Volkswagen Passat Wagon (Photo: Volkswagen)

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The cancellation of the current-generation, German-made Passat sedan and wagon in lieu of a new U.S.-made Volkswagen midsize sedan coming in 2011 (and more than likely a platform-sharing crossover) sets off two alarm bells for yours truly. First, expect the same low-cost over refinement strategy as in the new 2011 Jetta for the Passat's replacement. Second, say good-bye to yet another sports wagon, a breed that delivers practicality and fun in equal doses.

Although there still may be some units available on dealer lots, the 2010 Passat model I'll miss the most is the base model wagon. Not only do you get a comfortable, five-passenger wagon that's not too big or too tall, for $29,275, you get a 200-hp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder straight from the GTI, a rare-in-this-class six-speed manual (zero to 100 km/h arrives in about 6.5 seconds), an interior that wouldn't look out of place in a twice-as-expensive Audi, and a firm, Teutonic handling package that allows the VW wagon to haul more than just top soil home from the garden centre. Throw in supportive seating and a firm, yet compliant, suspension and dropping the kids off at piano practice was never so much fun. Or at least, it was ... -- John LeBlanc for MSN Autos

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