Not everyone is excited by the idea of getting behind the wheel of yet another cookie-cutter crossover vehicle. Sure, SUVs and crossovers are practical, but they are also ubiquitous, which simply isn't appealing to drivers looking to pilot something unique on their daily commute. Fortunately, there is a class of vehicle - almost forgotten - that provides the same high level of cargo space and good passenger room of a traditional two-row crossover while adding in the dual benefits of being much more economical (on gas) and fun (in the corners): wagons
Wagons never really went away, but the number of options out there on the market has shrunk to a sliver of its former glory. Let's take a look at 10 of the best, most interesting to drive wagons currently available in American showrooms.
01. 2012 BMW 3 Series
The 2012 BMW 3 Series wagon hasn't yet switched over to the new platform offered by the sedan, but it still provides premium shoppers with substantial performance, comfort and utility. The BMW 3 Series wagon offers ample cargo room, with up to 61 cubic feet available with the rear seat folded forward, and its suspension system has been tuned to deliver a level of handling that is simply unknown in the crossover universe.
The 2012 BMW 3 Series wagon comes a naturally-aspirated 3.0-liter, inline six-cylinder engine that generates 230 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque. Fuel mileage checks in at 18-mpg city and 28-mpg highway, and transmission choices include a six-speed auto and six-speed manual. All-wheel drive can also be ordered with the wagon.
02. 2012 Cadillac CTS Wagon
The 2012 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon is the very first long-roofed model ever produced by the luxury brand. The Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon benefits from the angular good looks of the CTS sedan and grafts on an additional 58 cubic feet of total storage space to go with its long list of available comfort features.
The 2012 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon is offered with a pair of V-6 engines. Entry-level models feature a 3.0-liter mill that develops 270 horsepower and 223 lb-ft of torque, while top-of-the-line editions are outfitted with a 3.6-liter, six-cylinder motor that can be counted on to produce 318 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. Fuel mileage for the two units is almost identical in rear-wheel drive configuration (18-mpg city / 27-mpg highway for the smaller motor), and all-wheel drive can be had as an option. Like the BMW, the CTS Sport Wagon is available with manual and automatic six-speed gearboxes.
03. 2012 Subaru Outback
The 2012 Subaru Outback was one of the first crossover vehicles to hit the market, but it's always been a wagon at heart. Based on the same bones as the Subaru Legacy, the Subaru Outback is the closest thing to a mid-size wagon that the Japanese brand currently has in its lineup. In addition to enhanced ground clearance, standard all-wheel drive, and extra body cladding, the Outback boasts an exceptional 71.3 cubic feet of internal storage space with the second row of seating folded forward.
The 2012 Subaru Outback is initially motivated by a 170 horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that is also good for 170 lb-ft of torque. Fuel mileage for this motor checks in at 22-mpg city and 29-mpg highway when the optional continuously-variable automatic transmission is ordered (a six-speed manual is standard). More power is available in the form of an available 3.6-liter, six-cylinder engine that churns out 256 horses and 247 lb-ft of twist while dropping fuel mileage to 18-mpg around town and 25-mpg highway. A five-speed autobox handles the gear shifting duties for this edition of the Outback.
04. 2012 Audi A4 Avant
The 2012 Audi A4 Avant represents the German car company's compact wagon offering, and this extremely useful and luxurious family option prides itself on its 51 cubic feet of total cargo space, its elegantly turned-out interior, and its comfortable, smooth ride.
The 2012 Audi A4 Avant is sold exclusively with the brand's signature quattro all-wheel drive system. A 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine stands alone on the A4 Avant's drivetrain list, and it produces 211 horsepower and 258 lb0-ft of torque, managed by a continuously-variable automatic transmission. Fuel mileage for the A4 Avant is rated at 21-mpg in stop and go driving and 29-mpg during highway cruising.
05. 2012 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon is one of the few large family cruisers still being imported to the United States from across the Atlantic. Featuring 57 cubic feet of total cargo space and a rare, rear-facing third-row of seating that expands the number of passengers that the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon can carry to seven, the automobile is almost in a class of its own on the luxury scene.
