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2001-2002 USA Station Wagon Models
All models of station wagons available new in the USA
(last updated 09/15/2001)

Summary of Changes

Audi S4 Avant
Audi allroad
BMW 323xi (awd)
Kia Rio Cinco
Lexus IS300 SportCross
Mazda Protege5
Mercedes C320
Subaru Impreza WRX
Volvo V40
VW Jetta

Significantly Revised
Subaru Outback
Volvo V70 & XC
VW Passat
Hyundai Elantra
Saturn SW2 (maybe?)

Coming Soon?
Alfa 156 (2006)
Alfa 166 (2007)
Audi S6 Avant (11/01)
Jaguar T-type (2002?)
VW Passat W8 (summer '02)
Highs & Lows, Best & Worst

Most cargo capacity (2nd seat up): Mercedes E320
Most cargo capacity (2nd seat down):
Mercedes E320
Most expensive:
BMW 540i, followed closely by the Mercedes E320 4matic
Least expensive:
Kia Rio Cinco by a mile, followed by the Suzuki Esteem
Best 3rd seat:
Mercedes E320 (real padding, and a rear footwell); Taurus & Sable are close behind
Worst 3rd seat:
All wagons who don't have one.  Also, most Volvos (very thin padding, very upright seating, no real footwell).
Most popular:
A tie between the Subaru Outback and the Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable twins
Best Looking:
Audi A4/S4/A6/S6. Overall award goes to the German manufacturers (Audi, VW, BMW, & Mercedes) for the best blend of styling (in and out), features, power, and panache. I know, they mostly aren't cheap.
Ugliest ("Can't wait until the sun goes down" award):
Tough choice.  The Saturn L is most boring, the Daewoo Nubira is ugly but not offensive, and the rear end of the Mercedes E320 is hideous.
BMW claims in advertisements that it is the 540i wagon, but that was before the advent of the Audi S6 Avant, which beats the BMW in 0-60 and in overall horsepower.  So we'll go with the S6.
Weird fact:
Considering this is a category that was ruled by American manufacturers, who would have thought that in 2001, the only V8-powered, rear-wheel drive wagon offered for sale in the US is a BMW?
Biggest disappointments:
No Chrysler wagons (how about a Dodge Intrepid wagon?) No Mercedes E430 wagon (a V8-powered, all-wheel-drive E430 4matic would rule the soccer fields). No GM wagons (except Saturn). No wagons at all from the Japanese "Big Three" (Toyota, Honda, Nissan).  No all-wheel-drive BMW 5-series wagon. No "R" series Volvo wagons.



Audi A4/S4 Avant

The A4 Avant capitalized on the success of the A4 sedan, the car that basically saved Audi sales in North America. Its emphasis is more on sport than it is on load-carrying capacity, but it's other strength is styling - arguably the best-looking station wagon on the market today.

Introduced in 1998, followed by a mild exterior update in 1999, the next generation A4 is already on the roads in Europe (and will be available in the USA as a 2002 model).  So the A4 moves into 2001 almost unchanged. Two engines are available, a 1.8 liter 20v turbo (170hp) and a 2.8 liter 30v V6 (190 hp), both with standard quattro all-wheel-drive.

The hot S4 wagon, with the same 250hp twin-turbo V6 as the S4 sedan, is finally available. It's not cheap, but it really doesn't have any competition (unless BMW decides to bring in the new M3 wagon). No RS4 for us, however....that 385hp wagon-only version of the A4 is sold only in Europe.

MSRP: $27,840 (1.8 T); $32,540 (2.8); $41,050 (S4)
Third seat available?  No
Cargo space: 31/63 cubic feet (back seat up/down)

Audi A6/S6 Avant

The A6 Avant arrived in the USA around July 1998, almost a year behind its sedan counterpart.  Very much a bigger brother to the A4 Avant, it boasts more room and more luxury features.  It comes in just one configuration: quattro all-wheel-drive with a Tiptronic automatic transmission behind the 200hp, 2.8 liter 30 valve V6.  A third seat, fairly rare these days, is standard.

As in the A4, styling and interior design are high points, although the Avant obviously does not have the same love-it-or-hate-it rear end of the sedan (it looks similar to the A4).

