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Help Me Select a Wagon



  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    You and I are leading similar lives! While the car we got rid of to get the Passat was a Mazda, the car before that was a '87 Golf. That car took my wife and I everywhere, and we always seemed to have plenty of room. Our child's stuff is a real "room-eater", though. The Golf would never cut it now. If you get serious about the Jetta, you really owe it to yourself to look at the Passat GL. You're very close on price (if you look at a high end Jetta versus a Passat GL).

    Got no problem with Merc Sable. Frequently rent these (or Taurus) and have never had a problem.

    Actually, the Sable wagon was on my initial list of candidates, but my wife ruled it out. That foldaway third seat is slick, as it is on the Honda Odyssey and Madza MPV. She just plain old didn't like it. I think the experience one of her relatives had with a blown head gasket on a Taurus colored her opinion. Mucho bucks to fix and it never seemed to run right afterward.

    I think car shopping is one of those very personal affairs. You start out with a goal in mind, you establish price boundaries, set minimum equipment levels that you will accept, and then hit the dealerships (or internet). Sometimes, you buy the first car on your list, and sometimes you find yourself far afield, considering a vehicle that never entered your mind initially.

    Good luck to all with your vehicles, whatever they might be. And to the person looking at the wagons with the third seat - give it serious thought before you make the purchase.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Another consideration is that kids get car sick more easily if they're facing rearward.

    I'd look at a van or an Explorer or Pilot. The XL7 is sort of narrow and felt tippy to me. The Tahoe and Expedition are too big.

    Highlander is supposed to add a 3rd row option soon. Durango is being redesigned but will remain very much a truck.

    Good luck.

  • katnloukatnlou Posts: 2
    Thanks for all your helpful advice and opinions and the sharing of your own experiences. This messaging has been very helpful for our family and we have made the decision to give up on finding a suitable wagon. We will be in the market for a used mini-van around mid-august. We would love an Odyssey, but they tend to be a bit pricey and a family of six tends to have a tight belt...if you know what I mean.
    After reading all your thoughts, we decided that the safety of our kids was a primary concern and not one to be compromised for our own comfort with the family vehicle. So, we humble ourselves to thank you for your concern and time and will go the family way with the most obvious choice of the "mini van".
    I will say that if there are any manufacturers and engineers out there listening: Please design and make available and affordable a real family wagon that will fit 7, be child seat compatible and safety tested. It would be a comfort to those who like a car that hugs the road, has little wind resistance,is easy to park on a busy city street and will allow "daddy" to drive his big family around town with some dignity. Basically...please create a wagon with a third row of seats that will accommodate a larger family with safety and style. Anyone on Outback's team listening?...

    Thank you again...your advice was invaluable.
  • danielj6danielj6 Posts: 285
    Let me make a couple of observations here. If you plan to buy a pre owned mini during August you might want to consider a Honda Odyssey or a Toyota Sienna. The reason is quite clearly the reliability factor and value. And on the issue of the Sienna, access and you'll meet the re designed Sienna. It's much more improved over the previous model, but pricey indeed. On the older one, you get a $1500 cash back.

    Sorry folks! I know that this thread is about wagons not mini vans. I won't add anything more on the subject. The older American crusing station wagons with real wheel drive and real room for 8 is a thing of the past. As you know I'm talking about the General Motor station wagons. However I believe that if you need room for 6 children and 2 adults with comfort, room for cargo and safety, well you've got to go with a full size van.

    And last but not least, If we are able to help anybody with advise is really thanks to because they provide a forum to do so. Consumer Reports doesn't offer this, does it?
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    With the three kids and one on the way, you're heading in the right direction. As far as "driving around in dignity," don't sweat it! Some of the mini-vans can be pretty luxurious. You might be able to find something coming off lease that exactly fits your needs.

    Danielj6 mentioned considering a full size van, but that's really going to eat up fuel and the ride is going to be more truck-like than perhaps you would want, but it's something to consider. I have no idea how well they hold value or what used availability would be like. Good luck and enjoy the kids; they grow up so fast!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    No need to apologize when you're just helpin' someone out.

    The catch with a used Odyssey is they don't depreciate much at all, the price is close to a new one with a warranty. Siennas also hold their value.

    You might want to look at the Mazda MPV, which is a bit smaller and sportier, and sells for less. You can get those for $20-25k new.

    Even the Kia Sedona is surprisingly nice. Resale is the achilles' heel, but if you keep it long-term you'll at least have a warranty, and the prices are hard to believe. It'll probably cost less than a 2 year old Odyssey, maybe even a 3 year old one.

    Subaru's 7 passenger SUW won't be here until calendar year 2005. I can hardly wait myself!

  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    is pretty nice, actually. Good call! We rented one on our vacation to Colorado last year; had no problems going over the mountains to Breckenridge from DIA. I didn't track mileage, but I don't recall it doing badly.