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon is available in two editions: one mild, and one absolutely wild. The E350 trim level comes with a 302 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 that also produces 273 lb-ft of torque, on its way to a fuel mileage rating of 19-mpg city and 27-mpg highway. The E63 AMG torches the pavement with a twin-turbo, 5.5-liter V-8 engine that explodes out of the gate with 518 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard with the E350, while the E63 AMG is rear-wheel drive only, and a seven-speed automatic transmission is included with either model.
06. 2012 Volvo XC70
The 2012 Volvo XC70 is that last large wagon still available from the company that was once one of the strongest backers in this particular class of vehicle. The Volvo XC70, like the Outback, is marketed as a crossover first and a wagon second, but this PR spin can't conceal the fact that it shares its platform with the now-departed Volvo V70, or that it provides a generous 72 cubic feet of total cargo space.
The 2012 Volvo XC70's engine choices come in two different flavors. Entry-level editions of the wagon come with a 240 horsepower, 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine that is also good for 236 lb-ft of torque. Fuel mileage for this motor, which can be paired with optional all-wheel drive, shows as 19-mpg city and 25-mpg highway. All-wheel drive is included free of charge with the T6 AWD trim, which steps up to a 3.0-liter, turbocharged six-cylinder engine that offers up 300 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is included with each engine, and fuel economy for the turbo unit drops by two miles per gallon for each respective measure.
07. 2012 Acura TSX Sport Wagon
The 2012 Acura TSX Sport Wagon is a relatively new entry into the family hauler lexicon, a premium five-seater that offers up 61 cubic feet of total storage space with the rear row folded forward. The Acura TSX Sport Wagon also comes with an appreciable level of access to high tech features.
The 2012 Acura TSX Sport Wagon leaves the factory with a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine under the hood. This motor generates 201 horsepower and up to 172 lb-ft of torque, fed to the front wheels via a five-speed automatic transmission. Fuel mileage for the TSX Sport Wagon is a thrifty 22-mpg city and 30-mpg highway.
08. 2012 Subaru Impreza Wagon
The 2012 Subaru Impreza wagon is called a hatchback by some, but the return to a flatter roofline has many Subaru fans comparing the vehicle to the Impreza wagon of old. It also helps that the Subaru Impreza wagon features a hefty 52.4 cubic foot of cargo space - an eyebrow-raising figure for a compact car.
The 2012 Subaru Impreza wagon offers up 148 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque from a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder 'boxer' engine. Fuel mileage shows as 27-mpg city and 36-mpg highway, making it one of the most frugal all-wheel drive vehicles available, and transmission choices include either a five-speed manual or a continuously-variable automatic.
09. 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback
The 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback is another wagon-in-hatchback-clothing, a utility-focused take on the popular Lancer compact sedan. The Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback features menacing looks, above-average handling for its price point, and 52.7 cubic feet of total cargo space.
The 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback is offered in ES and GT trim levels. The Sportback ES comes with a 148 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that also produces 145 lb-ft of torque, while the Sportback GT features a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder motor that can be relied on to produce 168 ponies and 167 lb-ft of torque. Fuel mileage for the smaller unit ekes ahead of the GT with a rating of 24-mpg city and 32-mpg highway, and a continuously-variable automatic transmission is included free of charge with all Sportback models.
10. 2012 Nissan Cube
The 2012 Nissan cube might not meet everyone's definition of what a wagon should look like - in fact, the squared-off compact car doesn't really fit neatly into any particular automotive category. That being said, the Nissan Cube has a lot to offer families on a budget when it comes to moving both people and their associated gear from point A to point B, thanks to its available 58 cubic feet of total cargo space.
All Nissan Cubes come with a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder motor that generates 122 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque. Base models are outfitted with a six-speed manual transmission, but like many Nissan vehicles a continuously-variable automatic can also be had with the wagon. Fuel economy for the Cube is listed at 27-mpg city and 31-mpg highway.