Ready to break away from the herd? One of these wagons might be the solution…

In case you haven’t noticed, American consumers are still enamored with the idea of driving around in a tall-bodied, relatively off-road capable SUV with loads of space to haul around many people and lots of things. Sales of such vehicles continue to rise, and automakers are responding by churning out new models by the truckload. But is there a better means to achieve similar ends? What if, for example, you want something with the capability, cargo space, and attitude of an SUV, but the maneuverability, ease of use, and comfort of a regular passenger car? Luckily, such a combo does exist, and we’ve got five of the best examples on the market lined up right here in this in-depth comparison article.

The five vehicles in question are (in alphabetical order) the Audi A4 Allroad, the Mini Clubman All4, the Subaru Outback, the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, and the Volvo V60 Cross Country. That’s right folks – wagons, representing a diverse price range and wide array of tastes. Once the torchbearer of utility and practicality, the wagon body style has declined in popularity with the rise of the SUV. But just because something is trendy doesn’t mean it’s good, right? Read on to find out what makes these five vehicles fantastic alternatives to the SUV status quo. You rebel, you.

Continue reading for the full story.

Looks, Styling, And Aero

Sure, we know that styling isn’t everything. But it’s definitely something, and the way a vehicle looks can make a big difference in purchasing decisions. Speaking more objectively, a vehicle’s shape also plays a significant role in overall aerodynamics and fuel mileage, so with that in mind, we’re taking a look at each of these wagons in terms of looks, styling, and aero.

1) Audi A4 Allroad

2017 - 2018 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro
- image 661364

We start things off the Audi A4 Allroad, which, at first glance, appears to bring the same styling as all the other A4’s you see out on the road. Get closer, though, and you’ll notice a longer roofline, raised suspension, and tough underbody cladding. Complementing the matte-black cladding are brushed metal skid plates in front and in the rear.

Front and center is Audi’s Singleframe grille, the Four Ring’s signature styling element seen across the model line. This large intake is beset with multiple polished metal bars arranged in a vertical layout, a design cue that Audi argues is intended to lend the lifted wagon a sense of enhanced height.

Get closer, though, and you’ll notice a longer roofline, raised suspension, and tough underbody cladding. The grille gets metal bars arranged in a vertical layout, something intended to lend the lifted wagon a sense of enhanced height.

Flanking the grille is a set of angular headlights set in a checkmark design and outfitted with L-shaped daytime running lights. The Allroad comes with Xenon lighting elements as standard, plus full LEDs on higher trim levels. The Allroad also uses LEDs for the taillights, plus there are dynamic turn signals to round it off. Fog lights sit in the corners of the front bumper, while the Allroad badge is placed on the front fenders.

On the roof, you’ll find aluminum roof rails, while the profile reveals polished metal surrounds for the windows. In back are twin oval tailpipes. Options include high-gloss paint, while standard spec includes 18-inch wheels with a 5-spoke design and gray finish.

Exterior dimensions

Length (Inches) 187
Width (Inches) 79.6
Height (Inches) 58.8
Wheelbase (Inches) 110.9

2) Mini Clubman All4

2016 Mini Clubman ALL4
- image 662706

Unlike the other entries on this list, it’s not totally clear how to classify the Clubman. You could call it a six-door hatchback, if you wanted. Meanwhile, Mini calls it a “contemporary interpretation of the tradition-steeped shooting brake concept.” However, for this comparison, we’re just gonna go ahead and call it a wagon.

Generally speaking, the Clubman brings the same general styling cues as the Mini Hardtop sedan, but stretched a bit to accommodate more space for stuff. In front, there are LED lighting elements set inside oval headlights, plus a chrome surround. In the nose is a hexagonal grille insert, while sitting above is a “powerdome” hood design. Black cladding is used along the lower edges of the body, while shapely horizontal lights are in the rear.

One of the Mini’s strongest points is its wide array of options for aesthetic customization. These include new looks for the roof, side-view mirrors, wheels, trim, and much more.

Mini says many of the Clubman’s design elements are in place to lower the overall aerodynamic drag. These include an aero-optimized bumper and diffuser, as well as “Air Curtains,” which are essentially intakes placed at the outer edges of the front fascia, and Air Breathers, which are vents placed behind the front fenders to help reduce pressure in the wheel wells. There are also intakes to help cool the brakes, and if you get the S model, extra hood vents and some red badging.

One of the Mini’s strongest points is its wide array of options for aesthetic customization. These include new looks for the roof, side-view mirrors, wheels, trim, and much more. Standard wheel sizing is at 16 inches with an alloy construction, but sizing between 17 and 19 inches is available.

Exterior dimensions

Length (Inches) 168.3
Width (Inches) 70.9
Height (Inches) 56.7
Wheelbase (Inches) 105.1

3) Subaru Outback

2018 Subaru Outback
- image 715942

Subaru just updated the Outback for the 2018 model year, and with the refresh comes a few slight tweaks to the exterior styling. As a whole, the changes are pretty minimal, with the preceding model’s focus on ruggedness remaining intact. Updates for 2018 include a reshaped grille that’s now lower and wider than before, with a hexagon shape used prominently. The headlights get C-shaped, Konoji-style daytime running lights equipped with LED’s, while LED’s are also used for the turn signals.

Black plastic undercladding is used extensively front to back, designed to ward away mud and rocks whilst bashing around off road. The roof rails up top are standard equipment, now offering a low-profile design and silver finish when going for the upper trim level. The 2018 model year also brings with it new wheel designs, with lower trim levels getting 17-inch alloys. Higher up in the range, there are 18-inch alloy rollers as standard.

Exterior dimensions

Length (Inches) 189.6
Width (Inches) 72.4
Height (Inches) 66.1
Wheelbase (Inches) 108.1

4) Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack High Resolution Exterior
- image 569818

For all intents and purposes, the Golf Alltrack looks quite a bit like its regular Golf siblings, albeit with a longer roofline and a few softroader cues laid on top. Up front, we find a freshly redesigned bumper, complete with the requisite undercladding on the chin. Above this is a horizontal matte-aluminum radiator grille crossbar, while standard fog lights are in the bumper corners. The headlight housings are drawn back into the fenders and come equipped with LED daytime running lights, while the grille in the nose uses an exclusive black honeycomb mesh.

For all intents and purposes, the Golf Alltrack looks quite a bit like its regular Golf siblings, albeit with a longer roofline and a few softroader cues laid on top.

In the profile, the design gets a little polish thanks to silver roof rails, “Reflect Silver” side view mirrors, and lower window chrome surrounds. A panoramic sunroof comes standard on higher trim levels. The wheels are standard 17-inch aluminum rollers with a “Valley” design, while 18-inch wheels in a “Canyon” design are offered on the top SEL trim level.

In back, there are dark red taillights and further unique design for the bumper, plus additional silver undercladding and chromed-out exhaust tips.

