For station wagon fans in the United States, 1976 marked a watershed moment. There were 62 kinds of wagons to pick from that year, and folks ended up buying 972,212 of them. That represented 10 percent of overall U.S. auto sales. But it also was the peak for station wagon purchases. As minivans and SUVs became more popular, interest in wagons fell. They accounted for barely more than 1 percent of the market 40 years later. Further, wagon sales today often count vehicles such as the Subaru Outback and Kia Soul, neither of which really fits the classic station wagon template.
The number of conventional station wagons available for 2018 has slipped to eight. On the other hand, that does include some fairly new models, perhaps showing that wagons are poised for a comeback.
Audi A4 Allroad
One place where station wagons remain popular is Europe. With that in mind, the big German brands offer plenty of wagons on their home field and bring a few over for U.S consumption. For instance, the global lineup for Audi features multiple wagon versions of the compact A4 and midsize A6. The “four rings” brand even sells a 2018 Audi A4 that runs on compressed natural gas for European customers.
For U.S. drivers, the only option is the 2018 Audi A4 Allroad. It’s the wagon edition of the A4 sedan that also adds a few off-road-style cues. Compared to the A4, the Allroad has an extra 1.3 inches of ground clearance, underbody protection against trail debris and standard all-wheel drive. In terms of its wagon-based advantages, the A4 Allroad has 24.2 cubic feet of storage behind its standard split-folding rear seats, plus 58.5 cubic feet with its seats folded. The cargo limit in the A4 trunk is 13 cubic feet.
BMW 3 Series Sport Wagon
BMW follows the same basic pattern as Audi. More specifically, it offers compact and midsize station wagons in Europe, but only sells the compact model in the United States. That’s the 2018 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon. Based on the iconic 3 Series sedan, the Sports Wagon matches the Allroad with standard all-wheel drive.
As for the cargo differences between the 3 Series sedan and the Sports Wagon, they’re substantial. The sedan’s trunk starts by providing 17 cubic feet of cargo space. In the wagon, with its standard split-folding seats in use, owners benefit from 27.5 cubic feet of available rear storage. Fold those seats, and cargo capacity jumps to 61.5 cubic feet.
Another marketplace advantage for the Sports Wagon is the car’s optional engine. This 2.0-liter turbodiesel unit produces 248 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque and impressive EPA ratings of 30/40 mpg city/highway.
2018 Buick Regal TourX
A German company also is responsible for the 2018 Buick Regal TourX. Buick’s all-new Regal family is the U.S. version of the Opel Insignia, which Opel developed when it was part of General Motors. GM sold the brand earlier this year after owning it since 1929.
Opel’s farewell gift to U.S. drivers is a gem, too. About 3.5 inches longer than a midsize sedan, such as the Toyota Camry, the Regal TourX features a sleek and modern design. The look is set off by rugged content such as body-side cladding and standard all-wheel drive. To earn credibility from the cargo department, the Regal TourX serves up 32.7 cubic feet of cargo room behind its second-row seats and 73.5 total. That’s slightly more than in the 2018 Toyota RAV4 compact SUV.
2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake
Jaguar is just now dipping its paws back into the water with an all-new station wagon for the U.S. market. The 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake has standard all-wheel drive, as expected, and adds a 380-horsepower supercharged engine. However, the XF Sportbrake doesn’t maximize cargo like some other wagons.
Despite being essentially the same length as the Buick, the Jaguar’s total cargo capacity is about 5 percent smaller. The tale of the tape for the XF includes 31.7 cubic feet when its rear seats are occupied and 69.7 cubic feet of total cargo space.
There’s no shortage of luxury features for the Jaguar. Upscale equipment for the XF Sportbrake can include heated and ventilated front seats, a virtual instrument cluster, perforated-leather surfaces, mobile Wi-Fi, a 17-speaker audio system and a full range of high-tech safety technology.
2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Moving back to the German brands, Mercedes-Benz has an extended wagon roster in Europe that includes models for the entry-level CLA, the compact C-Class and the midsize E-Class. But again, customers in this country are limited to a single option, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
The standard model is typical for its class. The E 400 4Matic blends a 329-horsepower biturbo V6, standard all-wheel drive and Mercedes levels of luxury. For extra interior versatility, it can handle 35 cubic feet when all rear seats are in use, or 64 cubic feet of cargo with them folded.
Distinguishing the E-Class wagon: three rows of seating, room for seven occupants and the high-performance AMG E63 S model. Leveraging a 4.0-liter biturbo that makes 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque, it can dash from 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds.
2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen and Golf Alltrack
Volkswagen and Audi have the same parent company, and, partly as a result, they share an approach to station wagons. That means compact and midsize wagons globally, with the compact reserved for the United States. Yet the United States gets the 2018 Volkswagen Golf in two varieties.
The SportWagen and Alltrack each have 30.4 cubic feet of standard cargo space, and both can increase that to 66.5 cubic feet when their rear seats are folded. Additionally, both have a 170-horsepower turbocharged engine as standard equipment. The Alltrack complements that powerplant with trail-ready touches such as an extra 1.5 inches of ground clearance, standard all-wheel drive and a model-specific “Off Road” driving mode. The front-wheel-drive SportWagen is the least expensive new station wagon in the United States, thanks to an MSRP of $21,685. Equipped with all-wheel drive, the SportWagen opens at $23,935.
2018 Volvo V60 and Volvo V90
A lot has changed with the Volvo brand over the years, but even under its new Chinese ownership, the company remains committed to station wagons. It’s obvious from the fact that the all-new 2018 Volvo V90 is on sale at U.S. dealerships. An alternative to the well-received S90 premium sedan, the V90 delivers a significant boost to cargo room. The wagon, to be exact, provides 22.7 cubic feet of storage space behind its back row of seats and 51.2 cubic feet if those seats are folded. Similarly sized rivals have more room, but the S90 sedan compares with a trunk capacity of 15.4 cubic feet.
The V90 also gets the crossover treatment in the V90 Cross Country trim, and the R-Design model welcomes sporty style elements and upgraded handling. Finally, the compact 2018 Volvo V60 station wagon combines up to 43.8 cubic feet of rear cargo space, as well as Cross Country and high-performance versions.