Help Me Select a Wagon



  • bigeyebribigeyebri Member Posts: 2
    Love my 2005 Outback 2.5 XT. But, if you've been to CR you may know that they rely heavily on desiel fuel, so maybe some sort of desiel conversion may be what you want. I'd definetly get something with quick response that can handle the 6 foot pot holes. You'll also be needing a good, working horn. Those Ticos' are so horn crazy, you'll feel left out without one. :) Have fun, and Pura Vida.
  • frank4carsfrank4cars Member Posts: 98
    Magnum seems like the best compromise unless you can find an M5 wagon conversion or a used 540i Touring. With the Hemi, you won't need a stick.
  • rodutrodut Member Posts: 343
    Well ... truth is we don't know what we buy. For instance we bought a Chrysler Pacifica (which is the nicest WAGON on the market in my opinion) and it's really difficult to know who made it.

    I mean the engine is made in US, the alternator and fans are made in Japan (by Denso, Toyota's electrical parts manufacturer), the car is assembled in Canada, the rear suspension is German designed (and the company is German too), most cables are made in Mexico, so who can tell me who made my car ?!?!

    I even saw "Bosch" written on a big part ... I don't even know what that was ... cars these days are so complicated ...
  • autonomousautonomous Member Posts: 1,769
    I agree, it's difficult to know in our marketplace where that TV, washer or car originate considering the number of components that go into it from around the world. Personally, that's why I favour international standards rather than national lobbies. Back in the 70s when the last round of Japan bashing happened, Lee Iacocca was slamming the imports publicly while the company he was heading (Chrysler) was supporting Mitsubishi. GM and Ford are not exclusively national brands, they have always exported into the world market in some cases trouncing the local competition (witness the transformations in the British auto industry for example).
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Just try to find an American flag that isn't Made in China. :D

    It's hilarious.

  • kanukanu Member Posts: 19
    I’m looking for a used wagon for my wife. She used car for shopping, bring a kid to park, etc. I want the wagon because occasionally we need to carry big thing like lawn mower, and easy for carry baby stuff. Don’t want SUV since it’s bad gas mileage and too tall for her (5’). I have only a baby 1 year but in future we may want another one.

    I budget for 7-8K, 3-4 year old as a second car (another one is 05 Accord). Inexpensive wagons are hard to find. We want pretty reliable, inexpensive to maintain (eliminating Volvo, VW) I’m thinking about FOCUS wagon, but it’s pretty rare in my area – Memphis, TN as well as Subaru (only one dealer). There are some Tauras or Saturn but are they reliable. What is your suggestion.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    For that price and age you'll probably have to go small.

    Try a Toyota Matrix or a Mazda5, both are really 5 door hatchbacks, but they'll do the trick for a small family.

    Subaru has the Impreza, Outback Sport, Legacy wagon, and Outback wagon. Even a Forester might do the trick for you. That opens up some options since they aren't that common.

    Focus wagon is quite roomy, even a Focus ZX5 ought to work.

    What else? Suzuki Aerio can be had cheap.

  • kanukanu Member Posts: 19
    thank for the respone.

    I don't want much option except for Auto transmission.
    Most subarus are probaby over my budget, I probably have to go older year to get them, then the maintainance costs could be high since there is only dealer in my town. Are subarus too complicate for most independent machanic shops?

    Many suggests PT cruisers, but my wife and I think it looks horrible.

    Matrix / Vibe would be a good choice, but they are relatively new models, may have to wait longer to meet my budget.

    Any thing else, please
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Complex, no, not really. They only add a rear differential that needs to be serviced, fluids every 30k. About as hard as an oil change.

    Different, yes. But what mechanic is not familiar with at least one Outback? They're so common now.

    Earlier wagons included the Ford Escort and Toyota Corolla.

  • suydamsuydam Member Posts: 4,677
    Subarus can be high, and by the vintage your budget requires, the maintenance could be pricey. If there is only one dealer you don't have as much choice if you don't like them. Options there are older Foresters and Impreza wagons. The Focus wagon might be more in your ballpark and you could get a newer one for less than a comparable Subaru. Taurs wagon is much larger, so depends on what you want. Vibe might be less expensive than you think, since they've been out for 2 years now and the Vibe tends to cost less to start with than the Matrix.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • autonomousautonomous Member Posts: 1,769
    Vibe might be less expensive than you think, since they've been out for 2 years now
    Actually some Vibes are close to 4 years old.
  • gussguss Member Posts: 1,180
    They build a nice wagon right down the road from you. Saturns have been fairly reliable and you can get them pretty cheap on the used market.

