But which one is it?
We are constantly being told that automakers can't sell wagons in the US but the data shows wagon sales were actually up in 2018. While we prefer wagons to SUVs, most US consumers don't share our opinion. Fortunately, there are a few automakers out there that do and continue to offer wagons in the US market.
Take Subaru, for example, the Japanese brand offers several wagon models in its lineup. At least, that's what you'd think. As it turns out, only one Subaru model meets the US Environmental Protection Agency’s criteria to be categorized as a wagon. Even the team at SubaruPartsPlus was surprised to learn that only one Subaru model is actually a wagon. So, can you guess which model it is?
"I just read where US 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 SubaruPartsPlus.com. "Honestly, I’ve referred to both as wagons. In fact, I’ve always thought of these Subarus as rugged wagons, some tough crossovers.” To help officially decide which models are SUVs and which ones are wagons, the EPA's 2019 Fuel Economy Guide has specific labeling parameters.
Any vehicle with over 120 cubic feet of interior volume can count as a station wagon unless that vehicle has already been categorized as an SUV. Since the Subaru Crosstrek, Ascent, Forrester, Outback, and Impreza hatchback all meet these criteria, all of them could possibly count as station wagons.
However, only the Impreza is actually labeled as a wagon while the rest are SUV. The Impreza offers 20.8 cubic feet of cargo space and 100.9 cubic feet of passenger space, so it fulfills the EPA's requirements. The Crosstrek boasts an identical amount of interior space but is labeled an SUV likely because of its lifted height. "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."
This leads us to another question: what other vehicles are categorized as wagons? Is the Buick Regal TourX a wagon? What about the Audi Allroad or Volvo V90 CrossCountry? What this little exercise shows us it that the EPA's definition of a car's bodystyle doesn't always match consumer perception or the automaker's marketing.