While the majority of Americans keep falling harder for crossovers, the U.S.’s best-selling vehicle body style, the death of the sedan has seen another style blossom in its wake: the station wagon. Over the past five years, wagons have seen 29 percent growth, with nearly a quarter-million wagons sold in 2018 alone, per a Bloomberg report. Despite impressive double-digit growth, long-roofs still have a long way to go as they only represent about two percent of total vehicle sales in the U.S., but it’s a promising start.
While the wagons of yesteryear conjure up images of the Griswolds on family vacations, ambling through the idyllic countryside in a Wagon Queen Family Truckster (actually a 1979 Ford Country Squire LTD, modded by the film studio), today’s wagons are anything but underpowered steel slouches. They’re powerful, dynamic family haulers; grocery-getters capable of destroying the groceries on the way home. Here’s hoping the market segment keeps blooming, so we’re treated to a wider array of potent wagons. Below, seven of our favorite fastest and most powerful wagons.
Cadillac CTS-V Wagon
Back in 2010, General Motors debuted the Cadillac CTS-V Wagon, which proudly still holds the title of most powerful production wagon ever offered with a manual transmission. The whole V-series was decadently insane, in terms of performance and spec numbers, and the CTS-V Wagon was the chef’s kiss of the supercharged family. Under the bonnet was GM’s LSA V-8, a 6.2-liter mill that was derived from the C6 Corvette ZR1’s LS9. That’s good for 556 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of twist, all funneled to the rear wheels via a Tremec six-speed manual (or an automatic with paddle shifters). If you haven’t had the pleasure of flogging a Corvette-powered Caddy wagon, allow us to inform you it’s a sheer hoot. You’ll cackle during the four seconds required to rip to 60, and then howl maniacally if you’ve got the runway and cojones to continue on to the max speed of 190 mph. Alas, the V Wagon production shuttered in 2014, so if you can find one for sale, buy it immediately. Future collector’s item, right there.
Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo
The Panamera’s exterior design was a mite polarizing when it first emerged, but no one can argue with the venerable performance of the Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo, a name nearly as long as the 16.5-foot wagon. There’s a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8, which is rated to 550-horsepower, but that’s augmented by a 136-hp electric motor for a total output of 686 ponies, and 626 lb-ft of torque. It takes a mere 3.2 seconds to hit 60, especially in Sport Chrono mode. The top speed is 192 mph, but this kind of performance doesn’t come cheap. Expect a sticker price well into the six figures, if you want it fully loaded.
Audi RS6 Avant Performance
Here’s some forbidden German fruit. While Audi’s finally considering bringing its line of wagons stateside, for now, you can only buy an Audi Avant in Europe. The top wagon is the RS6 Avant Performance, which takes Audi’s impeccable 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, rated to 556-hp, and tacks on another 50 some ponies to get you to 605 horsepower. But now Audi’s redoing that powertrain, and ratcheting the power up to proper supercar levels, around 650 to 700, especially when you consider that Audi and Porsche are both VW Automotive Group brands, and a hybridized system similar to the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid could be similarly deployed in the RS6 Avant Performance.
Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon
One of our favorite Tri-Star’s has to be the E 63 S wagon, which can become a proper sleeper if de-badged. Only the snarl of the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 can give away that this wagon’s packing 603 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of yank. While all-wheel-drive is a Mercedes-Benz standard, the folks at AMG kindly separated the front axle from the rear in certain drive modes to enable massive, smoke-filled drifts. (In fact, the wagon has a Drift Mode feature.) You don’t need a wagon that has a Race mode and Race Start, but you’ll definitely find yourself spending a substantial amount of time toying with those features. Feel free to terrify the family by lighting ‘em up off the line and shredding to 60 in 3 seconds flat.
Jaguar XF S Sportbrake
The British call wagons “estates” because they were ideal for puttering around one’s vast expanse of land. The Jaguar XF S Sportbrake is more likely to tear up the English countryside than ferry a pack of hunting dogs and the lads around, and that’s the way we like it. Its supercharged V-6 is good for 380 horsepower, and the drivetrain hails from an iteration of the F-Type S. Brake-based torque vectoring helps the hefty Sportbrake stay upon the line you place it, and all-wheel-drive keeps you moving regardless of terrain conditions.
Dodge Magnum SRT8
If you took the Chrysler 300 sedan and stretched it, you’d have the Dodge Magnum. Both were underpinned by the rear-wheel-drive LX platform, and when the Magnum went on sale in Europe, it actually was called the 300 Wagon. When it debuted in 2005, it was kitted out with a 5.7-liter Hemi and optional all-wheel-drive, but the peak Magnum years were from 2006 through 2008, when the SRT8 variant was offered. Those Magnums had 425 horses under the bonnet, and had lowered and stiffer suspensions, and performance tires. Pour one out for the Magnum, as the line shuttered in 2008. Imagine if this thing had stuck around long enough for FCA to shoehorn a Hellcat engine in the bay?
1994 Buick Roadmaster Wagon
If you’re wondering what a wood-paneled wagon is doing on this list, this sleeper is anything but stock. While the 1994 woody came with a 5.7-liter V-8, it was detuned down to about 250 horses. That wasn’t nearly enough for actor and gearhead Dax Shepard. “I looked for a year for [this very car],” Shepard told MotorTrend. “When my wife got pregnant, I was like I’m going to get a B-body station wagon between ’94 and ’96, because if I’m going to be a dad, I don’t want to be in a minivan. I want something I can drift.” What a hero. Shepard dropped in a 6.2-liter supercharged LSA crate engine, which now gives him more than 550 horsepower, added a MagnaFlow exhaust, upgraded the brakes to Wilwood stoppers, and swapped in a coilover suspension along with larger front and rear anti-roll bars to help get the Roadmaster around corners. “That car is a 10,” Shepard says. Listen to it growl in the below video from MagnaFlow, and check out Shepard drag racing Jay Leno over here.