Exterior dimensions

Length (Inches) 180.2
Width (Inches) 70.8
Height (Inches) 59.7
Wheelbase (Inches) 103.5

5) Volvo V60 Cross Country

2015 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior
- image 576289

The Volvo V60 is closely related to the S60, with similarities including the platform, engine lineup, and unsurprisingly, styling as well. To start off, there is dual Xenon illumination up front, with the headlights getting an Active Bending Lights feature that will curve the beam around corners as you drive along. The nose is set with a honeycomb grille design, with the insert finished in a Matte Dark Grey color and set in a black frame. Undercladding and scuff plates are once again present to add further paint protection, and there are matte black wheel arch extensions in all four corners.

Under the extensions, you’ll find 18-inch wheels with an alloy construction as standard. Sleek and subtle roof rails are mounted up top, offering a mix of low aero drag and extra practicality, while the profile gets glossy black frames for the window surrounds and the side view mirrors get glossy black caps with integrated turn signals.

The Volvo V60 is closely related to the S60, with similarities including the platform, engine lineup, and unsurprisingly, styling as well.

Moving to the rear, we see the tailpipes are integrated into the rear diffuser, arriving complete with the usual chrome trimming. Buyers can get the exterior panels slathered in up to 10 different exterior colors, seven of which come with a metallic finish and cost an extra $595.

Exterior dimensions

Length (Inches) 182.6
Width (Inches) 82.6
Height (Inches) 60.8
Wheelbase (Inches) 109.2

The Bottom Line

2015 Volvo V60 Cross Country
- image 712582
Mini Clubman All4 Unveiled
- image 662627

Obviously, there are quite a few parallels when it comes to comparing these vehicles. Each gets a lifted stance, long roofline, and tough undercladding. The only real standout is the Mini, which is lower, stubbier, and lacking an extensive rock-resistant lower treatment.

As such, the Mini is the one to get if you value personalization. The options list on this thing is long and varied, and if you try hard enough (i.e., spend enough money), you’re sure to create a car that’s uniquely yours styling-wise.

The lines on the Volvo just look more cohesive, pulling together with a well-sculpted front end and a sloping roofline that does away with the “box-on-wheels” approach of the Subaru and Volkswagen.

Meanwhile, the other four entries promise a bit more maturity and refinement, but placed side by side, I’ve gotta go with the Volvo when it comes to picking one as the best. The lines just look more cohesive, pulling together with a well-sculpted front end and a sloping roofline that does away with the “box-on-wheels” approach of the Subaru and Volkswagen. It’s both handsome and stylish, while also being functional, which is great combo to have if you can pull it off.

Interior, Comfort, And Convenience

Now that we’ve seen what each of these vehicles offers in terms of styling and exterior equipment, it’s time to step into the cabin and see what they have to offer in terms of comfort and convenience. And since practicality and cargo space are crucial in this segment, we’ll set the utility figures aside for a later section. This section will instead focus on upholstery, infotainment, and similar features.

1) Audi A4 Allroad

2017 - 2018 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro High Resolution Interior
- image 661360

Sit inside the Audi A4 Allroad, and you’ll immediately notice a wide array of handsome touches and premium features. The layout is attractive yet subtle, using several top-shelf materials throughout plus an abundance of horizontal lines, brushed metal, soft touch surfaces, and more. Mounted prominently on the top of the dash is a stand-up touchscreen display, while wood, leather, and brushed metal are nestled into every nook and cranny. A panoramic sunroof is up top, complete with a power sunshade, while LED ambient lighting in a multitude of colors is offered to fill the gaps when the sun has gone down.

Sit inside the Audi A4 Allroad, and you’ll immediately notice a wide array of handsome touches and premium features.

Drivers get to grip a three-spoke multifunction steering wheel, which is wrapped in leather and sports paddle shifters in the sides. Behind the steering wheel is Audi’s virtual cockpit technology, which is essentially a digital display measuring 12.3 inches for displaying all the basic info – road speed, engine speed, navigation, system alerts, etc. Speaking of navigation, the digital display also offers in-depth Google maps navigation with a 4G LTE web connection. A heads-up display rounds out the info display systems.

Standard smartphone integration includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Seating encompasses eight-way power adjustable movement, plus four-way power lumbar support. Leather is standard, of course. There’s also automatic climate control in a three-zone configuration. Providing the music is an available 19-speaker 3D sound system from Bang & Olufsen, while a wide variety of available connected services are on the options list for whatever else you might need.

Interior dimensions

Head room front/rear (Inches) 39.2/38.2
Leg room front/rear (Inches) 41.3/35.7
Shoulder room front/rear (Inches) 55.9/54.5

2) Mini Clubman All4

Mini Clubman All4 Unveiled
- image 662645

The Mini’s focus is on bringing a more premium approach to a relatively affordable segment, mixing styling and upscale materials in a unique and iconic package. Seating capacity is capped at five, while the dash layout is dominated by a large, rounded central interface, something of a staple for the Mini lineup. Complementing this, you’ll find red toggle levers below further circular designs for the climate control switches. There’s also a single start-stop ignition button, checkered color patterns, and if you get the S model, standard sports seats as well.

The Mini’s focus is on bringing a more premium approach to a relatively affordable segment, mixing styling and upscale materials in a unique and iconic package.

In the center of the rounded console is a 6.5-inch infotainment display, but this can be upgraded to a larger 8.8-inch unit if desired. The Mini Touch Controller and three-spoke multifunction steering wheel issue infotainment commands, while Bluetooth, audio streaming, copious app support, and the requisite smartphone integration supplements the rest of the standard cabin tech. Also of note is the onboard navigation system, plus a slew of features to help measure your performance, including Sports Instruments and a Force Meter.

Also of note is a slew of features to help measure your performance, including Sports Instruments and a Force Meter.

On the comfort side of things is dual-zone climate control, electrically adjustable seats for the front passengers, and no-touch comfort access to the rear cargo area. You can also get the Excitement Package, which adds LED interior lighting, as well as a lamp beneath the side-view mirrors that projects the Mini brand logo onto the pavement when entering or exiting the car. A panoramic glass roof is on top.

And just as you might expect from a Mini, the Clubman gets lots and lots of customizability, just like the exterior spec.

Interior dimensions

Head room front/rear (Inches) 40.2/38.0
Leg room front/rear (Inches) 41.4/34.3
Shoulder room front/rear (inches) 54.7/52.8

3) Subaru Outback

2018 Subaru Outback
- image 715943

Along with a few tweaks to the exterior styling, the latest model Outback also brings new interior tweaks, starting off with a redesigned center console. The climate controls were also relocated, with the temperature setting indicator now placed on the inside of the control dial.

The new look is in line with Subaru’s attempt to make the Outback a more premium offering, and as such, it comes with a host of upgrades that move it a little closer to its European competitors. This includes lower interior ambient noise, which is reduced thanks to a combination of changes including a quieter short-pitch chain for the transmission, a quieter powertrain with new engine timing, new exterior mirror housings for less wind noise, more effective sound insulation on the front windows, and thicker rear wheel well aprons. There’s also a new A/C system that will cool the cabin more quickly and in a more even fashion.

The new look is in line with Subaru’s attempt to make the Outback a more premium offering, and as such, it comes with a host of upgrades that move it a little closer to its European competitors.