    If I were looking in the $7k to $8k range though I would go with your initial suggestion. You could could get a 2 or 3 year old with 30K to 40K miles for that amount. Their reliability has improved greatly over the past couple of years. They also are very large inside for their size.
  • mcelinemceline Member Posts: 10
    Hi folks - We are needing to buy a different vehicle, and these are the features we are looking for:

    -AWD or front wheel drive,
    -Good crash test rating,
    -Air bags,
    -Good gas mileage (30+ hwy).
    -Good mechanical/repair rating.
    - Under $5000-$6000
    Our preference is a wagon, unless there is a some other 4 door sedan that is just really great.


    Any and all input would be greatly appreciated. We have and have had toyota tercel wagon, 1988, for many years....they are great cars and actually have all the features that we want, except they do not have air bags and would not offer much protection in the event of a crash.
  • suydamsuydam Member Posts: 4,677
    You can easily find everything you want, except for the "$5000-6000" part. Up to that point, I was thinking Toyota Matrix. But for less money -- Maybe an older Camry wagon -- I think they stopped making them in 1994? -- but newer and still cheap, I think your main option would be the Ford Focus wagon. There are other wagons out there but few that get 30 mpg.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Sorry but I think you're asking for way too much.

    AWD and 30+mpg? (to be fair you do mention FWD) Good crash test ratings and under $6000?

    You'll have to compromise on those, pick one or the other.

    At first I was thinking 2006 Legacy wagon, which just got the IIHS Gold award for safety, tops in the mid-size class. But that's $22k or so. And you might get around 28mph highway, not 30.

    Civic sedan was the other IIHS Gold winner, but it's a sedan only. And it's closer to $20 grand since it just came out.

    The other Gold winners are the Ford 500/Montego and Saab 9-3, but we're going in the wrong direction as far as price goes.

    For $5-6 grand, perhaps consider a '99 Forester. Those got Good scores in the IIHS frontal, just don't expect quite the same for side impacts because it didn't have side air bags back then (2003+). AWD, too, but mileage is 21/27.

    Consider a used Matrix or Protoge5, both efficient little wagons. They won't meet your safety criteria, though, in fact even some newer compact models don't.

    Check out the IIHS web site. Most of their data is for newer models, but some previous generation models do fairly well, perhaps Good or Fair in the important categories:

  • dudleyrdudleyr Member Posts: 3,469
    Since you did say awd or fwd I would suggest you stick with fwd. It will lower your purchase price, increase your gas mileage and open up many more choices.

    A 4-cyl Camry or Accord wagon wagon from the early 90's would do the trick, but most of the Camry's were V-6's and would use too much gas.

    I would say your best bet is a mid 90's Corolla wagon. Great gas mileage - relatively safe for it's time (your budget hurts you here as the safest cars are the newest ones). I know they were made in '94, I think 1996 was the last year. The next generation did not have a wagon. These are well within your budget and you could get a very nice low mileage example. tsidenav..12.Toyota*

    For $400-450 (Corollas have small inexpensive tires) you can pick up a set of 4 snow tires on steel wheels and will do better in the snow than most AWD vehicles (at least those without snows) as you will be able to stop.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Can't disagree with that. You'll give up some safety, but steelies with snows will give you traction and you can drive defensively. Those should be safer than your Tercel would be in a crash.

  • mcelinemceline Member Posts: 10
    What years were the Ford Focus wagons made? I tried researching it, and i could not find it......
  • mcelinemceline Member Posts: 10
    I have appreciated the input on my question....I posted a reply a few days ago, but it must have been when the site was shut down for awhile, and does not look like it went through. So I will try again....

    I figured we would have to compromise somewhere, given our budget of $5000-6000. With that in mind, I should say that having the best possible crash test rating within a $5000-6000 budget would take precedence over 30+ mpg hwy. And I thought the snow radial suggestion was a great that opens up some possibilities. It would still need to be automatic, and good reliability rating is very important. I like the idea of a Toyota Corolla as well.

