The good old station wagon might have gone underground ever since minivans took over the passenger carrier duty in the U.S. during the mid-eighties, but they haven’t disappeared completely. Domestic manufacturers have tried marketing an old-fashioned wagon here and there, but without much success. However, thanks to foreign car makers (mainly Germans and Swedes), we still get the opportunity to buy a modern station wagon or two every once in a while.
As if minivans weren’t enough of a competition, the last decade or so saw an increased rise in SUV diversity and demand, too. Large family-hauling crossovers are doing to minivans what the minivans themselves did to station wagons once upon a time.
Whatever happens in the following years, no automotive industry’s trend has ever managed to establish itself as a permanent solution. While we patiently await for the change to happen and for one of our domestic automakers to offer a fully-fledged wagon within their portfolio, let’s take a look at the best 2020 wagons that are heading our way.
07. 2020 Subaru Outback
The Legacy-based Subaru Outback is one of the most obvious choices when it comes to modern-day station wagons. The Japanese themselves will try to sell you one under the pretense of it being a crossover SUV, but the Outback is really just a plain old-fashioned station wagon with some extra ground clearance. In spite of that, the Outback offers better off-road capabilities than most true crossovers and SUVs.
The Legacy sedan upon which the Outback is based has been fully revised for MY 2020, and the Outback itself has followed suit. This comes as no surprise considering the outgoing fifth-gen Outback was introduced back in 2015 and all. The all-new model made its debut at the 2019 New York auto show.
With a minimum of 8.7 inches of ground clearance, the 2020 Subaru Outback is now even more competent while carrying people and their cargo around some less than ideal roads. Especially since it builds upon the 2019-year model which started offering standard adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and lane-keeping assist straight from the entry-level models.
Unlike before, the new car offers a duo of four-cylinder engines. The base 2.5L flat-four carries over, but is now good enough for 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque (7 hp and 2 lb-ft improvement) which is fine in the city, but fully loaded Outbacks will still get choked quite easily on open highways despite the improvements.
An optional 3.6L flat-six has finally been retired, and instead, the sixth-generation Subaru Outback pulls the Accent’s 2.4L turbo four with 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. Furthermore, the new optional engine saves fuel at a pace of 5 mpg overall compared to the outgoing flat-six. It’s rated at 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. The four-cylinder returns better still 26/33 mpg.
Despite some obvious shortcomings, the Subaru Outback is still one of the best wagons available out there. It’s a unique vehicle in many ways and buyers have recognized that, which is evident by the Outback’s recent sales charts. More than 180,000 people have taken one home in both 2016 and 2017 (with 2018 figures coming 1,500 units short of that mark), making it the best-selling vehicle in the Japanese automaker’s portfolio.
06. 2020 Audi A4 Allroad
While the rest of the world enjoyed a full range of Audi Avant and Allroad station wagons in sizes up to A6, and performance levels up to RS6, the U.S. market buyers had to remain content with the comparably smaller and less powerful A4 Allroad (not any more, but more on that later). Smaller and not quite as punchy it may be, but the A4 Allroad is anything but a mediocre car. It provides reliable and very capable all-weather transportation, although it’s not that great when sidetracked from the main roads as its name would suggest.
Moreover, the Audi A4 wagon offers a more-than-adequate 58.5 cubic feet of cargo space and a cushioned ride, but the latter is something we’ve come to expect from the Germans anyway. Considering how the current-generation models date back to MY 2016, it’s not surprising that the entire A4 range had received a mid-cycle makeover for MY 2020.
Speaking of which, the 2020 Audi A4 Allroad doesn’t only get revised front and rear fascias, but a remodeled profile as well. However, the interior remains mostly unchanged and that goes for the hovering infotainment tablet screen as well.
Prices have remained mostly in check, however, hence the 2020 A4 Allroad still starts from around $45,000.
The Audi A4 Allroad, of course, offers a Quattro setup, albeit slightly different than a conventional one. This revised system can send torque to either just the front or all four wheels depending on necessity.
A 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that’s delivering 252 ponies and 273 pound-feet of rotational force is just right for the 3,825 -pounder and its 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox works like a charm. The A4 Allroad also offers adaptive dampers even in the entry-level models.
