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Help Me Select a Wagon



  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    Are you sure it was built in Japan? I thought all NA market Subarus were built in Indiana, or is that just Legacy/Outbacks? Not that it matters; they're still anvil-reliable. Enjoy your new car.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    come from Japan. Only Legacys and Outbacks are built here.

  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    Damn, you guys are quick. I just checked the stats. Yup...Imprezas are in fact assembled in Gunma, Japan, according to Edmunds. My bad.
  • I'm not a wagon owner, but I've been following this forum recently and was looking for some thoughts on wagons.

    I currently drive a 2000 Maxima GLE. It is a nice car, pretty much loaded. It is very comfortable, powerful, stylish and all that jazz.

    Before I purchased the Maxima I had toyed with the idea of a mini-SUV (RAV4, CR-V, etc.) or a wagon. But for a single guy in Dallas, TX- these seemed like odd choices.

    I test drove every SUV, mini-SUV and both the Forrester and Outback.

    Recently I have found that I want my car to have more functionality (I'm an engineer - it seems everything I own needs to be multi-functional).

    What are people's impressions of the Subaru's or comparable wagons. It has been a while, and I might get back to a dealer in the future - but I'm most interested in how people view the differences in power between the 4 cylinder and 6 cylinder cars.

    Of course i have almost unlimited power now, but I'm not sure I really need it. What I seem to need power for is to pass people as I drive like a maniac on the highway trying to get places. I rarely do rapid acceleration from a stop, but I do a pretty fair amount of urban-highway driving.

    Also - any thoughts about what is better - manual or automatic. I seem to prefer automatics now that I do more city driving, but prior I owned only manuals.

    I would like the ride to be comfortable, at least for 4 adults (total). I recall the Subaru's seats being quite a bit more narrow than any sedans I test drove. Can three people sit comfortably in the back seat? What is rear leg room like - especially behind driver (I'm only 5'10", but I tend to drive a little further back than most people).

    Any ideas are appreciated.

    I don't mean to exclude other vehicles, if you have other suggestions I'd love to hear them - it is just that Subarus intrigue me because they seem like the are really "engineered" cars.

    Oh , I almost forgot - I do have some interest in improving my gas mileage. My Maxima does OK on the highway, but in the city not so good. I'm trying to get a gauge of how close the EPA estimates are for the 6 cylinder wagons - my impression is they are not that accurate for my Maxima.

  • Any opinions on how these two compare.

    It seems to me the Limited has virtually everything the Bean has except the H6 and half an inch ground clearance.

    Limited looks like quite a bargain considering it is nearly $3K less than Bean.

    Any owners have comparison thoughts?

  • Is the Ford Taurus the only Station wagon with the shift lever for the automatic available??
    Subies,VW,& Saturn don't. How about the Euro wagons? Ain't such dealers where I live.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Bob - you forgot the Baja is built in Indy as well. And you're the Subaru Encyclopedia! ;-)

    The TS wagon is made in Gunma, Japan. The 2.5l is more than adequate in that light vehicle.

    The boxer 4 is pretty torquey and definitely gets the job done. Most people that own one and sample the H6 don't feel a big difference, and that's because the H6 is tuned for efficiency and quietness, not all-out power.

    We drove both and the wife chose the Legacy L, which was about $8 grand less than an LL Bean Outback at the time. The L/SE is a nice bargain is you're shopping right now, right around $20k. A Bean might cost $26k or so.

    C&D just tested a Legacy L and hit 60 in 8.8 seconds, not fast, but not at all slow. It's quicker than a Navigator or a Hummer H2 by far.

    My dad had an OB Ltd and loves it. He laughs when I ask if they need for more power.

  • sebberrysebberry Posts: 148
    Isn't the Taurus offered with or with the option of a front bench seat?

    If so, it is the only wagon that does so, and having the shift lever on the steering wheel column would make sense. Even without the front bench, it is cheaper to produce them all the same rather than have two transmission designs to accomodate the shifter.
  • The TAURUS and its twin offer it both ways. On the column and on the floor. I guess no Euro wagons do then. IMHO it is a nice feature.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I rented one, and the center seat that flips and becomes a console is kind of nifty. You can seat six, or you have tons of storage.

