Much like minivans, station wagons have been unfairly stereotyped as an unpopular body style, but in reality there's much to love about these longroofs. Thanks to their open cargo areas and right-angle rooflines, they're as adept at carrying people and cargo as some SUVs. Not only that, but station wagons also have a lower center of gravity, which gives them the athleticism of a car. While automakers are trying to make them look more SUV-like by adding body cladding and taller suspensions, their all-weather capability and aforementioned characteristics still make them one of our favorite body styles.
To excel in a world that favors crossovers, Subaru's venerable Outback station wagon has thrived by mimicking the trappings of SUV style while continuing to offer the practicality and road manners of a conventional station wagon. It even earns a spot on our 2022 Editors' Choice list. Its raised suspension and plastic body cladding scream "active lifestyle" but from behind the wheel it delivers a more carlike feel. Buyers can choose from either a turbocharged or non-turbo four-cylinder engine, both with standard with all-wheel drive. A beefy roof rack offers a handy place for bikes or a kayak without the extra-tall stance of an SUV, which enables easier loading and unloading. The Outback formula has proven so successful over the years that even luxury automakers have given it a try: the Outback's closest rivals include the Audi A4 Allroad and the Volvo V60 Cross Country, both of which start nearly $20,000 higher.
If a station wagon with extra ground clearance sounds like the description of an SUV, the 2022 Audi A4 Allroad proves that's not true. The A4 Allroad hangs on to its carlike qualities while providing a more rugged look and a little extra space between its underside and the ground. This formula isn't new; the A4 Allroad has several well-established rugged-class wagon rivals including the Subaru Outback and the Volvo V60 Cross Country. Its turbocharged engine and standard all-wheel drive provide plenty of power and all-weather capability while its interior offers generous space for people and cargo, as well as a host of standard high-tech. You won't see the Allroad going toe-to-toe with Jeeps and Toyota 4Runners in Moab, but this wagon has all the same abilities as the average compact crossover—plus some premium flair.
Contrary to popular belief, not everyone prefers SUVs—count us among that shrinking pool of drivers—and for those people the 2022 Volvo V60 and V60 Cross Country wagons are attractive, practical alternatives. They're also on our Editors' Choice list. The Cross Country attempts to straddle the line between wagons and crossovers with its tasteful plastic cladding and a slightly taller ride height. Still, wagon enthusiasts are more likely to drool over the sporty Recharge T8 Polestar model that boasts a plug-in-hybrid powertrain with 415 horsepower and up to 22 miles of electric driving range. Aside from the Subaru Outback, it appears the station wagon body style exists merely in the luxury realm, with rivals including the Audi A4 Allroad, the Mercedes-Benz E-class All-Terrain, and Volvo's larger V90 Cross Country.
Unlike its red-hot sibling, the RS6 Avant, the 2022 Audi A6 Allroad takes a different, unpaved path. However, both earn spots on our 2022 Editors' Choice list. While the high-performance RS6 is capable of tearing up a race track with today's best sports cars, the Allroad swaps on-road dexterity for off-road capability, as it comes standard with an adjustable air suspension with extra ground clearance. Inside its spacious cabin, you'll find a host of luxury and technology features that make the Allroad a desirable, premium station wagon ready to steal focus from rivals such as the Volvo V90 Cross Country and the Mercedes-Benz E-class wagon. If the rugged styling and station-wagon practicality are intriguing but the A6 Allroad doesn't fit the budget, consider the smaller and cheaper A4 Allroad.
Hiding behind phony SUV styling, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz E-class All-Terrain wagon combines the premium cabin of the E-class sedan with the added practicality of a larger cargo bay and a rear-facing third row of seats. A 362-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six uses a 48-volt hybrid system and all-wheel drive to provide snappy performance, and the All-Terrain's slightly raised adjustable air suspension gives it a touch more ground clearance than previous versions. This slightly rugged, luxury longroof formula isn't unique. In fact, the E-class All-Terrain has not one but two natural rivals—the Audi A6 Allroad and the Volvo V90 Cross Country—and all three are fighting for a piece of a very small niche. All three also appear on our 2022 Editors' Choice list.
Despite its lifted suspension and SUV-like body cladding, the 2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country is a station wagon, albeit one with a bit more capability than your average car. Not only is it able to tackle some light off-road situations, the Cross Country also offers a deluxe cabin lined with fine materials, soft leather and genuine wood trim. These traits and more helped us name it to our Editors' Choice list. All models are powered by a 295-hp turbocharged-and-supercharged four-cylinder with a 48-volt hybrid system and come standard with all-wheel drive. The Volvo safety legacy also looms large in this model, with a host of standard driver assists including a semi-autonomous driving mode. Like the look of the V90 Cross Country but wish it was a size smaller? Check out the V60 Cross Country, which we review separately.
Much like minivans, station wagons are easy to mock, but the jokes will run dry when members of the 2022 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo family fly by. Easily the quirkiest car in Porsche's portfolio, the Sport Turismo is essentially a four-door Panamera with an elongated roof. The Sport Turismo wagon has a bigger cargo area that gives it an edge in terms of practicality. Otherwise, the Panameras are pleasant—even exciting—to drive, though they do lack the rich steering feel and light-footed agility of a 911 sports car. Instead, the Sport Turismo's diverse selection of powerful powertrains is one of its biggest strengths. Gas engines run the gamut from a 325-hp twin-turbo V-6 to a 620-hp twin-turbo V-8, and hybrid variants range between 455 and 689 total horses. The 2022 Panamera Sport Turismo has poor outward visibility and some ergonomic foibles, but this station wagon hits the mark for high-class high performance.
Think station wagons aren't cool? The breathtaking take-offs performed by the 2022 Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo and Sport Turismo will make you think again. Sure, one ride in a Tesla Model S can have the same effect, but Teslas are cool, wagons are not supposed to be. As the longroof alternatives to the Taycan sedan, the Turismo versions inherit an advanced electrical architecture and innovated two-speed transmission that enables repeated big-wow acceleration. While Porsche's EV recipe leaves out some traditional ingredients (read: one-pedal driving) and can't match the range of the rangiest Tesla, the Taycan twins are much more satisfying to drive. Consider that the wagon has a bigger back seat and trunk than the sedan and its added practically might offset its higher asking price. Regardless, the 2022 Taycan Cross Turismo and Sport Turismo are both useful family-hauling tools and great ways to make wagon-haters look like fools. They're Editors' Choice winners, too.
With an intimidating appearance and a raucous 591-hp engine, the 2022 Audi RS6 Avant is one wicked station wagon. Not only can it launch to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds and reach speeds up to 190 mph, but it'll carry a quartet of passengers in complete comfort along with all their gear. Audi justifies the car's six-figure price with a lavish interior and plenty of high-tech features. We even named it to our 2022 Editor's Choice list. Similar to other expensive and powerful station wagons such as the Mercedes-AMG E63 S and Porsche Panamera Turbo S Sport Turismo, the 2022 RS6 Avant is ridiculously quick and rewarding to drive. Those who don't subscribe to the longroof lifestyle but lust for everything else the RS6 has to offer should check out the mechanically identical Audi RS7 hatchback.