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Richer Americans Are Skipping SUVs for Station Wagons

 

It's a completely niche market, but it's directly between SUVs and Sedans (and the also ran vehicles).

 

 

January 07 2019, 4:00 AMJanuary 07 2019, 11:14 AM

(Bloomberg) -- Stately, plump SUVs are running roughshod over the auto industry, crushing sedans, compacts and anything else that doesn’t approximate a 5,000-pound turtle. And yet amid the carnage, the earnest, doughty station wagon has emerged unscathed.

 

 

 

In fact, it’s picking up speed thanks to a crowd of new models. U.S. customers drove off in 212,000 brand spanking new station wagons last year, 29 percent more than they did five years earlier, according to new data from Edmunds.com. While the wagon is still the narrowest of niche products, that growth rate bests some of the industry’s most popular machines, as well as the long tail of vehicle sizes and shapes that are fading fast.

 

 

 

 

“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.”

 

 

 

 

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The modest sales increase belies a long-held narrative in the c-suites of Detroit and Stuttgart: Americans don’t buy station wagon—at least not anymore. There’s some truth to that: Even now, the low-slung, family trickster accounts for less than 2 percent of the U.S. auto market.

 

 

 

But in the mad scramble to make and sell SUVs of all shapes and sizes, the sleepy old station wagon started to look like strategic white space. On paper, it’s not as dramatically different from a so-called sport utility as it is in person. Relatively, a wagon can haul about as much cargo as an SUV and, being closer to the ground, handles better and is less prone to tip. Those arguments were essentially worthless five years ago, but today, they make all the difference to the occasional shopper reluctant to be the newest person on the block to conform with the crossover club.

 

 

More here

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- Pro amore Dei et patriam et populum -
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SUV's have taken the market, you cannot deny it.

 

Wagons may be a fast growing market percentage wise, but if your starting from a very low base, thats not hard to achieve.

 

We must have some 30-40% of all cars on the road being an SUV of some sort now. For the average family driving at average speeds who just want to go from A to B and do not really enjoy driving, they are perfect.

 

For me the SUV is going to try and kill me in the first corner. I like to drive and I like something that handles like a sedan and Subaru made it for me.

 

Could it be better ? Hell yes make a true STi WAGON. I'm NEVER going to buy a STi sedan but would consider a hatch.

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Not going to happen, unless something radical changes - for example elimination of speed limits on highways. Or at least increase to something reasonable like 100-120 mph.

 

Having just returned from another trip to Europe, that involved lots of driving through Denmark, Germany and Poland, it's quite a sight to see mostly wagons still. Few sedans, tons of hatchbacks, more and more SUVs but still a minority.

 

Rented a rather semi anemic V60 diesel. Still this thing could cruise comfortably 120mph+ (I had to keep it around 100 mph due to Nokian R3 winter tires it had). I would not do that in most SUVs.

Edited by unclemat
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As it is here in Europe people have a wagon rather than a sedan because in some families it's the only car or primary car. Many SUVs like the Outback are in reality semi-SUVs or raised wagons, and even then many of the SUVs have about the same ground clearance as normal cars had in the 60's and 70's.
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If its 2% of the market, they are including lifted wagons. A good portion of that 29% is coming from the Outback sales gains and most not all gains are coming from lifted wagons.

 

 

I would almost believe that Outbacks and possibly Crosstreks are considered SUVs for bean-counter purposes. So not sure it would be counted in that 29%.

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I would almost believe that Outbacks and possibly Crosstreks are considered SUVs for bean-counter purposes. So not sure it would be counted in that 29%.

 

 

My obxt is listed as a SUV according to my insurer. I think legacy was a wagon but for some other reason even gen3 outback is considered an SUV in North America iirc.

 

 

I don't like any of the new cars I see but if there were a new WRX/STi M/T wagon I'd likely buy one.

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Gen 3 OB (2005-2009) is considered an SUV, that's why the VIN is 4S4BP for the Outbacks instead of the 4S3BP for the Gen 4 2005-2007 Legacy Wagon.

 

Previous Gen 2 OB (2000-2004) and Gen 3 Legacy Wagons (2000-2004) were all 4S3BH

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I would almost believe that Outbacks and possibly Crosstreks are considered SUVs for bean-counter purposes. So not sure it would be counted in that 29%.