    The rear door is too raked, though, making access to the kids in the rear seat tough. Plus it's a little bland, but not bad.

  • lark6lark6 Posts: 2,565
    It's very hard to find three Americans who fit across the front bench seat of any car these days. No one - not even a child - wants to be that crammed-in middle passenger. Gone also are the days in which a child safety seat resembled a high chair or booster seat that hooked over the back of the front bench seat.

    I'm guessing those are some reason's why we don't see as many passenger cars with column-mounted automatics and front benches as we once did. My hobby car has that configuration, but it was built in 1963.

  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    full-size vehicles, especially full-size pickups and SUVs, can comfortably carry three abreast, IMO.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    In a pinch, they manage. Probably more comfy than the 3rd row in a Durango, XC90, or Pilot, for instance.

    But yeah, you don't want kids up near those air bags.

  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    Hi Folks- Some of you may be interested in checking out Edmunds' new Family Cars section. Hope you enjoy!

    And now back to the subject of "Help me select a Wagon." Thanks for your participation!

    Host/Hatchbacks & Wagons
  • I know this has probably been covered before, but I was wondering if some current owners could add yays or nays: I'm going to add a wagon to our family this winter, and it must be: a stick; have AWD; be cheap-ish; and fun. I have a Subie Legacy right now--one of the rare FWD ones, and after sliding around all winter, Husband is going to get that one while I drive the AWD wagon (he has a much shorter commute over main roads). Anyway, those requirements narrowed it down to either the A4 Avant quattro or the Legacy something or other. I've been really impressed with my Subie's reliability. She has over 104k on her and barely rattles. The Audi was gorgeous and lots of fun to drive, but we've had 6 VW's in my family, and guess who got the lemon, and Audis are pretty much fancy VW's. Leaning more and more to another Subie, but that Audi was so sleek...has anyone had any major reliability problems with theirs? Probably will be new or just a couple of years old.
  • ncvolncvol Posts: 196
    Audis don't fit the "cheap-ish" description, and Consumer Reports predicts the A4's reliability to be "below average," but I've never heard anyone say they weren't a hell of a lot of fun to drive.
  • wrxsoon1wrxsoon1 Posts: 158
    Not sure when you're planning on getting a new wagon, but the redesigned Legacy's should be in the U.S. by fall. Supposedly more room, lighter than the current Legacy and they'll be offering a turbo version of the GT model! Keep an eye open in May, as that is when the public will get the first look. I've been told (by a Subaru salesman, so get your grain of salt ready) that they'll be available in July or August.

    Not sure what you consider "cheap-ish", but that's definitely not the Audi. The high end Subie's go for $25K plus.

  • No question that the Suburu offers tremendous bang for the buck, but up until this point at least, I personally have never been able to get excited about the looks of any Suburu, and this applies to both inside and exterior styling. The utility and reliability are first-rate, however. Chances are the Japanese brand is going to have fewer issues than the Audi will have, but on any given car this obviously is not always the case. The Audi does have a great warranty and free maintenance for the first 4 years/50,000 miles, so if your local dealer offers a good service department - and their dealer network is rather spotty in this regard - I wouldn't let this be too much of a factor in your decision (unless you plan to keep it well beyond the warranty expiration and you were not willing to pay extra for an extended warranty at that time).

    I think the decision boils down to how much you value, and are willing to spend extra for, the much better looks (realizing that styling is a purely personal thing) and interior build quality that the Audi offers. There is no question that Audi's interiors are amongst the very best in the industry, both in terms of materials and workmanship. Most people will also find the Audi's driving dynamics to be sportier (fun-to-drive factor), and for some people this also something that weighs heavily in their buying decision.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    If you're in the market now, I think your Audi vs Subaru is for the most part, pretty accurate. However, a lot of what you say regarding Subaru's sportieness and looks is going to change dramatically over the next five years or so.