    Another question.....even though we do prefer a wagon, are there some great choices out there that we are missing by limiting it to a wagon? Is there something better in a 4 door sedan?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I like wagons because you get a lot more utility. You can fit a box probably 4 times as big as what would fit in a sedan, and don't really give up much in the process. Not to mention that long roof means a roof rack is possible.

  • suydamsuydam Member Posts: 4,677
    Ford Focus was made starting 2000. The first two years had lots of recalls but from 2002 on they are supposed to be pretty reliable. A 2002 wagon would probably be in your price range and have less miles than the older Corolla wagon.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • bkaiser1bkaiser1 Member Posts: 464
    Hello, I was just in this same purchase scenario and scoured the internet for a good used car in that price range. I was really looking for a used Subaru, having owned an Outback and WRX in the past, but discovered that used Subies in that price range a) have a salvage title from a previous wreck, or b) have well over 100k miles already.

    One model in particular fits your criteria but can be difficult to find in good condition: a Subaru Legacy wagon from 1995-1999 with the 2.2l engine. That was a bulletproof engine, has AWD, gets close to 30mpg, and achieved good crash scores. For $6000, it will likely have around 100k miles, but this has been one of Subaru's best cars (from a reliability standpoint) and I would feel comfortable driving one for many more years.

  • mcelinemceline Member Posts: 10
    Thanks, Suydam, for clarifying the ford focus years. We are considering any and all options here, and sometimes its difficult to get this kind of information.

    We have heard a lot of good things about the Corolla, but, yes.....I don't ever remember seeing one for sale in our area anyway. Brian....were you able to find one via the internet? We kind of hesitate buying a vehicle in that manner, but if we could find one that is in our proximity, that would work. Are there some sites that you found that work better than others?

    In an earlier post, someone mentioned the Chrysler Pacifica...does anyone know much about that vehicle? Mostly curious.....I think we are leaning towards the Corolla due to the combination of AWD, crash test, mileage and reliability....but I would like to research all options.....
  • bkaiser1bkaiser1 Member Posts: 464
    Ultimately, I found an 01 Nissan pickup with under 40k miles that I bought -- I would have loved to find a good used Subie, but that's a *really* tough price range to be in. My priority was a trouble free utility vehicle for cheap, and the Nissan fit that perfectly.

    I did most of my searching on Craigslist (.org), which has sites for dozens of cities, but is especially useful in the San Francisco area since that's where it started 10 years ago. Other good ones for searching is and vehix, although those two are mostly *dealer* vehicles as opposed to private party vehicles.

  • mcelinemceline Member Posts: 10
    Thanks! I will check out these searches....we prefer to buy from a private seller, so if anyone knows of sites specific for that, that would be great.
  • nick26nick26 Member Posts: 1
    I am searching for a new or used(1-3 years old) wagon or car.Here are some things I need. Space for large dog(80 pounds). Reliability and safety important. I live in the mountains(rain but no snow, windy roads) Commute to city(30 miles away).I am willing to pay up to 30k..amy recommendations? Also which cars depreciate the least and don't have alot of electrical or maintenance repairs? Which carry the best warranties?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Here's their latest Gold/Silver awards for overall ratings:

    From that list, a few of the models come as wagons:

    * Audi A6 Avant
    * Saab 9-3 SportKombi
    * Subaru Legacy
    * Audi A3 5 door
    * Audi A4 Avant
    * Chevy Malibu Maxx

    Jetta and Passat wagons should come soon, as well.

    With 80 lb dogs look for the tallest hatch, see if they fit comfortably.

  • erics6erics6 Member Posts: 684
    For private party sales,, and your local paper. I'd second the 95-99 Legacy (non-Outback). Corolla wagons are hard to find but good. In the 5-6k range, you have limited options.
  • kurtamaxxxguykurtamaxxxguy Member Posts: 1,798
    Ok, this Malibu Maxx driver, who likes the Maxx but is worried his 1st yr build model is gonna die of 1st year gremlins just after its warranty expires, is considering the following '06 models:

    1. Malibu Maxx SS
    2. Audi A3 3.2T QUATTRO
    3. Toyota RAV4

    The Audi has advantage of AWD and a nice interior but costs _way_ more than the other two, and I really don't know if it will be reliable (Audi, and especially its parent BMW, do poorly on that) or if its resale will hold up.

