It's OK to drive a station wagon again. The tip-off: many vehicle designers have recently crossed SUVs with wagon styling, easing away from the high-center-of-gravity and truck-platformed SUV toward the lower, car-based wagon. Entrepreneurs, in particular, can benefit from the new vehicles. Weighing less than a truck for better fuel economy and providing more cargo area than a sedan, most 2005 station wagons are classy workhorses.
The most interesting is Dodge's Magnum, a massive, full-size wagon with an optional HEMI 340-horsepower V-8 engine (standard is a V-6), all-speed traction control, and a front end that looks like a Bentley. An imposing sight, the muscled-up, five-passenger Magnum has a rear liftgate, provides 71.6 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded down, and is surprisingly base-priced at $21,870. Transmission is a four-speed automatic with the V-6 and a five-speed manual transmission with the V-8 HEMI.
Volvo's V70 is a luxury wagon with all-wheel drive in four versions, starting at $28,760. With a 165-horsepower five-cylinder base engine and a five-speed manual transmission, rear parking assistance system, and several air bags, the V70 is one of the safest wagons on the road. A handsome vehicle with no-nonsense styling, it provides 71.5 cubic feet of cargo room.
If you need less trunk space and want more pizazz, then check out the 9-2x Linear, the smaller, all-wheel-drive wagon from Saab-it sports a rear roof spoiler. The interior has 61.6 cubic feet of cargo space. As part of Saab's new 9-2x series, the Linear is a snappy wagon with a 165-horsepower four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission. Other features include a rear window wiper/washer, a split-folding rear seat, remote central locking and optional heated front seats; prices start at $22,990.
Other wagons worth checking out are Audi's A4 Avant, Mercedes-Benz's E-Class and the Ford Taurus Wagon.
Editor and consultant Jill Amadio has been reporting on the automotive industry for 26 years.