The Manwagon

Friday, February 24th, 2006

It’s not an SUV. It’s not a minivan. It’s The Manwagon:

Seeking to lure speed-crazy guys with kids, car makers are trying to transform the dowdy old family hauler into something new: the manwagon. In perhaps the most extreme sign of the industry’s horsepower race, some of these wagons are quicker than a Porsche Boxster. They have monstrous engines, giant brakes, track-ready suspensions and race-car-style seats — plus prices up to $30,000 higher than the base versions. But unlike a sports car, these wagons can fit strollers and coolers in the back.

This melding of speed and sippy cups may seem unlikely, but car makers say their consumer research has unearthed a surprising number of family men who thought wagons could be cool, if only they had more guts. Dodge responded by rolling out its aggressively styled Magnum wagon in 2004 and just added a faster version, the 425-horsepower SRT8. Volvo’s V70 R has 79% more power than the base V70 wagon, while Audi put together its S4 Avant by pairing an A4 wagon with a 340-horsepower V8 engine from its flagship A8 sedan. Mercedes-Benz recently began selling the supercharged E55 wagon for the first time in the U.S.: It boasts the same 469-horsepower engine that powers one of the fastest sedans Mercedes has ever built.

Leave a Reply