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
1-hp 2.0 TFSI
engine and eight-speed
Tiptronic transmission. EPA fuel economy is estimated at 21 mpg city/29
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,
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
Audi A6 Avant –
2010 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 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
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.
BMW 3-Series Sports Wagon –
2009 BMW 3-Series
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)
Don’t miss part two of The Family Car Guide: 2011 Luxury Wagons.