If any vehicle configuration has ever been more unfairly maligned than the station Wagon, we have yet to run across it. Think about it; these days pretty much every family you see is being carted around in some sort of SUV. People seem to think it’s the only way to go. Meanwhile, the best all-wheel drive wagons offer all of the same capability that the vast majority of people require of a sport utility, while returning better fuel economy and being easier to drive. Further, most wagons are better looking, cost less in many cases, are cheaper to insure, and did we mention they’re more fun to drive?
If your activities sometimes involve mild off-road excursions, the Audi allroad may well be all the car you’ll ever need. To accommodate those occasional excursions, Audi’s engineering team raised the ride height of the Allroad to give it 7.1-inches of ground clearance. This, in conjunction with its Quattro all-wheel drive system, gives the Audi an impressive amount of capability on trails. Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 220 horsepower and 258 ft-lbs of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift capability is standard equipment. Other standard features include tri-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, and a power tailgate. Pricing starts at $42,400.
BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon
The BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon harnesses all of the driving pleasure for which the Bavarian marque is well noted and infuses it into a reasonably commodious station wagon body configuration. This, when coupled with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system, delivers outstanding road manners and the utility most families need. Two powerplants are offered; the gasoline-powered turbocharged 2.0-liter fitted to the 328i xDrive Sports Wagon produces 240 horsepower and 255 ft-lbs of torque, while the 328d uses a 180-horsepower 2.0-liter turbodiesel rated at 280 ft-lbs of torque. An eight-speed transmission completes each powertrain. Pricing starts at $41,950 for the 328i, and $43,450 for the 328d Sports Wagon.
The aptly named Ford Flex is one of the most versatile automobiles on the market. So versatile is the Ford, there is considerable discussion as to just which category the model fits. Some say it’s a wagon, others say it’s a crossover SUV, and still others make the case for a minivan. Whatever it is, the Flex is certainly good at it. Power comes from a 3.5-liter V6 making 287 horsepower and 254 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is the standard offering. To get an all-wheel drive powertrain you’ll opt for the Flex SEL or Limited trim levels. Pricing starts at $33,850 for Flex SEL with all-wheel drive.
Comfortable, quiet, luxurious, and finished with high quality materials, the Lincoln MKT builds upon the versatility of its Ford Flex cousin. What’s more, Lincoln didn’t skimp on high tech features for its station wagon. Standard kit includes adaptive xenon headlights, Sync voice command, mobile WiFi, a rearview camera, a power rear liftgate, and keyless entry and ignition. Options include self-parking, heated and ventilated rear seats, and smart cruise control. To get all-wheel drive with the Lincoln MKT, you’ll order the optional EcoBoost 365-horsepower turbocharged V6 with 350 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission completes the powertrain. Pricing for the Lincoln MKT V6 EcoBoost AWD starts at $45,045.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class 4MATIC Wagon
Mercedes-Benz makes no bones about calling its station wagon a wagon. Further, both Mercedes station wagon models offered here in the U.S. use all-wheel drive. The E350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 producing 302 horsepower and 273 ft-lbs of torque; a seven-speed automatic transmission completes the powertrain. The other engine offering is an awe-inspiring handbuilt 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 for the E63 AMG 4Matic Wagon. This one makes 577 horsepower and 590 ft-lbs of torque. A seven-speed transmission is fitted here too, but the unit employs a multiplate clutch pack rather than a torque converter. Pricing starts at $59,000 for the E350 and $103,200 for the E63 AMG.
Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4
Mini’s Cooper S Countryman seats five adults while holding on to that distinctive Mini flavor of “cool”—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. To get all-wheel drive, you’ll go with the Cooper S Countryman ALL4, which enjoys 181 horsepower and 177 ft-lbs of torque from a turbocharged 1.6-liter four. If that’s not enough for you, go with the all-wheel drive John Cooper Works Countryman’s 208 horsepower and 192 ft-lbs of torque. Cooper S Countryman ALL4 starts at $26,100, while the John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4 starts at $35,350.
Bridging the divide between crossover SUV and station wagon, the Subaru Outback is a great choice for active families who are into outdoor recreational activities. Outback offers better than average off road capabilities and yet it is a very comfortable way to go about your daily driving as well. Power comes from either a 2.5-liter horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine making 173 horsepower and 174 ft-lbs of torque feeding all four wheels through either a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable transmission; or a 3.6-liter horizontally-opposed six capable of feeding 256 horsepower and 247 ft-lbs of torque through a five-speed automatic—also to all four wheels. Pricing starts at $24,895.
Like Ford’s Flex, there’s disagreement over which category type Venza fits into. So, for these purposes, we’re calling it a wagon. Toyota offers Venza with all-wheel drive regardless of your trim choice, or engine selection. This means you can get an all-wheel drive Venza with the 181-horsepower 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine and 182 ft-lbs of torque, or with the 3.5-liter V6 producing 268 horsepower and 246 ft-lbs of torque. Both engines are teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include automatic headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, and heated exterior mirrors. Venza all-wheel drive pricing starts at $30,365.
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. And fit it is; most people would be shocked to experience the true capabilities of Volvo’s XC70. Two powerplants are offered with all-wheel drive. The XC70 3.2 uses a 240-horsepower 3.2-liter inline six with 236 ft-lbs of torque. The XC70 T6 runs a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six with 300 horsepower and 325 ft-lbs of torque. Both use six-speed automatic transmissions. XC70 3.2 pricing starts at $37,350, while T6 pricing starts at $41,800.
Volvo V60 T6 R-Design AWD
As much a sporting proposition as a utilitarian one, Volvo’s lovely V60 T6 R-Design AWD wagon was clearly built with driving pleasure firmly in mind. The fluidly undulating styling, the large wheels and aggressive looking low-profile tires, along with the tastefully subtle aerodynamic tweaks, all add up to a promise of exhilarating performance. The 325-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine with 354 ft-lbs of torque keeps that promise. A six-speed automatic transmission routes the engine’s output to all four wheels. Volvo quotes a zero to 60 of 5.4 seconds. Pricing starts at $45,150.