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Help Me Select a Wagon



  • dudleyrdudleyr Posts: 3,469

    Read you post in what wagon would you want. It seems like the Freestyle would meet most of your requirements. The Pacifica might also, but it is more expensive, and uses more gas.

    I used to have a Taurus, and though it was roomy it was a little too rounded and low. I have an extra large recycle bin that would fit in my Corolla wagon (because it was taller and boxier) but not in the Taurus wagon - even though the Taurus had more cubic feet.

    Drive the Freestyle and let us know what you think.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 4,034
    Oh, I was replying to the post about the Dodge Magnum. That person seemed to want a large size wagon, and I agree the Freestyle might be one of the choices. I prefer a smaller vehicle myself and just bought a Mazda6 last month, which I love so far. Perfect in just about every way except gas mileage.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • dudleyrdudleyr Posts: 3,469
    oops - I ment to respond to functionfirst.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    If you like boxy try a Subaru Forester, great for hauling boxy items. Scion xB is also, but only with the seats folded.

  • for what it's worth, the dodge magnum comes in rear wheel drive like the caprice. i don't remember whether awd is available - and i think that it comes with a suspension (if not drivetrain from a mercedesbenz) - something else to look at, depending on your needs - mazda is coming out with a "5" - apparently a mini-minivan based on the "3" - sliding doors and 6-7 passenger seating and all - probably about the size of the original 95-98Honda Odyssey - i have four kids and would like to be able to haul all of them in either car, but would like the efficiency of something smaller when it is just me (or me and 1 or 2 kids). now, if they can bring it here in a turbodiesel and a stick shift...
  • dudleyrdudleyr Posts: 3,469
    Yes to the diesel and stick.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    An AWD option was just added to the Magnum, for $2000 I believe.

    Mazda5 looks promising, but I wonder how it will do in the US given a bias against anything but a traditional minivan as a people mover.

  • I have two "difficult" merges in my commute from Arlington to Washington. Both merge into the far left lane of 45-55 mph traffic rather than the right lane (which is typical). In my '03 PT Cruiser GT, the back right window is somewhat small which means poor visibility. It's really not a "big" deal since I could take different routes to avoid both of these spots, and I never let myself sit and block everyone by not daring to go, but I really have to take special care while looking back. If it wasn't for these two spots, visibility wouldn't be a problem at all. I guess the Magnum has similar smallish windows in the back. I drove a Volvo V70 (sister-in-law's) over the holidays. I was quite impressed. It was roomy with a very smooth ride. But with it's price tag, I'm still not going to go that route. I used to only buy Japanese cars, but now I am getting more interested in American vehicles. I've liked my American/German PT which was assembled in Mexico. I haven't had any problems with it so far. My wife likes the Subarus and I like the Magnum, Malibu max, and Mazda6 wagon. Our '02 Mazda Tribute has also been very reliable so far. There's a good chance our next vehicle may be a minivan if we sell the Tribute first or a wagon if we sell the PT first. I doubt we'll sell before 6 years from now. We only have two kids, so we rarely seat more than 5. On those rare occasions, we just take two cars.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Magnum did put form over function. They do look cool, though.

  • Just a note: The side mirrors on the post 03 PTs are a little larger than the ones on your 03 GT. They also direct air flow away from the side windows. Can't say they make a 'big' difference, but I did notice the view back was better when I switched the mirrors on my 03 GT.
  • Malibu Maxx rear visibility is not that great. The mirrors tapered shape make it hard to see much at the mirror extremes, and the very wide C pillar further blocks rear vision, making it kinda like looking out of a tunnel. The C pillar windows are great for passengers but little help for driver.


    If you have the 2005 LT with rear wiper, your rear vision will be even worse. Then again, the LS (without spoiler or wiper) does a good job of keeping its rear window clear.
  • townhometownhome Posts: 104
    I always put those little stick-on blind spot mirrors on my cars. I have them on my Malibu Maxx and I experience no problems w/ visibility.
  • With the second kid on the way, my wife and I have been looking to get a wagon. The three that we are seriously considering are the Subaru Outback, Volkswagen Passat, and the Volvo V70. From test drives, the Outback is certainly the most fun to drive, but cargo space is less than the Passat and V70. The V70 is nice, but is more expensive than the other two. The Passat seems to be in the middle, but we are nervous about reliability based on some reviews we have read and from one of our friend's experience with their Passay sedan. Both my wife and I come from families where we drive the cars into the ground (my dad got >200K on a late 70's Pontiac station wagon!), so I'm expecting that this next purchase will be something we'll have to live with for 12 years.


