Racing Stations: The 10 Best Sport Wagons

Photo: Ferrari FF

Station wagons – or, as many prefer, shooting brakes – get a pretty bad rap in the car world. And that’s probably the fault of automotive companies over the years, who primarily used them as a disappointing family-friendly platform. As it turns out, however, not all wagons need be relegated to Griswold-esque, 2.5-children-and-a-dog, white picket fence kinds of driving. Look hard enough and you’ll find some that have a bit more bite to them.

Sport wagons, as we will refer to them throughout this article, are not milquetoast family road trip vehicles at their core. Rather, they’re the kind of thing you might drive to and from work daily, but with a darker mean streak just waiting to be unleashed and the push of the gas pedal. They’re unassuming adventure-ready vehicles – road-going speedsters in some cases, off-road stallions in others. And, as such, they deserve more respect than your average wagon. With that in mind, we’ve put together the following list of the 10 best sport wagons you can drive off the lot today.

Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

While the standard Golf models certainly fit more into the “hatchback” category, the Alltrack is a sport wagon through and through. And yes, there is a VW SportWagen, which very literally fits into the same category – we just like what the Alltrack has to offer a bit better. Those offerings, by the way, include a turbo engine, all-wheel drive, an off-road driving mode, and even more if you like any of the optional upgrades. Keep in mind, the whole model range comes with the same under-the-hood performance, so if you want to bump up to one of the higher-priced trims, you’re paying for cosmetic and non-performance technological upgrades.

MPG (City/Highway): 22/32
Horsepower: 170
Engine: 1.8L 4-Cylinder

Purchase: $25,850+

Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback – which is inarguably the best wagon-style adventure vehicle you can drive off the lot – has a good number of trim upgrades, including two that get you a 256-horsepower Boxer engine under the hood. And you could definitely make the argument that either would be considered the best Outback sport wagon option. But, we posit that you just can’t go wrong even with the base model, in this case. The Outback, simply put, bleeds adventure – even the lowliest in the range has symmetrical all-wheel drive – and that makes any of them worthy of being on this list.

MPG (City/Highway): 25/32
Horsepower: 175-256
Engine: 2.5L 4-Cylinder, 3.6L 6-Cylinder

Purchase: $25,895+

Buick Regal TourX

When it comes to adventure and performance, we doubt anyone thinks of the name Buick. But, with the introduction of their Regal TourX, maybe it’s time to start. This wagon ain’t your daddy’s LeSabre; it’s another beast entirely. The TourX boasts a 250-horsepower turbocharged engine capable of producing 295 foot-pounds of torque. Yes, in a Buick. It also has all-wheel drive, integrated roof racks with available cross bars for all your camping and outdoor gear, and a whole mess of upgrade options. We’re not sure where the brand got the kind of moxie you’d need to make a shooting brake like this one, but we are very glad they did.

MPG (Highway): 29
Horsepower: 250
Engine: 2.0L 4-Cylinder

Purchase: $29,070+

Mini Clubman John Cooper Works All4

While, to some purists, expanding the Mini vehicle line into more standard size options was blasphemous, it’s become abundantly clear that the brand doesn’t intend to reel it in. And, with offerings like the Clubman John Cooper Works All4, we don’t particularly want them to. This 6-door wagon features all of the brand’s signature style cues, but also has some built-in surprises, like 228 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque via a TwinPower turbo engine. And while the car’s namesake is no longer around to see it, we can’t imagine that this car wouldn’t put a smile on his face.

MPG (City/Highway): 23/31
Horsepower: 228
Engine: 2.0L 4-Cylinder

Purchase: $35,900+

Audi A4 Allroad

If you like the thought of an incredibly capable wagon-style vehicle, but you just want a little bit of luxury to go along with it, then you can turn to the german coach-makers at Audi. This shooting brake has some pretty sweet accessories, including a very cool fully-digital 12.3″ instrument display – which can show you everything from your speed and gas levels, to navigation and audio options. And, to pair perfectly with the plush interior, the performance is killer, as well – including a 0-60 time of 5.9 seconds. Not half-bad for a 2-liter four-cylinder. Just remember, all the trim options offer the same under-the-hood performance.

