Sporty station wagons no longer like big family wagons from years ago

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Station wagons are boring, right? That old car mom drove you around in as a kid. But what if a station wagon were a Jaguar or a Porsche? (KABC)

Station wagons are boring, right? That old car mom drove you around in as a kid. But what if a station wagon were a Jaguar or a Porsche? It's a new era for station wagons, ones with a sporty performance flair.

Wagons have been popular in Europe for decades, long after most families in the U.S. switched over to minivans and SUVs. Though in Europe they're not necessarily called wagons. Synonyms include "longroofs," "shooting brakes," "touring cars," "estates," and so on. But when all is said and done, they're wagons.

Jaguar's betting that some U.S. buyers are ready for the Jaguar of station wagons, the new XF Sportbrake. Based on the XF sedan, the wagon is a nice size and offers car-like attributes like a smooth ride and crisp handling. It's not inexpensive, at $70,000 before options.

And Porsche's first wagon is now here, the Panamera Sport Turismo. It bridges the gap between the regular Panamera liftback and Porsche's Cayenne SUV. And since it's a Porsche, it's right at home on a twisty road, or even a race track. You may need to up your car budget for this wagon, as its base price is about $96,000. You can also spend a lot more if you want more power and features.

And there's also a new wagon from an unusual source: Buick. It's called the Regal TourX, and it too has roots in Europe. Notice here, too, that Buick doesn't actually call it a wagon. But it is one, and quite practical as well. It's also one of the more reasonably priced wagons in this bunch, with a base price of around $30,000.

Where these wagons really shine is in versatility. Just enough cargo room in back for when you need to carry things, but the rest of the car is just like a sedan. That means a luxurious ride, and car-like performance. They can be much more fun to drive than the typical SUV.

And if you want something really fun to drive, did you know there's now a Corvette wagon? It's not built by Chevrolet, but by legendary Corvette tuner Callaway Cars. The Callaway AeroWagen replaces the regular Stingray's hatch for a custom, angular wagon back made of lightweight carbon fiber. Ideas like this have actually been built as concepts at Chevrolet over the years, but it took a creative aftermarket force to actually bring a Vette wagon to market. The Callaway AeroWagen offers a small increase in cargo room and a big change to the car's overall shape.

And since it's a Callaway product, performance is only limited by your budget. The Callaway Z06 AeroWagen had 757 supercharged horsepower under the hood and would set you back over $150,000 with all the other performance goodies it wore. Or, if you already have a 2014 or newer Chevrolet Corvette, Callaway can do the AeroWagen upgrade to your existing car, starting at about $15,000.

These aren't the station wagons your mom took you to school in, and that's actually for the better. These lean, sporty wagons are a newfound niche in the auto industry, where practicality meets performance -- no matter what you call them.
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