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Old 08-14-2006, 12:57 PM   #1
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Helping a friend: Midsize wagon

Alright mates, I'm in a bit of a tough spot and need some help brainstorming.

I coworker of mine asked me today what I knew about Mazda6 build quality and reliability. What he was really asking me was to suggest a midsized wagon for his wife's new car. The guidelines are as follows:

Wagon or large-hatchback cargo space, replacing a Mazda Protege5
Manual trans strongly prefered
Cannot be VW/Audi, Subaru or Volvo

The last bit it what really sunk me, thats a big piece of the pie in a small segment. Smaller SUVs are a possibility, I recommended a test drive in a Tribute, but I'm going to guess it would feel small. He doesnt like the Element, cause of pricing and size, and doesnt like the Matrix due to small size.

I'm drawing a little bit of a blank. Unless I can find word that volvo wagons have gotten much more efficient in recent years, their JD Power reliability ratings are poor and word on the steet is maintenance is expensive.

Suggestions? Thanks all!


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Old 08-14-2006, 01:44 PM   #2
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why not subaru or VW?

i'd say the Mazda6, a Subaru Legacy/Impreza, or a VW Passat
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Old 08-14-2006, 01:51 PM   #3
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I had a Focus wagon (for 4 years) which actually felt roomier than an Escape or Tribute (test drove an Escape.) For a while it was considered "midsize" because of it's overall space. Cargo space was pretty good in it as well, not much less than the Escape. (I moved twice with the use of my Focus Wagon...it didn't let me down!). The only drawback was that it was a bit tight for adult backseat passengers, and they'll find it hard to find a manual transmission.

The Mazda6 wagon is a bit larger (10 inches longer) than the Focus Wagon and the Volvo S40. The Mazda is a 3.0L V6, and the Volvo is a 2.4L I5, while the Focus of course is the 2.0L I4 Duratec. The gas mileage is, of course, better on the Focus and Volvo. As for reliability, I'd say they'd all be close to the same?? They're all Ford products at least.

The Malibu Maxx may be an option. It's kind of a hatch/wagon mix, about the same size as the Mazda6 Wagon. But it has a 3.5L or 3.9L V6, so it has the worst mileage of those I've mentioned. It's likely to be available in a manual transmission, though.

My advice:

If they want V6: Mazda Tribute or Ford Escape V6, followed by the Mazda 6 Wagon or Malibu Maxx.

If they want fuel economy: Mazda Tribute or Ford Escape in the 2.3L I4. They're not likely to find a manual tranny in the Ford Focus wagon, but it's an option if they want to forgo manual.


There are of course things like the Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix, Suzuki Aero, and that crazy Dodge Magnum, which I know nothing about.
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Old 08-14-2006, 02:01 PM   #4
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^^ Why not Subaru/VW is deep-seated fears of reliability issues starting at the vehicle's midlife. We all know somebody (or at least, both of us do) who have had nightmare cars from each make, between VW electrical problems and subaru center diff's they'd rather stay away. Their benchmark for reliable is his 2001 Tacoma.

I personally liek the Tribute for them, and if I could find just a little more evidence I'd love to recommend a Volvo, cause they're so damn nice nowadays.

Thanks, any more?
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Old 08-14-2006, 02:32 PM   #5
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what about those mazda5s or whatever they are those wagon/van type things. they arent ttoo much like a van and look kinda cool. 160 hp with like 22/27 mpg
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Old 08-14-2006, 02:56 PM   #6
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If your wife does alot of driving, Focus Wagon all the way! Gas ain't going to get cheaper.

I used to own a 2002.5 Mazda Protege5 and had an '05 Mercury Mariner w/2.3 Duratec (it was a DOG and best I could get was 23mpg all highway.)

The Focus Wagon is EPA classified as a "Midsize Wagon". -All the others in its class are EPA "Small Wagons". My ZXW is roomier than the P5 and Mariner (with except of Mariner having better rear seat space)
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Old 08-14-2006, 02:59 PM   #7
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Old 08-14-2006, 03:10 PM   #8
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What about an '06 Toyota Rav4? 269hp six cylinder engine that gets close to 30 mpg on the highway!
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Old 08-14-2006, 03:13 PM   #9
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^^^^^ Yeah that would be nice, but expect frequent service trips and it's pretty tiny inside for a wagon

EDIT: oops I'm refering to the BMW 3-series two posts above
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Old 08-14-2006, 03:43 PM   #10
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I actually wondered about the Rav4 myself, it was just redesigned wasnt it? Or is it about to be? This is a segment I know very little about. Some reading is in order.

And I knew I was forgetting something I liked, the Mazda5. I'll suggest that, but it may get shot down on account of looks. No accounting for taste.
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