The station wagon was once a common sight on Australian roads, but recent years have seen sales slow down. Family buyers now prefer to spend their hard-earned cash on SUVs and commercial buyers get greater practicality from a ute.
But the station wagon is not dead yet. A handful of manufacturers, mostly European, still sell wagons, and some of them are pretty good. And with gas prices increasing at a frightening rate, now may be a good time to think about getting back into a wagon.
So here, in no particular order, is our list of the 7 best station wagons available in Australia today:
1. Audi A6 Allroad
The Audi A6 Allroad is not new to Australia, but early versions have never been what you would call handsome. That changed with the launch of the C8 in 2020, which gained rugged good looks that better complement its six-figure price tag.
The latest version also comes better equipped, with more than $15,000 worth of equipment fitted as standard over the previous C7 model. That includes a set of sexy 20-inch alloy wheels and a luxury trim package that includes a host of safety equipment.
On the road, there is no mistaking this as a premium product. The ride is sumptuously smooth and power delivery from the silky V6 engine is sublime. The Quattro AWD system also does a good job of keeping all that power planted on the tarmac.
Great V6 engines
Superb build quality
Cargo space is quite small
The infotainment system is outdated
Expensive to buy and run
2. Volkswagen Passat Alltrack
The Volkswagen Passat has never been that popular in Australia. Buyers in this price bracket prefer SUVs and the Passat has never had a reputation for being an exciting car to drive.
But if you can overlook the dull image, the new Passat Alltrack makes for a very accomplished family car. Smaller and easier to drive than an SUV, but with a huge well equipped interior and carnivorous boot, there isn’t any reason to buy an SUV over one of these.
You’ll especially love the Passat if you drive long distances. The adaptive suspension provides an ultra-smooth ride and the engines are refined and quiet at motorway speeds. The interior is also solidly built with quality materials used throughout. This feels like an Audi but without the six-figure price tag.
Excellent ride quality
Spacious well-equipped cabin
Large cargo space
Outdated infotainment system
3. Subaru Outback
The Subaru Outback is marketed as a large SUV, but this is more of a jacked-up station wagon than an all-out SUV. And that’s what makes it special because the Outback drives like a regular car but still has decent off-road performance.
With prices starting at just under $40,000, the Outback represents outstanding value for money. The car comes with a rugged AWD system connected to a CVT transmission, which makes for a very refined driving experience both on and off-road.
The recently updated model also comes well equipped with the latest safety technology, but we found some of the driver aids to be a little overzealous. All things considered, this is a great family car that has all the benefits of an SUV and none of the drawbacks.
Off-Road capability with car-like handling
Expensive running costs
Overzealous driver aids
4. Skoda Superb Scout
The Superb Scout is Skoda’s take on the VW Passat. Both cars are built on the same platform and share petrol engines and gearboxes, so there isn't much to choose between them.
Inside you get a spacious well-equipped cabin and carnivorous boot that can hold up to 1950L with the seats folded. This is more than a match for all but the largest SUVs. The cabin also has a solid premium feel that is not overdone but feels well put together.
On the road, the Superb Scout is much like the Passat, with a smooth refined ride that makes for effortless long-distance driving. The only downside is the lack of diesel engines in the line-up and the infotainment system which desperately needs an upgrade.
Excellent ride quality
Large cargo carry capacity
No diesel option
Not that well equipped
Outdated infotainment system
5. Volvo V60 Cross Country
Volvo started the lifted station wagon craze when it launched the Volvo V70 back in 1998. The latest generation V60 takes the format to the next level by offering more refinement and driver enjoyment than ever before.
The V60 Cross Country is a good looking car with its sleek body, flared wheel arches and massive 21-inch wheels. Inside, the interior feels solidly put together and being a Volvo, it comes equipped with all the latest safety features as standard.
On the road, the Volvo isn’t as refined as the VW Passat or Skoda Superb. The ride is on the firm side and off-road performance cannot be described as anything more than adequate, but this is a great allrounder that offers good value and refinement.
Great looking car
Lots of safety kit
Slightly firm ride
Not as dynamic as some cars here
The interior is not as spacious as you might think
6. Mazda 6 Wagon
The Mazda 6 Wagon is the Japanese manufacturer's sole offering in the station wagon space these days. Launched back in 2007, the Mazda 6 is getting long in the tooth now but old doesn't have to mean bad.
The Mazda 6 is a great handling car that comes well equipped, especially when you consider its sub $40,000 price tag. And like all Mazda’s, it handles great on Australia’s rough and twisty roads, but a lack of AWD means off-road performance is limited.
Inside the cabin has plenty of room, but it looks and feels a little dated now—especially the infotainment system which lacks some of the latest features. But the cargo area is huge and there is no doubting this car represents excellent value for money.
Great ride and handling
Large cargo area
Getting long in the tooth now
The infotainment system feels outdated
Not as fast as it looks
7. Mini Cooper Clubman
In a list of mundane family wagons, this last option is a bit of fun. While not as spacious as the other cars here, the Clubman does have a usefully sized cargo area that makes it a compelling choice as a family car.
While you might think of the Mini as a small car, the latest version has grown quite a bit. You can easily fit a family of four and the family dog inside. So if you are looking for a fun family car that is still practical, the Mini Cooper Clubman is a perfect fit.
But handling is the real reason to buy a Mini. This car is so much fun to drive that you look forward to getting in it. The handling is crisp, the ride is firm, but not uncomfortable, and the turbocharged engines provide good performance.
Style is not for everyone
Lacks some modern tech
Not exactly cheap
As you can see, the station wagon is still alive and well in the Australian market. While there is less choice than there used to be, buyers still have a wide choice of vehicles to choose from in all budgets.
So if you are looking for a car that is big enough to haul the family on a two-week road trip, but small and nimble enough to drive around town, then a station wagon could be right up your street.
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