SIX YEARS OLD AND ALREADY EURO 6 – The station wagon they don’t like it anymore like they used to. Just six years ago they still accounted for over 7% of total registrations: this despite already fierce competition from SUVs and crossovers, more trendy but also taller and heavier. In 2022, family members accounted for just 3.4% of sales. And yet, cars with this body style are still in demand on the used market; and, focusing on five-six year old specimens, it is possible to save over 66% compared to the new one. So let’s analyze ten of the most purchased wagons in 2017, which comply with the Euro 6 standard and can be an excellent choice for a family.
FIAT TIPO STATION WAGON (2015-)
BESTSELLER WITH MANY ENGINES – Compared to that of six years ago, the best-selling wagon in Italy differs in the more elegant grille, the engine range, the updated multimedia and the driving aids. Furthermore, at the time automatic emergency braking was reserved for the Business trim level and optional for the others. The basic Pop version is not recommended, even without the Bluetooth hands-free kit, cruise control and rear distance sensors.
LPG IS ALSO LIVELY – Six engines, all reliable and with four cylinders. The three petrol ones drink a little: they are two aspirated ones with little spirit (1.4 with 95 HP and 1.6 with 110 HP) and a 1.4 turbo (with 120 HP). Better to bet on one of the diesels (95 HP 1.3 and 120 HP 1.6) or, above all, on the 120 HP LPG 1.4 T-Jet: brilliant and with low running costs
> Search for a used Fiat Tipo Wagon
AUDI A4 FRONT (2015-)
VALID, BUT NOT GENEROUS – Elegant, sporty, well made: the German wagon, there is front-wheel drive or 4×4 and is still on sale, albeit after an aesthetic and technical restyling. Comfortable and safe (automatic braking is standard), it is penalized by poor rear visibility and by the electrical system subject to failure. Look for rich specimens: for the “base”, the cruise control and parking sensors were paid separately. But even the more expensive versions weren’t generous.
ALMOST MANDATORY CHOICE – Very common, diesel engines with 2 or 3 liters (respectively with 4 cylinders or V6) drink little. Less common are those with petrol (even mild hybrids) or methane.
> Search for a used Audi A4 Avant
BMW SERIES 3 TOURING (2012-18)
IT’S NOT JUST DRIVING PLEASURE – The German family car is an elegant and well-finished car: available with rear or all-wheel drive, it offers high-level road holding and powerful brakes. Too bad about the wind noise at highway speeds. The luggage compartment is well done: although it is not huge, it has regular shapes and is embellished with two “gems” (standard for the entire range) such as the automatic tailgate and the opening rear window.
ROBUST BUT NOT RICH – The last examples of the sixth generation are reliable, but poor: the fog lights were standard only in the Sport and the dual-zone “climate” was optional for the least expensive ones. The two-litre diesel engines from 116 to 224 HP ensure panache and efficiency. The versions with the manual gearbox have long ratios to “drink” less, but practically all mount the excellent eight-speed automatic. However, the powerful 3.0 with six cylinders in line (258 or 313 HP) are not thirsty either.
> Search for a used BMW 3 Series Touring
FORD FOCUS SW (2012-18)
MORE TO RIDE THAN TO LOAD – Like other wagons, it does not shine under the heading “rear visibility”. Furthermore, for the type of car, the luggage compartment is not among the largest. Not to mention that those sitting in the back don’t have much legroom and can’t count on the air vents. The car redeems itself, however, with driving pleasure (it has direct and precise steering) and with comfort.
ALSO VALID FOR PETROL – The diesels are lively and drink little: the 1.5 (from 95 to 120 HP) is robust, while the 2.0 (150 or 185 HP) have had some “grit”. The 125 bhp 1.0 three-cylinder turbo petrol engine is an excellent choice in areas with traffic jams: check the (fragile) clutch of examples with manual gearboxes.
> Search for a used Ford Focus SW
OPEL ASTRA SPORTS TOURER (2016-21)
“OUT OF SIZE” AND ALSO GAS – It is bulky (470 cm in length is not a few) and spacious. The passengers are comfortable, even if the front ones cannot rely on the height-adjustable seat belts and the rear ones on the air vents. This station wagon has precise steering and offers good comfort, but it’s not immune to flaws. The two major recalls (brake and airbag malfunction) are for 2016 and 2017 models.
IT IS FOUND ESPECIALLY DIESEL – 1.6 diesel engines (from 95 to 160 HP, turbo or twin-turbo) dominated sales in 2017. However, the petrol engines should not be underestimated. In particular, the 106 HP three-cylinder supercharged “thousand” (but avoid the five-speed robotized gearbox). If you have nearby distributors, consider the 110 bhp 1.4 turbo ecoM methane. The endowment is interesting: the dual-zone automatic “climate” was already standard for the intermediate set-ups.
