Forget the SUV- Buy a Station Wagon

2012 Volvo V60. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images)
2012 Volvo V60. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images) /

Here I go, starting a piece with a paragraph with my disdain for the modern, grey, family SUV again. But seriously, aren’t you bored of your roads being clogged up with SUV drivers going at least 10 miles under the speed limit with their seven seats and smug, grey color almost taunting you with how little the driver cares about cars? Now, reader, you may or may not have a family or be interested in cars.

If you happen to be a reader who fits both of those categories, I implore you to read this, and if you don’t take anything else away from this, I hope I can dissuade you from buying a generic SUV. Anyway, moving away from SUVs, I love station wagons (or estates if you’re from the UK like me), and luckily, despite their decline in popularity (due to the modern driver wanting an ‘advanced driving position, whatever that means) there are still some solid options out there.

And here’s your best used options on the market today.

SUV Alternative 1- Volvo V60 (£14,000-£17,000 UK, $10,000-15,000 USA)

Volvo. Reliable. Safe. It’s perfect, and the V60 isn’t a bad looker either. As an SUV alternative, the Volvo V60 has it all. As standard, you get an inline-four that produces 113 horsepower in minimum spec. However, find any half-decent example, and you’ll get around 240 horsepower (in the T5 trim level), and if you care, you’ll get to 60 miles per hour in a neat 7.3 seconds. But that isn’t the reason you’d buy a car like this. You want a car like this for its MPG, boot space, and ability to seat your family.

So, sensible stats. As expected in a Volvo, you get a massive boot (557 liters, to be exact), with this, you get 501 miles per full tank, which isn’t bad. However, combined you’ll only get 34MPG. A further disappointment is that the T5 V60 comes standard as front wheel drive. However, if you’re willing to pay a bit extra, you can get the T6, which comes as an all-wheel drive vehicle.

2012 Volvo V60. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images)
2012 Volvo V60. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images) /

The V60 does well inside, too, with a comfortable, well-equipped interior. As standard, you get heated mirrors, partial leather seats, and cruise control. In most used models, you’ll get optional extras, which include A Sat Nav, Side Airbags, and a DVD player.

A perfect, stylish family car for all purposes, and better looking than a modern SUV.

SUV Alternative 2- Mercedes E-Class (E350) (£6,000-£10,000 UK, $12,000-$19,000 USA)

A 2016 Mercedes E-Class. Tell me you'd buy an SUV over this.
A 2016 Mercedes E-Class. Apologies reader this was the only picture available to me. I don’t know who she is either. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images) /

I know I write a series called German Alternatives. But there really isn’t much better than the Mercedes E-Class wagon, and there definitely isn’t an SUV in the same used price range that I’d take over it.

In that price range, the best you can do in terms of trim level is the E350 (with a V6). Power-wise, you get 268 horsepower in earlier models (up to 2012), and 302 in models from 2014 to 2016. The E350 is a bit of a sleeper, too, getting you from stationary to 60 miles an hour in 6.5 seconds. I know, reader, you’re sensible, but you’d be lying if you said you don’t want to add a bit of fun to your commute. The Merc gives you a more enjoyable ride combined with luxury and looks that very few SUVs at the same price point could dream of.

Economically, providing you don’t have too much fun, you can get around 44MPG out of the E-Class’s V6 and a range of 774 miles if you’re careful. Interior-wise, the E-Class wagon provides everything you need in a car. As standard, you get heated mirrors, heated seats, sports seats, parking sensors, and headlight washers. Which, to me, is almost everything a car needs inside, and it isn’t at a silly ride height finished in a flat grey, like that SUV you just overtook doing 30 in a 50.

SUV Alternative 3- Mini Clubman JCW (£12,500-£16,500 UK, $12,500-$17,500 USA)

The John Cooper Works Clubman in green with red striped.
How do Mini get it so right every time. The John Cooper Works Clubman. (Photo by Michael Debets/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

Yes, it isn’t as sensible as the other two, but (In Jeremy Clarkson’s voice) JUST LOOK AT IT. It’s a thing of beauty. As a testament to its look, even in Christmas spec (that’s red and green if you didn’t guess). However, for a performance orientated car, the Clubman John Cooper Works is pretty sensible, that’s if you feel like being sensible, seeing that bonnet vent, massive alloys, and those racing stripes.

The Clubman JCW is capable of 38 MPG and has a respectable 360 liters of boot space. The boot (or trunk if you’re American) is even more accessible than

The Clubman's van style doors, what SUV has that?
The Clubman’s van style doors. (Photo by Michael Debets/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

the other two options, given its van-style doors. This not only gives the Clubman a good amount of storage but accessibility, too.

How many SUV drivers can say they have van-style doors and racing stripes on their cars?

The picture below looks dreary, but it’s just an example of

Mini 2015 interior. Something something an SUV couldn't do it as good as Mini
Mini get interiors right. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images) /

a Mini interior from this generation. In the Clubman JCW, you can expect red accents on the seats, as well as mood lighting, a non-touchscreen, but very good infotainment system, as well as aviation-inspired metal switches. The Mini gets it right inside and out.

My Verdict: It’s tough, and it’s between the Mini Clubman John Cooper Works or the E350. But it’s got to be the Mini Clubman. Even the bog standard model is worth having, but this one is just a bit cooler. In fact, writing this has given me the urge to go and buy a Clubman JCW.