Changes for 2001 are minor. The wagon still does not get many A6 sedan features - availability of a 5-speed manual transmission, the 4.2 V8, or the 2.7 twin-turbo.  However, come November 2001, an S6 wagon will show up with 340hp and a $55k sticker.....more info as it becomes available. Yee ha!

MSRP: $37,900
Third seat available?  Standard
Cargo space: 36.4/73.2 cubic feet (back seat up/down)

Audi allroad
First shown at the 1998 Detroit International Auto Show, the allroad finally comes to us in production form.  Audi's answer to the SUV binge (and the popular Volvo V70 Cross Country) is based on the A6 Avant.  The allroad gets unique body panels, aggressive styling, a different interior, and a 4-position height-adjustable suspension (quattro all-wheel-drive is standard, of course).  And this time, Audi did not forget the engine - the 250hp 2.7 twin-turbo is standard fare, available with both a manual or automatic transmission.

Liking this car is a matter of style.  It is outfitted luxuriously, with almost everything standard.  It has more ground clearance than a BMW X5.  It can do 0-60 in 6.8 seconds with a manual transmission.  It may answer a question no one is asking, but Audi thinks it has a winner here in the new hybrid wagon/SUV category.

MSRP: $42,450
Third seat available?  Yes (optional)
Cargo space: 36.4/73.2 cubic feet (back seat up/down)

BMW 325i/325xi Sport Wagon
Get ready for the little brother to the 525i/540i BMW wagons....the 325i Sport Wagon.  First available in April, 2000, the 325i aims squarely at the Audi A4 and Volvo V40 wagons. While previous generations of the 3-series wagon have been available outside the USA before, this is the first time it has made it to the USA.

Don't be fooled by the low MSRP, is easy to option this wagon into the low $40k range. It arrives with a more sport-oriented rear-wheel drive vs. the front wheel drive Volvo V40, and now comes with optional all-wheel-drive (325xi) to give the Audi wagons a run for their money. A manual transmission is standard; and automatic is optional. Changes for 2001 are small, but include the replacement of the 2.3 with the 184hp 2.5 six cylinder. Even so, considering BMW's positioning as a "Sport Wagon", why does the 3-series wagon not come with the larger 3.0 liter 6-cylinder?  And why no M3 wagon?  That seems like a mistake; BMW should more firmly back up the "Sport Wagon" term.

All complaining aside, the 325i wagon represents the continued resurgence of the smaller, sport-oriented wagon in the USA, and should sell very well. We can still wish for a smaller price and a bigger engine, though, can't we?

MSRP: $30,045 (325i);  $31,795 (325xi)
Third seat available?  No
Cargo space: 26/47.5 cubic feet (back seat up/down)

BMW 525i and 540i Sport Wagons

The current 5-series sport wagon (formerly called the Touring) made a re-appearance for the 1999 model year after being absent since the 1995 model year.  It shows up without the unique (but complex) double sunroof mechanism of the old car, but with all the virtues of the improved 5-series sedan (it rides on the same wheelbase, but is 1.2 inches longer overall).   Like the Saab, a roll-out cargo floor will be featured.   The 525i is available with a manual or automatic trans; the 540i is only available with the 5-speed Steptronic automatic.  Changes for 2001 are limited, the most obvious being a mile facelift, the the 528i becomes the 525i (new engine).

Side notes: BMW promotes the 540i wagon as the "fastest production wagon in America".'d be interesting to compare that claim to the Audi S4 Avant.  Also, BMW has developed a prototype of an M5 wagon - wouldn't that be something if that went into production!

MSRP: $37,845 (525i); $54,125 (540i)
Third seat available?  No
Cargo space: 32.7/65.2 cubic feet (back seat up/down)

Daewoo Nubira
Most of Daewoo's press these days comes from the on again, off again sales stories as one automaker after another stumbles over buying the company.  So what about the cars?  I think Autoweek says it best: "Good basic, almost sporty transportation for those light in the pocketbook".  2001 produces minimal changes for the Nubira wagon; there are a few more colors and trim/option choices.

It does seem like a lot of wagon for the money.....

