ISO the perfect used wagon

Ideally, it would be a 2006 Corolla wagon. Since that doesn’t exist, I’d love some advice. Here are our criteria:

1. Good gas mileage (pref. at least 30mpg highway)

2. Standard transmission

3. Decent cargo space (for camping, road trips etc.)

4. Safe (we have a kid)

5. Reliable

I’m partial to Toyotas but am open to anything well-made. We like the Scion xB (we’ve test-driven a 2006) but despite what reviews say, that cargo space looks small to us. We’ve looked at a 2005 Ford Focus wagon. Subarus have good cargo space, but I’m not impressed with what I read about the gas mileage and reliability.

What about the Mazda wagons? How’s the cargo space in the Matrix? What are we overlooking? Would love any advice. Thanks!

In my opinion the best wagon is a volvo v50 or v70 their very safe and have lots of cargo room

The Volvo V70 gets poor gas mileage, nowhere near 30mpg. V50 is smaller but gas mileage is still below par. Mazda wagons not too good on mpg but better than Volvo. Ford Focus is getting close to your criteria. Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Matrix are in the ballgame. Small wagons have not sold well in the US but are big hits in Europe. Hopefully more of these practical cars will come to America in the future. Whether they sell better in the US is still a question.

Did you try the toyota Venza it’s pretty good

My stepfather’s 01 V70 averages 25.3 MPG overall. It’s his third V70, this one has about 190k on the clock and aside from a new catalytic converter, it’s been pretty reliable with just normal maintenance.

They did make a few manual transmission models but they are hard to find. IMHO a manual would likely help performance, the N/A 2.4L 5 cylinder is pretty lethargic. But as far as the OP’s requirements goes the V70 meets most of them. 30 MPG out of a mid-sized wagon is a tall order though.

There are several good choices out there, but nothing as good as a Corolla wagon would be, unfortunately. The Toyota Venza is a nice vehicle but a little pricey for this application.

At the risk of derailing your thread with an editorial comment, my daily driver is a wagon with a 5 speed transmission, carries up to 7 passengers, or has a six foot flat load bed that will haul a full-size sofa if you need to carry only two passengers. Suspension like a half-ton truck so it will pull a trailer or haul bricks home from Home Depot. Roof so strong you could put another vehicle on the roof rack if you wanted. Recent 3-tank average mileage with four passengers and luggage - 29.5 mpg. Regarding dependability, mine now has 280k miles in it and it looks and drives great. Regarding safety, it is pretty short on air bags by today’s standards, but the death/serious injury statistics for this car per million miles driven compare favorably to today’s cars with air bags all the way around. It is a '91 Volvo 240 wagon. It is everything that today’s cars wish they could be, yet Volvo discontinued it 17 years ago because it was ‘obsolete’. Huh?

Kia Rondo and Mazda 5 are close to what you want.

Technically, there IS a Corolla wagon, it’s known as the (Corolla)Matrix. It has a twin called the Pontiac Vibe, which could be had for a bit cheaper, especially if you’re looking at new cars.

I’d agree with the Matrix/Vibe or the Mazda. I drove an '06 xB for a while and they have a lot of cargo space… with the back seat folded down. With passengers in the back, there isn’t very much. They’re also not all that safe, especially in side collisions.

You might also think about how your kid and their various accouterments and friends are only going to get bigger. Frankly, any of those small wagons are going to feel pretty cramped in a few years. You might think about something just a hair bigger like a CR-V or a Rav4 or maybe even a Honda Element.

The Corolla wagon is the Matrix.

Thanks for everyone’s suggestions and opinions (and please keep 'em coming if anyone has other thoughts). Point taken about the Matrix being the modern Corolla wagon – though that back space seems a good deal smaller in the Matrix, no?

GreasyJack: appreciate your points about the xB. We like the Element but it doesn’t appear to get great mileage. Will look into the Rav4 and CR-V.

Anyone: how reliable, solid, well-made is the Mazda? I’ve read iffy reports on that.

As for Manolito’s '91 Volvo – sounds great, sign me up! Actually, my husband found a '91 Corolla Wagon with low miles, and I’ll admit I’m tempted – but it does seem a bit old to be a good idea.

Subaru 2005+ in Legacy wagon/Outback is very reliable. It covers all aspects you ask including top tier for safety. I think they get 27mpg highway due to 2-3mpg AWD penalty.

Mazdas are as good as Toyotas and Hondas, and the Mazda 3 hatchback is a very roomy and sporty vehicle.

If you want to keep your operating expenses down, avoid AWD or 4WD, and stay away from Volvos; they cost arm and a leg to keep running.