The conventional wisdom has always been that Americans don’t buy wagons. Look around, though, and you’ll see that several automakers are bringing station wagons back to the market. Buick, for instance, introduced the Regal TourX at the New York Auto Show. Are wagons making a comeback?
Doug Osterhoff, Buick cars marketing manager, says the answer is yes. He points to research that many buyers want the practicality of a more spacious car but don’t necessarily want to sit up high in a big, heavy crossover.
“They’re very passionate,” he says. “You’ve got Millennials who don’t have kids yet and are very active … and then there’s [older buyers who say], the kids have left but now we’re going to hit the road and do the fun things we used to do.”
And by active, he means the types of car owners who regular hike, camp, camping, and doing all sorts of other outdoorsy hobbies.
“They carry their adventure gear in the car with them all the time,” he says. “They may even go out at lunch time and go on a bike ride, you know, drop the kayak in the water on the way home.”
Osterhoff says the Buick Regal TourX is competing against two different groups of rivals: more mainstream entries (Subaru Outback, primarily) and more expensive models (Audi Allroad, Volvo Cross Country), and says Buick plans to split the difference.
“We’re going to be positioned right between them, we’re going to be the premium entry with a lot of the luxury and the driving dynamics that you’d find in the luxury vehicles,” he says, which may help the TourX conquest shoppers from whom the European luxury wagons have become too expensive. “Those entries have been raising their prices quite a bit.”
Enticing Subaru owners into the TourX, he says, could be trickier; they tend to like the rough-and-tumble durability of their vehicles, tending to get them muddy and keep them muddy.
“Their usage is such that they don’t want to pay a premium for something really nice,” Osterhoff says. “When you talk to people who buy [Subaru wagons] it’s like … ‘It’s always dirty and that’s how we use it.’"
Another reason now is prime time to launch a premium wagon? Many competitors, like Saab wagons and the Acura TLX Sport Wagon, have vanished, so there’s pent-up demand from those owners who are ready for a new car.
“There really are a lot of entries that have gone out of the marketplace,” Osterhoff says. “So people have hung out to their vehicles long past what they wanted.”
Just as other automakers will admit about their wagon offerings, Buick expects the TourX’s success to be very regional.
“The northeast and the northwest are hotbeds for wagons,” says Rob Peterson, Buick crossovers marketing manager. And both are regions in which Buick has not, traditionally, been as strong as other automakers.
Live photos: Steven Ewing / Motor1.com