As you probably expect, there are also lots of nice materials, especially at the higher trim levels. Upgraded stitching was added to the upholstery on top of the dash, as well as on the seats and door panels. High-gloss black trim and silver bezels surround the controls. New for 2018 is the optional Titanium Gray interior color, with alternatives including Warm Ivory and Slate Black. There’s also a new steering wheel.

For infotainment, the Outback comes equipped with a 6.5-inch touchscreen as standard, but can be had with an upgraded 8.0-inch unit if desired. The 8.0-incher also comes with smartphone-like controls to navigate the various menus and settings. The 2018 model year also gets improvements to the Subaru StarLink infotainment system, with updated voice recognition, better Bluetooth wireless support, iPod control, and smartphone integration through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. TomTom navigation is offered with three years of complementary updates.

For infotainment, the Outback comes equipped with a 6.5-inch touchscreen as standard, but can be had with an upgraded 8.0-inch unit if desired.

To keep all those mobile devices connected and running, there are two USB ports in the rear. Supported apps include Aha, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Calendar, and more. Finally, the infotainment system can also get Over the Air updates when hooked up to a Wi-Fi Internet connection.

Interior dimensions

Head room front/rear (Inches) 40.8/38.9
Leg room front/rear (Inches) 42.9/38.1
Shoulder room front/rear (Inches) 58.1/57.3
Total passenger volume (cubic feet) 108.1

4) Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Alltrack High Resolution Interior
- image 670014

The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack boasts a well-executed interior layout that incorporates all the usual bits and pieces you’d expect from the German automaker. Starting things off are nice materials like V-Tex leatherette upholstery for the seats, offered in a Marrakesh brown finish if desired. The front seats get a heating function as standard, while 12-way power driver seats come equipped on the SEL trim level. Overhead is a headliner finished in black, while chrome trim, steel kickplates (embedded with the Alltrack logo), and aluminum-look pedals round out the spec.

The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack boasts a well-executed interior layout that incorporates all the usual bits and pieces you’d expect from the German automaker.

The center stack layout is arranged in a driver-focused fashion, angling towards the hot seat for easier operation. The touchscreen mounted in the dash measures in at 6.5 inches, and offers 800 by 600 color definition. There’s also a proximity sensor for improved commands. The infotainment platform is VW’s MIB system, offering up features like the Car-Net App-Connect Support system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both supported, as is the MirrorLink smartphone integration system, SiriusXM satellite radio, and Bluetooth audio streaming.

Standard spec on the base model S trim level includes eight-speaker audio. The latest round of updates for the model threw in revision to the navigation system, voice command, and the Discovery Media unit on the SEL trim level. And since this thing was designed to tackle a variety of different surfaces, there’s an available Off-Road HMI feature offering a more in-depth look at various off-roading parameters.

Since this thing was designed to tackle a variety of different surfaces, there’s an available Off-Road HMI feature offering a more in-depth look at various off-roading parameters.

Other standout features include an ambient lighting feature, plus leather wrapping for the handbrake, shifter, and multi-function steering wheel. There’s keyless entry, a push-button starter, and if you opt into either the mid- or high-level trim, a premium audio system from Fender as standard. The top SEL trim level is also equipped with dual-zone climate control.

As for space, the Golf Alltrack gets essentially the same amount of room you’d find in the non-off-road-oriented Golf SportWagen.

Interior dimensions

Head room front/rear (Inches) 38.6/38.6
Leg room front/rear (Inches) 41.2/35.6
Shoulder room front/rear (Inches) 55.9/53.9
Total passenger volume (cubic feet) 94.3

5) Volvo V60 Cross Country

2015 Volvo V60 High Resolution Interior
- image 540421

Step inside the Volvo V60, and you’ll find a layout that tends to be a bit more vertical than its horizontally oriented competitors. There’s also plenty of luxury and opulence on offer. The seats, for example come standard with electrically powered operation and a remote memory function for the driver. The front passenger seat also gets power adjustments, plus there are power-folding rear head restraints, and a power lumbar support. Comfort seats are standard, but sports seats are available for a little extra outlay.

In terms of upholstery, leather is the material of choice here, a standard feature for the Volvo. “Comfort” leather is the base spec, offered in either black or beige coloring, but you can also get the hide in a “Sport” leather variety with several different color combos. These include Beechwood brown and off-black, blonde and off-black, or just the regular old off-black. The Sport leather option is $500 extra.

Step inside the Volvo V60, and you’ll find a layout that tends towards the vertical compared to its horizontally oriented competitors. There’s also plenty of luxury and opulence on offer.

Upgraded comfort is had thanks to adjustable rear air vents hooked up to the standard electronic climate control. The options list puts offers a heating function for both the front and rear seats – perfect if you happen to live in a chilly climate.

Up top you’ll find a power glass moonroof, while standard spec throws in accent lighting, an adaptive driver’s display, and a heated windshield. Behind the wheel is a nice digital instrument gauge, available in both 8- and 12.3-inch sizing.

Infotainment includes standard audio streaming, plus a high-performance audio system. Bowers & Wilkins provides the stereo gear, with 18 speakers plus a sub woofer as standard. Volvo’s On Call feature is also thrown in. This is basically an app for remote features like cabin heating, door lock and unlock, navigation, and vehicle location. The On Call feature works with Apple Watch and Android Wear, plus it’s Windows 10 compatible, which means you can utilize it from your smartphone, your smartwatch, and even your PC if desired.

Further app support includes stuff like LocalSearch, Pandora, Yelp, Send-To-Car, Glympse, Pay For Parking, Spotify, and more. A Harman Kardon Premium Sound System is offered as optional, while music streaming capability is standard. The whole thing runs off Volvo’s Sensus infotainment platform, which adds support for Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and a long list of connected service and maintenance features. Finally, a rear seat entertainment package is offered as an available option.

Interior dimensions

Head room front/rear (Inches) 38.3/37.6
Leg room front/rear (Inches) 41.9/33.5
Shoulder room front/rear (Inches) 57/55.2
Total passenger volume (cubic feet) 94.3

The Bottom Line

2017 - 2018 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro High Resolution Interior
- image 661359

Audi A4 Allroad pictured here.

Once again, the Mini stands out from the crowd thanks to its funky look and layout. The giant rounded center console, plethora of premium details, and nearly endless customization options make it unique in this comparison. This is where the fun is at.

By contrast, the Volvo and Audi are a bit more mature and a bit more refined. And while the Swedish product is certainly a fine piece of design in and of itself, I’ve gotta go with the Audi when it comes to interior goodness. The digital instrumentation both behind the wheel and on top of the dash are quite slick, while the materials, fit, and finish help to solidify its win in this section. That said, the Volvo is a very close second in my mind, and won’t disappoint buyers looking for top-end luxury.

Cargo Space And Utility

This might be a relatively short section, but it’s also one of the most important. All of these wagons offer decent cargo space, but some stand out as the more practical option when it comes time to hauling things around. And since these vehicles are supposed to be alternatives to the SUV and crossover status quo, we included specs on a few of the more popular tall-bodied models on the market to help you make a comparison.

