Car Buying

Sedan or Wagon: Which Is Right For You?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro June 2014

If you're trying to decide between a sedan and a wagon for your next car, you've come to the right place. We've listed the pros and cons of both body styles to help you figure out which one will be better for your family's automotive needs.

Wagon: Benefits and Drawbacks

The wagon body style has a lot of practical benefits compared to other family car choices. The most obvious is trunk space: When you compare a wagon to a midsize sedan, the wagon has much more cargo room because you have an entire cargo area, as opposed to a closing trunk. Most wagons also have fold-down seats, giving them almost van-like cargo space for when you really need to carry large objects.

Of course, wagons don't hold an advantage over SUVs when it comes to cargo capacity, but that's where their driving characteristics come into play. Wagons drive a lot more like cars than SUVs do, which is important to some shoppers. And their smaller size provides fuel economy benefits. As a result, wagons could be considered a good compromise between sedans and SUVs, combining the driving experience and gas mileage of a car with the storage space of an SUV.

So what are the drawbacks to a wagon? Simply put, they aren't very fashionable. Many modern car shoppers think SUVs or sedans are cooler than wagons, which have long been considered transportation for parents. And that brings us to the other problem with wagons -- there just aren't very many of them. Because wagon popularity has waned in the last few years, most automakers have decided to focus on sedans and SUVs instead.

Sedan: Benefits and Drawbacks

The primary benefit of sedans over wagons is variety. While there are only a few wagons on the market, there are dozens of sedans -- and that gives you a better chance to get a good deal, since the market is far more competitive. It also gives you a better chance to find a car you really like, because you can choose between dozens of competitors rather than a small handful.

Privacy is another of these cars' benefits. Unlike in a wagon's cargo area, your belongings won't be exposed to potential thieves if they're safely in a trunk, and that means you can keep various items in the back without worry. In addition, these cars are also considered far more fashionable than wagons, largely because many different types of buyers choose them (instead of just parents, as is the stereotypical case with wagons).

What are the drawbacks to choosing a sedan? The biggest one is cargo capacity, since you won't get all the space offered by a wagon or SUV. Additionally, shoppers in cold-weather states may have difficulty finding models with all-wheel drive: while many wagons have the feature, it's only included on a few midsize or compact sedans.

Our Take

In the end, deciding between a sedan and a wagon is, of course, up to you. If cargo volume is important, and cool factor isn't a concern, the wagon is probably worth a spot on your shopping list. If you want more choices and you don't mind the lack of all-weather capabilities, you might want to pick a sedan instead.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Sedan or Wagon: Which Is Right For You? - Autotrader