    The Maxx SS, has a revised engine from my '04 LS, and should have 1st year gremlins exorcised by now, but I hear the ride is like lead and am not sure of VVT engine's reliability (how are other GM engines with VVT holding up?).

    Perhaps the Toyota is the safest choice given their track record. But this year's RAV4 is an all new design.

    My biggest concern is overall reliability and dealer backing. Gas mileage is also a factor. Also any feedback on new Audi and Toyota (JDPower has zip on either) would be appreciated.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Hmm, RAV4 is rather large, so first I'd determine if the extra space would be useful, i.e. an asset, or a liability (extra weight).

    If you can use the space, that would be my pick.

    Otherwise, the SS sure looks a lot nicer now, and the extra kick won't hurt, plus it'll be several grand cheaper than the Audi. Bummer that Audi got rid of the free scheduled maintenance, eh?

  • kurtamaxxguykurtamaxxguy Member Posts: 677
    Interesting - thanks!

    If I got the SS, first thing to go would be those stupid 18" wheels and tires. They make the ride harsh and leave the car open to damage by our LA potholes. Good 17" forged wheels and TripleTreads or similar premium all season should work fine!.

    So Audi dropped its free maintanance?
    I assume that is going to add a whole bunch of cost to its ownership?
  • kurtamaxxxguykurtamaxxxguy Member Posts: 1,798
    just visited their web site and it claims free maintanance is offered.

    So is the web site wrong? Or does Audi plan a cut off date for this "perk" ?
  • suydamsuydam Member Posts: 4,677
    If your biggest concern is reliability and dealer backing, go for the 'Yota even in a first year design. But interiors tend to be rather plain which is probably why you're looking at the

    A3. Great interior and driving, but how are they likely to hold up? Audi owners, what do you think

    As for the Maxx, I'm not a fan of American cars, but I imagine it has a lot of space.

    All 3 would drive so differently it depends on what you're looking for. After you drive them let us know your impressions.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Maybe they are going to but haven't discontinued it yet. I'm pretty sure I'd heard that.

  • luvmbootyluvmbooty Member Posts: 271
    I have a dilemma. I can't decide which is the better car. I have looked around in both their classes. Only interested in base models. I love that they both have ABS and electronic brake distribution and Matrix has a tire pressure monitor. Both have driver and passenger front and side airbags plus offer rear curtain airbags. They each have available vehicle stability and traction control. Magnum has 27.2 cu. ft. behind the 2nd row and 71.6 with seats down. Matrix has 21.8 seats up 53.2 seats down. Matrix automatic mpg 28/34, Magnum does 21/28 mpg. Power windows and locks, keyless entry, and rear windshield wiper is an option, standard on Magnum. They both have front disc brakes. Matrix has rear drum. Magnum has rear disc. I understand Matrix has a lot of cabin noise while the better ride must be the Magnum. With everything mentioned above MSRPs are as follows: Matrix=$19,015, Magnum=24,670. Opinions on the better car. Is the Magnum worth the extra money in the long run? :confuse:
  • dudleyrdudleyr Member Posts: 3,469
    I would say get the Matrix if you are looking at the long run. You will save a considerable amount of money on gas, car payments and most likely on repairs as well.

    If you are open to it, a Matrix with a manual tranny will have better acceleration, better fuel economy, and will be less expensive.
  • krzysskrzyss Member Posts: 849
    Magnum provides?

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Keep in mind you're compaing a compact with a full-size, so let your needs determine which one to get.

    Magnum is RWD, do you see a lot of snow? Do you haul heavy loads, enough to make use of the extra torque? Do you like to sit in a wide seat and spread out? Will you tow?

    Matrix has better visibility, efficiency, lower cost to own, but it's also smaller and won't do as well hauling a lot of weight (look at the engine's torque). If all you need is a practical little car, it'll serve you fine.

    Be honest with yourself about your real needs, then choose, and you'll be happier in the long run.

  • luvmbootyluvmbooty Member Posts: 271
    Good advice. Don't haul anything heavy, just family and groceries. Magnum's a hot looking wagon but could save a lot of money with Matrix. Thanks!
  • reneandbabyreneandbaby Member Posts: 1
    We're about to have our fourth child, with all of the other three still in five point harness carseats. We can no longer squeeze anyone else in our sedan.

