The Best Wagons of All Time

After tooling around in my buddy’s Volvo station wagon trying to troubleshoot a surge issue under part throttle boost, I got to thinking, what are the best wagons of all time? If you don’t know why wagons are cool let me tell you. First, they often have as much cubic space as an SUV yet you can often get turbocharged motors and a manual transmission. Maybe you have kids and you don’t want an SUV, which according to car manufacturers is no one. Still there are companies like BMW that will still sell you a three pedal wagon, if you live in Europe. The most utilitarian wagon I’ve ever seen was in Germany and it was a 535Xi wagon with a six speed. You’ve got twin turbos, AWD, and a ton of cargo space. Can’t really beat that! Now without further ado, my list of the best wagons.

Chevrolet Nomad

a light blue 1957 Chevy Nomad
1957 Chevy Nomad – Bull-Doser at English Wikipedia

With classic Chevy Bel Air looks, the Chevy Nomad was produced from 1955 to 1972. While the first generation may have the classic looks, I prefer the second generation as a wagon. The first generation only had two doors which makes it incomplete as a wagon. The second generation had four doors and had the better looking, at least in my opinion, dual front headlights. The Nomad came with 4.3L or 4.6L V8’s making 165 and 265 HP respectfully. That is absolutely dismal by today’s standards but you will look ten times cooler cruising up in one of these rather than the beiger SUVs of today. Also, it being a Chevy, you can stuff just about any manner of engine in the front or back if you are so inclined!

Dodge Magnum SRT8 or Chrysler 300 SRT8 wagon

a black Chrysler 300 SRT8
Chrysler 300 SRT8 Touring – photo by Thomas doerfer

While this didn’t come in a manual, the 2006-2008 Dodge Magnum SRT8’s or Chrysler 300 SRT 8 touring did have a honking big 6.1L V8 in the front pushing 425 HP. With a 0-60 near 5 seconds flat and a ¼ mile near the 13 second mark, this grocery getter could get the job done! I would still love to see a Magnum Hellcat, hint, hint Dodge.

Cadillac CTS-V Wagon

a dark grey Cadillac CTS-V wagon
The CTS-V wagon – photo by CJ Hicks

What did we do right as a society to receive such a great gift from the car gods? Giant, supercharged V8? Check. Six-speed manual? Check. Wagon? Check. 200 MPH? Allegedly. The 2014 CTS-V wagon made over 550 HP and since it’s an LS-based engine you can easily get over 600 HP with just a minor pulley change and a tune. I hope this isn’t the high water mark in American automotive history but if it is what a great mark.

Volvo V70 R

a Volvo V70 R
The sweet V70 R

I had to include a Volvo on this list! The V70R might be the coolest Volvo station wagon to come out of Europe. Produced from 1996 to 2016, the Volvo V70 served as their estate line across three generations. The best one to get is the 2004-2007 Volvo V70R with the six speed manual. This version had AWD and an inline 5-cylinder with a high-pressure turbo making nearly 300 HP. What was really cool is the sleeper factor. Outside of the special rims and the very small ‘R’ badge in the front grill, one could hardly tell it apart. If you want to add a little pizazz to it check out IPD, they specialize in the Volvo aftermarket.

Audi RS4 Avant

a blue Audi RS4 Avant
The Audi RS4 Avant – photo by Shawn Jooste

Keeping our theme of AWD European wagons, the B7 Audi RS4 Avant is amazing. Yes, they are still producing RS4 Avant’s now but this was the last model you could get with a proper manual. The B7 RS4 Avant had the 6-speed Getrag manual transmission, AWD, and a naturally aspirated 4.2L V8 revving to 8,000 RPM and pushing over 400 HP. A little tune from APR can get you to nearly 450 HP.

Mercedes Benz AMG E 63 S Wagon

a dark grey Mercedes AMG E 63 S wagon
When you need a 600hp wagon – photo by Mr.choppers

Continuing our tour of European wagons, this beast doesn’t have a manual but my god does it have an engine! The AMG wagon has a 4.0 L twin-turbocharged V8 pushing over 600 HP to all four wheels. This pushes it to a stratospherically fast 0-60 in 3.4 seconds. That’s supercar territory! Yeah there is no manual but with power like that who cares?!

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo Turbo

a white Porsche Panamera
The stupid fast Porsche wagon – photo by Alexandre Prevot

This is perhaps the best looking wagon of them all. It’s certainly the best looking Panamera. It is something about turning it into a wagon that just made the proportions correct. The best one in my opinion is the Turbo that makes a respectable 500 HP through their industry leading automatic. If you haven’t driven a PDK-optioned Porsches it is something pretty incredible. It would still be pretty incredible to get a RWD manual turbo but that is probably asking way too much.

Any BMW Station Wagon

a white BMW M5 Touring wagon
A rare BMW M5 Touring – photo by born1945

This may seem like a cop-out not to choose one but the ultimate driving machine has been producing fun wagons for decades. If I had to choose one model it would be the five series wagon. It has a little more space and you can get the 535Xi with AWD and a manual. At least you could. Doing a quick search on cars.com I found exactly one manual 5-series wagon. It was a 2007 530 XiT with a manual and 144,000 miles on the clock.

2000-2003 Subaru WRX Wagon

a yellow Subaru WRX wagon
Love a Subbie wagon – photo by Chris Arella

The Subaru WRX wagon came with a six-speed manual and a 2.0L turbo flat-four engine that sounds absolutely amazing modified. Why the pre-2003? Bug eyes. I mean look at the front end with those incredible bug eyes. You can’t really beat that. Of course this is a Subaru so you get AWD and lots of fun.  This is a pretty clean example although I’m rather partial to their classic blue color scheme.

Well that’s it. I am sure I am missing some wagons but these are some of my favorites. If you have other suggestions feel free to add them to the comments section below. Also check out our Pinterest where I have all sorts of car boards that are filling up each day.

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