TORONTO—When car-based crossover SUVs first hit the market nearly two decades ago, they were supposed to spell doom for the traditional station wagon. But recent trends suggest that, like many demises, the wagon’s was greatly exaggerated.
The renaissance may be fueled by sheer SUV fatigue. Or perhaps shoppers are starting to appreciate inherent wagon virtues such as confident handling and good fuel economy. Whatever the case, there’s a bumper crop of wagons this year, highlighted by a pair of head-turners with premium pedigrees, the Buick Regal Tour X and the Volvo V90. If you’re concerned about affordability, don’t be, as Volkswagen offers its excellent Golf SportWagen for the price of a typical family sedan or small crossover.
Throw in stalwarts such as the redesigned 2017 Audi Allroad , the BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon and the Subaru Outback and you’ve got plenty of reasons to believe that this quintessential family vehicle is on the comeback trail. But the first three models are of particular interest this year.
2018 Buick Regal Tour X
Reputations die hard, and Buick’s association with the more mature set has been especially difficult to shake. But if any vehicle can do the trick, it’s the stylish Regal Tour X, which has about as much in common with Grandpa’s Roadmaster as an iPhone does with a pay phone.
Although Buick’s been moving in a more cosmopolitan direction for years now, it may still surprise many that the Tour X, like its sedan predecessor, is derived from the rather sporting Euro-market Opel Insignia. Under the hood, every Regal Tour X will be motivated by GM’s familiar 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, rated at 250 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque in this application.
In a nod to rugged rivals such as the Audi Allroad and Subaru Outback, all-wheel drive will come standard as will crossover-inspired plastic wheel arches and a little extra ground clearance. Inside, upscale materials and a sleek dashboard serve notice that the Tour X is more than just a practical family hauler, while its SUV-grade 73.5 cubic feet of maximum cargo space show that it’s got the basics covered, too.
A word of caution, however: The previous Regal sedan consistently ranked near the bottom of its class in Edmunds testing. Will the Regal Tour X turn the page? We’ll find out when it hits the road toward the end of 2017.
2018 Volvo V90
Volvo’s stylists are putting on a clinic these days, starting with the high-end XC90 SUV and continuing with the S90 executive sedan and the freshly redesigned 2018 XC60 compact crossover. Arguably even more beautiful is the new 2018 V90 wagon, based on the S90 and presented as a less steroidal alternative to the V90 Cross Country that debuted last year.
If trail-busting looks and skills aren’t on your gotta-have-it list, the standard V90 will likely seem refreshingly down-to-earth. Low and long, with an unabashed preference for high-speed transit, it’s a throwback to the elegant European wagons of yesteryear. You can order it with a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine (250 horsepower), or an upgraded version that’s turbocharged and supercharged (316 hp) for $6,000 more that the starting price. Front-wheel drive is standard with the former, while the latter is all-wheel-drive only.
In the cabin, the V90 pairs understated Swedish luxury with an onslaught of up-to-date technology, including a tablet-like touchscreen that’s both attractive and intuitive. The only real disappointment is cargo capacity that tops out at 53.9 cubic feet, a humble figure given the V90’s significant size. Of course, you might also want Outback-style capability for light-duty trail use, but that’s where the V90 Cross Country comes in.
2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
Luxury cars get all the press, but the attainable, functional and generally delightful Golf SportWagen makes a compelling case for simplicity. Even in its most basic form, this VW may have all you need, including a slick six-speed manual transmission, spunky turbocharged power, strong fuel economy and enough features to keep you connected.
Fancier models unlock extras including a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and start, power seats and advanced safety systems, yet the pricing remains relatively reasonable. No matter which model you choose, you’ll appreciate the 66.5 cubic feet of maximum storage, while the optional all-wheel-drive system means you don’t have to pony up for the similar Golf Alltrack for maximal four-season security.
Just keep in mind that the Alltrack is a must if you want any high-end features along with that security. Unfortunately, Volkswagen only offers all-wheel drive on the 2017 SportWagen’s base S trim level.
There are lots of great crossovers on the market, but it’s good to have options. If you find yourself suffering from SUV fatigue, try switching gears and taking one of these wagons for a spin.
This article was provided to The Associated Press by the car-shopping website Edmunds.com