    The only thing I'd look for is a later model year version with the 3.0 liter versus the 2.5 V-6 that it initially had. The 3.0 is quieter, quicker, and less thirsty.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yep, and I should have said I meant a "new" MPV, not used. I too much prefer the 200hp V6 and the 5 speed Jatco tranny that goes with it.

  • Hm, a new wrinkle. I hadn't thought about kids while trying to decide--we don't have any yet, but since we tend to keep cars for several years that's something to think about. The backseat of my '95 Legacy is pretty roomy for such a small car, but the Audi A4 did seem tight. 'Course, legroom isn't much of a problem if you're only 2.5 feet tall. Has anyone tried stuffing a baby seat and all the necessary stuff into the back of an Avant? We're leaning pretty heavily towards the Legacy GT, but I work in design and am drawn to packaging...
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    You wrote:
    "'Course, legroom isn't much of a problem if you're only 2.5 feet tall."

    Not until they're kicking the bejeebers out of the seatback, driving you to distraction!
  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    Glad you've been able to get some good feedback here. Here are a couple other discussions that you may find helpful: Station Wagon vs. Mini-van and Minivan Shopping. Good luck with your decision.

    Hatchbacks & Wagons Boards
  • danielj6danielj6 Posts: 285
    I was typing a message but while trying to post it was lost. I was saying that in 1998 I bought a new Mazda MPV LX 4wheel drive. A head turner, nice turning circle, very good stereo, excellent view of the road and easy to park. And that's it. It spent more time in the shop than on the road, it was very thirsty, uncomfortable for rear passengers, not that much room for cargo and it wasn't safe.

    Well, that's all in the past now. The re designed MPV is a real winner. A tall wagon with a more powerful engine that the one I had. A fold away third seat, etc. I don't know whether I'd consider it though. I don't have good feelings about Mazda. My problem.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    My wife was like you. She had a Mazda, back in the Plistocene (sedan with a rotary engine), sometime in the 1970's. Swore she would never buy another Mazda, it was such a POS.

    In the early '90's, I talked her into a Protege. She loved it and still misses it - we got ten years and 161,000 miles out of it before giving it to her brother. It's still running strong.

    I'd give the MPV a shot if it fit my needs.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The new MPV does use a Ford engine, basically the 3.0l Duratec from the Taurus. Though the engine itself has been reliable. The tranny is a new Jatco unit, 5 ratios, too.

    Kids will kick the back of your seat - until you teach them not to. It's not a problem for us. They'll be able to reach a Legacy or an A4, neither is big enough to prevent that.

    The Legacy would be better because you have room for a stroller, easily, and still enough room left over for a platform to change diapers on. I doubt the A4 would have that kind of room.

    Also, Subaru has a factory rubber liner for spills and such, which we bought (cheap too), and it's a necessity for stuff like that. It's also good for when your strollers wheels are dirty, which is all the time after the big snow storm we had here.

  • danielj6danielj6 Posts: 285
    I just accessed and looked at the MPV. Real nice, utilitarian, with practical features. It has the same engine that came with my Sable, 6 cylinder 200hp 3.0 liter. I don't know whether
    that's sufficient power for a vehicle that would carry 7 passengers though.

    At one point I had the misfortune of having to give my teenage son's friends (6 goons) a lift during new years. My wagon had quite a bit of power, much more so than the my MPV would've had having to pull such a load.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    It's not usually 7 adults. You typically get 2 adults and 2-3 kids, plus a few of their friends.

    Payload is usually higher for vans than they are for wagons.

  • gwellmangwellman Posts: 17
    I'm looking for a wagon that I can put a couple of bikes inside of (with front wheels and seats removed (from the bikes)). I've decided 5spd and ABS are mandatory, some roof rack is greatly desired, my wife wants to be able to adjust outside mirrors from inside and I feel AWD and cruise control are "nice to have". Other power stuff like windows and seats etc., I could care less.

    Ok, so some Legacies and all (5spd) Outbacks fit the criteria. What I don't get is the pricing around here (Seattle). A dealer wants 19k for a 2001 Outback with 41k miles on it. Edmunds says 14k is a fair *retail* price. I offered 14.5 and he almost laughed. A private seller wants 13.5 for a 1999 Legacy Outback with 63k miles. Edmunds says 10.5 is a fair private sale price.

    So, are Subarus just "hot" right now and Edmunds is pricing them too low, or are these people delusional and I need to hunt harder for a deal.

    If the former, any suggestions for a good wagon matching the above specs that I can get a better deal on?

    PS: Sorry for the cross post, but I think the forum I posted in before might be low on traffic.
  • raybearraybear Posts: 1,795
    Has always had a problem with accuracy in Subaru pricing. Remember you're reading someone's opinion, not the Gospel.