05. 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country
The second-generation Volvo V60 has only recently made its debut in the U.S. and the Swedish car manufacturer has bolstered the conventional wagon’s lineup with a more rugged Cross Country model less than a year later. We won’t be able to buy one before MY 2020, however.
This mid-range dynamic station wagon duo represents a fusion of what Volvo used to stand for a decade or so ago and beyond, and what they stand for today. Although their current lineup is much less wagon-oriented, and especially much less boxy than it used to be, the V60 and V60 Cross Country still easily rank among the best 2020 wagons money can buy.
The differences between the two are subtle, but still noticeable to a keen eye. The Cross Country V60 sports 2.9 inches of added ground clearance, together with chassis and suspension upgrades. A special Off-Road driving mode finds itself among the differences as well, but the rest of the available features are largely the same.
The Cross Country will be slightly more expensive than the conventional V60 which starts from around $40,000. The Cross Country requires additional $5,000 or so.
At its inauguration, the 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country is being offered exclusively in the base T5 AWD trim. More specifically, it sports a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine good enough for 250 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque as its sole offering. Later on, the T5 will be joined by the T6 and T8 variants which throw in an extra supercharger and electric motor respectively. As its name would suggest, the V60 Cross Country T5 AWD sports a mandatory all-wheel-drive system which gets fed by an 8-speed automatic gearbox.
If you’re unsure whether the V60 Cross Country is a perfect fit for you, it’s always available through the Care by Volvo subscription program. This monthly ownership plan includes insurance and maintenance, so you don’t have to worry about anything if you decide you’d rather have a crossover or an altogether different make instead.
04. 2020 Audi RS6 Avant
The wait is finally over as the mighty Audi RS6 Avants roll in the dealership lots across the U.S. One of the most coveted performance station wagons has never been available on this side of the Atlantic but wagon aficionados can finally rejoice as that’s all in the past now.
Although it shares the same platform as the A6 sedan upon which it’s built, the RS6 Avant also provides plenty of differences that go beyond the obvious. Like all RS-badged performance cars from Audi, the Avant too gets a more aggressive-looking frontal fascia with mesh grille, different badging, and larger air intakes. Not to mention the larger wheels and tires.
Being the most expensive model in the lineup and starting from a whopping $113,000, the RS6 Avant obviously offers a rich and tech-savvy interior. Even the adaptive cruise control is listed among standard pieces of equipment and so are other driver’s aids. To boot, the largest Audi wagon also offers 59 cubic feet of cargo space. Although that isn’t a class-leading figure, it’s more than good for a luxury car of its pedigree.
The most important bit of the 2020 Audi RS6 Avant is its heart, of course. Pumping up 591 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of twist, it surpasses everything the four-ring brand has been offering up until now. One wouldn’t expected anything less from a 4.0L twin-turbo V8 with a mild-hybrid 48-volt system as an assistant.
Although it still falls short of being the most powerful station wagon on the U.S. market, the Audi RS6 Avant does its job more than admirably. It’s definitely there in the mix with the Mercedes-Benz AMG E 63 S and it’ll be interesting to see how the fight for supremacy between the two unfolds from now on.
03. 2020 Mercedes-Benz E Class
The E Class is one of the last not yet redesigned Mercedes-Benz models having last time been reworked in 2016. While the vast majority of the Mercedes-Benz lineup got updated during MY 2019, the E Class had skipped 2019 and carried over unchanged which is understandable considering it arrived later than most models affected by the aforementioned facelift.
Internally labeled the S213 (W213’s are sedans), the fifth-generation E Class is being freshened up for MY 2020. It’s already one of the most beautiful and most practical wagons available on the market, hence we expect limited revisions to the exterior.
Considering the E Class wagons come with loads of safety and tech gear and unparalleled interior luxury, they represent a perfect combination of luxury and practicality that, however, comes at a price. The conventional E 450 wagon starts from around $63,000, whereas the high-performance AMG E 63 S costs a whopping $107,000 to begin with.
The entry-level E 450 wagons are powered by a 3.0L twin-turbocharged V6 engine that’s good enough for 362 ponies and 369 pound-feet of rotating force. They’re also offered with a mandatory 4Matic all-wheel drive and a contemporary 9-speed automatic transmission.
