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Help Me Select a Wagon



  • "Look at Consumer Reports for reliability data. The experience of friends is too small of a sample. I am fairly sure the Volvo is no better than the Passat."


    Finally had a chance to look at the latest Consumer Reports. The Volvo V70 does come in slightly higher than Volkswagen Passat wagon for reliability.


    Regarding the Saab 9-5 wagon: I really don't like the exterior. Of the wagons I've looked at, it seems to be the least wagon-like and the most "take a sedan and add a bubble above the trunk" in terms of style. If you compare the 9-5 wagon and sedan, and then look at either the V70 compared to the S60 or the Passat wagon compared to the Passat sedan, you'll see what I mean.


    This weekend is the NJ Auto show. We're going to hopefully get to see the BMW 5-series wagon and/or the Audi A6 wagon that's coming out for the 2006 model year.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I bet that was intentional. Most people prefer sedans over wagons.


    But I know what you mean. Remember Saturn wagons, before the Ion? They didn't even change the shape of the rear door. I hated that, major cost cutting.


    5er wagon is cool, they had it at NAIAS. Check out the auto closing hatch. Audi showed an allroad concept that should echo the MY2006 production vehicle.


  • wilkichwilkich Posts: 52
    All nice points about the saab and why it will likely be on my short list if we decide to buy used. If we go new, then the Outback GT without a doubt. We have a 97 Outback and it has been the most reliable car I've had with the possible exception of my old miata.


    One drawback is the lack of AWD on the Saab and there is great piece of mind heading to the mountains without thinking about chains. Also, I noticed that the 01 and 02 9-5s were on the recommended Consumer Reports list. Now, they seemed to have fallen off. The fact the 9-5 made the list in the first place is probably good enough for me but I wonder what happened. Finally, does the 9-5 require premium fuel? (Don't know if it matters as the Outback turbo probably does)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Probably, but I don't recall specifically.


    I drove a CPO model at a dealer, it was nice, just a bit of turbo lag. The Legacy GT has less lag (more displacement carrying less weight).


    I still like both, however. 9-5 is incredibly spacious.


  • This seems to be the best place to ask this question, since my 98 Outback is moving quickly toward an unanticipated retirement. I'm starting to shop for another used Outback (2002-2004) and My Son The Volvo Mechanic told me to find out whether Subaru has begun networking its newer models. "Networking" means that major systems and engine work has to be done ** at the dealer ** because only dealers have the software for diagnostics, downloads for the computer systems, etc. Can anyone offer any words of wisdom about this? I live out in the country in VT and rely on independent mechanics for my thus far, excellent car service. The nearest Subaru dealer is inconveniently far.


    Many thanks.


  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 15,405
    based on my experience, make sure you have a good dealer, if you own a saab. obviously, i did not.

    like i have said before, i really wanted to like that car.
    2020 Ford Explorer XLT, 2019 Lincoln MKZ Reserve 1
  • gkbenjigkbenji Posts: 29
    I agree with wilkich, if I could afford new I definitely would have looked at the Legacy GT. But the poor resale value of the Saab worked in my favor. (Plus the fact that in Colorado, sometimes it seems like every other car is an Outback. Yawn.) As for driving in snow, I would take a FWD car with good snow tires over most AWD cars with cheap all-seasons any day. On the passes around here, the restriction is chains *or* snow tires, usually. BTW, the 9-5 does want at least 87 octane, which is mid-grade in my neighborhood.


    As for having to take the car to a dealer for maintenance, the Saab needs special computer equipment (TechII) for some stuff beyond standard OBDII, and it wouldn't surprise me if other manufacturers had similar set-ups. Indy shops can buy the gear, but unless they specialize in one make it's doubtful they would have it.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Elizabeth: Subaru uses OBD2 just like everyone else. I think a good independent shop can service yours just fine, thanks.


