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Wagons, Ho! Four Mini Station Wagons I Miss Dearly

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author photo by Aaron Gold March 2017

There once was a time when nearly all cars were available as station wagons -- something that survived well into the Great Downsizing of the 1980s, and even the '90s. Today, wagons are few and far between, and there are several mini-wagons we (or at least I) desperately miss.

Hyundai Elantra Touring

Hyundai Elantra Touring

The Elantra Touring was an American-ized version of the Euro-market Hyundai i30, and it was one of the handiest cars I've ever driven. Plasticky and noisy to be sure -- this was among the last of the old-school Hyundais -- but man, you could stuff a lot of stuff in the cargo area! My wife and I liked it so much that we thought very seriously about buying one to replace our aging Honda Accord wagon. (We didn't; the Accord is still with us, and still aging.) I was bummed when the Elantra Touring went away and was replaced by the Elantra GT -- which, I grant you, is a very nice car...but it's no wagon, and it's no Elantra Touring.

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Ford Focus

Ford Focus

It's a little hard to remember just how cool the Ford Focus was when it first came out in late '99 -- mainly because Ford rushed to cover its tracks and reduce the Focus's appeal as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. (When they axed the asymmetric dash in 2005, we knew the car had jumped the shark.) Why did we love the Focus? Lots of reasons. It was good fun to drive. And it replaced the Escort, a car that was truly horrible. But what really made it cool was that it wasn't cool -- the back end was upright and the profile was incredibly frumpy, an effort to offer as much cargo space as possible regardless of the aesthetic penalty. And that, friends and neighbors, is what the station wagon is all about. I miss the Focus wagon's awkwardness, and I miss the Focus Wagon, full stop.

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Saab 9-5 Aero

Saab 9-5 Aero

Yeah, yeah, I know, this article is supposed to be about mini-wagons, and the 9-5 was everything but mini. But man, was it ever a wagon! With SUVs all the rage these days, it's easy to forget how seriously the Europeans took their station wagons, and the 9-5 was the epitome of their seriousness. It wasn't a huge car -- at least not by American standards -- but it had enough storage space to relocate a small village. That, plus it was dripping with Saab coolishness: It had a turbo 4-cylinder engine (those things used to be novelties, you know). It also had the Night Panel function, which doused all the instrument lights save the two-thirds of the speed. And the ignition key went between the seats. That is worth repeating: Between. The. Seats. Of all the wagons on this list, this may be the one I miss the most.

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Geo Storm Wagonback

Geo Storm Wagonback

The Geo Storm was bizarre enough -- a funky-looking two-door hatchback that was essentially a rebadged Isuzu Impulse, except few people know that, because Isuzu only sold about six Impluses in the United States. But then they got really funky with the Storm Wagonback, which basically extended the roofline in a straight horizontal line and filled in the space with glass. The view from the rear was not unlike the Saturn SW (another mini-wagon I miss), but the Storm had only two doors, giving it a vaguely Nomad-ish appeal. Way back when, I had a shot at buying one of these in teal green with an automatic transmission. Fearing for the integrity of what little manliness I had, I took a pass and got a gray Dodge Omni instead. Oh, the foolishness of youth.

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Wagons, Ho! Four Mini Station Wagons I Miss Dearly - Autotrader