    Any advice would be appreciated! I'd be especially interested in reliability reports.
  • The drawback to keeping a vehicle 12 years from a 2005 purchase date is cost to drive. When I bought a LTD Country Squire in '71, it came with a 400 CU IN engine. 8-9 miles per gallon was not an issue at the time. Even though it was flawless, I had to unload it in '79 due to sharply rising fuel costs. I believe in the next 10 years we are going to see a dramatic increase in fuel efficiency, with 50 mpg being the "norm". More hybrids and/or small diesel engines are on every car makers table.

    Your 25 mpg, 2005 Anything, will be worth very little and considered a gas hog.

    Mercedes is re-introducing diesel in the US market. That might be your best bet for a dozen-year ride.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    These wagons are fairly efficient, though. While hybrids are making inroads, the best seller, by far, is the Ford F150 guzzler. They probably sell more in one day than hybrids do all year long.


    Back to the comparo, all have pros and cons. The Volvo would be the biggest and you might still be able to get the built-in booster seats I really found nifty. Long-term, my concern would be repair expense. Several friends have sold Volvos for that reason. AWD is available, too.


    Passat is nice, but remember the new one is coming soon and will make the current one seem old. The 1.8T has sludge issues, so just use synthetic oil if you get one, and don't stretch the maintenance intervals. The interior is very nice, and roomy, and 4Motion is a nice option.


    The Outback has AWD standard and would rate highest in reliability. A 2.5i gets 23/28 mpg, not bad for an AWD wagon, plus it has 8.4-8.7" of ground clearance, better than some trucks.


    If gas prices do soar, on the used car market these wagons, especially with AWD, would only gain appeal compared to the loads of used Explorers that would be sitting on used car lots.


  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    The best place to see a side-by-side reliability report would be Consumer Reports. I don't have the wagons issue handy with me, but if I recall correctly, the Volvo and Subaru rank above average in reliability ratings.


    While the Passat has better reliability than the Golf/Jetta, VW as a whole suffers from many quality problems. If it were me, I'd stay away from VW until I see a more consistent level of reliability.


    Also, keep in mind that many of the models are new. The Outback was redesigned as a 2005 model, there will be a new Passat this year and I'm sure Volvo will have an update for the V70 in a few years.


    Being a Subaru guy, I'll give my biased recommendation towards the Outback based on the best balance of performace, cost and reliability. The 2005 model received many improvements in overall fit and finish and I believe it competes well against VW and Volvo.


    Also, do you need the extra ground clearance of the Outback? If you aren't cross shopping against the Volvo Cross Country, you might want to look into the Legacy wagon instead. The Outback and Legacy are essentially the same vehicle (exact same interior dimensions). The main difference is that the Outback sits about 2 inches higher and receives the exterior cladding and price. You could save some additional money with a Legacy wagon including insurance as well.


  • slickdogslickdog Posts: 225
    Did you look at the Mazda6 wagon? You can get one of those cheaper than your other three candidates, and it's roughly the same size. I just purchased one, and my wife has an '01 Outback. I wish I had AWD, but my car feels more roomy, at least in the passenger area and it's WAY more fun to drive than the Subaru.


    I think on paper the Outback supposedly has 1 cubic ft. more space in the cargo area than the Mazda6, but my car definitely has more usable space with the seats down, because they fold down much flatter than the Outback's do. The other nice thing about the Mazda is it came with a cargo net which extends from the top of the rear seat up to the roof, so I feel safer stacking stuff up higher than the rear seat. I don't think the net would stop anything large and heavy from intruding on the passenger space, but it does provide a bit more peace of mind when I'm in a pinch and need to bend the cargo loading rules a bit.


    Reliability on the Mazda6 may not be quite up to par with the Outback, because it is a fairly new design, but it's probably better than Passat.


    Personally, I'd probably go with the Subaru if I planned on keeping the car for 12 years. I know people who own quirky old VW/Volvo/Saab money pits, and Mazda parts tend to be expensive. On the other hand, I know a couple people who drive old Subarus that always just seem to work and don't need much attention.
  • dudleyrdudleyr Posts: 3,469
    If you drive it into the ground the Passat diesel makes a lot of sense. Diesel engines have no electrical system (the recent vw engine troubles have been electrical), they last forever, and they get excellent mpg. The Outback is fun to drive, but it is trickier to handle at the limit according to Consumer Reports.


    My Father is pushing 130,000 miles on his 2000 Passat wagon with no issues. Original clutch, no engine problems, new front brake pads at around 90,000 miles.


    Remember that todays average reliability is equel to much better than average from 10-15 years ago, as all cars have improved.


    Also Volvo's tend to be just under the 4-cyl VW's for reliability. The new Subaru is just a little over average, and a little better than the other two.