  • I swung by a Saab dealership yesterday and test drove a 9-5 Linear wagon. Driving the car was a lot nicer than I thought it would be. The little "S" button (don't remember exactly what it was called, and the brochure didn't mention the feature at all, surprisingly) on the transmission gave the car a nice kick when starting from a stop.


    There were four things that I didn't like about the 9-5, only one of which I think is significant:


    1. Lack of places to put stuff for the driver.

    2. It's nice that leather seats are standard, but my wife and I didn't care for the feel/looks of the leather.

    3. My previous comments on how the 9-5 wagon looks more like a sedan with a bubble over the trunk as opposed to a real wagon still stand.

    4. (the significant one) The ride seemed to be more on the rough side and the car seemed to be noiser than the other wagons we've looked at. The 9-5 wagon definitely seems more to be on the sporty side than on the luxury side of things, but since we're looking for a family car, we're looking for a softer ride.


    On the other hand, since my wife is going to be the primary driver of the wagon that we'll be getting, and I'm going to get her Camry, I'll definitely be trying out Saab's when the time comes to trade in the Camry.
  • dudleyrdudleyr Posts: 3,469
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Are different wheel sizes optional? I'd check the options sheet.


    Some times the Sport Packages are overkill for pot-hole laden roads like we have in DC. I have a couple of friends with Z3s that bent a rim or two.


  • The Saab 9-5 wagon comes with 16" wheels standard, with 17" wheels as an option. The car we test drove had 16" wheels.
  • kenskens Posts: 5,869


    Out here where I live in the SF Bay Area, there are a number of independent mechanics that specialize in Subaru. From what I can tell, they are fully capable of making all the repairs a Subaru dealer would.


    I know for a fact that Subaru sells service manuals to the public so all the basic information should be available to independent shops. Also, the engine/systems diagnostics are run by an industry standard tool (OBD scanner) so I don't believe there is anything that would prevent an independent doing repair.


    The only area an indy might have a disadvantage would be information on brand new models, like the just released 2005 models. However, there really would be no reason why someone would go to an indy with a brand new car since everything would be covered under the B2B warranty.


    So, in short, I don't think there would be any issues with a 2002-2004 OB. It's a very popular car and there should be lots of information and parts available for it.


  • carquerycarquery Posts: 35

    I'm looking to trade-in my mid-sized SUV since I find I'm using it 85% of the time in city driving and the mileage (15-16mpg with premium) is a major bummer. However, I do like the spaciousness of the cabin and the roominess in the back seat, which makes a big difference with two car seats in the back. My wife's Outback Legacy feels very cramped with the car seats and is really too small for me in the front (I'm just about 6'0"). I thought about the Scion Xb, Honda Element but have safety concerns with all of those. Can anybody recommend a roomy wagon that gets good mileage (24+ in the city) that also has good safety features.

    Any input would be most welcome.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Safe wagon bigger than an Outback, with 24mpg on regular fuel (since you complain about premium)?

    Saab 9-5 wagon comes to mind, but I think it needs premium and might average low 20s. A6 Avant, but again premium fuel. Volvo V70 is also roomier.

    Maybe try a Ford Freestyle?

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 4,677
    Roomy and good gas mileage? Tough one. A few come to mind that might get around 20 mpg city -- VW Passat wagon, Volvo V70. Another option might be the car-based SUVs like Toyota HIghlander or Honda Pilot since you like the space -- about 18 city I would think.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Good idea, they even come in FWD if you don't want AWD. Or a hybrid Highlander or Escape.

  • gussguss Posts: 1,180
    VW Passat TDI wagon will get you the best mileage, probably about 31 in city driving. friend of mine has one and it is very roomy up front as well as for the second row.

    I have a Mazda 6 wagon and find it very roomy . I am 6'6'' and don't have any head or legroom problems with it. I usually have two child seats in the back and on occasion can fit three. You can also get a much better deal on the 6 than the Passat right now.