    I am not interested in driving a massive vehicle-- I do not want to drive a minivan and I most definitely do not want to be driving an SUV.

    I'm quickly coming to discover that it seems no one makes the old fashion station wagon any more. Any time I ask about station wagons-- they either point me to something that looks like an awful lot like a massive SUV to me (high off the ground, boxy, horrible gas mileage) or is a sedan-type car but only seats five and the extra space in the back is simply extra cargo space.

    Does any carmaker continue to make station wagons with a sedan-type body and three rows of seating? My mother drove a Ford wagon forever, but gosh she bought that well over ten years ago.

    I really do not want to be driving around some monstrosity on the road. That's why I'm still driving a sedan with my three kids already.

    Thanks in advance for all that could help.
  • dudleyrdudleyr Member Posts: 3,469
    Ford Freestyle fits, but is SUVish. Volvo makes one. The Mazda 5 is Vanish, but still small and nimble. Toyota Highlander is SUVish, but fits the bill. The Audi A6 is nice, but expensive. Mercedes also makes a wagon with 3 rows.

    Unfortunately car makers know they can get more profit if they jack a vehicle up and put some cladding on it. I think they are afraid if they make nice logical wagons, then people will buy them instead of more profitable SUV's.
  • sharipatsharipat Member Posts: 1
    Station wagons with third-row seating won't help you if your other three kids are still in 5-point harnesses. I have a '99 Sable wagon with the rear-facing third row, and both the manual and the seat itself note that it is not to be used with a child's car seat. With 4 kids, you might want to look at the Mazda5 ... it's a 6-seater with sliding doors ... not as big as a van but will hold all your kids. I haven't driven one, though. The Ford Freestyle can seat 6 or 7 people (depending on whether the middle is a bench or buckets) and might be worth a look for you. But with all the little ones, you might need the sliding van doors that help with getting in/out.

    Volvo and Mercedes still make third-row rear-facing seats in their wagons, but again, you probably can't put car seats in them. Also, if you have children in the third row, you have no place for groceries or cargo (another reason vans and SUVs are so popular -- there's room for people AND their stuff). I don't know if those wagons offer rear air, either ... my kids say our third row gets awfully hot in the summer with the only air coming out the front vents!

    Sorry to disappoint you! I totally understand and wish things were different in the auto world!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    They used to make those, but they were good at one thing: scaring away customers.

    Maybe try finding a good used model?

    Freestyle probably comes closest to what you want. It's not an SUV, though it tries to look like one.

  • irisleremirislerem Member Posts: 1
    I'm looking for the same thing. The options are, as someone said, Mercedes Benz (which I have now) and Volvo. Both are rear facing 3rd row, which cannot take car seats.

    I also dislike SUV's, but I did try the Toyota Highlander Hybrid (so it's not as gas guzzling and better emissions). It's a car base, fairly small (boxy, though) and has a third row forward facing (with a little room for gear). You may want to try it too.

    Not sure what I'm going to do!

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Chrysler is stretching the 300's wheelbase, I wonder if they'll do the same for the Magnum? If so, that could be the true wagon you're looking for. RWD, too, like the old school ones.

  • blissfulblissful Member Posts: 84
    My Audi A (Model year 2000) had a 3rd row seat that was removable and suitable for kids. Had the seatbelts etc. Also, Volvo and Mercedes have these. Mercedes has the most rear cargo room, thus probably the roomiest rear area. I think the A6 had the smallest back end, but the tailgate opened really high, and at 6'1 I could comfortably stand up under it without ducking or hitting my head!
  • diaanadiaana Member Posts: 1
    Thinking about buying Dodge Magnum, but we get a lot of snow here in the winter time. Does anyone have experience driving this car in snow? Thanks in advance.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAMember Posts: 9,400
    A beeter place to ask this would be of the Magnum owners int he Dodge Magnum discussion.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    There's an AWD model, just for you.

  • luvmbootyluvmbooty Member Posts: 271
    Has anyone else noticed the only midsize to large wagons are over 25000! I've been checking out large sedans like the Hyundai Sonata, Malibu Maxx, and Ford Five Hundred. They all are under 25000! I'm looking for 105 cubic feet of passenger volume, versitility, reasonable power, fuel economy, and decent crash test scores all under 25000! Is there any manufacuter out there willing to help? Hate SUVs! Refuse to buy one! :mad:
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