> Search for a used Opel Astra ST
PEUGEOT 308 SW (2014-21)
A LARGE BOOT AND SOME DEFECTS – The second generation of this Frenchwoman was mainly sold with BlueHDi turbodiesels: sparing engines, but with a particulate filter that tends to get clogged. The 131 bhp 1.5 is more modern than the 1.6, while the two-litre (150 or 177 bhp) is quite noisy. On the other hand, the 131 bhp 1.2 three-cylinder turbo petrol engine suffers from gaps in acceleration and has a timing belt subject to wear and tear and premature failure.
BEWARE OF THOSE CALLS – Furthermore, the car has been subjected to two recalls for the possible non-compliance of the engine management software in the specimens built from 2016 to 2017, and of the airbags for 2017 only. The strengths, however, are not lacking : from safe road behavior to the accessible and roomy luggage compartment. On the other hand, rear visibility is limited: a defect common to many wagons.
> Search for a used Peugeot 308 SW
RENAULT MEGANE SPORTER (2016-22)
WITH HER YOU CONSUMPTION LITTLE – It is almost the same as the one in the price list, which underwent a slight facelift in 2020. The dCi turbodiesels are robust, except for some clogging problems with the particulate filter: the 1.5 (90 or 110 bhp) has low consumption, while the 1.6 from 131 CV is more suited to those who want a bit of panache, although it is not very responsive at low revs. The silent TCe turbo petrol engines are rarer: the 101 or 132 bhp 1.2 and a spirited 205 bhp 1.6, subject to clutch overheating.
WELL EQUIPPED AND ALSO AGILE – This Frenchwoman boasts a high level of comfort; not bad trunk capacity. The endowment is interesting: the dual-zone climate control is already standard for the intermediate trim levels and the more luxurious GT Line and Bose have driver assistance systems such as lane maintenance. In the sporty GTs there are even rear wheel steering: they increase maneuverability at low speeds and stability at higher speeds (such as on the motorway).
> Search for a used Renault Mégane Sporter
SKODA OCTAVIA WAGON (2013-19)
LOAD CHAMPION – The third series of the Czech station wagon (available with front or all-wheel drive) is spacious, well built and reliable. The only recall involved the non-compliant rear wheel bearing carriers. The endowment has its ups and downs: all offer the driver’s knee airbag and almost all the dual-zone “climate”, but automatic braking was optional, as were other more advanced driving assistants such as lane keeping.
THERE IS ALSO CNG – TDI turbo diesels are easy to find: the 1.6 (90 or 116 bhp) for those who want to save money, the 2.0 (150 or 184 bhp) for those who often travel fully loaded. To be taken into consideration, if you have a refueling point close at hand and despite the current high price of gas, even the 110 bhp 1.4 G-Tec turbo methane: it is not monofuel like the current Octavia (and consequently pay the full stamp duty, instead of the one reduced to a quarter), but, thanks to the petrol tank of 50 liters instead of 9, it takes away the travel anxiety.
> Search for a used Skoda Octavia Wagon
VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT VARIANT (2014-)
DIESEL, PETROL OR “ON DRAFT” – A wagon not too different in look from the current one (the only one left after the house suspended sales of the sedan): the 2019 restyling intervened more on substance than on appearance. Front-wheel or all-wheel drive, it was also offered in petrol or petrol plug-in hybrid variants, but almost everyone bought it diesel (1.6 or 2-litre from 120 to 239 bhp).
LOTS OF SPACE FOR SUITCASES – It offers a record-breaking trunk and plenty of comfort for four people (but whoever occupies the central seat on the sofa travels uncomfortable). Furthermore, the rare specimens with manual gearboxes have a lever with hard engagements. Reliability chapter: some failures in the servo controls and the sunroof. The trizone “climate” is standard, but the driver’s assistants were optional.
> Close up of a used VW Passat Variant
TOYOTA AURIS TOURING SPORTS (2012-18)
THE POWER OF THE HYBRID – The Japanese drives well and is one of the more reliable cars, but not without flaws. It was involved in Takata’s famous recall of faulty airbags and was also inspected for incorrect injector installation. Also reported clogged filter of the air cooling system of the battery. The Active is complete: driver’s knee airbag, involuntary lane departure warning, 16” alloy wheels, automatic “climate” and automatic emergency braking.
DIESEL? NO THANK YOU – The Hybrid, with its 1.8 engine flanked by two current-powered units, is the most widespread and also the one we recommend: it “drinks” little (especially in the city), but has an automatic transmission with epicyclic gears that prefers relaxed paces (otherwise it raise the engine revs). The 111 bhp 1.6 diesel is sluggish.
> Search for a used Toyota Auris TS