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Station Wagon vs SUV

beachfishbeachfish Posts: 97
I considered an SUV, but couldn't afford one in 1986. I did buy a 1986 Subaru GL 4wd wagon and used it successfully for 14 years to surf fish on North Carolina's Outer Banks. It would drag a little in deep, soft sand, but went anywhere with the tire pressure lowered to 13-15 pounds.

This was the model with the 4-wheel independent suspension, carb., crank windows, white spoke wheels, dual-range 5-speed, steel skid plate, armored exhaust system and 3-way manually adjustable rear shocks.

The front sub-frame members rusted through last year, so I sold it.

I enjoyed this wagon. It went on the beach, it floated briefly in seawater a few times (couldn't be helped!), it went in the snow and ice and hauled a lot of stuff, and people, over the years including 11-foot-long surf rods and the lumber I used to build a sun room off of the back bedroom upstairs.

All in all, a very practical vehicle.

Now I'm out looking for another go-almost-anywhere wagon.

I've been looking at Foresters, among some others, but let me use the Subaru as an example of what I'm finding -- automatically dimming rearview mirrors, compasses, thermometers, 6-cd in-dash changers, no front skid plates, entry- and exit-angles that are suspect, ground clearance that is suspect and they even stopped putting doors on the little storage compartments in the back.

SUBARU!!!!!(and the rest) Put the useful equipment back on the wagons and dump the tack-on junk like the auto-dimming mirrors and the heated seats.

And finally, all of the Subarus I've seen here are loaded with junk. No wonder they have to discount them 3 or 4k from the sticker.

Is anyone else looking for a useful wagon that doesn't have to double as a luxury sedan?



  • overtime1overtime1 Posts: 134
    two advantages of wagons are better handling with the same cargo space,

    So should I go and find all the exceptions to this all-encompassing rule now as well? Or maybe you'll want to admit upfront that not all "wagons" handle better than all "SUVs".

    Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that "wagons generally handle better than SUVs but you should investigate the specific models that are of interest to you"?

  • hpulley4hpulley4 Posts: 591
    I guess it depends how well a line sells or soemthing. I bought a 2001 Saturn LW200 in late May when they were clearing them out and I still found one without ANY options installed, which is how I wanted it. The base car includes everything I wanted and really nothing I didn't want or haven't found useful.

    As far as the original post goes, my wife and I did originally consider some SUVs as they looked like fun but we found them to be too big, making it hard to get us and our stuff inside, hard to park them, bad on gas and top heavy for handling. For similar reasons we didn't want a minivan.

    We thought about the Subarus and AWD would be nice but the price point for a good sized Su wagon was just too high.
  • fjw2fjw2 Posts: 15
    I was a former owner of a Nissan Pathfinder, for one year. It's hard for my aging parents to get in or out, it's too much baggage to be hauling around just for commuting to/for. I can't move as fast from lane to lane, compared to a lighter vehicle. I used to drive a F250, but then again, there was really no need for such a big vehicle, if all you need is to go shopping for groceries.

    My next car is Subaru Impreza WRX. It runs so well, like an SUV, and go real fast like a sports car. I got everything I needed but better. It's also a AWD, excellent commuter vehicle, and as for my parents THEY LOVE IT SO MUCH, they helped me pay it all off this month! When we got rid of the SUV, they didn't even whine one bit when we showed up with my new car. The SUV is an image thing. You have to drive a big car to let the whole world you are well off, and others they think THEY OWN THE ROAD.

    Station wagon is making a comeback. Those SUV owners are really polluting the world. It's like smoking a cigarette. The smokers know it's not good for their body, but they smoke anyway. The SUV owners are stuck because they bought it but they can't back away from it. But, people still buy them, because they know they CAN.
  • tatu1tatu1 Posts: 50
    I agree that Wagons are going to make a big comeback, we'll see more and more "sport wagons" in the next couple of years. Right now though, I think the selection is a little thin, you can either get a really expensive wagon (Audi, BMW, Mercedes) or a cheap one (Suzuki, Ford) not much in between aside from the Subarus. I'm waiting for Mazda, Honda and Toyota to bring their wagons back (every try to find a used Toyota Camry wagon ?). In the meantime, you'll the SUV's evolve a little, see the 2002 CRV, not exactly the gas guzzling, environmental nightmare described above....
  • For me these were the two finalists... The itty-bitty Impreza Sport Wagon vs. the Xterra 4wd SUV (One of the cheaper SUVs on the market). We compared the specs side by side... Imagine our suprise when the tiny sport wagon had more passenger space (headroom, legroom, etc) than the much larger Xterra. Granted the cargo space on the Xterra is bigger. But it seemed to be a no-brainer when you figure in the gas guzzling and the $24k vs $19k... We own a Subaru Outback Sport... still on it's first tank of gas
  • I had a change of heart.

