Personally I am not looking at milage as the end all in this comparison. I prefer the handling aspect of a wagon not a raised pseudo variant of the same car but more so space. There is not a small SUV, CUV or "Cute Ute" that I can put in the back what I can a JSW or even the Outback and Volvo you referenced above, to get a solid 65-70Cu ft. in the back, you have to spend a lot more than $30K. For space, we have the Yukon XL and drive it sparingly and for when we do use it with 4 adults splitting fuel costs, it is the least expensive option to drive. Honestly, I haven't looked at the Sienna that closely but we get that 19 on the highway trips with the Yukon.
Our sienna is larger than the Yukon XL. I have friends that have them, and there is more cargo space, more legroom, more shoulder space, etc. in our Sienna.
It's a better people hauler and better for hauling stuff. You can't beat a van for those tasks.
Is it a proper truck? No. Is it a van? Yes. Is it ugly? As sin.
But it's undisputedly the best people and "things" mover you can get on the market.
NOW--regarding the wagon....my audi (which phil did't goo over when he first rode in it--although I told him I thought he should have) drives like a sedan, is super sporty, fast, peppy, and gets close to 30mpg. My BMW 5 series wagon (which I had before I got my current avant in 2011) was even bigger and more luxurious and yet still drove like a car and had tons of storage.
Americans not accepting the wagon culture are just ignorant.
PS: Subarus are lame now...compared to the older legacy gt wagons.
Oh, and this VW "all track" is lame as hell. Just put out a AWD wagon already, like the passat or the Jetta has in other countries. It's not hard. Sheesh.
Deciding factor for us Sienna v. Yukon XL. Yukon XL. Paid for. I agree that there is an valid argument that the Sienna is better, but it is not $25K better..the cost to upgrade or even $15K to find a nice used one.
Every generation of Subaru wagons get more SUV-ish and every generation is increasing in sales. Subaru is happing to be "lame" all the way to the bank.
There is not a small SUV that I cal put my skis in the back like I can my "wagon". IF I was to get something now, I wouldn't even hesitate to at least go down and test drive a Ford Transit Connect, too bad no AWD there.