    If you are looking at resale you can't beat the Highlander, even in 4cyl. FWD.
  • christinadchristinad Posts: 34
    I just drove home my new 05 Malibu Maxx, and I love it. While cargo room may not be as abundant as in some true wagons, the room for passengers is excellent. The 05 models have additional side/thorax airbags on some models, as well as head curtain and driver and passenger, and the safety is great. I think it would probably meet your fuel economy requirements, too, according to the type of driving you do.
    I'd take a test drive if I were you. It's hands down the best deal for the money, and it has so many thoughtful extras it just makes me giddy!
  • townhometownhome Posts: 104
    Just to add to carquery, the Malibu has also won the Intial Quality Award from JD Power for the mid-size segment.
  • tiger10tiger10 Posts: 46
    it is less expensive and good-looking and a good value.
  • poissonpoisson Posts: 49
    The linear does NOT require premium and it averages in the mid-high 20's (30+ on the highway). The Arc and Aero require premium but also average in the mid 20's. For the performance, that is pretty good.
    I have an Outback XT and I am happy if I average 22 mpg (heavy foot doesn't help) :cry: .
  • jiclarkjiclark Posts: 4
    I'm new to the whole edmunds experience, and would like to find whatever info I can to help me decide what used make/model wagon to start shopping for. I have a $10-12K budget, require AWD, prefer manual tranny, good gas mileage and have always like Toyotas. Problem is, Toyota doesn't make a nice wagon anymore. We've just started looking, and the Audi A4/A6 and VW Passat have been recommended. The Subarus aren't really in the running, primarily because there are way too many of them on the road around here already!!! We live in the boonies of SW Colo. and I'm hesitant about the extra maintenance that Audi seems to need... Resale value is not important, as we tend to drive our vehicles into the ground! Lastly, comfort in the rear seats is also important.

    Essentially, I'm floundering because I've always bought Toyotas, but they don't make what I want anymore... Am I asking for too much?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The locals know best, but if you don't want to blend in...

    Hmm, $10-12k won't yield many options. AWD didn't really explode until a little later, so those will cost more.

    I can't remember when VW added 4Motion to the Passat, but I don't think you'll find one for that little.

    You might have to look at an older A4 Quattro.

    Smaller cars are an option but you said the rear seats are important and that might rule them out. FWIW, they include the Suzuki Aerio SX, the Toyota Matrix, and the Pontiac Vibe. The Zook has 140hp and the others just 123hp.

    The Outback Sport has 165 but again you ruled out Subies.

    Dunno, you want affordable reliable AWD and not a Subie...good luck! :D

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Some others just popped in my mind.

    Ford made an AWD Tempo for a while. I would not recommend one but it's an option, and I bet if any are still running that would be a $500 car.

    Mitsubishi is an option - Galant came in a VR-4 flavor that was pretty hot and had AWD, but they are very rare.

    Mazda made an AWD Protege for a couple of years, but again they are rare and it was the base engine, not the ES.

    If you add SUVs, look at the RAV4 and CR-V, perhaps.

    Toyota also had a Tercel 4WD wagon thingy. Honda had the Wagovan. Nissan some sort of Stanza. Mitsu the Expo but I'm not sure if that came with AWD.

    That's all I can think of now.

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 4,677
    I'm not a big fan of Subaru but it's hard to think of another AWD wagon in that price range. I think VW Passat had an AWD wagon by 1999 or 2000 so that might be a possibility. The back seat has more room than a Subie, but reliability is a question mark.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • dudleyrdudleyr Posts: 3,469
    Even the Camry came with AWD back in the 80's. It is amazing how many more cars used to be AWD. I guess people just buy SUV's now.

    I would buy a used Legacy wagon (not an Outback). At least there are a lot fewer of them on the road than Outbacks. They also do everything better than Outbacks (except ground clearance) and cost less.

    Too bad the Matrix is not available with a manual and AWD - also too bad it is not a wagon. I agree on the Corolla wagon - very nice and much more room than a Matrix.

