It’s true that what’s old is new again, whether you’re talking fashion or cars. Before there were SUVs, before there were minivans, there were station wagons. Somewhere along the line, the wagon got a bad rap and disappeared mostly from the automotive landscape. Instead of the old woodies of years past, trends shifted to the larger minivans and then to the all-purpose, all-terrain, fully-decked out SUVs. Then along came the so-called crossovers – combining the best traits of wagon, minivan and SUV. Some automakers call them sports wagons, others just wagons. In any case, wagons are again part of the automotive lexicon. For those families seeking an alternative to SUVs or minivans, here are our Top 3 Best Used Station Wagons with Third Row Seats. These choices are based on reviews from the experts – Edmunds, Consumer Guide, enthusiast magazines, plus safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

  • Chrysler Pacifica (2004-2008) – The original large crossover wagon, the Chrysler Pacifica boasts 5-star NHTSA crash test chrysler_pacificascores and Best Pick from the IIHS. Pacifica seats 5 or 6, although space is a bit tight behind the third-row seat. Pacifica received significant updating in 2007, including a new V-6 engine, new 6-speed automatic transmission and new styling. Editors of Consumer Guide rate Pacifica as “more rational than most any SUV and more stylish than a minivan, exuding some upscale appeal.” Edmunds True Market Value (TMV) pricing for Pacifica runs from $9,064 for a 2004 model to $29,647 for the 2008 version.
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon (2007-2009) – Pricier than other wagon choices, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon seats 7 in luxurious comfort with rear-facing third row seat. Edmunds frequently picked the wagon as one of its “Most Wanted.” Hailing its “sleek and dignified design… powerful V8 engines [and] available all-wheel drive,” Edmunds says the brakes lack “progressive feel,” and the layout of controls is “confusing.” Consumer Guide selects the E-class as a Recommended Pick, hailing its build quality, acceleration/handling and available all-wheel drive. Edmunds TMV pricing ranges from $32,592 (2007) to $88,500 (2009).
  • Ford Freestyle (2005-2007) – Freestyle had a short, but active life, produced by Ford for the 2005 to 2007 model years. Powered by a 3.0-liter V-6 engine, backed by a continuously variable transmission, Freestyle came standard with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive was optional. According to Edmunds, there was abundant storage and cargo space “thanks to its boxy shape, low floor, and the fold-flat capability of both the second- and third-row seats.” Pros include cabin design, passenger and cargo space, ride and handling and numerous safety features. Cons include underpowered at highway speeds, and no stability control. Edmunds TMV pricing ranges from a low $11,043 (2005) to $18,840 (2007). Freestyle was replaced by Taurus X in 2008, with “freshened styling and more power,” according to Consumer Guide.

Other good choices include the 2005-2008 Dodge Magnum, and the 2007-2008 Subaru Outback.

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