    As you may know, Subaru will have H-4 turbos and/or more powerful H-6s in all there model lines shortly. The current—and very sporty WRX will share the performance spotlight with a whole new cast of characters

    As to styling, Subaru has acknowledged that this has been a weak spot, and has hired an Italian designer to head up Subaru's design department, with the specific task of making all Subarus stunning to look at. A concept car will be shown next week at the Geneva car show which "hints" at the direction Subaru may follow in terms of design. A sketch of this concept has been posted over in other Subaru forms here at Edmunds, and, IMO, it is a stunner, as well as being controversial. Would you expect no less from Subaru? ;) There is also a write-up in the latest issue of AutoWeek on this car.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    He's greek actually, Andreas Zapatinas. And he worked for BMW before he worked for Alfa, this before Chris Bangle took over and ruined the 7 series with that hideous hump-back whale look.

    So yeah, the future looks bright.

    My take is the A4 Avant is nice but very small. I'd get a WRX wagon instead, it's cheaper, quicker, and on average more reliable. The only catch is it may be *too* good, your husband will want it, so you may end up with the older FWD Subie.

    The Legacy is bigger and more useful if you're hauling a family around. Cargo space is much, much bigger than the A4 Avant.

    If you like Audi interiors get a Passat, it's bigger and cheaper and still comes in a 5 speed with either engine (1.8T or V6). You lose the free service but so what, they don't cover the 60k service which is the first big one anyway.

  • allhorizonallhorizon Posts: 483

    Although I agree with much being said here, the A4 wagon is not as small as you may think. In fact, it is wider than the WRX and has a little more cargo room:

    Dimensions, WRX wagon vs. A4:

    WRX wagon A4 wagon

    front leg 42.9 41.3
    front hip 53.3 55.1
    front shoulder 52.7 55.1
    front head 39.7 38.4

    rear leg 33.7 33.3
    rear hip 51.7 53.4
    rear shoulder 52.9 53.4
    rear head 37.3 37.4

    cargo seats up 27.9 27.8
    cargo seats down 61.6 63.7

    Note: the A4 hip and shoulder specs I found gave the same numbers, which is suspect and probably wrong.

    The A4 has a very wide, square opening for the cargo area. In other respects (reliability, ground clearance, price, interior), these cars don't compare well.

    - D
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    IMO both would be too small for my family (2 kids). Maybe with 1 it would be OK.

  • allhorizonallhorizon Posts: 483
    It's certainly no family hauler.

    To me, cars the size of the WRX wagon, Forester, and Jetta/A4 wagon are perfect if you have two cars in the family with the other one being somewhat bigger (bigger wagon, SUV, minivan, ...).

    You can easily fit 2-3 kids in the back plus some luggage. But you would take the bigger car for the weekend journeys or on longer trips, where comfort counts.

    I also think that such cars are big enough as the only car for many (but perhaps not all) people with just one kid. I grew up with 3 brothers, we had a fairly large Opel (which means probably smaller than today’s Jetta) and never ran out of space. I somehow resent the idea that you need a minivan or large SUV the minute you have a kid. But that is a topic for another endless discussion...

    - D
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    It seems to me that back in the day (let's just say the 1960's), you could stuff three kids into a car and have no problems (gosh, I remember my daily ride to grade school in a friend's car, an old Plymouth sedan, that definitely had 5 to 7 kids at one time).

    Now, with infant seats and booster seats until what, age 8, you would be hard pressed to get three of these in the back seat of most cars at all, let alone with any ease. The stroller will eat up a ton of room in your trunk, too.

    When our first child came along almost two years ago, we moved up to a VW Passat wagon (FWD GLS) from a Honda Accord for the following reasons:
    1) safety - air bags all over the place - I think 6 all told, including side and head curtains!
    2) room - the car seat fits well, and the stroller can be placed on it's side edge in the way-back. We took a long weekend trip and backed four bags, the stroller, a pack-and-play crib, winter coats, and two bags of gifts without placing anything outside the luggage area and without obstructing our vision.
    3) convenience - got leather upholstery and everything that's been thrown at it (so far) has cleaned up with just a damp cloth.
    4) economy - am getting 20 to 22 in the city and 31 to 32 mpg (cruise set at 72 mph) on the interstate with an automatic(rented a Ford Explorer last summer for work and got 18 mpg on the interstate between Western PA and Chicago - what a pig!).

