Unique JDM

The Best and Coolest JDM Wagons

Wagons are usually classified as dull, slow, and definitely not defined as a performance type of vehicle. For many they’ve been the oatmeal of the automobile industry, flavorless and boring. But is that really the case? Or could it be that there are some hidden gems out there, contradicting this exact image? Well, yeah there is. There are a lot of cool station wagons out there, and many of them happen to be JDM wagons. You see, station wagons are quite different from an SUV or crossovers. Sure, they all share a large open cargo space, and often right-angle rooflines. But compared to an SUV with jacked-up suspension, a wagon has a lot lower center of gravity, which is a dealbreaker when it comes to agility and performance.

Alike Europeans, the Japanese really like themselves a good wagon. And perhaps that is why they developed and sold so many cool performance wagons during the 90s and 00s. Never before was the idea that you could combine “performance” with “usability” on the map. If you wanted performance, you bought a coupe or sedan. If you wanted to haul things, you bought an ordinary SUV, truck, or wagon. So basically, if you wanted to have both, you had to purchase two cars. Until, the Japanese came up with the excellent idea of having all of this, in the same car – The Performance Station Wagon.

Some of the wagons mentioned in this article would have been available outside the Japanese domestic market, and thus, not really making them “true” JDM. But nonetheless, definitely deserves its spot on this list. Here are some of the best and coolest JDM wagons to date.


Car people usually mention how the American market often was left out when it came to special and performance versions of Japanese cars. Unfortunately the same goes for Subarus. Sure the U.S. got the Legacy GT which was awesome, but there are some really cool models which they were not given. Below are a few of them.

Subaru Legacy GT30/RS30

The GT30/RS30 was only available in Japan, making it a “true” JDM vehicle. Unlike the GT’s boxer engine, the GT30 received an amazing 3-liter Flat-6 (EZ30) producing 220hp at 6,000 RPM. The GT30 had all-wheel drive and was fetched to a 4-speed automatic. What set the GT30 apart further was its upgraded suspension. Many parts of the front suspension were reinforced and improved upon, for improved steering response and maneuverability. To top it off, the GT30 had Bilstein inverted strut-type front suspension, as well as Bilstein dampers which made it stand out from other Legacy Turbo models. And, did I mention the GT30 sounded freaking awesome? Take a listen!

Subaru Legacy GTB

The GTB was, like the GT, powered by a 2.0-liter Flat 4 Twin Turbo, producing 280hp. However, unlike the GT, the “B” in GTB stands for Bilstein. The GTB received Bilstein struts as well as upgraded brakes and wheels.

Subaru Legacy Blitzen

In an effort to enter the sporty luxury markets in the likes of BMW, Audi, and Mercedes – Subaru teamed up with Porsche in order to develop the so-called “Blitzen” which in German means, “Lightning”. The exterior and interior of the Blitzen were all developed by Porsche and were the first car in the Subarus line-up to be fitted with the all-new sequential automatic gearbox. The Blitzen came with the same 2-liter boxer as in the GT producing 280hp but was also available with a naturally aspirated 3-liter flat-six sometime during its production life. The Blitzen got so popular that the previous “king of the lineup” the GTB got discontinued.


Toyota Sprinter Carib BZ Touring

A favorite of ours. The Sprinter Carib BZ Touring was no beauty. But it had character. The BZ Touring was a rare one-off performance version. Its 1.6-Liter Inline-Four produced 165hp, and thanks to its all-wheel-drive system and low weight of just over 1000kg, it was not slow. The small 1.6-liter revved all the way up to its 7,800 RPM redline, which made for an excellent, great handling car. But it also doubled as a great grocery shopper with the reliability and low running costs of a Toyota. In our opinion, a really cool JDM wagon.

Toyota Crown Estate (S170)

The Toyota Crown has been around ever since the mid-50s. The crown started out as an executive sedan, only being sold in Japan. Its purpose has always been more focused on luxury over sporty driving. Although a wagon was available in the predecessor models, it was not nearly as exciting as the wagon available with the S170. You see, The Toyota Crown Estate was available with rear-wheel-drive and two (three) engine choices, the 2.5L 1JZ-FSE/GE/GTE Turbo and the 3.0L 2JZ-FSE/GE Inline-6. The turbocharged JZ version (1JZ-GTE) produced 280hp according to the Gentlemen Agreement, and although the rest of the JZ versions did not come with a turbocharger, they still produced over 200bhp.