MPG (City/Highway): 22/30
Horsepower: 252
Engine: 2.0L 4-Cylinder

Purchase: $44,500+

BMW 3 Series 330i xDrive Sports Wagon

The 3 Series range of vehicles might be the most consistently good throughout the history of BMW as a brand. At the very least, they are the most accessible. So it makes sense that their sport wagon would fall under the range. And while they do have two trim offerings, the 330i is by far the better of the two from a performance standpoint. That being said, the diesel-driven 328d is nothing to scoff at economically. Still, when we are talking sport wagons, drivability is a heavily-weighted factor, hence the 330i winning out in the end.

MPG (City/Highway): 23/33
Horsepower: 248
Engine: 2.0L 4-Cylinder

Purchase: $44,650+

Volvo V60 Polestar

Over the last couple decades, Volvo heavily branded their entire catalogue as the family-friendly alternative to other brands’ performance-driven options. And that way of thinking about the brand has remained largely in-tact around the world. Interestingly enough, they do have a few high-performance vehicles – courtesy of their Polestar in-house tuning offshoot – which serve to shatter that outlook. Even more interestingly, one of them is a wagon. The V60 Polestar is the prime example of a sport wagon, shooting brake, or whatever else you want to call it. Unfortunately, 2018 is the last year this particular model will be made, so it’s your last chance to get one brand new. On the upside, that also makes it a much more exclusive car, as this year’s run is extremely limited.

MPG (City/Highway): 20/27
Horsepower: 362
Engine: 2.0L 4-Cylinder

Purchase: $61,600+

Jaguar XF S Sportbrake

Jaguar has, for a very long time, managed a delicate balance between class and aggression in their vehicles. And their mastery of that balance is abundantly apparent in their XF S Sportbrake. This sport wagon has some very slick and refined styling, which is betrayed only by the beastly supercharged V8 underneath the hood – that is, unless you’ve got a discerning enough eye to notice the attitude cues, like bright-red brake calipers, a grille flanked by dual air intakes, and an almost shark-like body lines. Well done, Jaguar.

MPG: 19/27
Horsepower: 380
Engine: 3.0L 6-Cylinder

Purchase: $70,450+

Mercedes-Benz AMG E 63 S Wagon

Mercedes-Benz thinks that their AMG E 63 S Wagon “might be the most extreme, irrational and irresistible wagon ever conceived. Or the most practical, versatile supercar on earth.” And, honestly, we are inclined to agree. While it’s styling is sleek and refined, there’s a monster under the hood of this car just waiting to be unleashed. Thanks to a V8 racked with a pair of twin-scroll turbos, this deceptive driver can do 0-60 in 3.4 break-neck seconds. But it’s not just raw power here, there’s a delicate balance with loads of the tech found in the cockpit, including a host of driving modes. It’s a pricey buy, to be sure, but we think it’s worth it.

MPG: 16/22
Horsepower: 603
Engine: 4.0L 8-Cylinder

Purchase: $106,950+

Ferrari FF

Yes. Ferrari makes a wagon. And it is nothing short of spectacular. Leave it to the Prancing Pony brand to bring timeless looks and stellar performance to an all-too-overlooked vehicle category. It doesn’t hurt that the styling is courtesy of long-time Ferrari collaborators, Pininfarina. On top of looking great and going fast, this car also has four-wheel drive – a highlight which was the focus of a snow driving course offered by the brand to its customers. If you’re ever trying to convince a detractor that stations wagons actually can be cool, show them this one.

MPG: 11/17
Horsepower: 651
Engine: 6.3L 12-Cylinder

Purchase: $295,000+

15 Best Adventure Vehicles

If you want something to take you around the world, but you’re not so hot on station wagons, you can certainly find a worthwhile ride on our list of the best adventure vehicles.