By on October 7, 2020

Checking through the Buy/Drive/Burn archives, we’ve considered three sets of wagons previously: American wagons of the Seventies, Japanese wagons of the Nineties, and European wagons of 2004.

But Americans have more European luxury wagon choices in this, the Awesome Year of 2020 than in the decade and a half prior. So let’s revisit the discussion.

Audi A6 allroad

New to North America for the 2020 model year, the A6 allroad returned after a 15-year absence. Formerly called allroad Quattro, that cladded wagon departed after 2005 in North America. In basic Premium Plus trim, the new allroad starts at $65,900 (today’s choice), and can quickly escalate to over $80,000 if option boxes are checked. Power is always the same: A 3.0-liter turbocharged V6, which routes 335 horses and 369 torques through the Quattro all-wheel-drive system. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is found on all examples. To make it look more wagony, certain colors allow the customer to match the allroad’s cladding to the paint color.

Jaguar XF Sportbrake

The Sportbrake version of Jaguar’s XF has been available in the US since 2018. Not a quick seller, I saw one for the first time two weeks ago (in white). Prices for the base Prestige trim start at $65,150, and the more powerful and sports-oriented S begins at $71,800. In base trim, the P300 version of the XF uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four from the Ingenium engine line. It produces 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, for a o-60 time of 5.7 seconds. An upgrade to the S trim is required for supercharged V6 power, but that’s out of budget today. All models are automatic and use an eight-speed ZF unit.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon All-Terrain

The last of today’s trio is the most well-known and is the perennial choice for well-heeled American wagon customers. New for 2016, the E-Class Wagon is available in two trims for North America: An E450 4MATIC for $66,100, or the ridiculous AMG E63 for $111,750. Sticking with the roughly $65,000 price point, the E450 includes a 3.0-liter inline-six engine with turbocharging and “EQ Boost” technology for additional electric torque. 362 horsepower is on offer, shifted through a nine-speed automatic. For the first time, the E-Class Wagon takes a page from Audi’s book and becomes the All-Terrain. Cladding is required, giving the wagon a sort of Buick Regal TourX look. It cannot be matched to the paint, no matter how many options you select.

Three exclusive wagons, two cladded, and one of which your author has actually seen in real life. Which is worth your dollars?

[Images: Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Jaguar]

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41 Comments on “Buy/Drive/Burn: European Luxury Wagons in 2020...”

  • avatar

    Toss up between the E-Class and A6 Allroad.

    Of course, we all know that the one to buy is the E63s or RS6 Avant. ;-)

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Burn ’em all.

    Best case – lease, but do not buy. Actual ownership will bring a river of tears, especially at trade-in time.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike Beranek

      Yeah, a river of tears that flows into an ocean of debt. Lease if you must.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, I wouldn’t spend $60k on any of these (and why not V90, if we’re going to talk about Eurolux wagons?).

      But if it’s someone else’s money, Audi, Merc, Jag, in that order.

      Though I’d be tempted to switch the Merc and Jag around just because all the chrome in Merc interiors is blinding.

      (I test drove a GLK before I got my XC70, and the sun glare off all the dash chrome was *awful*.)

  • avatar

    Somehow I kinda hate the buy/drive/burn articles and yet i always get sucked in.

    This seems easy to me

    Buy – Audi
    Drive – Merc
    Burn – Jag

    Honestly the Audi is the only one I actually find pretty appealing.

  • avatar

    First, I’d burn the Benz and Audi for the stupid lifted-body/cladding nonsense. If you want a lifted wagon with a bunch of cheap-a** plastic cladding, buy an Outback and spend the difference on a Miata. If you want a CUV, then buy a CUV.

    Next, I’d burn the “Jaguar” because a) they had the balls to charge over seventy grand for a car with a four-banger, and b) the entire brand basically deserves a mercy kill at this point.

    Then I’d head down to the Volvo dealer, where I’d order a non-cladded Volvo V90 T6. Four-banger? Yes. But it’s also about ten grand cheaper than the Jag. Besides, the interior looks and feels like money, and the styling is sensational. And, yes, I’d lease it.

    • 0 avatar

      These are all nice, but I am with you on Volvo making the most appealing wagon and really at the best prices. I am seriously considering a certified pre-owned V60 XC in about two years. I am guessing that a nice example with about 30k miles could be had for about $30 grand or less. For what it is, I just cant seem to stomach a $50k 4cyl turbo wagon when buying new even though I find the vehicle very appealing.

