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NMA Reporter 2008-05-07 09:30

Best Family Station Wagons: A Buyer’s Guide
<b>NMA Article: Best Family Station Wagons: A Buyer’s Guide</b><br/><br/></p>
<p><em>This is a guest post by </em><a href="http://carfamily.wordpress.com"><em>The Car Family</em></a></p>
<p><img style="border-top-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; margin: 0px 10px 0px 0px; border-right-width: 0px" height="102" alt="volvowagon" src="http://www.motorists.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/BestFamilyStationWagonsABuyersGuide_9B45/volvowagon.jpg" width="154" align="left" border="0" /> Starting from its humble beginnings carrying passengers and their luggage from railroad depots, the “station wagon” emerged as an incredibly versatile and easy to live with family vehicle. </p>
<p>In recent years its status has diminished with the availability of cheap gas and drivers who chose to drive tipsy SUVs. Too bad. The station wagon offers much better fuel economy, is safer, is less costly to maintain and offers more usable family friendly cargo capacity.</p>
<p>Here is a review of all the station wagons we have tested and each one was a delight, unlike driving overweight, gas swilling SUVs that are so unsafe that the industry created a special safety category to evaluate them called rollover rate.</p>
<p>The definition of what is a station wagon has been blurred by the introduction of hatchbacks, essentially a sedan with a fifth door instead of a trunk lid, and smaller mini-vans. We have included all of these under the station wagon heading because they are essentially oriented for carrying at least four people and a dog in comfort and with decent fuel mileage.</p>
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<p><strong>Best station wagons for the money: <br /></strong>Dodge Caliber <br />Kia Ronda <br />Subaru Impreza <br />Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix <br />Mazda 5 </p>
<p><strong>One to wait for:</strong> <br />Volkswagen Jetta </p>
<p><strong>Best For Carrying Infants</strong>: <br />Volvo V70 <br />Saab 9-5</p>
<p><strong>Best Dog Wagons:</strong> <br />Kia Rondo <br />Saab 9-5</p>
<p><strong>Best $15,000 or less: <br /></strong>Scion xB <br />Suzuki SX4 <br /><strong> <br />Best Under $20,000: <br /></strong>Subaru Impreza <br />Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix <br />Kia Rondo <br />Mazda 5 <br />  <br /><strong>Best Under $30,000:</strong> <br />Saab 9-3 Sport Combi </p>
<p><strong>Best Under $40,000:</strong> <br />Volvo V70 <br />Subaru Outback </p>
<p><strong>Best Over $40,000: <br /></strong>Mercedes E-Class <br />BMW 5 Series </p>
<p><strong>Mom’s Favorite:</strong> <br />The BMW 5 Series rides wonderfully and has exceptional brakes. The cargo capacity could be improved, but you can’t ignore its handling. Second choice would be the Volkswagen Passat. It looks good, but what it is best at is doing its job without any troubles. In the past I would have chosen the Volvo V70, but I find the base model underpowered and the T5 very expensive.</p>
<p><strong>Dad’s Favorite:</strong> <br />The Kia Rondo is exceptional. It gets good gas mileage, holds everything, and is priced in the middle teens. Second choice would be the Pontiac Vibe. It is just big enough and with its exceptional gas mileage and handling and reworked styling and good resale, this is a tough wagon to pass up.</p>
<p><strong>Not Working Female MBA’s View: <br /></strong>The Mercedes wagon is so elegant and so cavernous it is my choice. The performance is exception and there is room for everything. Second choice would be the Saab 9-3. It gets wonderful fuel mileage and the seats and ride are both firm and comfortable. Plenty of power and room. Of course, the Audi A4 has the best interior and ride.</p>
<p><strong>Working My Way Through College Male’s View:</strong> <br />The Subaru Legacy is what a station wagon should be. Handy, have good fuel mileage, and be able to go where the action is whether it is touting a bike, snow board, surfboard or four good friends. This wagon does it all. Second favorite, Mazda 3 or 5. Handle great, and need less filling and <a href="http://www.eracks.com/">building open source computers and servers</a> doesn’t make you rich.</p>
<p><strong>Most Fuel-Efficient Station Wagons (mixed driving gas mileage figures):</strong> <br /><em>Note that some models require premium fuel. We selected the highest rated model for this section. Usually the four cylinder powered models get in the mid 20 mpg average in daily driving, the six cylinder models around 21 mpg in mixed driving and the V8 models about 19 mpg. For high performance cars subtract between 10 and 30 percent.</em></p>
<li><strong>Mini Cooper</strong><em> -</em> 30 mpg </li>
<li><strong>Vibe/Matrix</strong> - 29 mpg </li>
<li><strong>Kia Rio5</strong> - 29 mpg </li>
<li><strong>Scion xD</strong> - 29 mpg </li>
<li><strong>Chevrolet Aveo</strong> - 27 mpg </li>
<li><strong>Dodge Caliber</strong> - 26 mpg </li>
<li><strong>Mazda 3</strong> - 25 mpg </li>
<li><strong>Volkswagen Passat</strong> - 24 mpg </li>
<li><strong>Volvo V50</strong> - 23 mpg </li>
<li><strong>Audi 2.0</strong> - 23 mpg </li>
<li><strong>Saab 9-3</strong> - 23 mpg </li>
<li><strong>Suzuki SX4</strong> - 23 mpg </li>
<li><strong>Kia Rondo</strong> - 22 mpg </li>
<li><strong>Subaru Impreza 2.5i</strong> - 22 mpg </li>
<li><strong>Suzuki Forenza</strong> - 22 mpg </li>
<li><strong>Volvo V50 T5</strong> - 22 mpg </li>
<li><strong>Audi A6</strong> - 22 mpg </li>
<li><strong>Jaguar X-Type</strong> - 20 mpg </li>
<li><strong>BMW 3 Series</strong> - 20 mpg </li>
<li><strong>Volvo V70</strong> - 19 mpg </li>
<li><strong>Mercedes E-Class</strong> - 18 mpg </li>
<li><strong>BMW 5 Series</strong> - 18 mpg </li>
<p>Full reviews of all the station wagons mentioned can be found <a href="http://carfamily.wordpress.com/2008/04/29/buyers-guide-to-station-wagons-gas-mileage-and-safety/"><strong>here</strong></a>.</p>
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