    Have you considered using 4 snow tires with FWD. It is actually better than AWD without snow tires (tires help in stopping and turning while AWD does not). I drive an Integra (low ground clearance) in SD (long winters) and have never had trouble with 4 snows - zip right by all the SUV's in the ditch. They put the barricades up on the interstate long before I start having trouble driving.
  • slickdogslickdog Posts: 225
    Oooh! I've got one...

    How about an AMC Eagle! Remember those? AWD wagons with a reasonably sized back seat and cargo area, plus lots of ground clearance! Some even had manual transmissions. You could probably get one for less than $1000 (if you can find one). I still see them around here once and a while in the winter months, so there must be people out there who still want to keep them as winter rats.

    Someone even has a pretty nice site about them:

    The faux wood siding might be a bit embarrassing to be seen in these days though. Ok, I guess I'm not really helping so I'll stop now.

    Good luck on your hunt.
  • gussguss Posts: 1,180
    I love the faux wood siding. I see those now an d it gets my heart racing(must be a sign of age).

    How about an awd minivan. think all the manufactures made some version of AWD in their minivans . I know Toyota,Mazda and Chrysler did.

    Probably alot easier to find than an AWD wagon for under $11k., and the gas mileage would be about the same.
  • slickdogslickdog Posts: 225
    Well I guess you can get woody PT Cruisers, right? So maybe it wouldn't be that out of place to drive around with faux wood siding these days after all.

    I just remember my father always having full size GM wagons with the wood grain decals plastered all down the sides (plus the faux wire wheels) when I was a kid, and I grew to hate it for some reason. Of course, it may have had something to do with the fact that I had to drive my girlfriend to the senior prom in one of those family trucksters because I didn't have my own car. :blush:

    Ah, if only I could go back in time and drive to the prom in my Mazda6 wagon... :shades:
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    You wrote:
    Ah, if only I could go back in time and drive to the prom in my Mazda6 wagon...

    That would be very Marty-McFly of you. You'll need a flux capacitor...
  • cwesleygcwesleyg Posts: 64
    This is getting more difficult... and ther foreign cars are tempting... but buy American! Malibu Maxx is assembled in Kansas City! Foreign brands built in the USA don't count, and that includes Chrysler. I believe the Ford Freestyle is built in Chicago and it is a great vehicle... AWD? No problem. Chevy Equinox looks good to, but it has a Chinese motor... yuck. My Maxx has a Mexican engine.... hey, atleast its North American!
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 4,677
    And the reason is . . .? sure, we would all love to buy American, but it's getting pretty hard to tell what American is. GM has closed American plants, Honda builds them in Ohio and Nissan in Tennessee.

    My "American" experience with cars has not been happy. There was our first car, the unlamented Ford Fiesta, which went through water pumps every 10,000 miles. When we finally replaced it, our neighbor commented he would miss seeing the tow truck in our driveway every month. And the Dodge van that died at 60,000 miles on a bridge in mid-winter. Since then I have stuck with Honda, Toyota and Mazda and had great vehicles that lasted many years. I'm not going back. I'm sure they've improved, but I know the others are even better. More important, GM and Ford aren't making the vehicles I want. I love my compact Mazda6 wagon. I don't want a large one like the Freestyle. :)
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    What is more american that a capitalist market where you buy the best competing product in its class that meets your needs?