    I bought a 2002 Silver Forester S Premium with leather and nearly everything except the hitch, rear skid plate and speaker upgrade. It came with the tweeter upgrade, but not the speaker upgrade(and it needs it, I think.) FWIW, all of the options were factory-installed.

    So far, it's great. If there's any road or wind noise it's on a frequency I can't hear anymore. Getting 24 mpg with half of it on the Interstate and half in town and I'm always the first one away from the light, too.

    Where do I buy a sturdy front skid plate? I've searched some, but need some user input.

    Inconsiderate salesman/salesmanager story :)

    I had the invoice price written on a piece of paper in my pocket and everything else in the car. I'd been looking all over the state and saved the local "We Sell For Less" place for last. Went in at 4:00 p.m. on 8/31, saw the one I wanted and asked for a cash price. I had an equity line check and a pen in my shirt pocket.

    Mr. Almost-knew-his-product-line wanted to look at the sticker. He wanted to talk to the manager. He wanted me to drive it before he asked the manager for a price. He wanted me to drive it before he told me the price. He wanted to discuss Subaru's strong points. You know the routine.

    He was a nice guy, just too predictable. I was ready for almost anything, but mostly wanted an answer to my questions "You're selling cars, right? How much is it?"

    So he gave up and went to get a price. For those nodding off, I'll summarize. I still hadn't made an offer at this point, only commented that the sticker was a fantasy.

    Five minutes later he's back with some story about them needing to sell one more to make 50 or more for the fifth month in a row. His first offer was invoice plus $100. Okay, that was rude. I'm ready to butt heads and whine and cry, and they pull that low-first-offer-take-it-or-leave-it nonsense. What kind of dealer is this?

    I opened at $200 below invoice, but only got them down another $80. Then I went to dinner, but still couldn't get them to go any lower later. Oh, well.

    The salesman promised to mail me a free tube of touch-up paint, but I haven't seen it. It was his idea!!!

    What a guy! And I sent him a referral. Boy do I feel stupid.


    P.S. My 79-year-old father wasn't too sure about the Forester - he likes large cars and at least a V-6. Then he drove it. He was very impressed with the handling, the ride and the pickup. Oh, and the headroom. He still likes wearing his hat when he drives. I claim it's a habit he picked up as a State Trooper. He denies it and claims to have witnesses to prove it's a much older habit. Who knows?
  • The co-worker I referred to my Subaru salesman bought an Outback yesterday.

    Not only did he drive up in his new wagon this morning, he also brought me the long-promised touch-up paint!!!!! They had to order it.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Glad you got the paint. :-)

    Now, take it easy for the 1st 1k miles, keeping it below 4000rpm and vary speeds. I'm at 42k miles and she stills runs great.

    Hop over to the Subaru Crew topics under Owners Clubs. There you will find several active topics. Hop into Meet the Members and introduce yourself, then hop over to Modifications and ask about the skid plates. I know Lucien will have some useful info, maybe Colin too. There were links to skid plate vendors earlier, but I'm sure they'd be glad to re-post them for you.



    PS Oh, and we hold a weekly chat every Thursday night, join in
  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    to both the Suv and Station Wagons message boards. That means you can now access this discussion from either one of these message board. Hope you enjoy discussing this subject with participants from both of these boards. Happy motoring!

    Hatchbacks / Station Wagons / Women's Auto Center Boards
  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    Just deleted one of my previous posts, because I noticed the article I was trying to link people to was no longer there. Sorry for the error. So to get things rolling here, let's try this again with an article from Edmunds' News Section: The Station Wagon as a Viable Alternative to the SUV, by Miles Cook. What do you think?

    Also, did anyone here consider a Station Wagon before purchasing a SUV... or vice versa. What were the deciding factors that weighed in on your final choice? Thanks for your comments. ;-)

    Hatchbacks / Station Wagons / Women's Auto Center Boards
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    I am excited about the "merger" of the SUV and Station Wagon discussion and looking forward to hearing from all of you!

  • vonn1vonn1 Posts: 26
    Once upon a time SUV's (This was before anyone called them SUV's) were cool. Back in those days people actually drove these vehicles off road. They were simply trucks that moved more people. They brought us to old mining towns and out of the way picnic spots. I spent a lot of time Jeeping in old 1970's Broncos and Jeep CJ's as a kid. I hold a strong love for such trucks in my heart.