MSRP: $14,799
Third seat available?  No
Cargo space: 19/65 cubic feet (back seat up/down)

Ford Focus

The new-in-2000 Focus is Ford's latest attempt at a "world car", replacing the Escort wagon. It has been very popular for Ford; there are few changes for 2001.

Two engines are available for the Focus - a 2.0L SOHC I-4 engine with 110 horsepower, and a 2.0L DOHC 16-valve Zetec I-4 engine with 130 horsepower (now optional on the wagon).  New for 2001 is the option of a manual trans on the wagon.

Looks different, doesn't it?  The Focus was styled in Ford's "new edge" school of design, with sharp creases and angles.  It is taller than most other small cars, making it feel better to that audience that is now used to SUVs and minivans. The Focus continues to produce rave reviews for Ford for its dynamic driving characteristics.

MSRP: $16,725
Third seat available?  No
Cargo space: 36/55 cubic feet (back seat up/down)

Ford Taurus

Restyled for 2000 to eliminate all of the ovoid styling cues (and only available this year as an SE model), the Taurus continues to mature.  It hits the middle of the wagon market like no other wagon.  It has sold much better in 2000 after the restyle, and changes for 2001 are few (new anti-theft and child safety systems).

The big brother to the smaller Focus, the Taurus wagon has been part of the Taurus line since it was introduced (1986), and a staple of the wagon market (Subaru's Outback line is the only wagon model that outsells it in the USA).

Still no SHO wagon, however.....well, no SHO sedan this year either!

MSRP: $20,815
Third seat available?  Yes (optional)
Cargo space: 38/81.3 cubic feet (back seat up/down)
Kia Rio Cinco

Brand new for 2001, the Rio arrived here in late August as a 2002 model (it debuted simultaneously at the Detroit and Los Angeles auto shows in January).  It's powered by a 1.5 liter 4-cylinder developing 96 horsepower.  A 5-speed manual is standard, and a 4-speed auto is available.  The "Upgrade" package is standard, and includes variable power steering, tilt wheel, body side moldings, tach, and visor vanity mirrors.

Kia promised that the Rio wagon will be the lowest priced wagon in the USA (beating out the Suzuki Esteem), and it did so by a considerable amount.  Even so, it doesn't look bad, does it?  Thanks to Kia for providing a very affordable wagon for everyone.

MSRP: $10,880
Third seat available?  No
Cargo space: 44.3 cubic feet (back seat down)
Lexus I300 SportCross

Brand new for 2001, the SportCross version of the IS300 (Lexus refuses to call it a station wagon) arrived in the USA in August.

Promoted with an emphasis on sport, Lexus uses the tag line "Handles corners, carries cargo and defies convention" to describe the SportCross.  Mechanically identical to the IS300, including it's 215hp 3.0 liter 6-cylinder engine, it gets to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds.  Unlike the IS300, however, an automatic is the only transmission available.  So Lexus calls it a five-door and that's fine with us; it's nice to have a Lexus choice in wagons no matter what you call it.

MSRP: $32,850
Third seat available?  No
Cargo space: 21.8 cubic feet (back seat up)


Mazda Protege5

Brand new to the US in May, Mazda doesn't want to call this a wagon (wrong image) and doesn't want to call it a hatchback (ditto).  So they say "5-door".  Well, it's a station wagon no matter what you call it, but Mazda is pushing it as a sport wagon (spoilers, skirts, big wheels, etc.) instead of going the fake-SUV route like the Volvo Cross Country or Subaru Outback.

Although the 2.0 liter 4-cylinder doesn't seem strong at 130 horsepower, the Protege5 weighs only 2700 lbs and feels quick.  A 5-speed manual is standard, and a 4-speed auto is available.  A strong sound system (called MP3), nice wheels, and body cladding emphasize sport over utility.  Overall, a strong entry in the small sport wagon class.

MSRP: $16,335
Third seat available?  No
Cargo space: 19.8/24.4 cubic feet (back seat up/down)

Mercedes-Benz C320
Introduced at the Detroit Auto Show in January, the C320 becomes the first entry-level station wagon Mercedes has sent to the USA.  Ready to go head to head with its German relatives (Audi A4 and BMW 325), the C320 is missing only one major option offered by Audi and BMW: all-wheel-drive.