Toyota RAV4 Mazda CX-5 Honda CR-V Ford Escape Jeep Cherokee
Cargo space rear seat up (cubic feet) 38.4 30.9 39.2 34.3 24.6
Cargo space rear seat down (cubic feet) 73.4 59.6 75.8 67.8 58.9

1) Audi A4 Allroad

2017 - 2018 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro
- image 716014

The Audi A4 Allroad gets 24.2 cubic feet of cargo space in back with the rear seat folded up. Fold it down and the number increases to 58.5 cubic feet. That’s a modest increase in rear cargo room compared to the previous 2016 model year. The rear bench also gets a 40/20/40 split.

Audi A4 Allroad cargo space specs

Cargo space rear seat up (cubic feet) 24.2
Cargo space rear seat down (cubic feet) 58.5
Rear bench split 40/20/40

2) Mini Clubman All4

2016 Mini Clubman ALL4
- image 716016

One of unique features of the Mini is its split rear hatch, which opens horizontally down the middle. Complementing the six-door accessibility is 17.5 cubic feet of space with the rear seat, up plus upwards of 47.9 cubic feet with it folded down.

Mini Clubman All4 cargo space specs

Cargo space rear seat up (cubic feet) 17.5
Cargo space rear seat down (cubic feet) 47.9
Rear bench split 40/20/40

3) Subaru Outback

2018 Subaru Outback
- image 716017

Lift the hatch on the Subaru Outback, and you’ll find a whopping 35.5 cubic feet of space. Fold down the rear bench, which comes standard with a 60/40 split, and you can get an even more impressive 73.3 cubic feet of space. Making the most of it is a nearly flat load floor, achieved thanks to the rear seatback release levers. There’s space up top as well with the standard roof rails and integrated retractable crossbars, which were designed to carry stuff like bikes and kayaks. Finally, step-style doorsills allow for easier access to anything you’ve secured to the roof.

Subaru Outback cargo space specs

Cargo space rear seat up (cubic feet) 35.5
Cargo space rear seat down (cubic feet) 73.3
Rear bench split 60/40

4) Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack
- image 716018

While small on the outside, the Golf Alltrack is reasonably large on the inside. The rear cargo area can hold a good 30.4 cubic feet of space with the rear bench up, while folding it down yields 66.5 cubic feet of space. The rear bench also offers a 60/40 split plus a center section pass-through, and roof rails make extra space up top.

Volkswagen Golf Alltrack cargo space specs

Cargo space rear seat up (cubic feet) 30.4
Cargo space rear seat down (cubic feet) 66.5
Rear bench split 60/40

5) Volvo V60 Cross Country

2015 Volvo V60 Cross Country
- image 716019

In back of the Volvo, you’ll find 28 cubic feet for cargo, which expands to 43.8 cubic feet with the rear bench folded down flat. The rear bench also gets a 40/20/40 split for enhanced practicality and versatility, while the front passenger seat can fold down for maximum space when needed.

Volvo V60 Cross Country cargo space specs

Cargo space rear seat up (cubic feet) 28
Cargo space rear seat down (cubic feet) 43.8
Rear bench split 40/20/40

The Bottom Line

Cargo space is important, and in this section, the big numbers take the day. As such, the Subaru Outback is the one you want when it comes to practicality and hauling stuff around. Fold those rear seats down, and you’ll be enjoying a whopping 73.3 cubic feet of space. That’s huge, measuring in as on par with SUV’s like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V in terms of volume. Pair that practicality with a more carlike body style, and the Outback looks like a fantastic SUV alternative in the realm of practicality.

Engine, Drivetrain, And Speed

Now we’re getting to the heart of these machines, delving into the greasy bits that make them go. And while these are clearly not the sort of rides you’d normally associate with speed and performance, it doesn’t hurt to get a baseline for the kind of output you should expect when you put your foot down, whether it’s for a hasty highway merge, or while towing your toys. We’ve also included fuel return figures as one of the considerations in this section, and outlined important details regarding the drivetrain.

1) Audi A4 Allroad

2017 - 2018 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 661362

Mounted behind the Singleframe grille of the Audi A4 Allroad is a turbocharged four-cylinder TFSI 2.0-liter gasoline engine. This engine produces 252 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 273 pound-feet at 1,600 rpm. Standard equipment includes a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission, which routes the output to the ground by way of a standard quattro AWD system, upgraded with ultra tech.

Essentially, ultra tech means the quattro system is biased towards the front axle in order to cut back on fuel consumption and emissions. Helping to distribute engine torque between the front and rear axles is an electronic multi-plate clutch, as well as a decoupling rear axle differential.

Mounted behind the Singleframe grille of the Audi A4 Allroad is a turbocharged four-cylinder TFSI 2.0-liter gasoline engine producing 252 horsepower.

Put your foot down, and you’ll do the 0-to-60 mph sprint in 5.9 seconds, while top speed clocks in at around 150 mph. Towing capacity is rated at 4,630 pounds, and includes features like trailer maneuver assist, which allows the driver to steer the trailer using the MMI controller in the cabin, making life easier with a hitch. Estimated fuel mileage is rated at 23 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

Audi A4 Allroad performance specs

Engine type turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower 252 HP @ 5,000 RPM
Torque 273 LB-FT @ 1,600 RPM
0-to-60 mph time 5.9 seconds
Top speed 150 mph (est.)
Towing capacity 4,630 pounds
Fuel returns city/highway mpg 23/28

2) Mini Clubman All4

2016 Mini Clubman ALL4
- image 716020

Buyers have a few different engine options when it comes to the Mini Clubman, both of which offer a nice, twist-filled wallop when you put your foot down. First up is a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder, which produces 134 horsepower at 4,400 rpm and 162 pound-feet of torque at 1,250 rpm. Step beyond the base engine of the entry-level Clubman, and you’ll get more with a turbo 2.0-liter four-banger in the Clubman S, which produces 189 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 207 pound-feet of torque at 1,250 rpm.

Routing the output is a standard six-speed manual gearbox, but buyers can also option in an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission if desired.

Step beyond the base engine of the entry-level Clubman, and you’ll get more with a turbo 2.0-liter four-banger in the Clubman S, producing 189 horsepower.

The rest of the drivetrain is composed of an electronically controlled AWD system. In the Mini, this AWD is biased towards the front axle in order to maximize efficiency, similar to the ultra-equipped Audi quattro mentioned above. While this system first sends power to the front end, the onboard computer will take input from a variety of sources, such as the current wheel speed, various accelerometers, torque level, steering angle, the driving dynamics system, and the driving mode that’s engaged, to calculate the proper amount of torque to send to the rear.

Tech specs on the AWD include something called a power take-off bevel gear for the front differential, as well as a dual-section propeller shaft and rear axle differential with an electrohydraulically controlled hang-on clutch. The AWD system also connects with the Dynamic Stability Control to maximize handling prowess in low-grip situations.

Further features of note include a standard Electronic Differential Lock Control, Performance Control, and Fading Brake Support. If AWD isn’t needed, you can also get the Mini with FWD only.

If AWD isn’t needed, you can also get the Mini with FWD only.