    That was then, this is now. Let's face it, it's cool to look like you are an outdoor enthusiast. It's fun to sit up high in a truck and look down on the road, but it bites to drive these trucks. In truth, there aren't many pure SUV's left on the road. Not many of the SUV's being built today can be driven on anything short of a gravel road.

    Today's SUV's are simply mini vans or wagons with AWD and a tough looking exterior. Car makers realize that Image is what sells. If we make buyers feel like a back country guide with our car, we will sell units. My point is that wagons and SUV's are really close to the same thing.

    In a way this makes sense. Only 2% of the SUV population will ever leave paved roads. Very few people need off road capability. I have owned SUV's and I have used them as off road vehicles. It is fun to take these off road, but as often as people do, one can rent a Jeep for a day when needed.

    Let's face it. Wagons make more sense, but they are not cool. I own a wagon and it gives me the handling, power, comfort and room I need. I do not have a family of ten and have no need for an Excursion of Suburban. There may be a few people out there who need this kind of room. I doubt there are many.

    Bottom line, SUV's sell on image. We as humans have a need to feel important and if driving an SUV gives you that feeling, bully for you. Is a wagon better than an SUV? No not really. Is it more practical in the real world? You bet. Go ahead and drive your SUV. Enjoy it. Fill it up with you outdoor gear and your friends. Take it to the mountains and please for your sake and the truck's, drive it up a jeep road (please be responsible if you do). Enjoy our image maker. You can smile down at me on the road as I pass you in my wagon.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,786
    Boy, you sure took a 180—going from wanting a bare-bones Subie, to a loaded Forester!

    I too have a Forester S Premium. It's an white '01 model with about 22K on it. We love it, and my daughter's friends have named it the "Toaster"...

    BTW, we also love the bun warmers and auto-dimming mirror.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    OK, I'm jealous, I'll admit it. Congrats.

  • I've got 2 kids and they both ride in car seats. We have 2 vehicles and 2 sets of carseats so we never have to move them from vehicle to vehicle. Whenever we go somewhere with just our family we take my wifes car, however my son is 5 and rarely do we go somewhere without a friend. We also like to go places with friends and family and the hassle to take car seats out and then reinstall them to make accomodatations isn't worth it to me. To make the story short we need seating for 6 or 7 people.

    Our options then become an SUV, mini-van, full size van, or 2 or 3 wagons. Mini-vans and full size vans are not an option for us so they get ruled out right away. Most full size SUV's also get ruled out because they scare my wife and I find them foolish.

    To further complicate things we live in Wisconsin and want 4WD or AWD and at least a V6 for an engine. The choices (as far as I know) of wagons that offer these qualifications are either an Audi A6 Avant and the MB E-class. There are several SUV's that offer these options. Including the Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, GMC/Chevy/Olds extended versions coming out soon, Mercedes Benz M-class, Acura MDX and maybe something else I'm forgetting. Not only are there more options in the SUV vs Wagon market but the price difference between the options is considerable.

    My point is that the choice of an SUV is not always image. I agree that most of the time it is but there are a good number of people who have legitimate reasons for them to choose an SUV. I would love to own a wagon and I'm really excited about the new tall wagon/crossovers that are coming out. I'll be in the market for a new vehicle within the next year and can't wait for what the future holds.

    Thanks for your patience on this post.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You can seat 6 in some sedans, like the Avalon and Crown Vic with bench seats. Just a thought.

    I think the Volvo V70 has an optional 3rd row seat for kids, and the Ford Taurus wagon may still offer one, too.

    As for SUVs, the Honda Pilot looks promising, and will seat 8. There will be wait lists, though.

    You can get an aftermarket 3rd row seat for the Isuzu Trooper, too, and those are priced much lower than in the past ($22-25k).

    I will respectfully disagree with one point you made, though. You say SUVs are not always about image, but earlier in the same post you mention minvans are not an option and get ruled out right away. That's because of the image, right?

  • I'm not attracted to the Avalon aesthetically nor do I want to have a car that our illustrious State Patrol uses (to many bad memories.) You are correct WRT the V70, a wonderful choice I'll look into. My dad had a Taurus wagon....I've driven it.....don't want it. Honda Pilot is another wonderful suggestion and I'm not that offended by it's styling as some. Waiting list or it I again agree will be long. Finally, point taken with my discounting mini-vans, the Avalon, the Crown Vic and full size SUV's. However, the beauty and sometimes detriment of living where we do is that we can do that for good reasons or bad. I'll step down off of my soapbox now.

