Before hatchbacks, SUVs and crossovers arrived on the scene, entrepreneurs bought big station wagons for their cargo and passenger needs. General motors' models were among the bestsellers, but with Detroit's automakers now combining elements of SUVs with wagons (think Chevrolet's HHR and Dodge's PT Cruiser) and Ford opting to focus on sedans, it's up to the Europeans to continue building the classic station wagon. These three 2007 models, in three price ranges, are road-warrior-oriented with power outlets, reading lamps, lockable glove boxes and lots of cargo space accessed from wide-opening tailgates.
Volkswagen debuts its 2007 wide-track Passat Wagon with a turbocharged engine that, for a midsize model, provides plenty of pulling power. With an optional larger engine, the wagon can be equipped with 4Motion all-wheel drive. Three power outlets, extra air bags, a coolable glove box, central power locks, fully reclining lumbar support seats and a split fold-flat rear bench are all standard. Maximum trunk space: 35.8 cubic feet. Price: $25,225. MPG: 19 city/28 highway.
Volvo's all-wheel drive, all-season 2007 XC70 2.5T has instant traction control and a self-regulating stability system that adjusts chassis settings, which is reassuring when carrying heavy loads. Along with Volvo's reputation for longevity and durability, the XC70 seats five passengers and adds many state-of-the-art safety features that could lower insurance premiums. Option packages include rear parking assist. Maximum trunk space: 71.4 cubic feet. Price: $36,420. MPG: 19 city/ 24 highway.
Mercedes-Benz's E-Class wagons are perennially popular, and the 2007 E350 4Matic version has elegance, style, practicality and exceptional handling and control, thanks to all-wheel drive. The wagon can pack in seven passengers. Major features include a power tailgate, glass sunroof and a safety system that can sense obstacles and take preventive measures before a crash occurs. Maximum trunk space: 68.9 cubic feet. Price: about $56,575. MPG: 18 city/24 highway.
JillAmadio is an award-winning automotive journalist and author.