Stop Trying to Make Wagons Happen, They’re Not Going to Happen

Springfield Wagon Fire

As an automotive journalist, I’m inclined to say that many of my desires are… unconventional. And I mean that both personally and professionally. One of those strange desires is the modern wagon.

Every blogger, writer, and journalist from here to Cincinnati (including myself) loves the idea of a host of wagons for the U.S. Problem is, the average consumer doesn’t. In fact, wagon sales are so dismal that there are virtually none left on the market. It’s not a coincidence, and that’s sad.

First, let’s talk about the only wagon in the U.S. that is successful: the Subaru Outback. According to GoodCarBadCar, Subaru sold a whopping 12,534 wagons in the U.S. in April alone. That’s a pretty astounding number— especially for a wagon. But why does the Outback sell so well?

Subaru Outback

For one, the Outback walks a fine line between SUV and wagon. It’s taller than most wagons (65.8 inches), and arguably better looking. And two, we’re taking about strong brand loyalty. Subaru has had a reputation for building the best wagon on the planet in the Outback. Thinking outside of that given criteria isn’t the norm for the average consumer. And that brings me to my next point.

In April, Volvo sold 313 V60 Cross Countrys, Audi sold 215 A4 Allroads, and Honda sold 826 Crosstours (which is a shocking number in itself). With a whopping combined sales figure of 1,354 vehicles, you can see that wagons not named Outback are absolutely flopping. The problem is that consumers don’t see the wagon as a viable alternative to the sedan, that’s where the SUV/CUV comes in.

For comparison’s sake, Honda sold 29,452 CR-Vs in April in the U.S. That’s more than the Outback, all other wagons, and the entire Lincoln lineup combined (kidding about that last one).

2010 Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L

I know, this all sounds really technical. But when journalists continue to try and justify a wagon-filled market, it’s hard to comprehend. CUVs and SUVs are a much better alternative; they’re more versatile, they’re better looking, and they give consumers more of a sense of security.

Believe me, I’d be the first in line for a performance wagon the likes of the Audi RS 6, but wagons just don’t sit well with the American market, and likely won’t for a long time. Maybe if the CUV dies down a bit, we’ll see a jump in wagon sales. Until that time, if it’s not wearing a Subaru badge, it’s not going to sell.

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