January 28, 2008

LA Times: The Station Wagon That Dares Not Speak Its Name


Sorry, MSNBC, the LA Times has spoken! Station wagons aren't dead after all. They're fine; they're just not called station wagons anymore.

"It is believed that 'wagon' is a death sentence for a vehicle," said Alexander Edwards, automotive division president at Strategic Vision. "So people come up with other names for them or slight variations on the theme."

A prime example, many say, is Toyota's Venza, introduced this month at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. With its ground-hugging design and raised rear roof line, Toyota calls it a "crossover sedan." Aaron Bragman, an auto industry analyst at research firm Global Insight Inc. who was at the unveiling, had a different take on it: "Camry station wagon."

Toyota begs to differ. "It blurs the lines between sedans and crossovers and SUVs," said spokeswoman Denise Morrissey of the Venza, which will be built in Kentucky on the same platform as the Toyota Camry, the Avalon and the Lexus ES350. "It's not a station wagon."

Some people, though--young and euro-y people, primarily--have no problem with the station wagon concept or name. VW, Volvo, Mercedes, Audi, they all make wagon wagons.

Frankly, though I'm a recently enlightened station wagon fan, the LAT's slideshow doesn't make a very compelling case for this non-wagon wagon trend; most all of the photos are of actual wagons--Volvos, a Subaru, the VW SportWagen--or totally non-wagon hatchbacks like the Mini Clubman, the BMW X6.

Otherwise, the Taurus X and the Cadillac SRX are not wagons the same way Larry Craig is not gay. All we can do is wait for them to finally figure it out.

Don't Call it A Station Wagon [latimes via jason from ricedaddies]
Related: Cadillac launches its first ever station wagon--except for all the rest [truth about cars via jj daddy-o]

Previously: Discontinuation Of Dodge Magnum Somehow Signals End Of Station Wagon Era


How many station wagons are out there with rear-facing seats? When I was little I loved riding in the "way back" of our Volvo wagon, making faces at the drivers behind us. It was a perfectly acceptable 4-child family car for tooling around town (as long as you didn't need cargo space--for long-distance trips we had a Suburban).

Yet it seems these days most wagons don't have any third-row seating option--or if they do it faces forward so they can call it a crossover.

Do Subaru, VW, Mercedes and Audi offer third-row seating options in their wagon wagons? Most of their wagons that I've seen don't look like they'd be big enough for a third row.

The Venza seems like Toyota's follow-up to the Matrix, which is a wagon based on the Corolla platform. It wasn't billed as a station wagon, but rather as a CUV or something like that (it used to be offered in 4WD). Whatever you call it, it's an incredibly practical car.

It is a nice and pratical car.

I have a 2004 Mercury Sable LS Premium "station wagon" with 81.3 cu ft of cargo space with the second row folded down, and flip-up rear facing seats in the cargo bay. I love it!

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