Why did station wagons go out of style in the US?

For some, station wagons are boring, elderly, and too large, but for others, station wagons seem like the perfect blend between a sedan and a minivan/SUV. No matter what you take on station wagons is, they certainly are making a comeback.

But back in 1973, the sales of station wagons in the US have decreased to a minimum thanks to the oil crisis. Ten years later, the Chrysler Minivan was introduced, which caused the finishing blow to the station wagon.

Minivans were just too practical and cheap to be ignored, and the large discounts and safety ratings have also further increased minivan sales. Furthermore, after the oil crisis, SUVs and crossovers were also starting to gain large traction.

All of this resulted in the demise of the station wagon. But now, station wagons are slowly starting to gain traction as some models like Audi RS6, Audi RS4, the halo Audi RS cars were finally introduced to the US market.

The demise of the station wagon

Before the 1970s, station wagons were occupying a decent percentage of the car market. Models like the 1950s Ford Country and Chevy Bel Air station wagons were everywhere and it seemed like station wagons had a great future coming.

But the oil crisis started and this marked somewhat of a revolution in the automotive industry. Since then we started witnessing efficiency and practicality as aspects that should be the mark of a great automobile. The oil crisis has severely increased the prices of gasoline from $3 per barrel up to $12.

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And the thirsty V8s that have powered the station wagons of this era suddenly started being expensive to run and not all that family-friendly. This was rather timed perfectly as the popularity of the station wagon has reached unprecedented heights between the 1950s and 1970s.

Besides the crisis itself, in 1984 the Chrysler minivan was born. And ever since then station wagons were slowly but steadily going out of style. Nowadays the SUV/Crossover era is in full effect, but the station wagon is potentially making a comeback.

The rebirth of the station wagon

In some places, station wagons were always hot. Particularly in Germany as typical German families prefer a station wagon compared to a sedan. Brands like Mercedes, Volkswagen, Volvo, and especially Audi have always offered incredibly competitive station wagons.

The Audi RS6 is widely revered as the best all-around station wagon (or even the best car in general) money can buy. And it’s easy to see why as the aggressive styling, a 600hp V8, and loads of interior and cargo space have skyrocketed the appeal of the RS6 in recent years.

And thanks to this, Audi has finally introduced the brand new RS6 and RS4 to the US market which has changed the perception of the station wagon. Furthermore, the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo has also gathered quite a decently sized enthusiast base in the US.

With such models, the station wagon suddenly turned into a cool, practical alternative to the sedan itself. This is distinctly obvious because the RS6 is selling way better compared to its sleeker older brother, the Audi RS7 Sportback.

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The reason why we love station wagons

We love ‘em because they are cool, practical, and easy to live with. They are equally impressive at being comfortable and upmarket and being a dog hauler and a family transport hub. Thanks to modern technology, cameras, and sensors, station wagons are now also easy to navigate and see out of.

With such a vast breadth of ability, it’s really obvious why people have always liked the station wagon. The ‘’dad’’ image which was heavily associated with older station wagons has now turned into the RS6 and the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo as the cool fast businessman rocket ship.

Comfortable seating for 5, cooled, heated, massaged seats, Bang and Olufsen, Harman Kardon, Burmester sounds systems, 360 cameras, all-around parking sensors, LED headlights and pan roofs are now available on almost every German station wagon out there.

A few years ago, you’d buy an SUV if you wanted to be different than all the rest of the sedan cult, nowadays, you buy a station wagon to be different from all the SUV cultists. No matter what your take on wagons is, it’s certainly exciting to see that they are finally making a comeback.

FAQ Section

Are sedans more expensive than station wagons?

Most people expect that modern station wagons are way cheaper compared to a sedan, but that’s not the case as station wagons, especially German station wagons require a hefty premium over a sedan counterpart.

Some high-performance wagons like the fairly popular Mercedes Benz E63 AMG cost as much as 20% more compared to an E63 sedan. The Porsche Panamera Turbo S e-hybrid Sport Turismo is the most expensive Porsche family car on the market.

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Are station wagons fast?

Modern-day station wagons are rapid. Models like the E63 AMG, Audi RS6, Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo are able to reach 0-60mph in around 3 seconds, which is absurdly quick. A few years ago you had to pay Ferrari or Lambo money to achieve such 0-60 times.

But the difference here is that the Ferrari which has a fairly similar 0-60mph time is nowhere near as practical, affordable nor comfy as a station wagon. And most of these performance station wagons also come with all-time AWD which enables you to good fast no matter the conditions.

Should I buy a station wagon or an SUV?

Lots of people out there know what they like, but the reasoning behind comparing the SUV and the station wagon is as clear as day. Both of these are probably the best all-around cars on the market right now, but there is a clear winner.

Some brands like Audi, Mercedes, and Volvo are starting to offer ‘’all-road’’ station wagons. This segment was defined by Audi, but lately, lots of other brands started to join in. These station wagons offer greater ground clearance and off-road capabilities, but they retain the practicality and ease of use. And this makes them the best cars money can buy right now.

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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