The Family Car Guide: 2011 Luxury Wagons, Part One

September 29, 2010

The field of luxury wagons this fall is more than a little exciting – if you’re looking for a family car that combines the attributes of an SUV with the easy-handling of a car, plus a good deal of luxe features, mostly standard, some optional. In fact, even consumers who’ve long ago sworn off wagons are urged to come check them out. There’s a lot to like.

The total list of 2011 luxury wagons includes two from Audi, while BMW, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo each offer one. In part one, we’ll look at the wagon offerings from Audi and BMW.

Audi A4 Avant The compact five-passenger 2011 Audi A4 Avant, available in three models (2.0T Premium, 2.0T Premium Plus, and 2.0T Prestige), features standard Audi Quattro full-time all-wheel drive (AWD) and 211-hp 2.0 TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine and eight-speed Tiptronic transmission. EPA fuel economy is estimated at 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway. The automaker bills the A4 Avant as offering the performance of a V-6 with the fuel-efficiency of a four-cylinder engine. But reviewers say that Audi A4 has never been known for performance, but more for its high-quality interior – which is considered the benchmark in its class. Well laid out, comfortable, standard leather seating surfaces, 50.5 cubic feet of cargo space (with rear seats folded), numerous technology features standard or optional prove the point. Safety features include front, side, and side-curtain airbags and optional rear-seat side-curtain airbags on Premium Plus and Prestige models, antilock brakes, traction and stability control. An Active Braking Guard is available as part of adaptive cruise control on Prestige. Base manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRPs) range from $35,940 to $45,040.

2010 Audi A6 Avant

2010 Audi A6 Avant

Audi A6 Avant – Moving up to the mid-size 2011 Audi A6 Avant, the wagon version of the A6 lineup is also offered in three models (3.0T Premium, 3.0T Premium Plus, and 3.0T Prestige). Powered by a 300-hp 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine mated to a six-speed Tiptronic transmission and featuring standard Audi Quattro AWD, A6 Avant achieves EPA-estimated fuel economy of 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway. Base MSRPs range from $53,310 to $56,360. Reviewers say the A6 Avant delivers excellent handling dynamics and a suberbly-finished and comfortable interior, although its maximum cargo capacity with rear seats folded is 59 cubic feet and can’t compare with the 62.6 cubic feet of the Volvo V50 Sport Wagon. A6 Avant safety features include ABS, stability control, full complement of airbags (including optional rear side airbags), while rearview camera, rear parking sensors, side blind-spot assist, and lane departure warning systems are either optional or included as standard on upper models.

2009 BMW 3-Series

2009 BMW 3-Series

BMW 3-Series Sports Wagon – Now in its fifth generation, the BMW 3-Series is considered by many to be one of the world’s premier driving machines. Its wagon variant includes the rear-drive 328i Sports Wagon and 328i xDrive Sports Wagon with intelligent AWD. Both models are powered by the 230-hp 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine mated to a standard six-speed manual transmission (Steptronic automatic transmission is a $1,375 option). EPA-estimated fuel economy for the 328i is 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway (automatic) and 17 mpg city/26 mpg highway (manual), while the 328i xDrive achieves 17/26 (automatic) and 17/25 (manual). The premium compact wagons are equipped with stability and traction control, four-wheel ABS with dynamic brake control, run-flat tires, front and side airbags, while BMW Assist Emergency telematics, park distance control, and Xenon adaptive headlights are optional. Starting MSRPs range from $35,700 (328i) to $37,700 (328i xDrive).

Don’t miss part two of The Family Car Guide: 2011 Luxury Wagons.

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