Many people feel that there is nothing less cool than a station wagon, but the idea of viewing a station wagon as a frumpy “mom mobile” seems dated since the wagon’s heyday as the grocery-getter of choice is multiple decades old and the wagon has since been replaced by the minivan, and more recently the SUV or crossover SUV.
The reality is that station wagons offer the practical storage space of SUVs without the drawbacks: poor fuel economy, propensity to roll, road noise, slow handling, and poor aerodynamics. The station wagon, or estate for Euro-philes and those who cannot get past the label and all that it entails, can offer the same handling as the sport sedans that many lust after, while also giving cargo room for the kid’s lacrosse equipment or your mountain bike gear.
There are a number of station wagons, err sport wagons, which defy the dated stereotypes and associations with moms in sweatpants at the grocery store. These estates provide world-class performance that no SUV, even the car-based crossovers, can think of touching due to the inherent advantages of a true sport sedan platform.
Audi RS6 Avant Wagon
The Audi RS6 Avant Wagon is widely considered the “holy grail” of estate-bodied sport vehicles. The previous generation derived its power from a twin-turbo V-10 engine that produced 580-horsepower and 479-pound-feet of torque. Now in the third generation, the RS6 Avant Wagon is powered by a twin-turbo V-8 engine that generates 560-horsepower and 516-pound-feet of torque. The motor in the current iteration of the RS6 Avant Wagon produces more power than the engines powering the S6, S7, S8, and even the Bentley Continental GT. A pity that these are like magical unicorns in the United States.
BMWs are well-regarded for their balanced handling traits, sport-tuned suspension, and throaty engines; these traits have given credibility to the German automaker’s “ultimate driving machine” marketing campaign. Europeans are always graced with BMW station wagons of the 3-Series and 5-Series variety, but here in the United States, BMW seems to only dabble in the estate market on occasions. Every now and then, however, Americans are graced with station wagons sporting the iconic roundel so scour the showrooms and hope the company shows more of a commitment to giving Yankees the “ultimate driving machine” capable of hauling a little extra junk in the trunk. BMW’s trademark handling, stick shift, and station wagon? Optional all-wheel drive and diesel engines? What a brutal combination.
The Buick Roadmaster station wagons embody every bad stereotype associated with the body style. A floaty suspension setup props up a bulbous body with the proportions of a Winnebago and then there is the faux wood stretching across the length of the General Motors B-Body. There is little sex appeal found in the body of the Buick Roadmaster but that is what makes the vehicle so alluring, its sleeper status. From 1994 to 1996, General Motors equipped these land yachts with the venerable LT1 V-8. The 5.7-liter motor was sourced from the Corvette, but was limited to 260-horsepower in the Roadmaster, although a little work under the hood can bring that number right up to the 300-horsepower rating of the Corvette it was sourced from. Imagine the look on the face of the boy-racer in his Lancer Evo when he sees his grandmother’s car careen away from a stop sign.
Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon
Cadillac making a station wagon was a shocking enough move but equipping it with a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 that generates 556-horsepower is enough to turn the world upside down. Add in the Magnetic Ride Control, Brembo brakes, and world-class Nurburgring times and you have a true game changer. Oh, how the times have changed. The styling of the Cadillac CTS-V wagon is also noteworthy since the cutting-edge ‘Art & Science’ design language gives the Cadillac wagon an exotic aesthetic unlike any other wagon ever produced.
Dodge Magnum SRT-8
The Dodge Magnum without the Hemi still brought a sinister looking package to the Dodge lineup and showed that station wagons did not have to look like they were designed by committee, but the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 kicked things up a notch. The SRT-8 went even further in its quest for performance excellence, packing a 6.1-liter Hemi V-8 that produced 425-horsepower into that low-slung body with its gun-slit windows, creating a very threatening package that challenged every pre-existing stereotype of station wagons when it hit the streets. Although the Magnum is no longer in production, they are still readily available on the used car market for those seeking a value-packed performance-oriented wagon with loads of attitude.
Mercedes E63 AMG Estate
Mercedes has produced a number of AMG-built estates over the years, but the latest incarnation of the German automaker’s super station wagon is the greatest, offering near-supercar performance in a package with bank-vault like solidity and construction. The standard 2014 Mercedes E63’s biturbo V-8 is good for 557-horsepower, while the E63 AMG S-Model’s motor generates a whopping 585-horsepower. Mercedes will be sending this monstrous power to the pavement via an all-wheel drive system, resulting in an uber-wagon capable of accelerating from a stop to 62 miles per hour in just 3.6 seconds.
The contributor is really hoping for the day that station wagons once again become en vogue in the United States.
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