Powered by the same 215hp, 3.2 liter V6 available in the C-class sedans and E-class sedan/wagon, the C320 has enough grunt to keep a full load moving down the road (although it falls short of the Audi S4's class-leading 250hp).  And Mercedes, don't forget to include a sport package option on the wagon, and maybe an AMG C32 wagon?

The C320 wagon should start rolling into USA showroom in the summer (the C320 sedan has been available since late summer 2000).

To sum up?  A well-equipped, albeit expensive for the class, with a focus on luxury rather than sport.  Sounds like the E320 wagon description, doesn't it?

MSRP: $n/a, estimate >$38,000
Third seat available?  No
Cargo space: n/a

Mercedes-Benz E320

New in 1998, the E320 moved into 2000 with an exterior facelift, and moves into 2001 pretty much unchanged (there are a few new colors and the Parktronic rear obstacle avoidance system). Designo editions are available for those who want special paints, interiors, and other special touches. 

Still the most expensive wagon sold in the US, the Mercedes wagon is available with optional all-wheel-drive (called 4-Matic, developed by Steyr-Puch). Every luxury feature is available, of course, and the AWD system is considerably improved over the earlier system (which was costly, complicated, and heavy). At this price you don't buy it for utility (although the looks have been considerably modified since the last iteration to appeal to a more youthful audience).  If you've got the money, why not?  And an E430 model (to better keep up with the BMW 540i wagon) keeps threatening to appear, but hasn't appeared yet.

Current plans are for a new E wagon in spring 2003, a year after the sedan.  Recent spy shots reveal that styling will remind you of the S-class.  And beg your local dealer: the hot-rod E55 AMG 4-matic wagon is available in Europe, but not in the USA. And come on can't even get the Sport package on the E320 wagon!
MSRP: $49,295; $52,145 (4-matic)
Third seat available?  Yes
Cargo space: 44/83 cubic feet (back seat up/down)

Mercury Sable

The sister car to the evergreen Ford Taurus, the Sable represents the very middle of the midsize wagon market. Why buy it instead of a Taurus? It all comes down to a minor styling and option availability decisions.

Like the Taurus, the Sable was 'freshened' for the 2000 model year (i.e. less ovals).  It's available as a GS and up-scale LS model, and 2001 changes are minimal.  Biggest news?  Hints of an all-wheel-drive sport wagon model coming in a few years (Volvo V70XC and Audi allroad competition).

MSRP: $20,740 (LS); $23,310 (GS)
Third seat available?  Yes (optional)
Cargo space: 38/81.3 cubic feet (back seat up/down)

Like all Saabs, this wagon is unique....for example, a sliding floor in the back to help in loading and unloading stuff (it can support 440 lbs of cargo).   While it was originally scheduled to have a third, rear facing seat, Saab made a last minute decision  not to offer it (a very unfortunate choice, we must say).

Power for the standard model is provided by a 2.3 liter straight four (now with 185hp) or a 200hp 3.0 liter V6 on the SE.  A high-performance Aero version with the 230hp turbocharged I4 is available w/either a manual or automatic transmission and 17" wheels.  Rumors continue that Steyr-Puch will design a 4-wheel drive system for the 9-5 wagon to compete with the Volvo V70 XC.

On-Star is standard for 2001, but nothing else much has changed (we're not sure what happened to the Gary Fisher version). The 9-5 is scheduled to be updated in 2004, and might include a crossover version like the Audi allroad and Volvo V70 XC.  It may also include V8 power.

MSRP: $34,695 (base); $39,350 (SE V6); $40,875 (Aero)
Third seat available?  No (option eliminated)
Cargo space: 37/ 72.9 cubic feet (back seat up/down)

Saturn SW2

The compact Saturn wagon is available only in an SW2 version; it soldiers into 2001 w/minimal changes (head airbags are available).  Base prices have been decreased in an effort to build showroom traffic.

A compact Saturn wagon has been available since 1993, and continues to sell well. Although Saturn has not officially announced it, production was rumored to have stopped on 12/31/00.  Original plans call for an all-new version for the 2003 model year.  Maybe it will go missing for a year?

