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Recommendation for a family Wagon (Passat, A4, Outback..)

I’m in the market for a used family wagon or similar that I can use to commute to work with as well. I want something that is economical, reliable and has enough space for family trips. I have been considering the Passat wagon, Audi A4 wagon, Subaru Outback and even the Ford escape hybrid. I’m not considering anything older than 2006 unless I find some reason to. Does anyone have any suggestions or experience with any of these vehicles?

Thanks for your consideration…

I have an 03 Passat Wagon (54k) that I have been happy with, but I’m just starting to see a few minor problems.

CR rated that year/model poor reliability. They rated VW as world’s worse brand for reliability – that includes Audi. That over the last 5 years.

Get the CR auto issue, just out.

For reference, Manufacturers in order, worse to best: VW, GM, Chrysler, Hyundai, Ford, Nisssan, Honda, Toyota. There is more than a 2 to 1 variance. This is for 10 year old vehicles.

Five years old, there is tighter bunching. VW, GM, Chrysler, Hyundai, Ford are about the same, with Nisssan, Honda, Toyota somewhat better.

How many people? If there are 4 or less, consider a Matrix or Vibe. You might also consider a smaller hatchback that you could put a roof carrier on when you travel with the family. Or pack less. The Nissan Versa might fit that description. None of the wagons you mentioned is as economical as the previously mentioned cars or the Suzuki Aerio, Ford Focus, Audi A3, or Volvo V50. Check fuel economy here:

I’ve never owned any of them, I would just take my time and drive them all. Decide which you most like to drive, and buy it.

I wonder where you live. Unless you have to drive in snow, avoid the Subaru. I’m talking about over 80" per year. Winter in Maine can go from all of November until half of April. It is worse in the Northern parts where there is no can about it. Subaru Outback gets 22 MPG overall but I wouldn’t count on that kind of gas mileage. I would have only one question. Do you want fuel economy or do you want an SUV? The Escape hybrid gets 26 MPG overall so I would recommend a Grand Marquis. That means that you could read that Consumer Reports auto issue too. It’s at the book stores now. April issue.

Thanks for the information Bill. I do have consumer reports online that is why I hesitate to buy the VW even though it looks nice and will be big enough for my family of soon to be 5. The Outback is rated very highly for reliability and I like that it is all wheel drive but I think it may be too small for us.

That is a great link with great information JT, thanks. I do have some time to make a decision so I will drive them all and then decide.

Does anyone else own any of these cars? I’d love your opinions…

All wagons mentioned will be cramped for 5. You need a minivan or cross over.

I own a 2005(same as 2006) Legacy wagon(lowered Outback) and love it with two liitle ones (<2) and its perfect for our family. Due to car seat(s) you can’t fit two kids well at in any of mentioned wagons.

We have the 2005 Legacy GT wagon which is the turbo version and get 23MPG overall. I believe the non-turbo much less powerful wagon gets about 25MPG, you do lose 1MPG in the Outback due to higher ride height.

“All wagons mentioned will be cramped for 5. You need a minivan or cross over.”

…or a full size wagon with a real back seat.

I’ve owned a passat and it was junk. Every VW I owned was junk and I will never own another. I have owned several subarus and they all were very good.

One modern choice and overpriced for the quality MB E350…

I would look for a used E320 wagon instead, you can find a decent one for around $20K (probably a little more if you want AWD). That’s a better deal than $60K for a new one IMHO. I am more or less looking for one for my daughter (if she ever gets around to getting her license), they are pretty safe, not too fast, and they do OK in the snow with AWD.

“…or a full size wagon with a real back seat.”

There are none. The wagons all have that weenie jump seat in the back that reduces internal cargo space to nothing.

Ale Man, you need a minivan. Your family of 5 will be uncomfortable in any of the wagons you mentioned. And uncomfortable children translates into fights which means uncomfortable parents. We’ve had 2 minivans since we became 5 and I’m sold on the idea. There’s ample room for people and cargo inside; one parent can drive while the other can easily reach all 3 kids.