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Where Have All the Station Wagons Gone?

Original Article

Posted By: mc squared, 1/26/2023 1:41:34 PM

As I said a heartfelt goodbye to my 2014 Subaru Impreza Sport 5-Door last September, there was something I wondered as I walked off the used car lot: where are all the station wagons? As it turns out, in the year 2023, there aren’t that many station wagons on the road, period. “The standard data provider for new vehicle sales doesn’t even break down wagons anymore,” says Kevin Roberts, director of industry insights and analytics at CarGurus. “Most of the time, they’ll probably end up classified as a crossover or a hatchback.” Some data aggregators have “station wagon” as a trim or body variant, but you’ll be hard-pressed


I have heard for years that buyers are abandoning wagons and sedans. Not So. Buyers are being forced into SUVs and pickups because there simply no wagons and few sedans being manufactured. Wifey & I had several wagons in the 70s. They built American suburbs.

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Reply 1 - Posted by: Speedy2 1/26/2023 1:57:11 PM (No. 1387858)
SUV is a Station Wagon. Branding to stimulate buyers.
9 people like this.

Reply 2 - Posted by: Vesicant 1/26/2023 1:57:49 PM (No. 1387859)
No, the minivan killed the station wagon. Roomier, easier to get in and out of, more cup holders, whatever. My family had station wagons in the 60s and they weren't all that great, but they were all there was unless you wanted something like a Willys wagon.
9 people like this.

Reply 3 - Posted by: LC Chihuahua 1/26/2023 2:05:45 PM (No. 1387864)
Back in the 70s, my dad would buy an old beat up station wagon for $200 and use it for his general contracting business and boy scout transportation. More than once there were 10 kids in the car. Packed in like sardines. Great fun. He would keep them running until a major repair came along or they could not pass inspection, and off to the junkyard they would go.
14 people like this.

Reply 4 - Posted by: GustoGrabber 1/26/2023 2:10:24 PM (No. 1387867)
International Harvester Travelalls came along, inspiring Lexus to make better luxury trucks.
1 person likes this.

Reply 5 - Posted by: hershey 1/26/2023 2:14:36 PM (No. 1387871)
Soccer Mom vans these days...
6 people like this.

Reply 6 - Posted by: Mushroom 1/26/2023 2:20:52 PM (No. 1387876)
Actually, IIRC, there was an issue with many levels of governance and the difference between a car and a truck. Mini vans were a direct result of that rules and regs issue, fighting tooth and nail to be classified as a truck. The station wagon was clearly a car and increased fees and more restrictive rules. Agreed they morphed into SUVs, but they were (are?) classified as trucks.
5 people like this.

Reply 7 - Posted by: karo 1/26/2023 2:28:37 PM (No. 1387879)
I was lucky to have grown up with the gold standard of station wagons: the Ford Country Squire. Ours was a 1970 model, and was loaded for the time, with 429 V-8, A/C, power windows, power seat, tilt steering wheel and AM/FM stereo radio (mounted at about 10 o'clock in front of the driver; passengers could not reach it). Green outside and in (acres of vinyl) with woodgrain sides. It would haul anything from a boat to a bunch of kids to my 4-H sheep and was quite fast (17 year old me would routinely bury the 120-mph speedometer during late-night trips). A really great car!
16 people like this.

Reply 8 - Posted by: thewarden 1/26/2023 2:47:28 PM (No. 1387884)
#7, we had almost the exact wagon but I think a 67. That light metallic green with the wood paneling…ah. A beauty. We toured all over the Southwest and California visiting family. We used to put blankets and pillows in the back and sleep during the drive. You could cram a lot into that car! The hidden well was fun. Great times, thanks for the memories!
14 people like this.

Reply 9 - Posted by: Amanoftwistsandturns 1/26/2023 3:42:32 PM (No. 1387918)
Station wagons started to disappear at about the same time that drive-in-movie theaters disappeared. Coincidence?
8 people like this.

Reply 10 - Posted by: chumley 1/26/2023 3:52:15 PM (No. 1387926)
I just bought a new 4Runner. Seems to be a good car, but looks like every other SUV (a gym shoe) and only comes in boring colors. Also it monitors everything I do, say or think while driving and sends he info...somewhere. Dont much care for that. I had station wagons over the years and liked them, but the 4runner does so much more and holds so much more. Gas mileage is just as bad.
6 people like this.

