Besides, you can see it either way: Wagons, and their two-box design, are essentially lower, more rakish versions of crossovers; and likewise, crossovers are taller, often less fuel-efficient wagons that are also often less exciting to drive.
While the number of affordable wagons has remained very limited for new-car shoppers, there have been a plenty of good options with luxury nameplates. So if you crave a wagon on a more limited budget, going used is especially smart. We've taken some of the work out of your search, honing in on factors we know are important to any sensible shopper--putting some weight on safety and reliability, as well as on all the rest of our review criteria like performance and features. To place on our Best Used Wagon 2013 list, each model must score:
For the purposes of this piece, we’re also limiting our definition of ‘wagon’ to include only vehicles that don't have a much higher seating position than an equivalent sedan, or those that are essentially the same or nearly the same as a sedan counterpart ahead of mid-cabin (B-pillar). That rules out a few of our favorites, like the Kia Soul, which are actually wagons but with their own, higher-and-unique roofline. We made an exception for the Ford Flex—one of our staff favorites, and a vehicle related to the Ford Taurus but essentially a boxy, high-shouldered wagon—though it failed on the reliability front.
We also excluded brands that are no longer sold in the U.S., or those that no longer exist (sorry, Saab fans).
Considering those requirements, we ended up with a lot of models that drive just like sport sedans yet can more easily haul 'stuff.' Here are the 2011-model-year used wagons that made the cut—along with their Bottom Line from our full reviews:
Acura TSX Wagon
The 2011 BMW 3-Series continues the tradition of excellent handling, brisk performance, and high quality, though its relatively compact size does result in some compromises. Read more »
Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon
Attention-getting style, solid driving dynamics, quality materials, and a very competitive price put the entire 2011 Cadillac CTS lineup on level-or-better footing with most of the competition. Read more »
Audi A4 Avant
With strong performance, good practicality, and respectable fuel economy, the attractively styled 2011 Audi A4 strikes a great balance for an everyday-driving sport sedan. Read more »
Audi A6 Avant
The 2011 Audi A6 is elegant and agile, although its cabin design is looking somewhat dated. Read more »
The 2011 Subaru Outback is the equivalent of a good cross-trainer—offering satisfying on-road performance, modest trail capability, and enviable interior versatility and space, all with just a taste of luxury, too. Read more »
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan swings to the masculine side of the pendulum and sharpens its driving appeal in the process. Read more »
With the V70 deleted from the Swedish automaker's lineup, the Volvo XC70 crossover wagon is the flagship wagon of the Volvo line Read more »
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