As for performance – the three-cylinder Mini manages a sprint to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds – not terribly impressive, if we’re honest. If speed is a concern, you’ll want to go for the four-cylinder, which manages a run to 60 mph in a much more respectable 6.7 seconds with the manual transmission, or 6.6 seconds with the eight-speed automatic. Top speed is rated at 140 mph. Drop the AWD, and expect a 0.3-second addition to that 0-to-60 mph time.

Fuel mileage is rated at 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway for the four-cylinder S, while the three-cylinder gets around 25 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.

Mini Clubman All4 performance specs (base model three-cylinder)

Mini Clubman All4 (base model three-cylinder) Mini Clubman All4 (higher trim four-cylinder)
Engine type turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower 134 hp at 4,400 rpm 189 @ 5,000 RPM
Torque 162 pound-feet at 1,250 rpm 207 @ 1,250
0-to-60 mph time 9.2 seconds 6.6 seconds
Top speed 125 mph 140 mph
Towing capacity 2,866 pounds 3,307 pounds
Fuel returns city/highway mpg 22/31 25/35

3) Subaru Outback

2015 - 2017 Subaru Outback
- image 712589

Making the Suby go is one of two engine choices, both of which arrive in Subaru’s characteristic flat boxer configuration. The entry-level engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with double overhead cams, which can be identified by any model name preceded by “2.5i.” The four-cylinder makes 175 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 174 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm.

Next up is the 3.6-liter six-cylinder used in models with “3.6R” in the name. Also equipped with double overhead cams, the six-cylinder manages a much healthier 256 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 247 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm.

Also equipped with double overhead cams, the six-cylinder manages a much healthier 256 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 247 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm.

Both engine options get an Active Grille Shutter for improved efficiency. Both engines are also connected to a Lineartronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) as standard. This transmission comes with a seven-speed manual mode for a little more hands-on interaction, and it should be noted that the transmission was just retuned for the 2018 model year to offer smoother operation.

Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD system completes the package, offering an electronically managed continuously variable transfer clutch to get the job done.

Fuel returns for the four-cylinder engine options come in at 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway, while the six-cylinder will give you 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

Subaru Outback performance specs

Subaru Outback (base model 2.5i four-cylinder) Subaru Outback (higher trim 3.6R six-cylinder)
Engine type 2.5-liter four-cylinder 3.6-liter six-cylinder
Horsepower 175 HP @ 5,800 RPM 256 HP @ 6,000 RPM
Torque 174 LB-FT @ 4,000 RPM 247 @ 4,400 RPM
0-to-60 mph time 9.2 seconds 7.0 seconds
Top speed 120 mph 140 mph
Towing capacity 2,700 pounds 2,700 pounds
Fuel returns city city/highway 25/32 20/27

4) Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack
- image 714750

Powering the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is just a single engine option – a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with direct injection. Hailing from VW’s EA888 engine family, this powerplant produces upwards of 170 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and 199 pound-feet of torque at 1,600 rpm. The power is routed through either a DSG six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, but if you prefer to row your own, there’s a six-speed manual on the table as well.

Making the traction is VW’s 4Motion AWD system. As you might expect, the AWD Golf is biased towards the front axle in its torque distribution, routing power exclusively to the front when cruising and decoupling the rear, thus upping the returns on fuel and mileage.

Hailing from VW’s EA888 engine family, the Golf’s powerplant produces upwards of 170 horsepower, with a 4Motion AWD system making the traction.

Tech details include a center differential that’s activated via an electro-hydraulic oil pump, only engaging the rear axle when wheel slip is detected. Should slippage occur, the AWD system can send a maximum of 50 percent of available engine torque to the rear axle for extra grip. There’s also an electronic differential lock, which connects with the electronic stability control to compensate for lateral slippage (that is, wheel slip between the left and right side of the car).

When it comes to mileage returns, the Golf manages up to 32 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg in the city.

Volkswagen Golf Alltrack performance specs

Engine type turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower 170 HP @ 4,500 RPM
Torque 199 LB-FT @ 1,600 RPM
0-to-60 mph time 7.5 seconds
Top speed 129 mph
Towing capacity N/A
Fuel returns city/highway mpg 22/32

5) Volvo V60 Cross Country

2015 Volvo V60
- image 712590

Making the go in the Volvo V60 Cross Country is a Drive-E 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder gas engine, which boasts all-aluminum construction, a 10.8:1 compression ratio, dual overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, and direct injection, plus a little brake energy regeneration on top. The 2.0-liter engine is also twincharged, which means its got both a supercharger and turbocharger to boost output, offering a broad, yet stout power band.

Peak figures look like 245 horsepower at 5,500 rpm, plus 258 pound-feet of torque at 1,500 rpm. Volvo offers the V60 with both FWD and AWD, and available transmissions include a six-speed manual, a six-speed automatic, and an eight-speed automatic. In the states, the transmission options are limited to just the Geartronic eight-speed as standard, which arrives with an automatic start/stop feature for heavy traffic conditions, as well as an Adaptive Shift capability.

The Volvo’s 2.0-liter engine is twincharged, which means its got both a supercharger and turbocharger to boost output, offering a broad, yet stout power band.

All told, the V60 has enough under the hood to yield a 0-to-62 mph time of 6.6 seconds when equipped with FWD. However, the Cross Country model comes standard with AWD, which makes that number a bit slower at 6.8 seconds. Top speed for both configurations is rated at 130 mph. Meanwhile, fuel returns are rated at 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. It should also be noted that Volvo offers a diesel powerplant option if you live overseas.

Volvo V60 Cross Country performance specs

Engine type twincharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower 245 HP @ 5,500 RPM
Torque 258 LB-FT @ 1,500 RPM
0-to-62 mph time 6.8 seconds
Top speed 135 mph
Towing capacity 3,300
Fuel returns city/highway mpg 22/30

The Bottom Line

2017 - 2018 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro
- image 716021

Note: Audi A4 Allroad pictured here.

Looking over the specs, a clear winner rises above the rest. The Audi struts its stuff with a combo of strong output numbers, decent towing capability, lots of AWD grip, and even a little extra punch when you put your foot down. The rest of the entries seem to fall behind the Four Rings product in each of these respects, giving Audi the win in the powerplant department.

Chassis And Handling

What does each of these wagons bring to the party when it comes to tracking down that hidden trailhead? Do they do well against their SUV counterparts, or fall short? In addition, what sort of high-performance is there (if any) when the road gets twisty?

1) Audi A4 Allroad

2017 - 2018 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 661352

The latest Audi A4 Allroad gets a revised suspension system, with a tweaked five-link set-up for the front axle. Audi equips the Allroad with adaptive dampers as standard equipment, while the various components utilize lots of aluminum for reduced weight. Compared to the previous model, the latest A4 Allroad sheds 66 pounds thanks to a variety of changes to the configuration and materials used.

Audi boasts that the Allroad’s suspension was specifically tuned for prowess on the rough stuff.