    Protectionism is not very american at all. :(

  • nedc2nedc2 Posts: 192
    Your Ford Fiesta was made in Germany, engineered there too, and your current Mazda 6 wagon was built in a UAW palnt in Flat Rock Michigan, Ford of courese owns a controling interest in Mazda.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 4,677
    >Your Ford Fiesta was made in Germany, engineered there too, and your current Mazda 6 wagon was built in a UAW palnt in Flat Rock Michigan, Ford of courese owns a controling interest in Mazda.<

    My point exactly. We may have thought one was American and the other Japanese but . . That's not a reason to eliminate a brand from consideration. I'm a little nervous about the Ford-Mazda tie-in but the Mazda6 wagon seemed the best vehicle for our needs, and I've had past success with Mazdas. Those are the factors one bases one's decisions on.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • mommananmommanan Posts: 11
    When the rear seats are in use, there just doesn't seem to be that much room for cargo without blocking visibility in the Outback (or the Forrester). The Honda CR-V cargo area seems taller and more useful, but I test drove one and didn't like the hard ride. The Toyota Camry trunk looks bigger to me! Any suggestions? I'd like new but would consider slightly used. Should I look at the Volvo XC70?
  • waiwai Posts: 327
    Ever consider Taurus SES wagon which is a better deal and have lots of cargo room and a more sedan feel.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Volvo V70 or XC90
    Audi A6 Avant or allroad quattro
    E class wagon
    BMW 5 wagon (not really roomier though)

    Or try one of these crossovers:

    Ford Freestyle (replaces Taurus wagon, sort of)
    Chrysler Pacifica
    Subaru Tribeca
    Toyota Highlander

  • cwesleygcwesleyg Posts: 64
    American brand for starters... assembled in the USA 1st priority... from at least 75% US parts... the Mazda is not the worst choice with regard to supporting your country... at least it was assembed here. You could have bought an Escort and not had any of those issues your Fiesta had. It is really just a matter of doing the right thing for your national economy.

    It will be impossible to "buy American" in the near future. It makes me ill to think of buying a car with a Chinese motor in it... and the thought of an actual Chinese car sold in the US is disgusting. As soon as the last job gets shipped off our continent, maybe then some of you will get it.
  • autonomousautonomous Posts: 1,769
    It will be impossible to "buy American" in the near future. It makes me ill to think of buying a car with a Chinese motor

    Do you feel the same way about Japanese and German products?
    What brand of PC and TV do you use?

    Like you I worry about neighbours losing their jobs offshore (or in the case of Canada to the US and Mexico). Ultimately, though I think the answer is a global market where fair rules apply to all and are enforced by an international body and not a national lobby. Unfortunately, in important international trade disputes some nations do not honour their commitments but expect that of others. Exporting and importing are the lifeblood of most economies, let's do so fairly so that we can all share the bounty.
  • cubbycubby Posts: 2
    Planning on moving to Costa Rica....roads are not improved for the most part. Need something reliable, dependable, good on gas, and can take a licking...within reason. MUST be 4wd.

    Can I get some pros and cons on the Subaru Outback? I have about a year, but wanted to start doing my homework now. Just in case I ran across what I needed before hand. I currently have a 4wd Jeep Grand Cherokee - which may turn out to be my ride.....


  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 9,403
    Cubby, since you're asking about the Outback, it probably would be best to post in the Subaru Crew:2005+ Subaru Legacy/Outback discussion. The Subaru group here is VERY knowledgable and helpful!
  • Let me state 1st off, this will be an odd-ball post and I dont think that this will even be the correct place to post it. I do think that maybe someone could give me a head up where to start my search.

    To begin, let me state my backround. I am a Real Estate Agent in Ohio and I need an upgrade over my curent auto. Its a 1997 Buick Regal GS Supercharged. It is a fairly quick car, however, I needed more. I tweaked little things and got a little bit over 300 HP and still got considerable mileage out of it. I personaly love i but it has 3 flaws.

    1. Cheap interior quailty. It is literaly falling apart piece by piece.

    2. FWD. I don't care what anyone says, untill you drive a car with 300 HP to the front wheels, you DO NOT get better traction with a FWD auto. I felt Safer driving in the snow in my 1984 Corvette than that car.

    3. Automatic only. A manual transmission would of really made that car wake up a little bit. Sure it was fine and dandy when in stop and go trafic, but I just didnt get a good feel of the car. I like to drive me cars and be in comand, not go along with the car for a ride.

