Before small crossovers took over, it appeared as though American car buyers were reopening the possibility of collectively turning toward station wagons. At least slightly. Now, wagons repeatedly debut at auto shows around the world with the preface, “Not for sale in North America.” Passionate wagon lovers are clamouring for the opportunity to test drive and acquire fashionable European tourers, estates, and wagons, but automakers aren’t the fools we take them for: if the market rejects wagons when given the opportunity, why take the risk time and time again?
While this isn’t to suggest there are not any wagons on sale in America or that there won’t be, the lack of wagon-buying opportunity is startling. In fact, it’s particularly startling because many of the cars sold in North America are offered in a wagon bodystyle elsewhere. All it would take to sell them here are the official documents allowing them to take the cross-Atlantic voyage.
What We Can Drive Now
We’re left with the Acura TSX Sport Wagon, Audi A4 Avant, BMW 328i Sports Wagon, Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon, soon-to-depart Hyundai Elantra Touring, Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon, Subaru Outback, Toyota Venza, Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen, and Volvo XC70. You could throw in the Ferrari FF and the Mini Clubman, maybe even a few of the especially elongated hatchbacks and some lower crossovers.
But a low-slung attractive wagon is a rare thing, and generally a very expensive thing in North America. Here are ten of the best we’re missing. You won’t just need the regular kind of auto transport to park one in your driveway.
Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon
Perhaps the best looking wagon currently sold on planet Earth, the 159 may also be the most unique. It’s not actually much of a load lugger, but the Sportwagon is the 159 you buy if making a style statement is the most important thing. Alfa engines, even the diesels, are uniquely Italian in pitch. For a car that’s up against the BMW 3-Series, the 159 Sportwagon can also be uniquely outfitted. Seven different interior treatments are available, from the basic black/red cloth to £1200 red leather. The 159 Sportwagon is not normal, and it’s an Alfa. Thus, it’s not surprising that it’s not for sale in North America.
Audi RS4 Avant
The recently reintroduced RS4, now in third-generation form, has a history of being tremendously powerful. All the RS4’s horsepower have never had a problem finding their way to the ground thanks to Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive, highlighting the Audi’s condition when compared with AMG Mercedes-Benzes and BMW M models. The feeling of quickness is so violent in an RS4 and one’s expectations are so rudely surpassed that its reputation (which precedes it, of course) relates so little to any other capability. Drive quickly, carry a large load. That’s all there is to it with an RS4 Avant.
BMW M550d xDrive Touring
Is it just a simple desire on BMW’s part to punish North American consumers that results in shoving the 5-Series GT our way while restricting us from acquiring the 5-Series Touring? In the M550d’s particular case, not only is the bodystyle kept an arm’s length away, so is the power plant. It’s a twin-turbocharged six-cylinder diesel with an 381 horsepower and an astounding 546 lb-ft of torque. That’ll be enough to propel this hefty wagon to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds while, in ideal conditions, returning fuel savings better than any of its North American competitors save for, you guessed it, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class BlueTec diesel.
Chevrolet Cruze Wagon
Admittedly, the Chevrolet Cruze isn’t the coolest sedan on sale today, but it is a best-ever small car effort from General Motors in North America. The Cruze is also a hot seller. Imagine, then, how you’d stand out from the pack with an extended-roof Cruze. Enjoy all the benefits of the Cruze’s well-built interior and efficient 1.4L turbo while lugging significantly more cargo. It’s a good American small car with the carrying ability of a big car.
Citroen C5 Tourer
French cars have long since ceased selling in the United States, but it’s not as though Renault, Peugeot, and Citroen stopped manufacturing automobiles when they vacated the premises. Unveiled in late 2007, the C5 sedan was an unusual looking piece in a segment that’s increasingly rejected in Europe. The wagon C5, however, appeals to a wider range of potential European clients. During your next Paris vacation, expect to hear the C5 Tourer scooting around town with small diesels, probably 1.6L and 2.0L four-cylinders. A much more powerful 3.0L V6 diesel is available, but, as it costs the equivalent of about $55,000, isn’t a common purchase.
Ford Focus Estate
They’ve done it before, but will they do it again? We’re talking about selling a Focus wagon in North America. Ford has repeatedly changed its mind when it comes to Focus bodystyles. With the first-generation, Ford sold had a sedan, wagon, and two hatchbacks. Then the wagon and hatchbacks disappeared, then Ford added an ugly coupe. Now, Ford is back to the sedan and one hatchback. Whither the wagon? Elsewhere, friend. Elsewhere.
Hyundai i40 Tourer
Hyundai’s U.S. boss, John Krafcik, has been clear that the company’s near future doesn’t include pickup trucks. After watching Toyota and Nissan struggle to penetrate that one section of the American marketplace, you can understand why. Krafcik believes family cars are the way forward for Hyundai, as proven by the company’s reintroduction of the Azera. Wouldn’t a Sonata wagon be equally useful, if not more useful, than an Azera that competes with the Genesis sedan? That’s basically what this i40 Tourer is, a Sonata wagon, a car built for at least some midsize buyers in America who want something different from a Toyota Venza or Subaru Outback.
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Estate
Let’s be clear: the C63 AMG is on sale now in the United States. But the 451-horsepower C-Class is available only as a sedan or a coupe. Mercedes-Benz doesn’t even sell a C-Class wagon in America anymore, let alone an AMG-powered C-Class. Never have children arrived so quickly at school, never has an IKEA load arrived home so quickly. Remember, this is a car not really all that much bigger than a Hyundai Elantra Touring. And it has a 451-horsepower V8.
Insignia VXR Sports Tourer
Imagine, if you will, a Buick Regal station wagon. (Not the Regal of yore, but the new good-looking Regal.) Now imagine that car with a slightly more aggressive stance and fascia, not unlike the Regal GS Buick is beginning to sell. Now imagine that car with a turbocharged 2.8L V6 and 321 horsepower. It wouldn’t be inexpensive, alas, but it would be spectacular, and spectacularly unique.
What ever happened to good old fashioned Volvo station wagons? The 240 and 740 and gigantic 940 wagons crafted an image for the Swedish automaker before the more curvaceous V70 came along in an attempt to drive Volvo toward greater success. Presently, Volvo’s U.S. model line is wagonless unless you count the jacked-up SUV-like V70 that is the XC70. Volvo is an automaker now pushing the S60 sedan and its XC models, not just the XC70, but the stalwart XC90 and more popular XC70. This V60, a beautiful S60-based wagon? Well, it’s not for sale in North America, at least not yet.