Audi boasts that the Allroad’s suspension was specifically tuned for prowess on the rough stuff. As such, its got taller tires and a raised suspension, with as much as 34 mm (1.34 inches) of extra ground clearance when compared to the regular A4, giving it roughly 6.5 inches of space total. Complementing the extra clearance are off-roading features like hill descent control and more extensive underbody protection, making the Allroad a dirt-ready upgrade over the equivalent sedan model. Put it into the appropriate off-roading mode, and the Audi will automatically adjust its engine turning, transmission settings, and steering response, while also disengaging the onboard Audi pre sense safety systems.

Further alternative driving modes include settings specifically tuned for a variety of different situations and circumstances, including “comfort,” “auto” (fire and forget), “dynamic” (more fun), and “individual” (driver customizable).

2) Mini Clubman All4

Mini Clubman All4 Unveiled Wallpaper quality
- image 662631

Compared to the other entries on this list, the Mini stands out as the only non-soft-roader of the group. Rather, the Clubman appears to focus more on showing its prowess on the black top, with only 5.6 inches of ground clearance underneath. And while deeply rutted dirt trails probably aren’t the best thing for the Mini, the lower suspension does give it a lowered center of gravity as well, which helps it handle high-speed cornering with more confidence.

Helping it achieve that characteristic is a single joint strut axle suspension up front, plus a multilink suspension set-up in the rear. A variety of different driving modes make the most of the independent suspension, while the optionally available Dynamic Damper Control adaptive suspension bits add an extra layer of performance goodness. And, per tradition, Mini says the Clubman handles like a go-kart, just like the rest of the range. Speed-sensitive eletromechanical steering round out the features list.

3) Subaru Outback

2018 Subaru Outback High Resolution Exterior
- image 712119

One look at the Subaru Outback, and it’s clear this thing is ready to go off the beaten path. That self-assurance is more than skin deep, as evidenced by not only the Outback’s broad range of exterior modifications, but also specs like an impressive 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

All that extra space underneath is supplemented by the onboard “X-Mode,” which engages a variety of new settings for maximizing trail readiness. These include enhanced engine output, new transmission ratios, upped AWD engagement, new logic for the Dynamics Control, and Hill Descent Control.

The Subaru’s self-assurance off-road is more than skin deep, as evidenced by specs like an impressive 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

What’s more, the Outback just received revised dampers for the new 2018 model, with tweaked tuning that yields a smoother ride for passengers. What’s more, Subaru also retuned to Outback’s brakes, which now offer the driver a more direct feel. Finally, the Electric Power Steering was redesigned for a better response, which should be helpful no matter what surface you happen to crossing.

4) Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack
- image 714748

Under the skin of the Volkswagen Alltrack, you’ll find the MQB chassis and underpinnings as you would any other Golf. That means it also uses the latest chassis construction technology as the rest of the Golf line, with techniques like laser clamp welding keeping weight low and strength high. Steel is used predominantly throughout, with several sections made from hot-formed and ultra-high-strength materials for increased lightness.

The suspension is composed of a strut and coil spring set-up, with telescopic and anti-roll bars up front. In back is a multilink set-up, also with coil springs, telescopic dampers, and an anti-roll bar. The brakes are measured at 11.3 inches up front with vented discs, while the rear receives 10.7-inch brakes with solid discs. Helping out is three-channel ABS, plus electronic brake force distribution. The steering is a rack-and-pinion system with electric assist and a 13.6:1 ratio.

As for what makes the Alltrack worthy of all tracks, the suspension was lifted by over half an inch, giving it 6.9 inches of ground clearance overall. The Golf also has Hill Descent Control, as well as its own Off Road Mode.

As for what makes the Alltrack worthy of all tracks, the suspension was lifted by over half an inch, giving it 6.9 inches of ground clearance overall. The Golf also has Hill Descent Control, as well as its own Off Road Mode. Just hit the right combination of inputs on the Driving Mode Selection, and you’ll be enjoying tweaks to the ABS and throttle response, while the onboard displays provide info useful to traversing the great outdoors, such as a compass, steering angle, and altimeter on the display.

The Alltrack’s extra off-roading grip comes courtesy of an XDS Cross Differential System, something Volkswagen originally used for the GTI. The system is similar in principle to a mechanical limited-slip differential, but uses the brakes to temper slippage, upping performance and handling in the process.

5) Volvo V60 Cross Country

2015 Volvo V60 Cross Country High Resolution Exterior
- image 576280

Keeping it shiny side up on the Volvo is a MacPherson strut front suspension, which incorporates coil springs, hydraulic shocks, and a stabilizer bar. Meanwhile, in the rear of the car, you’ll find trailing arm suspension, also utilizing coil springs, hydraulic shocks, and a stabilizer bar.

As evidenced by the stance, the Cross Country gets a lifted suspension system, with as much as 7.9 inches of ground clearance. Curb weight tips the scales at a hefty 4,019 pounds.

Making the thing turn is a power assisted rack-and-pinion steering system. Making it stop are 12.4-inch rotors on the front axle, plus 11.9-inch rotors in rear, with ABS, EBD, and power-assist provided for easier use. There’s also Hill Descent Control feature included, not to mention basics like dynamic stability control and other electronic aides.

The Bottom Line

2018 Subaru Outback High Resolution Exterior
- image 712117

When it comes to the chassis and handling, these wagons are obviously mostly focused on traversing unpaved fire roads and providing decent levels of comfort on the highway. Most won’t provide too many thrills when it comes to a winding backroad, with the exception of the Mini – that is to say, the Mini is the one to get if you know how to hit an apex or two.

As for the rest of it – the Subaru looks to be the best when it comes to handling the dirty stuff. Not only does it come with a huge 8.7 inches of ground clearance and a raft of off-roading features, but its ability to transform back into a comfortable road car helps it strike just the right balance for everyday use.

Ground clearance (inches)

Audi A4 Allroad 6.5
Mini Clubman All4 5.6
Subaru Outback 8.7
Volkswagen Golf Alltrack 6.9
Volvo V60 Cross Country 7.9

Safety

Frequently, wagons are the body style of choice for families, given all the space they provide for little ones and their associated cargo room. As such, vehicle safety is usually a top priority, so we’ve included ratings for each vehicle from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), as well as the various onboard features and technology designed to keep passengers out of harm’s way.

1) Audi A4 Allroad

2017 - 2018 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro High Resolution Exterior
- image 661350

The NHTSA and IIHS have yet to rate the Audi A4 Allroad model specifically, but have listed the 2017 Audi A4 sedan’s crash test ratings. The NHTSA gives the sedan four out of five stars in frontal crashes, five out of five stars in side impacts, and five out of five stars in rollovers tests, plus five out of five stars overall. Meanwhile, the IIHS gives the Audi it’s top “Good” safety rating in every crash test category, plus a “Superior” rating in front crash prevention, an “Acceptable” rating for the headlights, and a “Good” rating for the child seat anchor ease of use, not to mention its Top Safety Pick + award for 2017.

On the technology front, Audi equips the Allroad with its pre sense system, which will close the windows, tighten the safety belts, and heighten the braking response when a potential collision is detected. The Audi also offers more cutting-edge tech like automatic braking with pedestrian detection, traffic sign recognition, lane keep assist, a blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, emergency maneuver assist, and adaptive cruise control with a stop and go feature.