      I think I am turning into my parents with my appetite for vehicular expendature firmly stuck in a time frame about 20 years behind the present.

      Oh, and buy Allroad, drive E-class, burn Jag.

      • 0 avatar

        The ONLY way I’d think about buying a current-series Volvo used would be to go the Doug DeMuro route, and buy it from Carmax with the gold-plated warranty. The flip side is that Carmax is overpriced to begin with, and by the time you toss in the warranty, it won’t be much of a bargain anymore. I suspect you’d be better off leasing a new one (which comes with free scheduled maintenancem btw).

        • 0 avatar

          It seems like the V90 is not significantly bigger than the nicely expanded V60. I’d go that route…

          • 0 avatar


            If you could get the V60 with the more powerful T6 engine, that’s the way I’d go too. But the better engine is only available in the V90. I drove a S60 with the T5 engine and it’s something of a dog; the T6 is the way to go, as long as you’re leasing. I wouldn’t want that car with 100,000 miles on it.

      • 0 avatar

        I got my wife a 2018 V60CC last year for $28k, with maybe 12kmi on it.

        Current ones and the current market are a bit higher, and CPO adds some cost, so your estimate seems plausible.

        (I prefer my XC70 for size and heft; she prefers a smaller wagon she can whip around harder.)

        • 0 avatar

          (And yes, the interior size of hte V90 is BAFFLINGLY small, less space than my XC70, and an enormous pricetag.

          I don’t know what the hell they’re thinking.

          But I guess there’s a reason I never see V90s on the road; I see V60s and XC60s and XC90s constantly.)

          • 0 avatar

            current v60 T5 is what I’d be looking at. I’d love some additional electrification, but you’d have to double down on a supercharger first, and I don’t think I could handle that.

      • 0 avatar

        Believe me, I would appreciate the extra power of the T6. On paper though, I believe they are only .5 seconds apart 0-60 and the cross country doesn’t really beg to be driven quickly. Also, if I am buying a used example, I figure the less complex T5 would probably be a better bet anyway long term. Assuming I bought an off lease example at 30K miles, I could drive it for 5 years and turn it around at 100k miles. I am sure I would be ready for something new by then anyway. I will certainly look into leasing, but as I recall, these arent leasing all that well presently. At $450 per month on a 15k/year lease, I would happily pull the trigger, but I think it would more likely be in $550-650 range at which point leasing wouldn’t be a great option. I have no issues leasing cars provided I can get close to that 1% of MSRP/month out the door payment with nothing down. That is sort of my standard and have done it several times in the past, I would lease forever if I could swing that deal.

    • 0 avatar

      I saw Volvo is making a sub-$50K version of the S60 T8 now (called the “R-Design Expression”). That’s way better compared to the $65K to $80K pricing the T8 used to ask for. And $50K just so happens to be my car budget.

      I’ve been intrigued by the S60 T8 since it came out. For a 2020 car the exterior is downright beautiful, it accelerates about equal to my Stinger or a CT5-V (something a 330e doesn’t do), and the PHEV functionality gives a little bit of whimsy and lifestyle greenwashing. Still, buying one seems like financial insanity. It’ll depreciate like cheese in direct sunlight and might be the worst possible option for even medium-term reliability. The lease would be a little over $500/mo for 36 @ 30K miles.

      • 0 avatar

        Realistically, most of what you get in the standard T5 is going to be proven components, but I can see you point about the T8. I am really hesitant buying any car that is a low volume niche model but one that is also a beta test bed for new tech seems like an unnecessary risk unless you are OK with potentially lots or repair bills and have another car to drive. I am trying to stay under $40K regardless of the car I buy for myself or my wife. I am staring down the barrel of 3 kids going to college over the next decade, will have to be a baller some other time. You know, when I have more grey hair and a few more extra pounds, lower testosterone levels, maybe ED, who knows.

  • avatar

    You can’t burn any of them, that would be like shooting a Northern White Rhinoceros. Set aside a few counties for affluent philanthropists to drive them around.

    • 0 avatar

      I love station wagons, so I agree – don’t burn any of them. They are an endangered species, and should be treated as such. Saw them all over the place last October when we visited Europe, so someone still likes them, even if those people are largely outside the US.

