We have had countless discussions regarding the lack of affordable wagons in the U.S. This is crossover country and wagons just don't sell. We get a few nice examples from the Europeans but they are hard to come by and are not exactly cheap. However, if you can overcome the ugly, Honda has a wagon you just might enjoy.
Some cars are the best in their respective class and rightly get all the press. Others are poor offerings and no one talks about them. But some are just "pretty good" and even though they might not be your first choice they can offer a nice value for your money. Welcome to Lost in the Crowd...where I will highlight a model that doesn't get enough attention or sales, but should be on your radar.
If you have the budget for a luxury wagon you can have your choice between the Volvo V60, BMW 328 Touring, Audi Allroad and Mercedes E350. All are excellent long-roofs, but all of them are a bit pricey especially when you start adding options. If your wagon budget is $35,000 and under, most folks are looking at either the Jetta Sportwagen or the Subaru Outback.
I know we all love the Sportwagen because we can get both a diesel and a manual, but you can't get AWD. You will be able to get it in the future, but VW is taking their sweet time on the MK7 Sportwagen release. The other issue with the vee-dub is it's kinda slow; that torque will kick you in the pants during a highway pass, but it's not terribly exciting.
Which brings us to the Outback. Subaru claims this is a "wagon." It kinda looks like a wagon, and is based off of the Legacy sedan. However the ride-height and suspension travel that make it pretty comfortable, also make it sloppy in the corners. So I'm going to stick to my guns and say the Outback is "not quite a wagon" because a wagon should handle pretty much the same as the sedan counterpart.
So what if I told you that you can have a 278hp, 4-wheel-drive wagon that was just as reliable as a Honda Accord. Sounds good right? So there is the small issue of aesthetics, but I've driven the Honda Crosstour...twice, and frankly it is a pretty decent wagon. Even though it is is a lifted version of the Accord, it will hold a corner with some confidence. This isn't S2000 handling, however, unlike the Outback you don't get that "Whoa body-roll!" reaction when you come into an exit ramp too hot.
The 3.5L V6 pulls nicely and you can even select gears via steering wheel paddle shifters; Audi will charge you $500 for those. In typical Honda fashion the controls are easy to use, and while the interior is not the same as a $50,000 luxury wagon, it is not a bad place to be for a long cruise.
Which brings us to the price. A loaded Crosstour V6 EX-L 4wd with navigation has an MSRP of $38,220. That's preposterous! Who in their right mind would drop almost 40k on an ugly Honda wagon-thing? No one...because the general public hates them so much, the dealers are practically giving them away.
I recently had a client who wanted an Allroad with features such as forward collision and lane departure warning. Because Audi..is Audi they make you get a Prestige trim if you want those goodies for a whopping $54k. Two separate dealers quoted me a purchase price of just under $31,000 for a 2014 Crosstour V6 EX-L 4wd w/Nav. My clients bought the Honda.
With that kind of value I can get over the looks and if Honda, just for a moment, decided to go totally crazy and offer a four-wheel-drive V6 Crosstour with a manual gearbox...I think I would get one for myself.
Sometimes cars aren't exciting, but they are unique and have a character you can't help but respect them. The Crosstour is one of those cars. Did I mention that it comes in brown?
If you have a question, a tip, or something you would like to to share about car-buying, drop me a line at AutomatchConsulting@gmail.com and be sure to include your Kinja handle.