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The Station Wagon May Not Be As Dead As We All Thought

Wagon / 15 Comments

In fact, wealthy, educated buyers see the value in a wagon.

We often campaign for automakers to build more wagons. However, almost all of them tell us Americans don't buy wagons and there is simply no reason to continue offering them. According to Bloomberg, this same old spiel may not be factually accurate. In fact, data from Edmunds shows there were 212,000 wagons sold in the US in 2018, 29% more than in 2013.

As sedan sales continue to dry up, many automakers are starting to see the value in wagons as the perfect middle ground between a car and an SUV. "The winner in the death of the car is the station wagon," said Karl Brauer, executive publisher for Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book. "You've got the car on one end of the spectrum and the SUV on the other; the wagon sits right in between those two."

Even though wagons still account for a minuscule share of the US market (less than 2%), the segment is growing because automakers are beginning to offer wagons again. Volvo is particularly committed to wagons and currently offers the V60 and V90 as well as the CrossCountry versions of both models. Mercedes still sells the E-Class wagon and Jaguar offers a wagon variant of the XF, although BMW is set to stop offering 3 Series wagon in the US.

Buick took an interesting strategy by offering its Regal TourX was with a slightly raised ride height and rugged body cladding to appeal to SUV buyers. "There's a group of consumers who are greatly interested in the versatility and capability of an SUV, but they don't want to be seen as someone who just goes with the flow," said Buick marketing director Sam Russell. "They are almost violently opposed to being mainstream," he said.

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Buick's gamble has seemingly paid off, as the company may already be stealing customers who would have purchased a new 3 Series wagon. In fact, of the 8,551 Regals sold in 2018, 3,226 (37.7%) were the TourX. Buick tells us it may have sold even more wagons if there were more available at dealers early in the year. "As long as you deliver on the styling, I think there will always be an opportunity for wagons," Russell said. "It's something different for consumers who are different."

GM recently offered big incentives to push the Regal TourX and sales have steadily increased over the past 12 months. Buick says the average TourX customer is more affluent than buyers of the larger and more expensive Enclave SUV and they are more educated as well. We have always preached the superiority of the wagon and are glad to hear intelligent people are still buying them.