If you can find one, it's nicely equipped, and reasonably priced....not a bad deal, huh?

MSRP: $14,290
Third seat available?  No
Cargo space: 24.9/58.2 cubic feet (back seat up/down)

Saturn LW200 & LW300
The big question is, why isn't the Saturn L series selling well?  Maybe a name change will help; this year the wagons are called the LW200 and the LW300 (vs. the original LW1 and LW2 nomenclature). Remember, this is the first Saturn that is not new from the ground up (it is based on the Opel Vectra),.  It's available with either a 2.2 liter 4-cylinder (135hp; standard on the LW200) or a 3.0 liter 6-cylinder (182hp; standard on the LW300).  A 5-speed manual is standard on the 2.2 (4-speed auto optional), while the auto is standard on the 3.0.

Going head-to-head with the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry (neither of which have a station wagon model any more), it has a longer wheelbase than either (1.4 more than the Accord, and 1.3 more than the Camry).  The more upscale LW300 gets the 6-cylinder engine, 4-wheel discs, bigger tires on aluminum wheels, and other options.

MSRP: $18,835 (LW1); $21,360 (LW2)
Third seat available?  No
Cargo space: 33.5/71 cubic feet (rear seat up/down)

Subaru Impreza & WRX

Differentiated from the competition by funky styling and standard all-wheel-drive, the Impreza wagon is available three ways - regular Sport Wagon, Outback Sport (see below), and (finally!) in rally-tested WRX trim.  Overall, the Impreza emphasizes sport (unusual for the compact class), and is available with both automatic and manual transmissions.

Except for the WRX version, the Impreza moves into 2001 with few'll be restyled this spring, where a turbo four should replace the current 142hp boxer four. But on to the WRX does 227hp (turbo 2.0 liter 4 cylinder), all-wheel drive, "mean and clean" styling, and a rally heritage sound?  Sounds like our kind of wagon, one that has been available in Europe for some time but finally comes to the USA.  Thank you, Subaru, for finally providing some more substance to the Impreza rather than just another L.L. Bean edition.
MSRP: $16,395 (Impreza Sport Wagon), $23,495 (WRX)
Third seat available?  No
Cargo space: 25.5/62.1 cubic feet (rear seat down)

Subaru Legacy

Available in base L and upscale GT versions (last year's Brighton model has been dropped), the "big" Subaru wagon moves into 2000 basically unchanged (this version has only been around only since January, 1999).  A 2.5 liter, 165hp 4-cylinder 'boxer' is the only available powerplant, but you do have your choice of a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission.  Surprisingly, it continues to outsell the Ford Taurus wagon by a great margin, so don't underestimate its popularity.

Don't want the look of the Outback?  The Legacy gives you the same basic model and platform, the only difference now being styling and the new 6-cylinder engine, which is only available on the Outback (for now, anyway).  Your choice, and Subaru gives you a lot of them when it comes to wagons!  

MSRP: $19,995 (L); $23,795 (GT)
Third seat available?  No
Cargo space: 34.3/68.6 (rear seat up/down)

Subaru Outback

The wagon that started the "rugged wagon" anti-SUV craze (and spawned competitors like the Volvo Cross Country), no less than five different Outback wagon models are available for 2001: base, Sport (based on the Impreza), Limited, VDC, and L.L. Bean Edition.

Based on the Legacy, the Outback was re-designed for 2000 and made a separate model line. Let's summarize each model:
Outback - think Legacy in rugged clothing
Sport - Impreza wagon in rugged clothing
Limited - leather & luxury
VDC - 6-cylinder power and traction/stability control
L.L. Bean - 6-cylinder power and L.L. Bean duds

MSRP: $22,895 (base), $18,195 (Sport), $25,995 (Limited), $31,895 (VDC), $29,495 (L.L. Bean Edition)
Third seat available?  No
Cargo space: 34.3/68.6 (rear seat up/ down)

Suzuki Esteem

The Esteem, while a compact wagon, is the largest Suzuki sold in the US. It emphasizes value for the money, with a low price combined with a long list of standard features. Available in GL, GLX, and GLX+, we're proud of Suzuki for even having a wagon in the market when many Japanese brands (Toyota, Mazda, Honda) have stopped selling any wagons here at all.