The AMG E 63 S, on the other hand, sports a much more potent 4.0L twin-turbo V8 under its hood. The larger engine is capable of putting up as much as 603 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque which allows the 4,700-pounder to gallop to 60 mph from a standing start in an impressive 3.4 seconds. It also makes it the most powerful (conventional) station wagon currently available on the U.S. market.
Atop of that, the E Class Wagons offer up to 64 cubic feet of cargo storage with second and third row folded, whereas they’re still good for 35 cu ft with all seats up. All of the E Class wagon’s specs are remaining unchanged for MY 2020 as they surely don’t lack anything.
02. 2020 Buick Regal TourX
The TourX version of the Buick Regal is the last of the dying breed called American-made wagons, despite being introduced only recently. It’s actually the last currently available U.S.-made station wagon on the market, and one of the few remaining choices overall. Hadn’t GM decided to rebadge the Euro-spec Opel Insignia Country Tourer and import it from Germany, we wouldn’t have even had that.
Despite having a few notable shortcomings like a sub-par interior build quality and less-than-inspiring driving dynamics, the Regal TourX is still a fine choice when it comes to station wagons thanks to its class-leading 73.5 cubic feet of cargo space with folded seats and a relatively affordable starting price compared to its much more expensive German counterparts.
The Buick Regal TourX starts from just over $29,000 before the extras whereas a number of its competitors cost at least 50 percent more. Being introduced during MY 2018, the all-new sixth-generation Regal TourX doesn’t feature any significant changes for MY 2020. What’s more, this might be its last year on the market as Buick is evidently shifting its focus towards crossovers.
One of the TourX’s most disappointing bits is a lack of diversity when it comes to powertrain options. There’s a 2.0L turbocharged LTG 4-cylinder with 250 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque under the hood, and that’s basically it.
The U.S.-built four-banger was initially tied to a Japanese Aisin-sourced 8-speed automatic transmission and comes with a mandatory all-wheel-drive setup like most station wagons out there these days. The Aisin unit has been the subject of many complaints recently and GM admitted they’re only using it as a temporary measure before their own 9-speed gearbox becomes ready. The 2019-year models had retained that very same setup which refuses to downshift properly, but the 2020 Buick Regal TourX hasn’t rectified the issue which further speaks about Buick’s intention to let it die on the vine.
01. 2020 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
The Sport Turismo is practically only a fancy designation for a “station wagon” in the Stuttgart-based automaker’s jargon. However, the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo isn’t your run-of-the-mill wagon. It’s hardly beautiful considering every Panamera is an oddball, but the wagon variant simply takes the cake. Moreover, it’s hardly as practical as most of its competitors as well, since it sports only 18 cu ft of storage space with the seats up or 49 cubes of space with the rear seats folded. These figures drop even further to 15/46 cu ft in plug-in hybrid models.
Yet, the Panamera wagon delivers on other fronts. As its Porsche heritage, and certainly its name (Sport Turismo) would suggest, the Panamera station wagon delivers a striking performance and more than enjoyable driving dynamics. However, like any Panamera, the Sport Turismo, too, emphasizes comfort rather than a truly sporty ride, so don’t expect any 911-like corner-shredding capabilities.
Speaking of performance, the second-generation Porsche Panamera offers a number of different tunes for its already rich selection of available powertrains. The entry-level Panamera 4 Sport Turismo gets a 3.0L turbocharged V6 mill capable of producing 330 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque, whereas the 4S models squeeze out 440 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque out of a more potent 2.9L twin-turbo V6 mill. The Panamera Turbo powered by a 4.0L twin-turbocharged V8 sits atop the conventional pantheon with as much as 550 hp and 467 lb-ft of twist.
That’s not all since the Turbo S E-hybrid Sport Turismo wagon makes a whopping 680 ponies and 626 lb-ft of torque thanks to a large twin-turbo V8 and an electric motor combination. There’s also a scaled down (in terms of power) version of the hybrid Panamera wagon dubbed the 4 E-Hybrid which uses a smaller twin-turbo V6 and an electric motor for a net output that amounts to 462 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque.
All considered, the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo might not be the most practical of 2020 wagons, but it’s definitely the most luxurious and most powerful (if fitted properly) station wagon currently available on the U.S. market.