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Best Used Wagon

I am currently lamenting the impending demise of my 05 outback and am in search of a used wagon. My current financial situation demands frugality, but I don’t want to compromise on reliability or safety, otherwise I guess I could just keep my subie hobbling along. I would also really prefer leather seats as several dogs and a toddler can turn cleaning seats into a full time part time job. Hands free phone integration would also be great.
I’ve considered a used volvo or vw but am a little weary of reliability and high repair bills. However I Am Really Limited by the current availability oh wagons on the market. I kind of hate cuv’s but may end up in one anyway. Kia sorento perhaps? I’d really like to stay in a wagon and the post 2009 outbacks ate Not wagons. Used OB’s worry me due to how they can be affected by improper maintenance ie.ruining suspension as well as head gasket problems in the last generation of outbacks that could be called wagons.
Any advise or recommendations truly appreciated, I’m at my Whitt end with a car with no working ac and can’t decide what to do.


When buying a used vehicle of any type on a limited budget you’re just going to have to do your own legwork. Unlike buying a new vehicle, you don’t get a great deal of freedom to choose. You’re stuck choosing from what’s available. The best you can do is get a Consumer Reports Used Car Buyers’ Guide to help improve your odds of making a good decision, do the legwork to find choices out there, and have a trusted shop go over any you find BEFORE signing anything and give you a full written report.

Sincere best of luck. You have your work cut out for you.

You can get a 2014 Toyota Venza XLE with 2WD for about $24,000 from a dealer.

I would take a look at the KIA SOUL, not sure what to call it but it will meet most of your needs. The key word is needs. There are covers just for seats made for dogs so you don’t have to worry about cleaning seats.

sorry but when seeing hands free phone and leather seats and frugality as a requirement, I must be too old, as long as it goes and stops is all i need.

Shopping for a new car allows me to be choosy… but I still end up favoring reliability, utility, cost, and… speaking of being too old… seat comfort, seat comfort, seat comfort, and, last but not least, seat comfort. :smile:

Thanks for the ideas, I know hands-free and leather may seem like a luxury but I have a 3 hour commute everyday and I’m required to talk on the phone during some of that time for my job. For me hands-free is a safety issue. As far as the leather goes, I’d be happy with vinyl frankly I just need something that doesn’t take tons of time to keep clean.
Which reminds me, whoever decided it was a good idea to put carpet in the cargo area of a vehicle or for that matter the floor boards?
I use seat covers in my current car and honestly it just doesn’t cut it. Remember I’m driving a 12-year-old car right now with over 200,000 miles on it so I’m not super picky. Mostly I need plenty of room something reliable and something safe. It’s unfortunate that there are just no wagons left on the American Market outside of the luxury category. The Kia Soul is just too small. I have considered a Toyota Venza but it’s a little more than what I want to pay, I may have no choice but to just take on car payments. Used Volvos are pretty easy to find but again I worry about reliability does anybody have any experience with Volvo? I also like the Volkswagen Passat Wagon but again I worry about reliability. Anyone with experience with Volkswagen? I’m a pretty careful Shopper and generally Frugal but I guess I’m currently just underwhelmed by my options.

Stay away from used European cars.

texases is correct. With a 3 hour commute my first thing would be really good gas mileage. With the low finance charges on new you should just use the build your own feature all manufactures have and you might find a hatchback that will work.

Try the Subaru Forester. Although labeled a small SUV, it is really a station wagon. Mine gets 34 MPG on the highway.

@BillRussell -The Forester might meet the requirements but should someone with what sounds like limited funds and a long commute really belong in a used all wheel drive vehicle?

Volvo: good point. Plus, in older models, there is the head gasket problems.

You kind of answered your own question. Find a newer, better Subaru Outback. Or Forester.

I have considered a forester. I’ve honestly never liked them, but since they’ve turned my outback into a cuv I am liking them more and more. Fuel economy is important, but after doing the math I realized I’d need to drive a car a long long long time for the difference 5 mpg makes to add up to enough to pay for a much newer/more expensive car.
A hatchback just won’t work, there are lots of times that I have my car completely packed, so I really can’t do with much less space, it just would not be practical.
I’m really trying to avoid financing. Id prefer something I can pay cash for, or at least pay 3/4 cash. I did not mention that I plan to go back to school next year and really want to avoid a car payment when I’m not even working.

Oh yea, and thanks for the input on European cars. In my gut I guess I know that, alas my heart is with the station wagon and Europe seems to be where they still make them.

Don’t understand your problem with the outback. I compared it with the forester, and they were about equal in storage space, clearance, engine. the outback is more expensive than the forester, and I like the higher sitting position of the forester.

Also, don’t understand your comment about station wagons and Europe. My previous car was a Passat wagon, but they discontinued it. Went from there to the forester, which basically is a station wagon.

If the OP is planning to return to school they should at least get an estimate for air conditioner repair. Also have brakes taken care of and drive the current car into the ground.

Most of the cars I would consider true station wagons are European luxury vehicles. The Outback was a true station wagon prior to 2010. Since then it has been elevated and redesigned to be a cuv. They don’t even try to call it a station wagon anymore. I’m not a fan of cuv’s in general and the newest ones all look almost identical to one another, no personality at all. I think either you should be a car or a truck. Suv counts as truck, wagon as car. Cuv’s don’t seem to know who/what they are. Am i a car or a truck? The Forester to me anyway at least looks like it knows what it is and lacks that scoopy, rounded back that outbacks along with every other cuv made in the last 3-5 years has.
I’m also losing some of my faith in subaru reliability and feel they don’t justify their used price.

Oh yea with regard to your passat wagon, that’s my point. They discontinued it. They do however now have a smaller golf wagon. European automakers are the only ones still marketing true station wagons in the u.s. market. How did you like your passat wagon by the way? I’m tempted by them.