Wagons come in all shapes and sizes usually with 5 seats or up to 9 seats in a three-row(or two in some shooting brakes). Wagons range from pedestrian family haulers to supercar beating sleepers like the RS6 or even a touring car competitor with Volvo's legendary BTCC 850. They also originate from every major automobile producing nation, including Germany, England, Sweden, America, Japan, and even Australia. All this variety makes picking one favorite a challenge.
Volvo Wagon for example of a more pedestrian but practical wagon. (Licensed under Creative Commons)
The boxy look and attitude of old Volvo Wagons such as the 240 or 740 is fascinating, but you also have to hand it to Audi and their RS6, RS4 wagon, and also any Mercedes AMG Wagon these days. BMW has also produced their fair share of great wagons over the years, from the genre defining E30 Touring to the new 3 Series Wagon, a perfect car for a small well-off family, and we can't forget the epic E61 M5 Touring. Muscle car wagons, the Cadillac CTS-V or Vauxhall VXR8 for example, also stand out for their sheer bad*ss attitude with powerslides and burnouts. Last, but not least we can not forget the offerings from Japan. From Nissan, we have the Stagea, a wagon based off of the Skyline platform, which was basically a GT-R wagon in its run from 1996-2001. Mitsubishi also offered a Wagon version of the EVO IX , but unfortunately none for their other generations. Then, perhaps the most prolific producer of wagons from Japan we have Subaru, my personal favorite. Subaru started out with a very basic wagon in the Loyale but really brought their wagon game up a notch with the Impreza and Legacy. The Impreza WRX got a neat wagon version, but the Legacy Wagon is my favorite.
Subaru Impreza WRX Wagon (Creative Commons)
I'll be honest, as a Subaru Legacy gen 2 owner, I am extremely biased, but I will make my case for the Legacy Wagon. The Subaru Legacy Wagon does everything a wagon should do in my opinion, and has so much potential if you choose to modify it (as proven by Mighty Car Mods and countless engine swaps). Aesthetically, the 2nd and 4th generation Legacy Wagons are best-looking of the bunch with the 1st gen a close runner up, which looks alright, and the others aren't too bad. The 2nd and 4th generation may not be the sexiest cars ever created, but they have well-sorted front fascia, and even though the styling does not take too many risks, they are both still attractive automobiles. Another positive is that the Subaru Legacy has always offered an affordable entry level model, evidenced by my spartan Brighton, and a combination of performance and luxury up top with the Legacy GT then GT-B or STI above. As far as practicality goes, the Legacy Wagons are big enough for all the storage one needs, but still small enough to avoid handling like a boat. My favorite version of the Subaru Legacy wagon has always been the gen 2 Subaru Legacy GT-B, with the gen 4 STI Wagon a close second. Also, if you need to do a bit of "soft-roading", the Outback version offers you the prospect of outdoor adventure.
Subaru Legacy GT-B Limited gen 2, a real beauty. (Creative Commons, Wikipedia)
Choosing a favorite wagon(Estate car or Shooting Brake) is good and all, but really I only chose the Subaru because it's a car I know and love and have grown up with. I hope you take away from this that each wagon has its own unique place on the scale of practicality vs. performance. In the future, I really hope manufacturers stick with this body style and keep making what is essentially the swiss army knife of the car world. Comment below your personal favorite wagons, and share if you enjoyed.