Can you spot the Subaru model that is truly a station wagon?

(March 13, 2019) BOSTON, Mass. — A new graphic asks viewers to identify the Subaru wagon. While this may sound easy, the EPA has parameters around which vehicles they classify as wagons and which ones they classify as SUVs. The team at was surprised to learn how many Subaru models do not meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s criteria to be labeled a wagon. So, they thought they’d put the challenge of spotting the Subaru wagon to the public.

“I just read where U.S. News ranked some 2019 cars, and they referred to the Outback as a wagon and the Crosstrek as an SUV,” says Steve Ferreira, parts director at “Honestly, I’ve referred to both as wagons. In fact, I’ve always thought of these Subarus as rugged wagons, some tough crossovers.”

The 2019 Fuel Economy Guide has specific parameters for labeling some cars but others aren't so clear. The U.S. government says a station wagon is a vehicle with more than 120 cubic feet of interior volume — unless that vehicle is an SUV.

Unfortunately, the guide doesn’t make it crystal clear what other factors go into designating a vehicle as an SUV. Some models on the chart are considered small SUVs and one is a regular SUV. But none of these Subaru models are rear-wheel drive or have body-on-frame, truck-based construction.

Guess which one is the wagon? The 2019 Impreza. The EPA says the Impreza is a small station wagon. Subaru actually markets the Impreza as a sedan or 5-door hatchback. Like all Subarus, the Impreza is all-wheel drive. The interior volume of the 2019 Impreza 5-door model offers 20.8 cu.ft. of cargo space and 100.9 cu. ft. of passenger space, so it matches the EPA’s station wagon standard for interior volume. The Impreza’s ground clearance is 5.1 inches on the base model, its mpg is 38/28 and the guide estimates the annual fuel costs are between $500-$1900.

Here are some quick specs and the EPA’s classification for the featured Subaru models:

    • The Crosstrek has the exact interior volume as the Impreza. Its mpg is 22/33, and average fuel costs are $1250 per year. The 2019 Crosstrek weighs in at approximately 3,200 pounds compared to the Impreza’s 3,000 pounds, yet the Crosstrek is classified as a small SUV.

    • The rating for a small SUV, the category most of the remaining Subaru models on the chart fall into, has a gross vehicle weight rating of 6,000 pounds or less. The guide also says a small SUV’s annual fuel costs are between $550-$2500.

    • Despite an approximate fuel cost rating of $1550 annually and a curb weight below 5000 pounds, the Ascent is placed into the standard sport utility vehicle category.

“Maybe ground clearance is considered when they’re categorizing vehicles,” says Ferreira, “The other four models all have 8.7 inches of clearance but the guide just isn’t that precise. With the popularity of SUVs, maybe the EPA is trying to do away with the station wagon category altogether. Maybe they tried but just couldn’t make the Impreza an SUV.”