      For me, given my current financial status, the only wagons I would consider paying extra above an Outback would be the Audi A4 Allroad or a Volvo V60. However, if I hit the lottery and price is no longer an object, then I happily upgrade to the A6 or the V90. For some reason, the Mercedes and Jag do not particularly tempt me, regardless of money means. But an Audi or Volvo wagon could get my juices flowing.

  • avatar

    I am a current E91 owner, and I actually think about this all the time. I *only* have 120k miles on mine, so I am not preparing for its mechanical demise. But I love my car too much, and I am afraid I’ll hit deer and it’ll get totaled. What’s someone like me to do in that case?

    Buy: da Benz. They just cladded it, go back a year and get the one without. Or if you are like me, go buy the 2014-2016 version of this car, which according to my internet sleuthing, represents the best value for a fast and capable Benz wagon. Get the AMG visual package to mitigate the stodgy.

    Drive: the Audi. My mechanic hates them with a passion, but even he conceded the six cylinder engines make for nice cars. They are simply too classy and beautiful. If you are like me, forget allroad, and source out a decade old Avant with the supercharged engine. APR will give you 400 hp rather easily.

    Burn: the Jag. The supercharged ones were down to somewhere between 40 and 50 large, either new or “used.” But…. why?

    • 0 avatar

      No, the new “All-terrain” has an air suspension for lift, too, and what looks like some alternate AWD programming or somesuch for an “offroad mode”.

      (Unlike most people with a fancy wagon, I … actually take mine on forest roads?

      I WANT the cladding and height; I don’t want rocks scratching my paint, sometimes it rubs against plans, and there are potholes and rocks!

      I still wouldn’t buy a new MB to do that, but it’s not JUST cladding, from what I’ve read.)

      • 0 avatar

        Sigivald, I think I want a highway warrior with a bike rack on the hitch and roofbox up top. But your choices makes sense to me if you want to go on forest roads!

    • 0 avatar

      I had an E91 that got rear ended with about 100K miles on it. It was never the same. Ended up with a F31. The F30 gen drops any pretense of sport sedan with no feel steering and understeer when cornering. But does have nicer design features. Miss the E91 for fun.

      Buy the Benz.

      Burn the other two.

  • avatar

    They are all automatic only…burn them all!

  • avatar

    If you lease, at least you’re only being short sighted for the short term. The freedom of chucking the keys to the service mgr and ordering him around like a new recruit when your nearly 70k wagon has developed yet another mechanical malady is a rewarding experience. Until they put you in a GLA250 loaner while they fix your nearly 70k wagon.

    If you buy new, you deserve what you get.

  • avatar

    Buy – the Mercedes. It probably the best long term future.
    Drive – the Jaguar. It’s the most unique of the three.
    Burn – the Audi. Too hard to shake the boy racer look.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Oh if it were up to me, I’d douse them with gas and burn all three, then I’d drive over the burned shells with a Suburban LTZ. Our writer Corey can get quite irate when you bunt instead of taking a big swing at the plate. I gripped my bat in a two-handed clutch because for 70K NOT a big SUV is a just too much. To be quite fair, his prose is honest and his opinions are square.

  • avatar

    Burn them all and give me an A8 Wagon…thanks for playing.

  • avatar

    The A6 looks beautiful in the first photo, and horrible in the second. I don’t mind cladding because it is so much more pleasant on gravel roads, hearing the muted impact of rocks on plastic instead of the sharp clang when they hit sheet metal. But it looks really goofy there, and is not getting any help from that obnoxious grille. Some bigger tires with more width and sidewall to fill up the wheel openings would improve the look. It would also help with the disconnect between having rubber band tires and a design feature intended for terrain that the tires are incapable of handling. It will certainly look better with the winter tires and wheels.

    I guess I’ll buy the A6 in whatever color hides the cladding and front grille the best. I do like my buddy’s 2010 S4. Maybe this will have similar attributes.

    Drive the Merc. Maybe I’ll prefer it over the Audi.

    Burn the Jag. Not enough cylinders for that price.