 

Car and Driven did an article on the lack of US wagons and had production numbers of wagons and lifted wagon through the 1st 6months of 2017. The article makes a classification of wagons, but off the top of my head I don't see any omissions of wagons in 2017.

 

https://www.caranddriver.com/features/a15079691/what-do-we-mean-when-we-call-a-car-a-wagon-feature/

 

The production numbers in that article through halfway through the year on non lifted wagons is about 11,000 which projects 22,0000. The total US Vehicle sales is ~17M, so that is only 0.13% of production. 2018 would include the Buick Tour-X but quickly finding Buick Regal sales found 14K units were sold which does not break down the sportback sedan and wagon. For it to be anywhere near 2% it would have to include lift wagons such as the Outback, Volvo XC, VW Alltrack. (IMO The Crosstrek is a lifted hatchback, I can't imagine it being considered as wagon)

Edited by dgoodhue
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2% of the US market is 340,000 vehicle. I don't see where those wagons production numbers are coming from.

 

If we ignore the 2% mentioned in the article and just focus on wagons. The TDI Sportswagen sales were much higher 22k units in 2013 than the post TDI Sportwagen of 14K for 2018 (which those numbers also includes the Alltrack). The major difference would be the addition of the Buick TourX for 2018. If we assume the Sportwagen/Alltrack sales are 50-50 lifted vs non lifted and Buick Regal Sportback/TourX sales are 50-50 (I suspect they aren't), the tradional non raise wagon is even in worse shape than 2017. The sales would be luck to be 17k units or 0.1% of US vehicle sales.

Edited by dgoodhue
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The Bloomberg article didn't specify it that I recall, but I'm wondering whether CUV (Sportwagen/Alltrack) would be counted in the wagon mix or would be classified with SUVs.

 

The playing field is diverse and trying to assess what comprises it is difficult. I'm sure it keeps corp execs and their marketing shops grinding everything in any direction they can to drive the "appearance" of being in that niche. :)

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2% of the US market is 340,000 vehicle. I don't see where those wagons production numbers are coming from.

 

If we ignore the 2% mentioned in the article and just focus on wagons. The TDI Sportswagen sales were much higher 22k units in 2013 than the post TDI Sportwagen of 14K for 2018 (which those numbers also includes the Alltrack). The major difference would be the addition of the Buick TourX for 2018. If we assume the Sportwagen/Alltrack sales are 50-50 lifted vs non lifted and Buick Regal Sportback/TourX sales are 50-50 (I suspect they aren't), the tradional non raise wagon is even in worse shape than 2017. The sales would be luck to be 17k units or 0.1% of US vehicle sales.

 

Exactly... what are true non-jacked up non-cladded wagons left in the US market? I'll try:

 

VW Golf

MB E-class

BWW 3-series (only 2019, then gone)

Volvo V60

Volvo V90

Jaguar XF

 

That's it, I guess?

 

Buick TourX and Audi Allroad are mildly jacked up/cladded so they kinda barely qualify. Outback is firmly in the crossover/SUV category IMO due to the ride height.

 

Some count Minis, but no matter the package these are hatches, sorry. Panamera 5-door is not a wagon, either.

Edited by unclemat
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My obxt is listed as a SUV according to my insurer. I think legacy was a wagon but for some other reason even gen3 outback is considered an SUV in North America iirc.

 

 

I don't like any of the new cars I see but if there were a new WRX/STi M/T wagon I'd likely buy one.

 

Same here. OBXT is registered/titled as an SUV... luckily that means I get some slack on the NY tint law!

 

I wonder what the Audi Allroad is considered? Its really just a lifted A4 Avant.

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“The winner in the death of the car is the station wagon,” said Karl Brauer, executive publisher for Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book.

