Station Wagons are making something of a comeback for consumers and families who are financially comfortable and who strive to not be like everyone else.
I’m here to once more tell everyone who will listen that station wagons are the ultimate car, utility vehicle and, in my opinion at least, most attractive automobile anyone can buy. They are also “different” in the sense that they’re not crossovers or SUVs but can do it all, and more.
Bloomberg just published an interesting story on wagons that essentially concludes by stating that, as OEMs pulled wagons off the market, sales dropped, but now that there are a number of new options, sales have increased. Not only that but many wagons purchased are completely loaded with a high sticker price.
More wagons, more money?
The story, and I, are not saying that the E Class wagon will outsell the GLE anytime soon but the person behind the wheel of the GLE 400 might be struggling to make his or her monthly lease payments while the buyer of the E 63 S probably has two or four more cars. I’m not saying GLE drivers are in it to look good, because they do, but, well…
Most of the wagons currently on sale in North America are from either premium brands or are marketed as a higher trim product in a given line-up. The least expensive of its type in Canada is the Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen which retails for nearly 10% more than the base Golf.
Besides that, what’s interesting to note is that station wagons are but one of five segments (out of thirteen) in the US that have grown over the last five years. Obviously, compact crossovers and entry-level luxury SUVs are lava, then we have midsize pickups (more models, more sales here too) followed by wagons, just ahead full-size pickups. In this period of time, sales have grown by 29% although total numbers represent less than 1.5% of annual new car sales.
Build it and they will buy
In the unbelievably crowded new car market, does a station wagon make sense? Can a manufacturer actually gain market share by offering an estate variant to one of its nameplates? For an SUV-driven brand like Ford, more wagons may not make a huge difference. Buick, however, has found that their Regal TourX wagon accounted for 50% of all Regals sold in the US last year- this is huge. I suspect that if it were to be offered in Canada, the result could be very similar. Likewise, the dead-sexy Jaguar XF Sportbrake could do little wonders for a luxury carmaker that is still wrestling to find a solid foothold in Canada.
I recently purchased a VW Golf Sportwagen. It too demonstrates that if it is available, it will be sold. Specifically, my car sports a 6-speed manual transmission along with AWD. Volkswagen hesitated to introduce the manual option at first but lo-and-behold, it now accounts for more than 40% of all Sportwagen sales!
Given all of this, I’d venture a guess that wagons are here to stay. They’ll never take over from crossovers but thanks to Volvo (that V60!!) Mercedes (check out the new C 43 wagon!), Porsche (the Panamera Sport Turismo IS a wagon), Audi (the Allroad is sweet), Subaru (Outback has always been a wagon) and Volkswagen, discerning and wise consumers have lovely options. Here, I’d like to ask for a moment of silence as, as we all know, BMW has decided to drop the 3 Series wagon from its roster…
Let’s face the facts: station wagon, or long-roofs, estates, tourings, variants, whatever they may be called, are every bit as useful as equivalent crossovers, are almost invariably better to drive, are sexier and now we know consumers with deeper pockets like them. What more do we need to know?
I myself, dirt poor and not so bright, have bought and owned five wagons in ten years, but according to this, I look smart and loaded!