    Anyway, that's our story. The Passat wagon has been great and it definitely fits our new family-sized lifestyle.
  • katnloukatnlou Posts: 2
    We have three kids and one on the way. So we need space. I have seen the adds for used wagons that say 3rd seat and want to know what that really means. Do they stand up from the floor enough to be comfortable seating? Are forward facing in any make/model or are they all opposing? What is the safety rating on these versions of wagon and are they child seat compatible? We would rather have a wagon than a mini van for many reasons, but safety comes first for parents who care...
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    They may be many things, but comfortable for an adult they are not! Friends hava a AWD Volvo and the third seat faces rearward. Even the kids fight about not sitting back there. I think the Taurus/Sable seat is the same configuration.

    Don't know about safety, but with four children, I'd personally start to think seriously about a minivan (Odyssey). If you have the third seat in use, where do you put anything?? Groceries, shopping at the mall, etc, would be a rear PITA.

    Yes, sirree, there's a mini out there with your name on it.
  • danielj6danielj6 Posts: 285
    I happen to own a Mercury Sable station wagon with the third seat in back. It has no headrests. When I purchased it in April of 2000 my kids were already grown and would not want to ride in the back. However if I would've needed a vehicle to haul small kids around, I would have bought either the Honda Odyssey or a Chrysler van. I question the safety of carrying small children in the rearmost seat of my wagon.

    But having said that, I'd like to point out that My Sable scored high on different crash tests performed by the NHTSA and the IIHS. This factor was a major consideration for my choosing this make and in fact still is. Also, safety generally means lower insurance premiums. Where I live, Sables and Taurus are not stolen frequently. My car has been reliable.

    Good luck with whatever you choose!
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469 a crash test? I've only seen a few crash tests where any occupant position other than the driver's seat was, uh...occupied.

    If the third seat has no head restraints, then those seats are at high risk for neck injuries in the event of a crash at the front of the vehicle.

    I don't doubt that the rest of the vehicle scored well. Our Passat scored well, too.
  • allhorizonallhorizon Posts: 483

    I am fully with you on that. We also have only one kid, and also bought the Passat wagon (and are very pleased with it). However, we have a Golf as a second car, which before the Passat was always big enough for anything, including vacations. Not as practical, maybe, and you have to be a bit selective when packing.

    Since our Golf is 10 years old, I am now looking at cars the size of the Jetta Wagon, A4, Impreza/Forester for replacement.

    With 4 kids I would also consider a minivan or a mid-size SUV. 3rd row seating is not very safe in most station wagons, and you lose the space you need for all your other stuff.

    - D
  • danielj6danielj6 Posts: 285
    As far as I know, they didn't perform tests on the rearmost seat of the Taurus/Sable s. w. If Ford would've installed headrests the seat wouldn't fold flat as neatly as it does. This is what the dealer answered when I asked this question. I didn't quite convince me. But anyway, It wasn't a big deal for me. What really bothers me though is the lack of headrests for the second seat; a glaring mistake on the part of the manufacturer no doubt. Other wagons have them.

    Two weeks after buying my car a Honda Accord came from behind me on a winding road and rear ended me. I only received cosmetic damage, and my head rest protected my neck just fine. If I'd had passengers in the second seat they'd have gotten some whiplash, I'm not sure.

    I don't consider European when I buy a vehicle. I did research and found that they're expensive on parts and repairs, as well as insurance in my area. Which is the reason that I decided on the Merc. Sable. Look, I'm only trying to help this fellow who is asking for advise. I don't have loyalties to car manufacturers. I always go for what I consider value after careful analysis of many factors. My car is not an extension of my ego. However, I'd purchase a new Sable anytime because it suits my needs.

    To me mini vans like the Honda Odyssey as well as the Toyota Sienna, and perhaps, but not as much, the Chrysler vans would enter into the realm of my choices. An SUV would not, except the Subaru Forester and the Honda CRV. The Out back too. But these three guys have no rearmost seat.

    Let me clarify that the rear seat in the Sable/Taurus wagon when closed it covers the well under the deck. Which in my opinion is clever. Besides, that well hides small items.
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