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February 27, 2008

News & Features

2008 new and redesigned wagons and vans

Looking for an all-new van or wagon in 2008? Here's a brief overview of all the vans and wagons that have been redesigned or are brand-new models to the market in 2008. Some of the highlights include the redesigned Dodge Grand Caravan and the brand-new Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen.


Chrysler Town & Country


2008 Chrysler Town & Country

2008 Chrysler Town & Country


Redesigned for 2008
List prices: $22,460-$35,670

As always, the Chrysler Town & Country shares the Grand Caravan's equipment and features, though the exterior is distinguished more than ever. That said, you can see the relation clearly. The main difference is in the brand image; the Town & Country is more focused on comfort and amenities than on sport. It comes in three trim levels: the LX, Touring and Limited. The LX will almost certainly be priced at least a bit higher than the base Grand Caravan, and the Limited above that of the top-level Dodge.

Dodge Grand Caravan

2008 Dodge Grand Caravan

2008 Dodge Grand Caravan


Redesigned for 2008
List prices: $21,740-$26,805

Shortly after GM canceled plans to revamp its minivans — and just days after Ford unexpectedly stopped building its Freestar and Mercury Montego for good — Dodge took the wraps off its fifth-generation Grand Caravan. Unlike GM and Ford, minivan-originator Dodge — along with Chrysler and its Town & Country — has held its own against the competitive likes of Honda's Odyssey and Toyota's Sienna. Those models sit on one end of the minivan spectrum, with low-cost alternatives like the Kia Sedona at the other end.

Dodge hopes to retain or gain in its share of the van pie with fresh styling, new drivetrains and innovative seating arrangements in two trim levels: the SE and SXT. What you won't see is the short-wheelbase Caravan, which has been discontinued. You might say that now all Caravans are Grand. Their Town & Country sister, also in the longer size, offers more luxury at the top end but otherwise differs mainly in its target buyer — older, on average, and more interested in comfort and amenities than in sport. Cosmetically, it's more distinguishable from the Dodge than ever, with different sheet metal, grille, bumpers and lights, plus a distinct interior design, including its own instrument panel.

Ford Taurus X

2008 Ford Taurus X

2008 Ford Taurus X


New for 2008
List prices: $26,615-$31,800

For 2008, Ford has dumped several of its slow-selling monikers, hoping fresh faces and new (old) names will revive sales. The Five Hundred sedan and its Mercury Montego twin become the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable, respectively, while the Freestyle wagon becomes the Taurus X. Although the names recall famous, and top-selling, Fords of yesteryear, all three are essentially freshened versions of their predecessors.

Changes between the Freestyle and the Taurus X include a new grille that resembles those on Ford's Fusion sedan and restyled 2008 Focus, as well as an updated interior and a more powerful V-6. Like the Explorer SUV, the Taurus X also offers an upscale Eddie Bauer edition.

Saab 9-3 SportCombi

2008 Saab 9-3 SportCombi

2008 Saab 9-3 SportCombi


Redesigned for 2008
List prices: $27,640-$44,920

Saab's 9-3 SportCombi wagon gets a redesigned exterior for 2008. The 9-3 is available as a convertible, SportCombi (read: wagon) and sedan. The Aero is the uplevel trim in all body styles, and each comes with a 2.8-liter turbocharged V-6 engine.

Base models feature 16-inch alloy wheels and a power driver's seat. Aero models include the more powerful engine, 17-inch wheels and slightly larger brakes. Both trims offer six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions. An upgraded Bose Centerpoint audio system will be optional on base models and standard on Aero sedans and SportCombis.

Exterior changes for 2008 include new wheel designs, a larger front grille, smaller side grilles and a more V-shaped hood. Saab says it borrowed some styling ideas from its Aero X auto-show concept when it refined the 9-3's looks.

Scion xB

2008 Scion xB

2008 Scion xB


Redesigned for 2008
List prices: Starting at $15,650

Time to get that paper route, kids — the next Scion xB is here. The boxy original helped spur widespread interest in the brand during Scion's 2003 launch, and by the looks of it, parent company Toyota doesn't want to mess with a good thing. The redesigned xB looks much like the iconic original; notable upgrades include a substantially larger engine and four additional airbags. Both updates should address the two biggest drawbacks of the previous xB: It was woefully underpowered and short on safety features.

With its new engine, the xB becomes a credible competitor for Honda's similarly styled Element. Unlike the Element, which can manage light off-roading, the xB does not offer all-wheel drive. Scion will eventually make more than 40 accessories available for the xB.

Subaru Outback


2008 Subaru Outback

2008 Subaru Outback


Redesigned for 2008
List prices: $21,995-$31,495

Subaru restyled its two midsize cars, the Legacy and Outback, for 2008. The Outback's makeover is milder than that of the Legacy, as it doesn't affect much beyond the front.

Tweaks include a slightly modified interior, as well as an upgraded automatic transmission with steering-wheel paddle shifters for six-cylinder Outbacks. Subaru's SI-Drive feature, which allows drivers to choose from three preset levels of accelerator and transmission response, becomes available on six-cylinder Outbacks.

Trim levels range from the base Outback to the fully loaded L.L.Bean edition, the latter now available on both four- and six-cylinder Outbacks. The lineup offers sedan and wagon versions of nearly all trim levels. The Outback Sport, though related by name, is actually based on Subaru's smaller Impreza.

Subaru continues to pair various horizontally opposed engines with the Outback, ranging from a 2.5-liter four-cylinder to a 3.0-liter six-cylinder. With standard all-wheel drive and available premium features, like a dual-pane moonroof and a navigation system, the Outback competes against midsize and premium wagons — among them the Mazda6 wagon and Volvo V50.

Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen

2008 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen

2008 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen


New for 2008
List prices: TBA

The Jetta Sportwagen is all new for 2008. Features include a 2.5L, 185hp, 5-cylinder engine and an optional panoramic sunroof. A 2.0L TDI diesel version will also be available. The Jetta Sportwagen is set to be released in the spring of 2008.

Volvo V70

2008 Volvo V70

2008 Volvo V70


Redesigned for 2008
List prices: Starting at $32,465

While some say wagons are a dying breed, Volvo has long been a staunch supporter of this iconic family-mobile and continues to show its support with the V70, which was redesigned for 2008.

Volvo's hallmark has been and remains safety, and the V70 is available with advanced safety features like Collision Warning with Brake Support. This system uses a light and sound to warn the driver if it senses a collision may occur with a car in front of it; the system brakes the car if the driver doesn't heed the alert.

The XC70 offers a similar design with a few more off-road provisions.

Volvo XC70

2008 Volvo XC70

2008 Volvo XC70


Redesigned for 2008
List prices: Starting at $36,775

The XC70 is an off-road-themed version of Volvo's traditional V70 wagon, and both models have been redesigned. The XC70's exterior and interior styling has been revised, and it features a new inline-six-cylinder engine. The wagon now comes with adjustable child booster seats in the second row.

Collision Warning with Brake Support and Blind Spot Information System are two Volvo safety features available in the XC70. Collision Warning with Brake Support uses a light and sound to warn the driver if it senses a collision may occur with a car in front of the XC70, and brakes if the driver doesn't respond to its alert. BLIS, meanwhile, keeps tabs on cars on either side.

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