection. Ask me how I know.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      In highschool a friend of mine was gifted a ’01 S40, the rest of the ‘crew’ of Russian/Ukrainians all got hand-me-down 4 cyl Japanese econoboxes with rust so the Volvo definitely stood out. The output of the 1.9T seems modest now, but coming from a throttle-body injected 1.5L Honda saddled with an automatic transmission, the Volvo was a monster. I remember driving around trying to race anything and everything with him, idiots that we were.

    • 0 avatar
      Carter Johnson

      The 5-cylinder is reviewed at least by Car and Driver and there are several on Edmunds listing the 5 cylinder:

      http://www.edmunds.com/volvo/v50/2005/consumer-reviews/

      There is also a V50 2.4 on eBay right now

      • 0 avatar
        CoastieLenn

        The info I provided was solely for the 1st generation, as pictured and discussed in this article. The updated S40/V50 debuted in MY 2008 with either a 2.4L NA 5cyl or a T5 variant. The 1st gen V40 (still called the V40, not V50) was available in the US market from 2000 to 2007. The S40/V40 only got the 1.9T and an automatic. The redesigned S40/V50 (*note the wagon name change) got NA 2.4L available in auto and 5 speed (updated in 2010 to a 2.5L NA), and a T5 with both automatic and 6 speed manual, and FWD and AWD (T5 only). My muse is a nice V50 T5 AWD 6 speed.

        It was a bit confusing since the S40 didn’t change names but the V40/V50 did so after the redesign.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    “Highlights: Finding one of the elusive SRT-8 models.”

    238 of the 2008 model is the hardest of them all to find.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    “We can nail down the end of the Roman Empire to the year that Odoacer overthrew Romulus Augustus”

    Them’s fightin’ words! Put up your dukes!

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Yes it is arguable that the Byzantine Empire carried on the essential ideas of Rome until 1453 A.D.

      • 0 avatar
        Carter Johnson

        True, but the Eastern and Western Roman Empires had many real key differences. While the Byzantines did carry on the tradition, so did many of the Barbaric kingdoms in Europe. Nevertheless, most historians agree 476 was the date.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    I liked wagons, still do.

    I had the Saab 9-2x, and I liked the utility of the wagon but the vehicle itself was just a bit too much Subaru, a very uncomfortable vehicle that felt like a tin can. But amazing handling and I loved the lines.

    I remember BADLT wanting the Dodge Magnum, but I had a bad experience with a Dodge “quality” product pretty recently. I knew a guy that had the Magnum and he conceded his had a lot of issues despite being a fun ride.

  • avatar
    B_C_R

    No mention of the de-contented Acura TSX wagon? Even with a 4 cylinder auto only sold in the US, it was a nice looking car. Had it been had with a V6 and the option for a manual it would have been excellent.

  • avatar
    timeToy

    Still (semi-)daily driving my 2008 E63 AMG (Got it in 2010, modified for handling, confort and reliability).

    http://i1081.photobucket.com/albums/j354/E63Wagon/08E63AMGWagon_09.jpg

  • avatar
    herd77

    I have a 2014 TSX Wagon, actually the last one from the dealer inventory. I have no problem in performance, and 1 enthusiast site had the 14 TSX as one of the fastest 4 cylinders in the US that year at 137 governed top speed

  • avatar
    zipper69

    Having just returned from Europe (1 week
    Netherlands, 2 weeks UK) I can report that wagons are full of life over there.
    The one exception was darkest Kent where in typical assbackwards British fashion the narrow country lanes enclosed with 15 feet tall hedges and barely wide enough for two model T’s to pass are the exclusive haunt of Range Rovers and Discoveries which tend to barrel around blind bends at 50+mph…

    • 0 avatar
      NickS

      I know exactly what you mean.

      I’ve driven just about anywhere in Europe (but not Russia or the former SSRs) and some of those parts of the UK (and Ireland) is when I thought I might not live to see my family again.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I find your lack of Esteem disturbing.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    I know I’ll probably regret it, but before I die I want to own a CTS-V manual wagon.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    BTW, the word “Naughty” in the title meant that I couldn’t actually pull this up at work. Although the work filtering also is blind to the concept of a car called “Escort”.

    Too bad you limited yourself to the 2000s. A 1996 Roadmaster wagon with 275 hp could certainly be interesting.

    http://tinyurl.com/zyxfrzc

    I think I first read that article in the dentists office but I still have great lust for it.

  • avatar
    hp12c

    Wonder if we should make a contest for who has owned the most wagons on this list? I’ve had four: Saab 9-5, VW Passat, Mazda 6, and Subaru Legacy GT.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      My family owned in sequence: ’82 Civic Wagon 5spd, ’90 Civic Wagon (fwd, auto), ’07 Fit (manual).

      There was a sedan interloper in the form of a ’85 Civic sedan between the ’82 and the ’90 that got totaled in a rear end collision. All bought fairly rusty and used in the early-mid 90s, they were our first vehicles after an air cooled ZAZ 966 back in pre/mid-Soviet collapse Russia. My parents always buy the wagon/van shape, our vehicles aside from the Hondas have been a pair of gen-1 Mazda MPV vans, and they now have an RX350 as well.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    Still rocking my ’05 Legacy GT. Starting to look around for something new. Wish they still made the LGT wagon, or the STI hatch..

  • avatar
    kinsha

    I have a 02 sportcross with factory lsd and it is a great wagon. The auto in these can handle up to 400 hp. Extremely fun to drive. Nothing like a I6 that completes max torque @ 3800 rpm! Mine is all stock, but if wanted these are easy to mod up. Only a little over 3000 were made 2002-2005

  • avatar
    scott25

    I still have never seen an IS Sportcross on the road in my entire life. It’s definitely still one of my dream cars, and the fact it’s auto only like my beloved Caldina GT-Four is just icing on the cake, since the backward-hat “I only drive standard bro” crowd turn up their noses at it.

    Still see tons of Mazda 6 and 9-3 wagons around though, could’ve fooled me that they were slow selling.


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