 

I realize the article reference the KBB publisher, so I went to KBB and this is what they classified as wagons in new vehicles and likely where the production numbers came from

 

Audi A3 Sportback

Audi A4 Allroad

BMW 3 Series

Buick Regal TourX

Chevy Bolt

Fiat 500L

Ford C-MAX

Kia Niro

Kia Soul

Mecedes-Benz E Class

Subaru Impreza

Suabru Outback

Toyota Corrolla Hatchback

VW Golf Alltrack

VW Golf Sportwagen

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I realize the article reference the KBB publisher, so I went to KBB and this is what they classified as wagons in new vehicles and likely where the production numbers came from

 

Audi A3 Sportback

Audi A4 Allroad

BMW 3 Series

Buick Regal TourX

Chevy Bolt

Fiat 500L

Ford C-MAX

Kia Niro

Kia Soul

Mecedes-Benz E Class

Subaru Impreza

Suabru Outback

Toyota Corrolla Hatchback

VW Golf Alltrack

VW Golf Sportwagen

 

Which is a ridiculous list....

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As much as I like my 2013 Legacy and want to have it for a long time, it can't hold anything. Especially with 2 car seats in it, lol.

Yes, I knew that when I bought it.

But I often think that if I was to get something else, it would be a Legacy wagon. Something with good handling, fun to drive (maybe not fast, lol) high MPG, and something with SOME amount of utility and interior room for fitting "stuff".

If it happened today, I would probably get the Outback Limited.

If it happened in the future when there were more choices.... I don't know...

 

It would be really interesting if Honda and Toyota brought back the Accord and Camry wagons. AND offered AWD....

I think if Honda would have made the Crosstour into a real wagon design (with real rear storage of a wagon, not a hatch) they would have sold better.

Then Acura could have a hot AWD sport-wagon...

Ahhh, the options would be limitless, lol

 

And probably nothing that I wrote will ever happen in the next 5 years, if ever.

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As much as I like my 2013 Legacy and want to have it for a long time, it can't hold anything. Especially with 2 car seats in it, lol.

Yes, I knew that when I bought it.

But I often think that if I was to get something else, it would be a Legacy wagon. Something with good handling, fun to drive (maybe not fast, lol) high MPG, and something with SOME amount of utility and interior room for fitting "stuff".

If it happened today, I would probably get the Outback Limited.

If it happened in the future when there were more choices.... I don't know...

 

It would be really interesting if Honda and Toyota brought back the Accord and Camry wagons. AND offered AWD....

I think if Honda would have made the Crosstour into a real wagon design (with real rear storage of a wagon, not a hatch) they would have sold better.

Then Acura could have a hot AWD sport-wagon...

Ahhh, the options would be limitless, lol

 

And probably nothing that I wrote will ever happen in the next 5 years, if ever.

 

What can you carry in a wagon you can't in a Legacy other than a tall box?

 

You mention two car seats, if that's the case you shouldn't be stacking anything above the rear seats anyway and in all honesty stuff in a truck is probably safer in an accident

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What can you carry in a wagon you can't in a Legacy other than a tall box?

 

You mention two car seats, if that's the case you shouldn't be stacking anything above the rear seats anyway and in all honesty stuff in a truck is probably safer in an accident

 

There are cargo/dog barriers that solve that issue. Stacking cargo or not, every wagon/SUV should have this for occupant safety in accidents or even emergency braking. Otherwise the items in the back can become projectiles and kill/injury any occupants, not just kids in the rear facing car seats.

 

I really love that BP5 had this nice OEM barrier available with perfect OEM fit, that even worked with the OEM tonneau cover for maximum flexibility. Kudos to SOA, as I believe this was USDM only accessory.

 

It is a surprisingly rare feature turns out. I am trying to figure out a solution for our 200-series Land Cruiser. I will go with an aftermarket cargo net I think.

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Subaru could sell all Legacy Wagons they would make in US. Now that they brought Impreza production to Indiana, they could at least make Levorg here.

 

 

I expect to drive wife's Tribeca for few years after we get her an Ascent, but after that if Subaru does not have a performance wagon/hatch that has power and somewhat decent (grown up) looks, I will have to find something else. I am not buying WRX/STI sedan, have no interest in sedans.

2005 LGT Wagon Limited 6 MT RBP Stage 2 - 244K

2007 B9 Tribeca Limited DGM - 243K

SOLD - 2005 OB Limited 5 MT Silver - 245K

SOLD - 2010 OB 6 MT Silver - 205K

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Subaru could sell all Legacy Wagons they would make in US.

 

Thank you for your extensive market research on this one. Problem is, they stopped making them for the US market because ... wait for it ... they couldn't sell the damned things! :spin:

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