    The Chrysler Pacifica is a vehicle that really makes me anxious to see what the future holds. For my needs and parameters it fills them all very well. I would also like to see the new MB GST, however I think it will be priced more than I care to think about.
  • hpulley4hpulley4 Posts: 591
    I took my Saturn LW wagon in for an oil change yesterday and the courtesy vehicle was one of their new VUE SUVs. It isn't bad but I much prefer my wagon. It is easier to get into the lower wagon, the cargo space is more useful (VUE's cargo area is taller but not as deep), the ride of the FWD car is more refined than the higher AWD vehicle, etc.

    I don't see how anyone could cross-shop wagons and SUVs. To me they are completely different classes of vehicle, even if you compare cars to SUVs based upon them.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Pacifica will arrive next summer as a 2004 model. Subaru will have a bigger sport utility wagon for 2005, along the same lines, with 3 rows of seats.

    I forgot one other, the Suzuki XL7. It just got a bigger engine, too. The 3rd seat is cramped, but at least it's there.

    I didn't find the Vue comfortable when I sampled one at the DC Auto Show. The seats in the LS are much better, front and rear.

  • Will the Subaru use some of that space to make the second row seat bigger? I got into the Outback wagon at the Chicago Auto Show and a local dealer and both times had to crawl out in a near fetal position. And yes, I did have the seats moved forward at the dealer. I would have to guess the back of the Suzuki would be much the same. The back of my Durango isn't much better but it's manageable for short trips and folds flat into the floor. All of these rear seats would be/are fine for my 5 year old son and his friends but not for adults.

    I've owned a Saturn and will never do it again. I also would never recommend to anybody to own one.

    It's getting easier and easier to cross shop the two types of vehicles because of the mixing of what makes each one an individual. What it's creating is a "new" type of vehicle referenced as either a crossover/luxury sport wagon/sport wagon/tall wagon. I personally don't think it's a fad as mentioned in Automobile magazine. I also think it's an incredibly viable alternative to SUV's because of the added fuel efficiency and driving perfomance that they typically offer. Sure, you're always going to have the individual that associates bigger with safer or desires that "commanding view of the road" but, there's also the individual that will only take public transportation or buy alternative fuel vehicles. To each his/her own. I'll get off my soapbox again.
  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    Good point. And on the subject of cross shopping, here's an article from Edmunds that some of you may find interesting: The Next Big Thing. What do you think?

    Tidester- Perhaps we should change the title of this discussion to "The Next Big Thing." Or at least add the word "crossover" to the end of the title. ;-)

    Hatchbacks & Station Wagons Boards
  • li_sailorli_sailor Posts: 1,081
    The choices (as far as I know) of wagons that offer these qualifications are either an Audi A6 Avant...

    I'm a little mentioned seating for 6 or 7 yet isn't the Audi limited to 5? does the Outback.

    I'm asking since the minimum 6 seating limits the choices so much.
  • li_sailorli_sailor Posts: 1,081
    I don't see how anyone could cross-shop wagons and SUVs. To me they are completely different classes of vehicle, even if you compare cars to SUVs based upon them.

    It's getting easier and easier to cross shop the two types of vehicles...

    Interesting comments.

    I think they are completely different classes...designed for fundamentally different primary functions. One is a family-oriented people + cargo vehicle that tries to stay within the "car" parameters and the other is basically a truck that is designed for heavy-duty "sports" activity such as towing, off-roading and heavy hauling.

    Of course, the functions are converging in various vehicles...the wagon, which get 4WD/AWD and sometimes more clearance...the mini-ute that gets closer to car parameters...and even some sedans that get more utility-oriented.

    But...I think one reason they get cross-shopped in a way that doesn't line up with the functions is when folks whose requirements line up pretty well with a wagon (or MV) go for the SUV...not because it's such a good fit...but because of the 'image' thing...and perceived safety (even though the statistics show that wagons and MVs are safer than SUVs).
  • The Audi Avant is the wagon version of the A6 and has a third row of seating which brings the capacity up to 7.
  • li_sailorli_sailor Posts: 1,081
    Ah...I see now, there's an optional "Rear Facing Removable Bench Seat for Two Children". Got it. Thanks.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059

    Or at least add the word "crossover" to the end of the title.

    "Crossing over" kind of reminds me of that John Edwards character ... not sure we want to associate with that! :-)

  • I'm not sure where your coming from with that comment but, it actually folds flat into the floor when not in use. But, yes I do believe that it does face the back.
  • li_sailorli_sailor Posts: 1,081
    I'm not sure where your coming from with that comment but...

    I was just quoting directly from the Edmunds options list for the Avant.

    I thought specific info would be helpful. Was it incorrect?
  • I apoligize, the rear seat in the Audi IS a removable bench. It does not fold flat into the floor like I thought, that is the MB. It is also only recommended for individuals 4'-9" or shorter. Almost useless for most adults teenagers and useful for only smaller children like you stated.
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