Station Wagons

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Buying a used station wagon - luxury or basic?

Sept 2013

Thinking about buying a car. Looking at wagons and have found Saab, Mercedes, BMW and Audi wagons but older models (2002, 2006, 2008), and wonder if we should buy one of these with the assumption that they are good, reliable cars. Or, will this decision come back to haunt us when the car breaks down and we have to pay an arm and leg for parts?

I am also looking at purchasing an older Subaru Forester or newer VW Passat wagon. Don't need advice on the Subaru (I am a former Subaru owner, I know how great these cars are!) but wonder if you have any advice on a Passat or Jetta wagon?


Just want to make the best decision I strongly discourage you from purchasing a Saab based on a lot of personal experience. I have friends with older Passats, Volvos, Audis and Mercedes that are just as unreliable and expensive to fix, just less spectacularly annoying than my Saab. As one of them once said to me ''My, aren't we stylish? and STUPID!''

I have noticed many new Audi wagons lately. I hear they have improved. But do avoid the older ones.

You know what a Subaru is. I don't think you'd be sorry if you stuck with that.

Signed - Broken down and broke

i bought a vw passat wagon 12 years ago, new from the dealer. i've taken it in every 5000 miles as recommended and never come out with a bill that was less than $600. though i love driving it, it is THE most expensive car to maintain. they burn oil like crazy. i have poured thousands of dollars into it. i would NOT recommend buying one. new or used. Toyotas are the way to go. Or Jeeps. both of those we've owned need little maintenance and run forever.

vw owner with regrets

Have owned Audi, BMW and Saab. Would recommend the latter (Saab) even though are all good, reliable automobiles. The Saab simply offers the most bang for the 'buck'. Here by the Bay there are many service centers and parts are readily available. The Saab 9-5 Wagon offers great handling, huge cargo space along with many creature comforts and 30mpg, all for $6,000-7,000.

As to a VW in compared to the above makes, just about any repair to any modern (i.e. 8-12 year old) car is going to be expensive. Might as well be paying to upkeep a fine automobile rather than a car. Hope this helps. Andrew

Looking for small wagon with 3rd row seat

Jan 2007

We find ourselves in the market for a car with a 3rd row seat. We have ruled out a minivan or a massive SUV, so are looking for a small wagon type of car. I like the new Subaru, but it's a bit pricey. Does anyone have a Ford Freestyle? I have never bought an American car before, and am hesitant, as we need it to last for the next 5-7 years. Any other recs for smaller cars that fit the bill?
no Expedition please

Try the Mazda5! We have this car and love it. We were literally about to buy a minivan when we test drove it. For us, it is the perfect family car. It is barely longer than our old Honda Accord, which makes it great for city driving and especially parking. It has sliding back doors on each side like a van so getting the kids in and out is a breeze. It has three rows of two seats. And it drives well, gets decent mileage and is incredibly reasonably priced (much cheaper than the Freestyle which we also looked at).

The downside is that you can carry a lot of people or a lot of stuff but not both. Most of the time we have the back seat folded down, which means room for our family of four and a nice station-wagon type cargo area, but tall like the Forester. When we need to carpool or bring my Mom along, we fold up the third seat. That leaves only a pretty small space behind the seat, but it fits a Maclaren stroller and a few bags/coats or some groceries.

The few times we have needed to carry a lot of people and stuff (big family road trips) we just rent a minivan or SUV. That way we don't drive more car than we need most of the time just for those few occasions it matters. And we don't have to spend $50 just to fill the gas tank. But we have some flexibility which is great when our kids want to bring a friend or we want to carpool. Love My Mazda5

I did a lot of research of various SUVs and minivans before settling on a Ford Freestyle. Our family of four does a lot of long road trips, go camping and usually bring our 60 pound dog along. After a mediocre experience with a Jeep Grand Cherokee, we wanted and wanted something nice looking, that could carry 6 people, wasn't a gas-guzzling road hog and was NOT a minivan (husband wouldn't go for one but I included them in the research mix anyway). We love our Freestyle, which meets all the criteria we needed.

We have the 6-passenger model with the split second seat because we needed to make a special place for the dog, but I think I would reconsider the 7-passenger option were I to go through that drill again. It has great headroom for my 6'4'' husband, and is very roomy in the back when I ride there when the grandparents come. We love the flexibility in seating configurations, where you can put just one side of the third row down and still have a nice seating area for another person. The wagon is very roomy and easily accomodates everything we ''need'' to take on a long road trip (which only expands now that we have the room). The only thing I wish it had was a better roof rack for a car carrier (we took six people, golf clubs and luggage on a weeklong trip and had to affix the clubs to the rooftop, which wasn't easy but we managed).

Like most vehicles, the gas mileage around town is not as good as advertised and the freeway mileage is less as well, however it is still significantly better than the Cherokee and it's not breaking the bank. We have the front wheel drive model, which gets better mileage from the AWD but is not great in snow and we need chains for the 3 times we go up to Tahoe or Oregon in the winter (and very rarely have actually needed to put them on). If you are really serious about a Freestyle, go to or other places and read the message boards. I generally agree with what most people say. We love our Freestyle and would definitely buy another. It's a great compromise between an SUV and a minivan, and with much more room than a wagon. Freestylin' Evangelist

We bought a 1 year old Freestyle in November 2006 and have been very pleased with the car. It's quite comfortable and it sure is nice to have the extra space for hauling large items such as our new area rugs. We've even had 3 car seats and 4 adults in the car! We've owned two other Fords and have been happy with their performance thus far.

I haven't figured out our average city mileage but after one small trip and lots of around town driving, we got 27 mpg, which I didn't think was too bad for a V-6 of that size. Linnea

Sorry this is coming in late. But... I just wanted to second the recommedation for a Mazda 5. We just bought ours 2 weeks ago and are super happy with it. We already made a trip using the 3rd row and it's definitely a plus with children! The mpg is pretty decent for having 6 seats. Love my Mazda 5 too!

Looking for a small used wagon

June 2004

now that we're down to just one child we're thinking of getting a smaller car (though the back seat needs to be roomy enough for a teenage boy with long legs). i'd appreciate any recommendations re small wagons (subaru, toyota, honda, nissan or others) 1998 or newer. thanks! peggy

We own a 2000 Volvo V40 wagon. It's smaller than the V60 Volvo soccer mom tank, but has that Volvo aura of impermeability in the shape and size of a VW Passat. We like it a lot. More power than the VW and sturdier than the Japanese models. Mileage is OK. The used prices aren't bad. I 'm not tall and don't sit in back much but it would make a good vehicle to pass on to a teen driver - that tank quality.
safety first