Need advice on buying a station wagon

I have a 4-yr old Prius that’s good on the gas mileage, but I’m becoming more and more concerned about not having good visibility in the rear. Also, the back seat is cramped, even for three slender adults. And since moving to the snow belt, clearance is an issue.

Am hoping to trade it in on a station wagon with much better visibility and a roomier back seat (granddaughter expected soon, and am hoping to be able to fit a car seat in middle, with room for an adult on either side from time to time).

Price range $20-24K, new if possible. Would prefer station wagon to SUV, but SUV on the smaller side would be okay. Would prefer manual transmission. I don’t need any extras.

Thanks for any ideas!

3-across seating for a car seat + 2 adults? That’s a tall (well, wide) order. And with a manual? And good rear visibility? Very hard to come by. A base Forester might work.

How about a mini-van?

I drive a Lincoln Town Car and seating in the back with one booster and Grandma and Grandpa is tight. I’m not sure anything in the mid-size range is going to fit your needs. Mazda makes some nice mid-size crossovers (a cross between a wagon and SUV) that may fit your needs. Or perhaps a Subaru Forester, they are also good cars in snow.


I think you should not rule out an auto transmission

You’ll have many more choices that way

As for that child seat in the middle, with an adult on either side, that’s a tall order

My brother has a 2008 Highlander (not a small suv, actually), and he’s got that child seat in the middle. As for adults sitting on either side of it, it’s not very comfortable. Given that a significant portion of the population is overweight . . . including me

I think you should cross the rear vision off the list. Most now you can’t see hardly at all through the back window. You need to rely on a back up camera.

Thanks, Everyone. I’m looking seriously at the Forester and realize I should probably go with an automatic. Am hoping to do some test drives in the next few days, and it’s really helpful going in to realize that fitting two adults and a car seat in the back is asking too much.

A Suburban might fit 2 adults + car seat, but anything in the size you want will be cramped.
I agree with @wentwest look at a minivan. Mazda 5(not CX-5) is a small-ish minivan that could fit your other needs as well, including stick shift.
But, whatever you get, I highly recommend getting a backup camera with it. You’ll wonder how you lived without one

Thanks. My son has a backup camera in his Prius and really depends on it. Will definitely check the Mazda 5.

If you need seating for 2 adults plus a car seat behind the driver, you need to look at larger SUVs, like the Highlander and Pilot. You can get them with a 3rd row. In your price range, they will be used.

You might be able to get a Base Subaru Outback with a Manual for low-mid $20’s, it would have a little more room than some others. Forester or Impreza Hatch might be too small but check them out.

The Mazda 5 is a niche vehicle that’s based on the 2013 and older Mazda3. A great little minivan for those who need a small 6 passenger vehicle. We came to appreciate a back-up camera on vacation where even with a compact hatchback we couldn’t see everything that was behind the car when looking through the rear window.

The Ford C-Max hybrid could be within the price range (larger dealers around here have 2013’s for under 25,000) but with rear park assist only, no backup camera

VW jetta sportwagen comes with a stick. And it has a diesel engine that can match the Toyotas gas mileage

We all know lots of people who when from station wagon to SUVs. They are more roomy and second only to minivans in practicality. If you don’t need Awd, then RAV and CRV are better options IMHO. If yu want Awd, then including the Forester is fine and your choice of any fhese three is a solid choice. The best way to tell if any are big enough, is to take your car seat with you and test it on each the makes you try out.

The Subaru automatic should be a good one.I think they were the first Folks to include"Fuzzy Logic" in their shift programming(kept the transmission from driving you nuts,hunting for a gear)-Kevin

Thanks so much. I’ll be sure to check the Outback.

How about a prius wagon? The Prius V. Lots of rear room, huge rear doors. Doesn’t fit all of your criteria, but close. The Prius V has as much room or more as the crv, rav4 ect…

The Jetta Sportswgon would be another great choice, would have to be late model used to fit within the op’s budget but fairly popular with the stick particularly on the TDI’s.

The only problem with the Prius V is that while it has more headroom/cargo room it doesn’t solve the cramped 3 in the back seat problem. Although from my family’s experience it’s no better/worse putting 3 in the back of our 2010 prius than the same situation in the 2007 CRV. The interior room seems to be pretty close between the CRV and the Prius just taller on the CRV.

Your stated needs conflict with each other. The only cars that meet your space requirements are full size minivans with Chrysler or Dodge the roomiest or a Ford Flex.

Thanks, All! I’ve given up on the idea of two adults seated comfortably on either side of a car seat and also on needing a manual transmission. And am leaning toward a smaller SUV. I appreciate all the suggestions, which have pushed me to realize, before heading to the dealers, that my expectations were unrealistic.