AA Buyer's Guide: Road-trip ready station wagons
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If you’re in the market for a family vehicle, you probably have more choice in 2020 than ever before. SUVs are available in abundance in NZ; but while these are incredibly popular, there are still those motorists who prefer the traditional station wagon.
Close your eyes and cast your mind back to the road trips of yesteryear. Perhaps you were behind the wheel of a Holden Kingswood or Ford Falcon station wagon on your way to the family bach, roaring up the Mangamuka hills with the family and luggage in tow.
While they may not be as popular as they once were, station wagons are still alive and well in NZ.
WHY CHOOSE A WAGON?
Station wagons are naturally bigger compared to their regular saloon siblings, offering larger cabin and boot space.
This is particularly useful for those who have a large family and often find themselves taking long journeys. Even small station wagons have enough room to accommodate big and cumbersome luggage for a road trip.
Station wagons generally have large tailgates, which makes loading your luggage a breeze. Compared with a sedan or hatch, you don’t need to worry as much about the bumper being scratched or placing luggage in awkward positions. Some models also have the benefit of hands-free opening.
- Low centre of gravity
They may look like an SUV, but they’re not anywhere near as high, which in turn offers much better handling. People conscious of driving dynamics won’t feel much of a difference from a sedan.
- Fuel economy
When it comes to fuel economy, a wagon’s aerodynamic shape gives it an edge over a crossover or SUVs. The wagon shape doesn't usually add too much weight either, so performance (again) is very close to a sedan.
WHAT’S ON THE MARKET?
While some manufacturers have replaced station wagons with more popular SUVs, there are still many available to buy from new. Here are some examples.
Subaru Levorg from $57,990
Subaru is a brand historically known to produce some great station wagons for motorists who want great performance without losing practicality. The Levorg is the successor to the much-loved Legacy GT wagon, and is now the last station wagon in the Japanese marque’s range.
You don’t have to choose between style, space and performance – this turbocharged sports wagon is the total package. With a 2.0l turbocharged boxer engine producing 197kW of power, there’s no doubting the Levorg's abilities on the road. It also boasts a very generous storage capacity of 522l.
Mazda6 Takami wagon from $57,995
The Mazda6 wagon could be considered a family favorite, and many buyers are no doubt drawn to the Kodo “Soul of Motion” design philosophy, which results in a very fluid design aesthetic.
Not only is it a good-looking wagon on the outside; Mazda has also paid particular attention to the interior with sumptuous Nappa leather in the Takami wagon. To make the journey even more enjoyable, the Mazda Connect system allows you to access online content through a compatible smartphone.
The Skyactiv-G 2.5 turbo petrol engine produces 170kW and is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The seats-up storage is 506l.
Audi A4 Avant 40 TFSI S from $79,500
If you’re after a refined European model and have a considerably larger budget, then look no further than the Audi A4 Avant, which combines countless thoughtful touches for road trips.
Navigating to your destination is easy with Audi’s “Virtual Cockpit”, which replaces the standard dash with an interactive 12.3-inch display.
If the 495l luggage capacity isn’t enough, Audi offers genuine roof box accessories to maximise the gear you can carry. The boxes are lockable and can be opened from both sides for easy loading and unloading.
This wagon delivers SUV-like space in a low slung package, and with the 2.0l TFSI engine producing 140kW, there is ample power available at all times. If that’s not quite enough, you can upgrade to the quattro S line which offers 180kW/370Nm. Both models use the 7-speed S tronic transmission which makes for a superb driving experience.