    Have you thought about a Flexa from Mazda. It is based on the Mazda 3, but seats 6 in 3 rows. It should handle well, and would be very roomy.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The 6 also has those neat spring loaded seats, that fold with a push of a button. Reliability is below average per CR, though.


    They're coming out with an MPS with a 2.3l turbo and AWD, that should be a hoot. It'll cost a bit more than an equivalent Legacy GT, but it has 18" rims and a few other extras. I think the engine has Direct Injection, too.


    Alas, it'll only come as a sedan, no wagons. Bummer.


  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Mazda5 is cool, kinda reminds me of the Mitsubishi Expo LRV, remember those?


  • The maxx has the advantage of more flexible seating (not many wagons have rear seats on tracks or with recliners). People I took on a brief trip were amazed how much space was back there for them.


    Its disadvantage - at the moment - is poorer reliability than many of its competitors (except Volkswagen) due to bugs in the new design. Any new car design has that liability, and hopefully the Maxx will improve.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Don't forget the rear seat DVD option. Very neat. I saw one with a street price of $19.2k! Beat that, with built-in entertainment.


  • Thanks for all of the feedback. I'm currently leaning more towards the V70. My wife and I agreed that cargo space is a priority, which moves the Outback down on the list. From what I can gather, overall Volvo has an edge over VW for reliability, although neither one of them are up in Honda/Toyota territory. Both of us have friends that have had good experience with Volvo reliability, and my friend who's a mechanic said he sees more VW's coming in with problems than Volvos.


    AWD and ground clearance are not a real high priority for us -- we grew up in Chicago and can drive safely in RWD vehicles in winter without any other safety features. It would be nice, but it's not a deciding factor for us.


    We looked at the Mazda6 wagon, but didn't like the idea of buying a first model year car.


    We are going to test drive an Outback with the 6-cylinder engine. Although driving the 4-cylinder turbo was a heck of a lot of fun, it was a little loud for what we are planning to use it for. Hopefully the 6-cylinder will be more quiet. The disadvantage with the Legacy wagon is that it doesn't come available with the 6-cylinder.


    I found some pictures of the 2006 Passat online. I actually like the styling of the current model better.
  • dudleyrdudleyr Posts: 3,469
    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.


    You could also look at a Focus Wagon. Probably the best handling of all the above - also the least expensive and most efficient. You can get one loaded with leather and lots of goodies for less than 20k. It has a very large cargo area - bigger than Mazda or Subaru, about the same as Passat and Volvo. It has pretty good rear leg room because of its upright stance, but not a ton of knee room (fore aft space). It is also a little narrower than the others. Reliability is now average (better than the Volvo and Mazda and maybe the VW).


    Not an image car though, and that is important to some people.


    Don't know about your thoughts on semi-SUV's are, but the Highlander would be roomier than any of the vehicles mentioned, and if you are considering a V-6 anyway it does not use any more fuel. It is smooth and quiet, but not much of a handler. What about an Escape hybrid?
  • slickdogslickdog Posts: 225
    Ok, I've got to ask. How is it possible that a Focus has more cargo space than an Outback or Mazda6 wagon?!? I believe you, because I checked the numbers, but I just can't visualize it! I've been in the sedan/hatch before and they feel downright small. I'm just wondering what Ford could have done to the Focus to get all that extra space.
  • dudleyrdudleyr Posts: 3,469
    Focus is tall, so that helps. It does not have such a raked tailgate - that helps. It does not have many protrusions into the cargo area - that helps. Just good packaging basically.
  • slickdogslickdog Posts: 225
    I'll have to take a look at one sometime. Those Focus cargo space numbers look really good for a compact car.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    It's funny but the Focus wagon is an mid-size according to the EPA, while the previous BMW 5 series wagon is a compact.


    One is just over and the other just under their limit.


    But they measure space all the way to the roof, so it may not all be useable space, you'd at least block your view.


    Still, in a pinch it's nice to fit things. If not there's always the roof rack.


  • bkaiser1bkaiser1 Posts: 464
    I spent 10 days in a rented Focus wagon a little while ago...we were amazed at how big that car was on the inside. WAY bigger than my WRX, and even bigger in back than my 01 Outback that I had at the time. It was fine car to drive, but this was in France it had a fantastic DuraTorq diesel engine to help it along. The reliability is still a concern, but "drive-wise" I thoroughly enjoyed that car.


  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    My brother has one, in Brazil. There it comes with a 1.8l or 2.0l engine. It's a nice car, no question.


    Europe gets a new one but the Americas get just a face-lift.


This discussion has been closed.