    If I could test drive the trio, I’d just buy whichever one I like driving the most.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Buy and drive the MERC. I’ve been personally looking into the last years of the NA V6 model to replace my Disco Sport, I really miss the MB seats and mainly because of the rear facing jump seats. So Oldsmobile Cruiser:)
    Skip/Burn the Volvo, China doesn’t equate w/ luxury these days.
    Lukewarm on the Audi -such a DB marque these days
    Buy the Jag -only if it’s CPO- best lux CPO warranty around from my experience w/ the Disco.

  • avatar

    Buy the Audi. You can get it in early 90s green, it has over 300hp, has more standard features over the E-class, and you can get lots of walnut in the interior. I don’t like the standard 20 inch wheels though.

    Drive the Mercedes. I’d get in in black to hide the cladding. The only option I’d spring for is the “Acoustic Comfort Package”. You can also get lots of walnut in the interior. Hard to turn down an inline 6 but I think Audi is offering a better package for the money.

    Burn the Jaguar. 296hp isn’t a lot for over $65K. You can get walnut trim but it is very sparse compared to what the other two offer.

  • avatar

    These are all over the roads in Germany… more common than a CUV. I fit right in with the C-Class estate we had for a rental. Would love to own the A6 but the price and long-term ownership costs are a barrier. So:

    Buy the E-Class
    Drive the A6
    Burn the Jaguar

  • avatar

    Going purely on aesthetics.

    Buy the Jaguar – I have also enjoyed looking at a good Jaguar, even if I recognize that I could never afford to own one. Even the one that was a tarted up Mondeo (related to the USDM Contour?) was a nice looking conveyance. I could also semi-ironically slap a breast cancer awareness sticker on saying “show me your tatas” because, well…

    Drive the Audi – I still have a certain affinity for Audi and their mostly restrained good looks. Credit where credit is due they haven’t succumbed to some of the most egregious “styling” trends which are so commonplace.

    Burn the Merc. It’s by far the winner for most hideous looking pile of scrap iron, masquerading as luxury, I’ve had the displeasure of gazing upon in the modern era. The Bavarians being a close second.

  • avatar

    Buy: the Audi. Because I like Audi and have had very good ownership experiences with them.

    Drive: the Mercedes.

    Burn: the Jaguar.

  • avatar

    Someone in my neighborhood bought/leased a new MBZ E450 wagon a few monts ago. No cladding. Looks like money. Looks like for 21 you have to get the “all terrain” wagon, which looks more like an outback.

    I’d guess my neighbors wagon with 360HP and AWD can handle those runs to Tahoe pretty well. Does ride on 40 series tires, which seems ridiculous. I assume it has an air suspension tho.

  • avatar

    As rental cars in Europe I have had the Jaguar and a previous gen Merc. To me it’s no contest, drive the Jaguar and burn the Merc.

    The wagon version of the Jaguar drives identically to the sedan and in comparison the Merc felt agricultural. Much higher levels of NVH than the Jaguar. Jaguar have always been masters of combining a comfortable ride with good handling, while the Germans seem to be great at a sports suspension that can carve canyons, but the ride at low speed is awful in comparison to the Jaguar. Since I don’t regularly drive the Nürburgring ring, I’ll prioritize ride comfort where I mostly drive.

    Burn: The Audi. If the European section of my local junkyard is anything to go by, Audi and VW products are not particular durable and/or economic to fix.

    I’m always amazed at how relatively young the VW products are in the junkyard. For the purchase price, they seem way too young to be scrapped. A 10 year old Focus I can see not being worth it to fix, but not an Audi A6 for example. It seems only the stupid or wealthy own a VW product out of warranty.

  • avatar

    In the UK this would have been simple a week ago:
    -Buy the Mercedes
    -Drive the Mercedes
    – Burn the Jaguar and Audi

    This week it’s more complicated. The Jaguar has had a massive interior overhaul and comes with JLR new Privilege Pro infotainment system. So now I’d

    – Buy the Mercedes (probably)
    – Drive the Jaguar
    – Burn the Audi

    But it’s a close run thing between the Jaguar and the Mercedes.

    The Jaguar has always been the drivers car of the three but the interior was a massive let down. But not anymore.

    Interestingly Jaguar Land Rovers warranty claims have dropped significantly (in percentage terms) over the last 12 months. A large part of that is down to their new Privi Pro system. So now maybe the time to buy one

  • avatar

    That is one Fugly gaping maw on the A6 … unfortunately. Miss my old one, sort of.

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