Keep the space but save big with a wagon

LOS ANGELES There is a big demand for smaller cars, but you don't have to give up on space. There are some new rides that will haul all your stuff, plus save you cash on gas.

The new Jetta Sportwagen has attributes many are looking for these days. It has a fairly roomy interior, lots of comfort and, most importantly, a fuel-efficient engine.

The Sportwagen can go between 21 and 29 miles on each gallon of regular gas. However, it adds another attribute: A huge cargo area for carrying things. The car has nearly 67 cubic feet of space when the rear seat is folded down. Some SUV's can't hold that much.

This isn't the first time Volkswagen has offered such a useful vehicle. There was one they used to call the "Squareback" during the original Beetle era.

This may be a good time for small station wagons to make a comeback because Americans deal with higher fuel prices, but still want some utility.

Subaru has redesigned its Forester. The Forester has almost bridged the gap between a wagon and the SUV.

The Forester's four cylinder engine is good for 20 miles per gallon in the city and 26 miles per gallon on the highway. The optional turbo engine drops the gas mileage to 19 and 24. The huge luggage compartment could make you forget about that thirsty SUV you used to love so much.

Most people know that a small car gets pretty good gas mileage, but many drivers also want to be able to carry things. That's where small wagons really shine.

Unlike a larger vehicle, a wagon can be fun to drive. Though selections are limited, more car companies are starting to offer small station wagons.

The utility is there when you need it, but pulling into a gas station won't be the traumatic experience it might be with something bigger.


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