August 12, 2009

Acura Guy Gets Hopes Up For US-Spec Accord Touring Wagon

One of the biggest annoyances about Honda is seeing the company's cool family-sized wagons and MPVs get totally stiff-armed in the US market.

Take the sweet EU-spec Honda Accord Touring as an example. Even if we don't get the high-tech diesel engine, why don't we at least get the all-wheel drive car? Because the EU Accord is sold in the US as the Acura TSX, and Acura doesn't do wagons.

At least not yet. I don't want to get too excited about Acura Guy's response when Car & Driver asked about bringing the Accord Touring to the US:

"We're closely, closely looking at it," said John Watts, senior manager of Acura product planning. Watts believes that the younger part of the target market for the TSX--specifically the Gen Y portion--might be open to such a variant. "Boomers, and [the older among] Gen X, who had wagons as kids don't want one, but the new kids do," he said.
First off, I am not quite sure I get that generational logic, but then why should I? I'm a Gen X'er, and so am contractually obligated to heap resistance and cynical skepticism on any marketer's attempt to assess my demographic.

But even if he'd said, "Totally! We're bringing the wagon! Down with crossovers!" it'd still be 2-3 years before you could actually buy one. So why should I consider a statement as non-committal as "We're closely looking at it," to be anything other than a brushoff?

Or a feeble attempt to add a new twist to the old, "The station wagon is dead!" story? C&D says the upcoming Cadillac CTS and the new, "eccentric [Mercedes] E-Class wagon" are signs of a wagon revival. Never mind that neither of them are here yet.

And then in their rehash of C&D's post, Autoblog just misses the market completely:

Think about the market for a moment. Audi sells lots of wagons, BMW has the both the 3 and 5 Series wagons, Mercedes-Benz has the C-Class wagons and now Caddy has the CTS Wagon. What's missing? Japanese luxury wagons.
Uh-huh. Except that MBUSA dumped the C-Class wagon in 2007 [and even the newly announced E-class wagon won't be here until 2011.] And Audi and BMW may sell "lost of wagons," but they also sell 10x more lots of crossovers and SUVs. Also, "Caddy" is unproven. Also, Toyota Venza. And Volvo. And Jetta SportWagen.

So the only real hope I have for an Accord Touring/Acura TSX Wagon is the fact that actual, real-life people seem to care about it. If you're keeping score at home, Acura Dude, please note that ten guys forwarded this post to me Monday, six within the first couple of hours. None of your other products has ever come close.

Acura "Closely" Considering TSX Wagon [ via the dt wagon crew]
REPORT: Acura considering TSX wagon for the U.S. [autoblog]


Audi barely sells any A4 avants unfortunately. Like 7% of all sales. Similar story for BMW and Mercedes.

The CTS wagon will be interesting because it'll be sold right next to the new SRX crossover at a similar price. I bet SRX outsells it 10-1.

The sad thing is, besides a lot of dads out there -- and Subaru Outback owners -- there aren't many shoppers looking for wagons.

The Venza did have a couple of good months recently btw and I think if you don't care about performance it's a great family vehicle.

Wagons are awesome. I like what I see of the Euro Accord/TSX wagon. I like what I see of the CTS wagon. I love everything about my Legacy GT wagon but I'm still unloading it soon because of space issues. There's something about wagons that doesn't get covered too much. They seem like the perfect car for the average family until you start filling it with car seats. There are very few (possibly no) wagons that can fit more than the family of four. Perhaps the Venza can fit 3 car seats in the back. Perhaps the terminated Magnum could. But for the majority of wagons, once you get two car seats in -- and in many even that is a stretch -- there's no room left for a grandparent or a friend.

This is the problem we are facing as we look to trade in our beloved Legacy GT for a CX-9 or Enclave or Acadia that will do just fine but never please us quite the way its predecessor does. I think the regulation and design of infant/convertible/booster seats is behind the unpopularity of wagons. What used to be the perfect car for families has become a really tight fit for a family of 4 or greater.

I'd hope a Venza could fit three car seats or 2+a normal person, because a Scion xB can. It's why we didn't get an Element. [Also, it was gutless.]

But it's a good point; carpooling or even going somewhere with more than just your immediate family is tough in a 5-seater.

In the wagon's heyday, we'd cram everybody in. Four across in the backseat. Another 3 or 4 in the "wayback" (and they were considered the lucky ones). Nobody correlates the decline of the wagon with the increased certainty that you will end up in jail or kicked out of the playgroup for not having all those kids in 5 point harnesses. That said, there are still plenty of singles, couples, small families and empty nesters for whom wagons are perfect. The market should be strong.

So it's confirmed:

Great news that would be even better if we saw the words diesel and AWD somewhere in there. Even better still would be a concerted effort to make a wagon out of one of Acura's larger cars that would have a chance of accommodating some car seats (I see the TSX barely fitting 2) and offer AWD.

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