2) Mini Clubman All4

2016 Mini Clubman ALL4 Wallpaper quality
- image 662683

Both the NHTSA and IIHS have yet to rate the 2017 Mini Clubman All4, but Mini does promise a nice selection of safety tech regardless. Probably the most interesting is the Available Driving Assistant, which includes stuff like a camera-based active cruise control, collision warning, pedestrian warning, high-beam assist, and speed limit sign detection. There’s also an available Parking Assistant with rear-view camera, an electric parking brake, a brake dry function, Dynamic Traction Control, and Mini’s heads-up display to help relay further important information to the driver.

3) Subaru Outback

2018 Subaru Outback
- image 715942

As of this writing (05/08/2017), crash ratings for the 2018 Subaru Outback have yet to be posted. However, ratings for last year’s model are available, and it’s expected not much has changed in the recent refresh. For the time being, the NHTSA has given the Outback five out of five stars in frontal crashed, five out of five stars in side impacts, and four out of five stars in rollover tests, plus five out of five stars overall. The IIHS has given the Outback its top “Good” rating in every category, plus a “Superior” rating for front crash prevention, an “Acceptable” rating for the headlights, and a “Marginal” rating for the child seat anchors ease of use. It also gave the Suby its Top Safety Pick+ designation.

Although there isn’t a whole lotta room left for improvement in terms of crash tests, the 2018 Outback will most likely improve upon its old headlight rating thanks to the inclusion of Steering Responsive units plus LED lighting elements.

Although there isn’t a whole lotta room left for improvement in terms of crash tests, the 2018 Outback will most likely improve upon its old headlight rating thanks to the inclusion of Steering Responsive units plus LED lighting elements. Essentially, these lights will direct the headlight beam around corners for safer driving during nighttime excursions on winding roads. There’s also the EyeSight Driver Assist Technology with a high beam assist feature, while Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking, Vehicle Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Lane Change Assist are all included. There’s also a standard rear-view camera that adds adaptive guidelines that will move with the steering wheel, and a Reverse Automatic Braking feature. Further packages for security and safety are also available.

4) Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack High Resolution Exterior
- image 569812

The NHTSA has not yet posted crash test ratings for the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, the 2017 Golf Sportwagen is similar enough to bear mention here, posting four out of five stars in frontal crashes, five out of five stars in side crashes, and four out of five stars in rollover tests, with five stars overall. The IIHS gave the Alltrack a “Good” rating in each of the crashworthiness categories, while the front crash prevention systems were rated as “Advanced.” Unfortunately, the headlights got a “Poor” rating, and the child seat anchor ease of use were rated as “Acceptable.”

Buyers interested in getting the safest Alltrack out there are encouraged to opt into driver assist tech like Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking for the front, front and rear Park Distance Control, Parking Steering Assistant, and Lane Assist.

Buyers interested in getting the safest Alltrack out there are encouraged to opt into the optional driver assist tech. A rearview backup camera is included as standard, and integrates with the 6.5-inch touchscreen in the cabin.

What’s more, a rearview backup camera is included as standard, and integrates with the 6.5-inch touchscreen in the cabin. Go for the Driver Assist & Lighting Package, which is offered for the SEL trim level, and you’ll get goodies like an automatic on/off feature for the headlights, automatic headlight adjustment, and the standard halogen lighting elements will get replaced by bi-xenon units.

Further niceties come courtesy of Volkswagen’s Car-Net Security and Service features. This throws in an app to access a variety of different features, such as Automatic Crash notification, Roadside Assistance, Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance, remote door lock and unlock, remote honk and flash, your last parked location identifier, and a remote doors and windows status check. There’s also Family Guardian, which adds stuff like speed alert and boundary alert to keep an eye on the novice drivers of the family.

5) Volvo V60 Cross Country

2015 Volvo V60 Cross Country
- image 712583

The NHTSA has yet to post a safety rating for the Volvo V60, but the IIHS has awarded the non-Cross Country model with “Good” ratings for each of the crashworthiness categories, a “Superior” rating for front crash prevention, an “Acceptable” rating for the headlights, and an “Acceptable” rating for the child seat anchor ease of use.

The Volvo is also well equipped with a large selection of safety and autonomous drive systems.

The Volvo is also well equipped with a large selection of safety and autonomous drive systems, starting with something called City Safety, a suite that includes features like collision avoidance and crash mitigation, plus cyclist and pedestrian detection. Further features include adaptive cruise control, pilot assist, distance alert, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, driver alert control, and road sign navigation. Also making the list is large animal detection, which uses a front-mounted camera and radar to identify errant fauna that might find its way onto the road.

The Bottom Line

2018 Subaru Outback
- image 716022

Subaru doesn’t hide the fact that passenger safety and crashworthiness are some of its main priorities, and that focus is evident with the Outback’s top-notch ratings from the NHTSA and IIHS. And while it does get a small ding in this area over a “Marginal” rating for its child anchor ease of use, the Outback’s wide variety of standard and optional safety equipment help keep it at the top in this particular section.

The Intangibles

Now that’ we’ve discussed all the various features, specs, and numbers attached to these vehicles, it’s time to talk about the stuff that’s a little harder to pin down. What associations does each of these cars bring with them, and what should you expect if you decide to buy one?

1) Audi A4 Allroad

2017 - 2018 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro High Resolution Exterior
- image 661319

Without a doubt, the Audi should be considered the “nicest” car on this list. It’s got impressive features and a highly refined demeanor, neatly blending luxury and opulence in one cohesive package. If you need a wagon that’ll coddle and class it up when called upon, this is the one for you.

2) Mini Clubman All4

2016 Mini Clubman ALL4
- image 662664

The first thing that should stand out about the Mini Clubman All4 is that it’s not quite up to the same level in terms of off-roading capability when compared to the other four entries in this comparison. However, the tradeoff is that this is the one to get if fun in the bends is a major concern, especially, if you go for the optional suspension upgrades.

Additionally, the Mini gets a huge variety of customization options, making it the right choice for anyone with a desire to express him or herself via custom wheels, new side-view mirror caps, a repainted roof, and a bespoke interior. If style and speed are your thing, the Mini Clubman might be the right fit.

3) Subaru Outback

2018 Subaru Outback High Resolution Exterior
- image 712122

Subaru is frequently associated with combining utility with soft-roading capability, and as such, it frames to Outback as the “World’s First Sport Utility Wagon.” While it’s not necessarily the most exciting car in the world, the Outback is certainly a solid choice for this segment, most often associated with solid reliability and competence in a wide variety of surfaces and driving conditions.

4) Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack High Resolution Exterior
- image 569813

Like all Golfs, the Alltrack is a nice amalgamation of both high-quality fit and finish with endless versatility. This also includes the Alltrack’s ability to swallow a surprising amount of cargo without the burden of oversized exterior dimensions. This is one Golf that can provide the owner with whatever is needed in their particular active lifestyle, all with the traditional goodness normally associated with one of Volkswagen’s most iconic models.

