When it comes to family transportation, utility and economy are two of the biggest factors driving informed purchase decisions. Thus, this handy list of the best fuel economy station wagons might be helpful for those considering such a purchase. Of course these days, only a few station wagons are actually called station wagons anymore, as the term still conjures images of the square 1950’s among many young and hip car buyers. If you are among these groups, it’s OK to call them hatchbacks and crossovers too, so you can feel OK about perusing this list of the best fuel economy station wagons utilitarian models for 2016. By the way, if you’re looking for the one with the absolute best fuel economy, the Kia Soul EV uses no gasoline at all.
Before Audi had SUVs, there was the Audi Allroad Quattro. With it, Audi eased in the back door of the SUV boom with a modified version of its A6 Avant (Audi-speak for Wagon), back in 2001.The company’s engineering team added an adjustable air suspension system to the A6 Avant to increase its ride height. For this current version of the Allroad, Audi used the A4 platform instead. The 2016 Audi allroad goes into the new model year with but minor changes to its roster of equipment. Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine capable of 220 horsepower and 258 ft-lbs of torque. The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and, of course, Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system. Fuel economy is rated at 24 mpg overall. Pricing starts at $42,700.
BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon
This small station wagon comes with all of the driving pleasure of BMW’s highly vaunted 3 Series model well in place. In fact, the 2016 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon is so good, the company doesn’t worry much about including the word wagon in the model’s name. Offered with a choice of gasoline or diesel power, the 3 Series Sports Wagon uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine in both instances. The gasoline-fired powerplant is good for 240 horsepower and 255 ft-lbs of torque, and up to 27 mpg overall. With diesel power, the wagon enjoys 180 horsepower, 280 ft-lbs of torque and up to 36 mpg overall. An eight-speed automatic transmission is used in each case, as well as all-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $42,650 with the gasoline engine and $44,150 with the diesel.
The 2016 FIAT 500L, the spunky little 500 Coupe’s larger sibling, debuted for the 2014 model year. Of course larger, in this case, is a relative term. Regardless of its size though, the Fiat 500L qualifies as one of the best fuel economy station wagons. Power comes from a 160-horsepower, 1.4-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with 180 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed manual transmission feeds the front wheels as standard equipment, however a six-speed automated manual is offered as an option, as is a traditional six-speed automatic. Combined fuel economy is rated at 28 mpg with the manual, 27 with the automated manual, and 25 mpg with the new automatic transmission. Other standard features include keyless entry, power accessories, and air-conditioning. Pricing starts at $19,345.
Ford C-Max Hybrid/C-Max Energi
If you’re seriously concerned about your impact on the environment, perhaps you should consider a small station wagon like the 2016 Ford C-Max Hybrid, or its closely related plug-in hybrid C-Max Energi sibling. The powertrain employs a 2.0-liter normally aspirated inline four-cylinder engine, a continuously variable transmission, and an electric motor to produce a total system output of 188 horsepower to feed the front wheels. The EPA says one can expect to travel 40 mpg in combined city and highway driving for the Hybrid’s powertrain and 38 mpg combined for Energi. C-Max Hybrid starts at $27,170; C-Max Energi starts at $31,170.
Mercedes-Benz E350 4MATIC Wagon
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz E350 4MATIC station wagon is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 producing 302 horsepower and 273 ft-lbs of torque. A seven-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive complete the powertrain. Standard features include a power liftgate, a rearview camera, and an old-school rear facing third row seat. Yes, the Mercedes-Benz station wagon is a straight up throwback. Even with all-wheel drive, and all of the luxury features the Mercedes-Benz station wagon affords, it still ranks among the best fuel economy station wagons. The sleekly styled five-door mid-size Mercedes-Benz comes in at 22 miles per gallon overall. Pricing starts at $59,000.
MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4
One of the sportiest models on this list of the best fuel economy station wagons for 2016, MINI’s Cooper S Countryman seats five adults while holding on to that distinctive MINI flavor of “cool." This is quite a feat. What’s more, the Countryman delivers an engaging driving experience, courtesy of the delightful handling for which MINI’s models are well known. For the best price you’ll get the base Countryman, with its 121-horsepower 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine. The front-Drive MINI station wagon returns 29 mpg overall with its standard six-speed manual transmission, and 27 mpg with the optional six-speed automatic. If you need all-wheel drive go Cooper S Countryman ALL4, which enjoys 181 horsepower and 177 ft-lbs of torque from a turbocharged version of the 1.6-liter four. Either way, fuel economy ratings are pretty much the same. Cooper Countryman starts at $22,750; Cooper S Countryman ALL4 starts at $26,100.
Subaru was one of the first car builders whose marketing team realized it could raise the ride height of a wagon and label it a crossover SUV. So yes, the 2016 Subaru Outback is a Legacy station wagon in disguise. Power comes from a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder making 175 horsepower and 174 ft-lbs of torque and feeding all four wheels through a continuously variable transmission. Fuel economy is rated at 28 mpg combined. There’s also a 3.6-liter flat six capable of feeding 256 horsepower and 247 ft-lbs of torque through a CVT to all four wheels, which also qualifies as one of the best fuel economy station wagons with 22-mpg combined. Pricing starts at $24,995.
Toyota Prius V
Based as it is on Toyota’s highly regarded Prius; with its longer wheelbase, the 2016 Toyota Prius V is one of the best fuel economy station wagons for 2016. Power comes from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine teamed with two electric motors, which is then routed to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission. Total system output is 134 horsepower and 153 ft-lbs of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 42 mpg combined. Standard equipment includes keyless entry and start, automatic climate control, heated mirrors, Bluetooth hands-free telephony and audio streaming, cruise control, sliding and reclining rear seats, and a fold flat front passenger seat. Pricing starts at $26,675.
Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E
As much a sporting proposition as a utilitarian one, Volvo’s lovely V60 wagon was clearly built with driving pleasure firmly in mind. The eye-catching Volvo has benefitted mightily from the styling renaissance at Volvo over the last 10 years. Further, given station wagons are typically assigned family hauling duties, in addition to being one of the best fuel economy station wagons for 2016, the Volvo V60 is one of the safest. For the best fuel economy of all, you’ll want to go with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which delivers 240 horsepower, 258 ft-lbs of torque, and 29 mpg combined. Front-wheel drive and an eight–speed automatic transmission complete the powertrain. Pricing starts at $35,950.
Volvo was one of the first manufacturers to elevate the ride height of its mainstream wagon, fit it with protective body cladding, and declare it fit for off road duty—which it very much is. In fact, most people would be shocked to experience the true capabilities of Volvo’s XC70. To see your 2016 Volvo XC70 qualify as one of the best fuel economy station wagons, get it with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which delivers 240 horsepower, 258 ft-lbs of torque, and 29 mpg combined. Front-wheel drive and an eight–speed automatic transmission complete the powertrain. XC70 pricing starts at $37,100.
Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
Volkswagen has no qualms about calling its wagon what it is—a station wagon. But they have gone back and forth over the years about whether it‘s to be called Golf or Jetta. These days, the Golf nameplate gets the nod. Frankly though, it seems as long as they can get the word “Sport” in there, and manage to use the German spelling of the word wagon, the marketing team is happy. Power comes from a 1.8-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine capable of 170 horsepower and 29 mpg with the five-speed manual transmission, and 35 mpg with the optional six-speed automatic. Either way, the Volkswagen Wagen of the best fuel economy station wagons (wagens?) for 2016 uses front-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $21,625. Yes, there is a diesel version of the SportWagen on offer, but that one is caught up in some illegalities until VW can figure out how to make it run clean on the road.