Reply 11 - Posted by: Vaquero45 1/26/2023 3:57:54 PM (No. 1387931)
My parents had several station wagons while I was growing up. The best one was a ‘65 Plymouth Fury. That sucker was BIG, and very reliable - torsion bar suspension, Torqueflight transmission, and a big Chrysler V-8. I was 15 when they got it. I talked my dad into buying two extra wheels for it so we could mount the snow tires on them, and switch them out in the driveway when winter hit instead of taking the snow tires to the service station to be mounted. After that wagon, kids started leaving home and the old man went back to 4-door sedans. I think station wagons were a product of their time. Minivans and big SUV’s took their place, and they work better. But I still like to look at old wagons when they appear on the road.
6 people like this.

Reply 12 - Posted by: red1066 1/26/2023 4:15:21 PM (No. 1387939)
Buick makes a nice wagon. When an older BMW wagon is for sale, it sells fairly quickly, so there must be some demand out there for something other than an SUV. Certainly, the Subaru Outback is a station wagon even if Subaru doesn't call it that or advertise it a such.
3 people like this.

Reply 13 - Posted by: wilarrbie 1/26/2023 4:29:14 PM (No. 1387943)
Like many here who grew up with wagons, this brings memories of my mom & dad layering a half dozen blankets in the back, with the seat folded down, making a comfy bed for us 4 young'uns to go the drive-in movies or on long vaca trips. And nobody wanted the open windowed back-seat behind driver Dad, because he chewed tobacco!
7 people like this.

Reply 14 - Posted by: BeatleJeff 1/26/2023 4:41:33 PM (No. 1387944)
The station wagon (which my family never owned) became passe once Chevy Chase turned them into a punchline. Seriously, who today doesn't see an old station wagon rolling down the road and exclaim "Ooh, look! A Family Truckster!'
5 people like this.

Reply 15 - Posted by: Attila DiMedici 1/26/2023 4:59:03 PM (No. 1387955)
Station Wagons disappeared because of CAFE standards on gas mileage. Station wagons, that fit the needs of most people who wanted to buy one, could not be made to have an MPG as high or higher than the necessary average MPG for the Auto Manufacturer's fleet, which meant they had to price them high enough to limit how many were sold. At the same time, SUVs and Mini Vans were classified as light trucks and had a lower standard to meet. As a result, those who could afford a station wagon did not want a station wagon (for the most part) and those who absolutely needed one could afford a minivan or an SUV.
3 people like this.

Reply 16 - Posted by: Zeek Wolfe 1/26/2023 5:07:55 PM (No. 1387959)
I once bought brand new a Buick station wagon. 2nd worst car I've ever owned. I had it for a year and traded it in for a same year Cadillac thinking this an upgrade. After 45 cars, the Cadillac was the worst. I vowed to never buy another GM car. My best car of the 45...a three way tie; while in high school an elderly 1953 Ford club coup with overdrive, then a middle 70s Mercedes bought new, and finally...take a deep breath...a Chrysler (Mercedes owned company at the time) PT Cruiser. Car is almost bullet proof still running with gobs of mileage on the clock. The Buick station wagon was wretched from the start. An anecdote...the engine quit, shut down completely in the number 1 lane while on a Los Angeles freeway in the Valley near Universal Studios. Long, hideous story.
5 people like this.

Reply 17 - Posted by: ScooterTrash 1/26/2023 5:11:20 PM (No. 1387962)
The station wagon reached it's zenith with the Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser. That window mid way back on the roof and behind that a luggage rack. That vinyl "wood" paneling and the rear facing back, back seat. Oh man but the back seats down and it was the best place in the world to "make out". Sure miss those days...
3 people like this.

Reply 18 - Posted by: DVC 1/26/2023 6:01:21 PM (No. 1388004)
The government made large sedans essentially illegal, which took the station wagons with them. Nowdays, since trucks are on different rules by the federal opressors, people can buy a "truck" with a big engine....and SUV's are classed as trucks, so not as harshly restricted as large sedans and their associated station wagons have been. And, some auto makers are insane. Honda made an Accord wagon for a couple of years but for "some reason" it didn't sell. What was that reason? Well, at the same time a Ford Taurus sedan and Ford Taurus station wagon cost within $100 of the same sticker price. The Honda Accord wagon cost $7,000 more than the $19,000 cost of an Accord sedan. I was looking to buy one....and told the salesman that somebody is on drugs if they think that four square feet of sheet steel and two pieces of class are worth $7,000. And I pointed out what Ford did on their prices. The Accord wagons only lasted a couple of years due to insane marketing. If it had been even $1,000 more, I'd have bought it.
4 people like this.

