all-wheel drive advantages and disadvantages

When it comes to SUV vs. station wagon, it’s no secret that the station wagon has taken a back seat (pun intended) in popularity to the SUV over the past several decades. The once indispensable station wagon not only used to carry whole families around town and country but ferry public servants and salesmen about on their daily business. Today, it’s the SUV (and to a lesser extent, the minivan) that transports families and sales staff around.
The ubiquitous SUV offers a lot. It comes in a variety of sizes—sub-compact, compact, crossover, mid-size, and full-size—and larger models have more power. One may even argue that the SUV is nothing more than a station wagon on a truck’s chassis. In truth, the larger SUVs generally do sit on a truck’s chassis. Even though the family station wagon has been overlooked by car shoppers, models are still available, and definitely worth a second look.

If you’ve been shopping for a newer, larger car to meet the needs of a growing family or have needs that regularly require hauling equipment or cargo, equipment or a ton of groceries, chances are you have only compared the pros and cons of family-oriented vehicles like SUVs, minivans, and crossovers. When considering an SUV vs station wagon all have their own merits and make excellent choices, but it’s worth bringing up the station wagon for consideration, too.

Station wagons have many of the features that SUVs have (along with minivans and crossovers). Good for driving the kids and their friends to or from school, and also the likes of soccer, football or band practice. There’s plenty of room for most types of cargo and easy access for packing and unloading groceries. In terms of functionality, safety, flexibility and affordability, it’s worth taking a closer look at what station wagons have to offer buyers that SUVs cannot.

When it comes to hauling people and cargo efficiently, station wagons are an exceptionally functional vehicle. Many models offer outward-opening trunk spaces and even third-row seating. In terms of fuel economy, unlike SUVs that are known for being gas guzzlers, many station wagon models have very good fuel economy. Many station wagon models can get between 21 and 40 miles per gallon city/highway. For example, a 2015 Subaru Outback averages 25 miles per gallon in town while averaging 32 on the highway. A 2015 Kia Forte 5 averages 25 city and 33 highway, and its 201-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that can reach 60 mph in just 7.0 seconds is a good example of the power and functionality station wagons offer drivers.

For families, a car’s safety features are a top priority when shopping for a newer vehicle. Station wagons have similar safety features as SUVs, such as anti-lock brakes, rearview cameras, blind-spot mirrors, and front and side airbags but, with a lower center of gravity, offer more stability, handling, and control than SUVs.

Like SUVs, the modern version of the station wagon is divided into several sizes—compact, midsize, and large. The range of sizes gives buyers flexibility in size and style. The smaller Kia Soul or Mini Cooper Countryman are considered are roomy, compact wagons while the Toyota Prius V with its roomy seating and cargo space, plus superb fuel economy of 44 city/40 highway, is a prime example of a midsize wagon. Even a large Ford Flex offers an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 20 mpg combined (18 mpg city/25 mpg highway) with their front-wheel-drive option. With all station wagons, compared to higher entry points for SUVs, the lower entry points make it easier for younger and older family members to get in and out of the car. It’s also easier to load and unload cargo.

Another plus for station wagons over SUVs is their price. Most used models tend to cost less than SUVs from the same year. Looking at a range of prices for 2014 station wagons—Acura TSX Sport Wagon, Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen, Ford Flex, Subaru Outback—prices range from approximately $13,500 to $17,500. On the other hand, 2014 SUVs like the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, Toyota Venza, range in prices from $14,500 to $20,000.

If you live in Arizona and in the market for a used SUV or station wagon, Auto Action may be able to help. We stock a great selection of quality used cars in the greater Phoenix area.