    There's $1000 dealer cash on Outbacks, $500 on Special Editions, plus 0-3.49% financing. You may want to consider new.
  • danielj6danielj6 Posts: 285
    I'd look at a minivan to fit bikes in. The Chrysler Pacifica is perhaps something to consider for size. I had problems fitting my bike into the my station wagon, let alone 2 bikes.
  • I have NO problem at all fitting two road bikes (with front wheels on) into my LL Bean. In fact, one bike is carried four days a week to various rides. I've become very adapt at knocking down the back seats!

    My wife and I have done weekend rides and have always had additional room in the back for our bicycle gear and clothing.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    $19k is so close to new that I'd just buy new. You can actually get a Legacy L/SE for less than that, also new.

    The Forester is taller and the bikes will fit it upright if you remove the front wheels and lower the seat.

  • rogertc1rogertc1 Posts: 66
    Now if you want something you can roll the bike into without taking off the wheels get a Ford conversion Van. Heck the back will even fold down into a bed.
  • julnorjulnor Posts: 1
    Hi. I am looking for some advice in regards to purchasing a used A4 Wagon. My husband and I are looking at 1999 and 2000 A4 Wagons as an alternative to my city car, VW Cabrio. We are expecting a child in a few months, so instead of buying a minivan or another SUV we thought a station wagon would be good alternative. Any thoughts about the A4 wagon? Good or bad.
  • leifleif Posts: 41
    Have you considered leasing a new A4?Audi is offering some attractive lease deals and you get a great warranty along with free scheduled maintenance for 50,000 miles.If you have to go the used route,get a "certified Audi".Great looking wagon!
  • I don't know how much of a concern this would be for you and your husband, but in comparing the A4 wagon to Subaru wagons or the VW Passat wagon, the A4 will have less cargo and/or rear seating room. That was a deciding factor for us when we purchased our new Passat.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    If I were you, I would take your baby equipment (let's face it, it's the stroller that's the space eater) and try putting it in the A4. I didn't specifically shop that vehicle when we weere in your situation (we're now 22 months into the parenthood scene), but everything I read pointed out that the A4 was one of the smallest of the wagons (we did shop the Volvo V40 - way too small).

    IMHO, the important dimension is whether you can place the stroller in the car fore to aft, on it's side or on one of the wheeled edges. This frees up the maximum amount of room when you need to go shopping, on vacation, or whatever.

    With our stroller, the Volvo failed, the Subie could do it, but the stroller would touch the rear glass (I feared for the defroster grid's longevity), and the Passat did it without any touching. Ding, ding, ding - we have a winner! The plethora of airbags and other safety features swung the vote further. We just took a trip a few weeks ago, and the way-back held 6 suitcases and the stroller, winter coats, and a bag of gifts without overflowing into the seating area or blocking our vision. All with over 31 mpg on the interstate.

    YMMV. Good luck with your search. Enjoy's a very special and very fleeting time.
  • allhorizonallhorizon Posts: 483

    The A4 is a very nice car. If you make use of the AWD, I'd say perhaps go for it. I'll explain the 'perhaps': we had a Golf and an older Subaru wagon when out child was 0-4 yrs old. The Golf was newish and more reliable, so we ended up taking it on vacations and longer trips, as well. Now we have a Passat GLX 4Motion, so the longer trips are with that. But at 7years, our son still fits very comfortably in the back of the Golf, also with additional luggage etc.

    So ..., if you think you may buy a larger wagon eventually (next 3-7 yrs, perhaps in addition), I think the A4 is perfect. If you are just smitten with its looks but could care less about the AWD, a new Jetta or Passat wagon are about the same price as the used A4 wagon you describe. Other, slightly more practical options with AWD include the Passat and the Forester or Legacy models.

    BTW, I can fit two large (touring/racing) bikes plus a kid's bike in my Passat wagon, and my child can still sit in the back.

    - D
  • rogertc1rogertc1 Posts: 66
    If you want a larger wagon please look at a Fort Taurus or Mercury Sable. The twins are much larger than anything mentioned in the past threads and they even cost less. The gas milage is the same.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    Yep, you're right. We rented one during trip when our daughter was an infant. Worked out fine.

    You can even "sport" up the Sable with a floor shifter in their top-o-the-line model, if that's your thing. The only down side is that they depreciate rapidly. But this isn't a problem if you keep your vehicles for a long time. This could even work to your advantage if you buy a two year old model.

    One other thing I would recommend: leather upholstery. Leater seats clean up easier than velour (very important if you plan to bring food/bottles into the car).
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    We have 2 kids and 2 Subies. The Forester does the job, but the Legacy definitely holds the edge for stroller carrying.

    Do take your stroller and car seat with you. On the Legacy, we can fit the stroller in transversely (side-to-side) and still have room left for a platform where we can change a diaper.

    As a bonus, the rear gate acts as a rain shelter.

    Check out an L/SE wagon. For the price of a used A4 Avant, you'll get AWD, a moonroof, CD, ABS, and 16" alloys. New, with a 5 year warranty.

This discussion has been closed.