Since the next generation will be available for the 2002 model year, the Esteem moves into 2001 with only minor changes (new grille, better stereo, etc.).  Maybe it doesn't have the refinement of some of the other small wagons, but it deserves more recognition than it is getting now.

MSRP: $13,699 (GL); $14,499 (GLX); $16,499 (GLX+)
Third seat available?  No
Cargo space: 24/61 cubic feet (back seat up/down)

VW Jetta

Hooray!  VW is sending another wagon to the USA, the smaller brother to the Passat.  It came to the USA in April.  VW is positioning the Jetta against the Subaru Outback and the Volvo V40, and it slots neatly above the smallest wagons like the Ford Focus and Suzuki Esteem and the larger full size wagons.  It's all part of VW's move to offer a full line of cars in the US (the Jetta wagon has been available in Europe for some time).
MSRP: $18,600-$20,900 (GLS), $25,400 (GLX)
Third seat available?  No
Cargo space: 34/70 cubic feet (back seat up/down)

VW Passat

First available in the USA in May, 1998, the Passat wagon is based on a stretched Audi A4 chassis.  This gives it more cargo space and a different look than the A4 Avant (sizewise it fits between the smaller Audi A4 and the larger Audi A6 wagons). 

A newly re-designed Passat became available in the early summer (confusingly, it is also labeled a 2001 model).  The new styling shows VWs move upscale, and adds a lot of chrome on the outside.  4MOTION all-wheel-drive finally became available later last year as an option on any of the 6-cylinder models.  Side curtain airbags are also available.

Surprisingly, the Passat continues to use the Audi 2.8 30 valve V6 rather than the VW VR6.  It is also significantly cheaper than the A4, except on the upper end where it creeps into Audi territory.  An 8-cylinder Passat wagon is coming next year to compete with the BMW 5-series.

MSRP: From $22,250 (GLS 1.8t) through $31,835 (GLX 2.8 w/4MOTION)
Third seat available?  No
Cargo space: 38.5/79 cubic feet (back seat up/down)

Volvo V40

We waited a long time for a compact wagon from Volvo.  Interestingly, the basic platform is a joint product of Volvo and Mitsubishi (the Mitsubishi version is the Lancer, and will not be available in the USA).  The V40 is intended to appeal to buyers who have been priced out of buying a V70, and looks like it is aimed squarely at the Audi A4 Avant.

The only powertrain is a 160hp, 1.9 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder.  A 5-speed automatic replaces last year's 4-speed as the only available transmission. Although it just came to the USA last year, the 2001 model features an exterior facelift and some trim and suspension changes.  An upscale SE model is now offered

MSRP: $24,500 (base), $28,350 (SE)
Third seat available?  No
Cargo space: 33.5/61 (rear seat up/down)

Volvo V70 & V70XC

Introduced to the world at the 2000 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the updated V70 ('V' for 'versatility') arrived in the USA in April 2000. With styling based on the S80 sedan (and riding on the S80 platform), the V70 changes go further than skin-deep. The updated wagons actually preceded the arrival of the sedan versions (now called S60).

Volvo has trimmed the V70 line for 2001: there are only 2.4, 2.4T, and T5 versions (the R model and all-wheel drive versions are gone).   The V70-based Cross Country (or XC) moves into 2001 with a facelift (it looks more macho).  Volvo considers the XC a separate model line - it is available in just one version, with all-wheel-drive and the 197hp light-pressure turbo engine paired with an automatic.

What we miss most?  The top-dog, 261hp, all-wheel-drive V70 R from 1998-2000....Volvo, please bring this back!

MSRP: V70: $29,400 (2.4), $33,600 (2.4T), $34,200 (T5), $36,100 (XC) 
Third seat available?  Dealer-installed option
Cargo space: 35.9 (37.5 XC)/71.5 (rear seat up/down)

All pictures are manufacturer's stock photos, with all rights reserved by each manufacturer.
All specifications subject to change without notice.
Prices are current as of last update date (top) but CHANGE OFTEN!

Copyrightę 2001 Steve Manning. All Rights Reserved
Information in this document is subject to change without notice.
Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.
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