5) Volvo V60 Cross Country

2015 Volvo V60 Cross Country High Resolution Exterior
- image 576274

Volvo is an automaker typically associated with high levels of safety and practicality, and the V60 Cross Country is certainly no different in that regard. However, since it’s a modern version of that ingrained ethos, the V60 gets the very latest technology and autonomous systems, making it a great choice for anyone concerned with having the latest and greatest.

Not only that, but the Volvo looks quite nice, both in terms of the exterior styling and interior spec. This is Swedish practicality framed by a sleek wrapper.

Pricing And Options

1) Audi A4 Allroad

2017 - 2018 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro High Resolution Exterior
- image 661353

Audi offers three individual trim levels of the A4, starting with the Premium model at $44,000. Go for the Premium and you’ll get standard features like the pre sense safety system, leather upholstery, a smarthphone interface, and the allroad exterior package. Next up is the Premium Plus, which starts at $47,000 and includes full LED headlights, the Audi connect CARE assistance services package, heated front seats, an upgraded 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system, and keyless start, stop, and entry. Finally, there’s the Prestige model, which starts at $51,400 and tosses in MMI navigation plus, an 8.3-inch display, the Audi virtual cockpit digital gauges, MMI touch and handwriting tech, Audi side assist and pre sense rear, and a heads-up display.

2) Mini Clubman All4

Mini Clubman All4 Unveiled
- image 662646

Mini offers three models of the Clubman All4, starting with the three-cylinder Cooper All4 starting at $25,900, and followed by the four-cylinder Cooper S All4 at $29,450 and John Cooper Works All4 at $35,100. The options list is extremely long, and includes standout features like chrome exterior trim ($250), a panoramic sunroof ($1,000), LED fog lights ($250), 18-inch wheels ($1,250), upgraded leather upholstery ($1,500), an Anthracite headliner ($250), Dynamic Damper Control ($500), a Harman Kardon sound system ($750), and more.

3) Subaru Outback

2018 Subaru Outback High Resolution Exterior
- image 712118

Subaru offers the Outback in four different trim levels, with either a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (designated by the 2.5i nameplate), or 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine (designated by the 3.6R nameplate). The base model is the 2.5i, which starts at $25,645 and includes the Subaru Starlink infotainment system and standard 17-inch wheels. Up next is the 2.5i Premium at $27,695, which gets fog lights, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats and further options for driver assistance tech. The mid-grade 2.5i Limited starts at $32,390 and includes leather upholstery, a 12-speaker stereo from Harman Kardon, 18-inch wheels, and heated rear seats. The top 2.5-liter-equipped model is the 2.5i Touring, which adds exclusive Java leather, standard safety tech, low-profile roof rails, and GPS navigation, all for $35,995. If you want the 256-horsepower six-cylinder engine, you can upgrade with the 3.6R, which gets the same gear as the 2.5i Limited but includes HID headlights and the upgraded engine for $34,995, or the 3.6R Touring, which gets the same gear as the 2.5i Touring but comes with that new engine under the hood, piano black accents, a wood pattern interior, and more.

4) Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Alltrack High Resolution Exterior
- image 670016

There are three separate trim levels offered for the Volkswagen Alltrack, starting at $25,850 for the base-model S. This includes a driver-selectable off-roading mode, the VW Car-Net App-Connect suite, and an available Driver Assistance package. After the S is the mid-grade SE, which starts at $29,430 and throws in a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry, and a premium Fender audio system. At the top of the range is the SEL, which starts at $32,890, adding in larger 18-inch wheels, leatherette upholstery for the seats, and an upgraded Discover media touchscreen nav system. The SEL is only offered with an automatic transmission, while the S and SE come standard with a manual transmission, with the option for an automatic added for $1,100 on top.

Options include the Driver Assistance Package for $845 (Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, and more), and the Driver Assistance & Lighting Package for $1,995 (only offered for the SEL model, adds in Driver Assistance plus Lane Departure Warning, auto high beams, bi-xenon headlights, and more).

5) Volvo V60 Cross Country

2015 Volvo V60 Cross Country
- image 716023

Volvo offers two trim levels for the V60 Cross Country, starting with the T5 AWD for $41,700, which includes 18-inch alloy wheels, and a Sensus Navigation system with map care. The top trim is the Platinum, which is an additional $3,850 and includes a better stereo, sport seats, accent lighting, and a host of features also available in the options list.

Packages include the Blind Spot Information Package (Blind spot monitor, cross traffic alert, parking assist, lane change merge aid) for $925, the Climate Package (heated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated windshield, a heated steering wheel, heated windshield washer nozzles, and interior air quality system) for $1,550, the Convenience Package (keyless drive, electric power steering customization, cargo net, rear park assist camera, garage door opener) for $1,500 (standard on the Platinum trim level), and the Technology Package (Adaptive cruise control, collision warning, pedestrian detection, cyclist detection, automatic braking, distance control, lane keep aid, road sign information, active high beams, and more) for $1,500 (standard on the Platinum trim level).

Conclusion

Ditch The SUV And Try One Of These Wagons Instead
- image 716025

While it’s true that the crossover and SUV segment offers a wider selection of vehicles to choose from, the soft-roader wagon alternatives listed here are still very much a viable alternative. Whether you’re looking for luxury, utility, peppiness, or all of the above, there’s sure to be a choice that manages to fit your unique criteria and budget. But if we were to choose, which is the best?

TopSpeed’s Rankings

Granted, many of these machines are in slightly different segments, given their associated price tag and equipment. But factoring in value for your money, how do they rank?

First Place – Subaru Outback

2018 Subaru Outback Exterior High Resolution
- image 714749

What is the essence of the soft-roader wagon? Distill it down, and it’ll likely look a whole lot like the Outback. In back is a huge amount of space for people and things, while ample ground clearance and standard symmetrical AWD give it somewhat respectable off-roader chops. Add in a variety of options for the engine and interior trim, lots of safety gear, and a price tag to fit a variety of budgets, and the Subaru walks away as the winner in this comparison.

Second Place – Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack
- image 714745

Like the Subaru, the Golf Alltrack manages to check all the right boxes, while also offering a little premium attitude that elevates it above and beyond its reasonable price tag. Solid infotainment and onboard technology are also a major benefit in the Volkswagen, but a limited number of drivetrain options and less cargo space knock it below the Outback.

Third Place – Audi A4 Allroad, Volvo V60 Cross Country (TIED)

2017 - 2018 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro High Resolution Exterior
- image 661327
2015 Volvo V60 Cross Country
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Audi A4 Allroad pictured on the left, Volvo V60 Cross Country pictured on the right.

Both of these entries are significantly more expensive than the other entries on this list, which knocks them down in ranking substantially. However, if you’re willing to pony up the extra outlay, you’ll be enjoying much more refinement, higher-quality interiors, and every bit of the same soft-roader chops and utility you’d expect. Choosing between the two is mostly a matter of stylistic preference.

Fourth Place – Mini Clubman All4

2016 Mini Clubman ALL4
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To be fair, the Mini Clubman is a bit of an oddball in this group. It was never really designed for any sort of soft-roading excursion, and its diminutive size puts it at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to practicality. That said, the Mini is definitely the one you want if standout styling, customizability, and fun behind the wheel are major concerns.

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