Reply 19 - Posted by: bldrrepub 1/26/2023 6:38:26 PM (No. 1388036)
With the exception of the Subaru Outback, all of the station wagons are foreign. Audi, Mercedes, and Volvo. BMW and Volkswagen have stopped importing their wagons into the US. The Buick Regal TourX was the last American (well, it was really European) wagon sold. The Volvo V60 and V90 have a small but cultish following.
1 person likes this.

Reply 20 - Posted by: bldrrepub 1/26/2023 6:39:09 PM (No. 1388037)
*meant European, not foreign. Of course Subaru is foreign.
2 people like this.

Reply 21 - Posted by: skacmar 1/26/2023 7:00:53 PM (No. 1388055)
VW Golf is a wagon. Audi still has wagons. I love station wagons. People always looks and ask why a wagon? It is because I do not always want to drive my SUV (Toyota Highlander). Sometimes you just want to drive a car that can haul stuff. My VW Golf Wagon can haul almost as much as the Highlander. Of course, noting will ever replace my fathers old yellow FORD LTD with the wood siding packed with 7 kids going on vacation with the rear window rolled down.
3 people like this.

Reply 22 - Posted by: JimBob 1/26/2023 7:23:21 PM (No. 1388072)
My family had a '61 Ford station wagon when I was a kid. I remember sitting in the back, assembling a model car on a long drive for a family vacation. I think that the safety flaw of having unsecured children in the rear cargo area was a factor, along with it being awkward for adults to get in and out of the rear. Minivans have much more room inside for the same footprint on the road, and everyone is in a seat and belted in. As an adult with 3 small kids, I bought a '93 Taurus wagon new with the rear-facing fold-down third seat. It drove similar to the Taurus sedan and got 25 MPG. We had if for 250,000 miles then hurricane Katrina destroyed it. The alternative Aerostar minivan -that we did not buy- was built on the Ranger small pickup truck chassis. The downsides were that it drove like a truck and got a similar (mid-teens) gas mileage. Also the engine was hard to access if any repairs were to be made. After the Taurus, with the kids now high-school age came a Windstar minivan, basically a Taurus that had the roof raised a foot and built on a similar front-wheel-drive chassis. It had a lot more interior room, easier in-and-out access, drove like a car, and low (in town)-to-mid (on the highway) 20's MPG. We still have it as a 'utility van', with 417,000 miles and still running good. The wife's current 'nice' car is a 2016 Explorer. Very roomy, very comfortable, quiet, yet the fairly short wheelbase makes it very maneuverable and it gets mid-20's MPG in town and 30 MPG on the highway. Way better than the old 'station wagon' of my childhood!
3 people like this.

Reply 23 - Posted by: JHHolliday 1/26/2023 8:26:58 PM (No. 1388109)
Re #7 and #8. Mine was a ‘67 Country Squire that I used to tow my race car all over the Southeast. Good car and plenty of room for my tool chest, spares, etc. The only fault was that it ate water pumps like Pac-Man. The bearing on the pump couldn’t handle the extra load from the AC . The compressor and water pump used the same belt. Went through five pumps while I owned it. I got to where I could replace it in 30 minutes.
4 people like this.

Reply 24 - Posted by: homefry 1/27/2023 7:26:09 AM (No. 1388362)
I owned a 72 Pacer. That was a wagon, and I liked it. Lay down the back seat and you could live in there, got good milage and would surprise hell out of people who thought their V8 cars could run away from it. That 258 CI 6 cylinder could tote the note!
0 people like this.

Reply 25 - Posted by: pugetpower 1/27/2023 11:20:26 AM (No. 1388596)
My dad had a mid 60s green Ford Country Squire with the fake wood paneling. The engine Im guessing was a 352 V8. A real boat anchor. I recall the tailgate would open in 2 directions. We did our own repairs and dont remember anything major going wrong. Gas was about 30-40 cents. Must have based on the Galaxie or Fairlane.
0 people like this.

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Posted by ladydawgfan 1/27/2023 2:51:18 AM Post Reply
On Thursday, Project Veritas shared a video of founder James O’Keefe was physically assaulted by Pfizer director Jordon Trishton Walker who went on an insane rampage after being confronted. The day prior, Project Veritas dropped a bombshell undercover video showing Walker admitting that Pfizer considered mutating COVID to be ready with more vaccines. “One of the things we’re exploring is like, why don’t we just mutate it [COVID] ourselves so we could create — preemptively develop new vaccines, right? So, we have to do that.
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