CarGurus Investigates the Rise of the Wagon

Who remembers the “wood”-paneled station wagons of our childhoods? We can’t help but wonder whether they’re making a comeback despite the declining popularity of sedans.

If you scan the headlines, SUVs and crossovers are taking over and the sedan is dead. But CarGurus data shows the story is more complicated than that: Younger shoppers still want new and used sedans, because they offer more value and are still great options. But most American automakers have nixed sedans, with the exception of performance vehicles. European automakers continue to make sedans, such as the 2020 Volkswagen Passat, which offer more premium features and design elements, such as heated front and rear seats and dual-zone climate control. But what of the wagon? Let’s take a closer look at some recent debuts.

The wagon comeback

In the past two years, we’ve seen the introduction of several new wagons. Volvo, which already had the V60, debuted the new V90 in 2017 (a previous version was offered in the US in 1998), which we reviewed the 2018. Shoppers can now get an off-road friendly version of the V90, called the V90 Cross Country, which offers more ground clearance, black cladding around the wheels, and, of course, all-wheel drive (AWD). Jaguar, known for its luxury sedans like the XJ Series, broke tradition and introduced the XF Sportbrake in 2018. Its starting price is in line with the rest of the luxury brand’s vehicles, and it offers 20-inch wheels, soft-close doors, heated seats, and more cubic feet of cargo space than the F-Pace.

Buick is the other automaker that introduced a wagon in 2018 with its Regal TourX. Our reviewer notes the Regal TourX can work as a premium alternative to brands like Subaru, with its much-beloved Outback. The TourX has premium touches, like dual-zone climate control, while also featuring more rugged details like plastic cladding around each wheel well and a roof rack along with AWD.

We looked at the number of searches for each of these three wagons in the second half of 2018 and compared that to the first six months of the year. While two of those new wagons saw an increase in searches, we were surprised to see that the Buick Regal TourX had the bigger boost, with a staggering 69% increase. The V90 saw a 30% increase in the number of searches. Only the XF Sportbrake saw a decrease, of 4%, in the second half of 2018 compared to the prior six months.

The future of the wagon

Based on searches on CarGurus, the wagon is indeed making a comeback. Bloomberg suggested the increased interest in wagons is a result of shoppers now having more wagon choices. It also may be due to the smaller number of options for sedan shoppers. Wagons, thanks to their lower center of gravity, feature less body roll and better handling than their crossover and SUV counterparts while not losing any of the capabilities or close-to-the-road driving experience a sedan would offer.

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