    My car now has 150,000 miles on it and I would still continue driving it however the interior is just to the point of no return. I could repair it, but flaws number 2 and 3 are holding me back which are not correctable by taking it to a repair shop.

    Now, here in lies my difficult prcoress of finding a new auto. I am fairly sure I want a 4-door wagon. The reason being is that its a great tool for hualing around people and items. I cannot stand driving a SUV or minivan. I simply refuse to drive those autos when a wagon has just as much interior room, if not more, and can be had at a much cheaper price than a SUV or minivan because SUV's are "fad" autos.

    Here are what im looking for in a wagon:

    1. Its gota be "fast!" I know the term fast is reailitve, so maybe instead of fast I should of used the term fun to drive. To me, an automatic is not fun to drive so that rules out every single auto-only wagon. Its a shame, cause a Volvo T5-R would almost fit the bill, but with it being auto only makes it a no-go.

    2. RWD or AWD. I like to drive spirted when the ocation permits itself. FWD has a host of problems. Understear is a huge problem and nothing you can do will fix it. Traction is a big issue and no, traction control does not help, it hinders my enjoyment. Why have a fancy control that limited the torque (and fun) when you can have a superior setup to beging with?

    3. Has to be affordable. I didn't say cheap either. Im talking bang-for-the-buck. Im sure a Volvo S60R AWD 6-speed would be ideal, but I really can't drop $45,000 on a car right now so that limits me to used. Idealy, a 95 BMW m3 wagon would suit my needs perfectly, alas, those do not exsist.

    I've looked at a couple and if I find something I like, its either overpriced, underpowered, or none are in my area for sale. Remember, im used to 300 HP. A MB big v8 isnt going to scare me in the least. I just wish they made more manual tranmissions.

    Anyway post to what you guys would look for, as I am at a loss. If my Buick was RWD I would consider fixing the interior but alas, it is not. Thanks for looking!
  • dudleyrdudleyr Posts: 3,469
    One of the turbocharged Subarus might work. The new Passat wagon will have 280hp and AWD.
  • momstoymomstoy Posts: 30
    Another "crossover" to try would be a Mazda5 Wagon
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Not many left, even Subaru's Legacy GT wagon will come only in automatic for 2006. Hurry and buy an '05 while they're still some remaining.

    They also make an Outback XT but you mentioned you don't want something SUV-ish.

    Mazda has a 6s wagon with a V6, but it's FWD. The MazdaSpeed edition will only come as a sedan, so scratch that.

    Passat was mentioned, also the Audi A4 (even A3 if you like 'em small).

    Mazda5 is nice but won't have nearly enough power for someone like you.

    Magnum only comes in automatic.

    See if you can find a left over 2005 Legacy GT wagon, base or limited, it's probably the closest thing to what you are looking for. Hurry because I think you are the 3rd person I've given that advice to.

  • cwesleygcwesleyg Posts: 64
    Yes I feel exactly that way about German and Japanese vehicles. that inclused German owned Chrysler... it is not an American brands any longer.

    It is absolutely over for electronics in the U.S. We let that market slip away a long time ago.

    We have enjoyed many years of bounty in the U.S. and Canada. A true global economy is a very long way away... the transition to that utopian dream is going to kick our country right where the sun doesn't shine.

    Buy American while you still can.
  • uv4meuv4me Posts: 22
    We are looking for a AWD wagon and the choice is down to the Subby or the Volvo. We plan to keep the car for a few years so long term dependability is a big issue. We would probably look for a leftover 2005 Subaru or a 2003-2004 Volvo. Any thoughts on which car would be better and why? Thanks.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    A new car carries an advantage, and Subarus have better reliability ratings to begin with.

    But ... Volvo has improved recently, and certified ones carry a long warranty.

    The XT is quicker, the XC bigger.

    Either one should be good, but if you get the Volvo make sure it's certified.

This discussion has been closed.