The Crown Estate had some real presence on the road, and often could be mistaken for a Mercedes C43 AMG Wagon from afar. If you want to know more about the Toyota Crown Estate (S170) please continue reading more here.


Nissan Stagea

If you like wagons, and you like Skylines, then you’re going to love the Nissan Stagea. Arguably, the best and the coolest wagon on this list. With the Stagea you had the option to either go with an RWD version, or you could go all out with the all-wheel-drive version that had the AWD fitted from an R33 GT-R! But the best part is yet to come. The Series 1 version of the Stagea (1996-July, 1997) was available with either a nonturbo RB20, or RB25 with RWD, or you could have the amazing RB25DET (TURBO) together with AWD. But there is something even cooler.

In August of 1997, something incredible happened. A new trim level was available, the 260RS Autech Version. Although the previous trim levels were nothing to joke about, the 260RS were on a completely new level. The RS came with the infamous 2.6L RB26DETT engine, came only with a 5-speed manual as well as the AWD system from the R33 GT-R. It was also fitted with a limited-slip differential, Brembo brakes, 17” BBS forged alloy wheels, upgraded suspension, and a new body kit. Only 1,734 260RS were ever produced, making it rarer than the Skyline GT-R.

Nissan EXA NX Sportbak

The NX Sportbak was the result of a new strategy implemented by Nissan, by targeting youths with an economical car that still looked the part. The Sportbak was basically the coupe version of the 4-door Nissan Sunny. You didn’t purchase the Sportbak for its performance, even the top trim-level only received a measly 130hp which made it good for a 0-200 km/h of 306 seconds, not exactly what you’d call a powerhouse. But the Nissan EXA NK Sportbak had presence, it was not there to set any new lap records, it existed to be seen and experienced – and that, it truly did well.

You see, the people at Nissan came up with the bright idea of having a Coupe, Station Wagon, Targa, Cabriolet – in the same car. The roof was detachable, as well as the rear hatch which could be replaced with a different hatch turning the Sportbak from a wagon into a coupe/sedan.


Mitsubishi Legnum VR-4

The Galant VR-4 is the father of the EVO as we know it today. And while the Galant is the sedan version, the generation 8 Galant also came with a station wagon, also known as the Legnum. This version had the same 2.5L twin-turbo V6 as the sedan, producing 280hp. Thanks to its four-wheel-drive system and advanced differential the Legnum VR-4 was surprisingly agile for its size. Production was very limited to the station wagon, and sources claim that only about 300 station wagons (VR-4) were ever produced.

Mitsubishi Evo

Unfortunately, Mitsubishi is no longer what it used to be, but that doesn’t change the fact that they produced some ridiculously good cars in the past. The Mitsubishi Evo is no exception, a legendary car known for its rallying history. But what many people don’t know is that the Evolution IX came as a wagon. For the untrained eye, the Evolution Wagon might have just looked like a regular Lancer Sportback, but that was far from the truth. The Wagon shared all the mechanical components, drivetrain, and engine with the regular Mitsubishi Evolution Sedan.

Powered by the famous 2.0L 4G63, the Evolution wagon packed a punch, producing just shy of 300hp. Three transmission choices were available, a 5-speed, 6-speed, and a 5-speed automatic. Inside you got a Momo steering wheel and Recaro seats as standard. Brembo brakes came as standard and the MR version came with a slight weight reduction as well as Bilstein dampers.


Honda Accord SiR Wagon

The Honda Accord Sir wagon was unfortunately only available on the Japanese market. it is one of the more available cars on this list. The Honda Accord SiR came with only one engine option, the 2.3L H23A DOHC VTEC engine, making it the only 2.3L in the Honda line-up. This engine was rated at 200hp, making it the most powerful Accord after the Type R at the time. Unfortunately, the Sir only came available with an automatic, and it is a shame really since Honda really knows how to make a great manual.

If you’re looking for a “True” JDM car that is still within a reasonable budget, the Accord SiR is definitely a good choice as it brings a lot of value for the money.


As you’ve seen, many unique, fast, and quirky wagons have come out of Japan. Many of them were so good, that even most sports coupes had a hard time keeping up with them, making them one of the best wagons to come out of Japan. And while cars like the Nissan EXA NX Sportbak weren’t particularly fast, they brought uniqueness not seen before, also making it one of the coolest wagons on this list.

E. Lindgren

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