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Are station wagons making a comeback?

November 12, 2009 12:18:28 AM PST
What we used to call "station wagons" are making a comeback. Several automakers are now selling redesigned sedans with a hatch in the back; however, car companies don't want you to call them wagons. The newest variant of the Honda Accord looks familiar from the front and has two doors on each side but around the back, things look different.

The Accord Crosstour is the latest vehicle that has the attributes of a station wagon in a somewhat different shape.

"We felt that there was an opportunity to bring something new, something more modern to the CUV segment and we feel this is our interpretation of unique and modern styling," said Honda Spokesman Lee Dasilva.

It has a conventional interior very much like you'd find in an Accord Sedan but in the back, a surprisingly roomy cargo hold. The Crosstour is the newest of these pseudo wagons to come to market, joining the Toyota Venza, which has been around for about a year.

It too offers pretty much the functionality of what we used to call a station wagon but with a newer silhouette. Like Honda's Accord, you used to be able to buy a wagon version of the Toyota Camry. Now you can once again, sort of. It just isn't called a wagon.

"You know when we grew up, we all rode around in station wagons and some of the younger folks in mini-vans and there's a stigma I guess, attached to that," said Mitch McCullough of NewCarTestDrive.com.

So behold the new shape with the function of a wagon, but not the look.

Vehicles like the Honda Crosstour and the Toyota Venza are aimed at people with what they call an "active lifestyle": they want to drive a premium sedan but occasionally they need to carry things. This trend will probably continue into the future with more vehicles like this.

BMW was the first to stick its toe into these new waters with the X6; a tough-to-define five-passenger wagon-like SUV sedan. Now, they've turned up the performance heat with an "M" version offering big-time performance with a degree of practicality.

And soon they'll go further in their lineup with a 5 Series Gran Turismo. It will sit a bit closer to the ground than an X6, but it still won't be called a wagon.

"Whatever you call it, it's a superb vehicle. It's really designed to carry five people and all their stuff," said McCullough.

And this new shape is probably here to stay, at least until the next new trend comes along.


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