• Jul 13, 2009
The Chrysler Pacifica lasted all of four years before it was unceremoniously dumped from the Pentastar's lineup. The Ford Freestyle endured a name change after three model years, then lasted two more as the Taurus X before being sent out to pasture. The Cadillac SRX lasted six years as a tall wagon before being completely redone as a more traditional front-drive -based crossover for 2010. Mercedes-Benz's R-Class, essentially a lux'd out minivan without sliding doors, has been gathering moss since it rolled into U.S. dealers for 2006.
Despite the less-than-stellar sales numbers of the aforementioned vehicles, there are a surprising number of tall wagons, genre-bending tippy hatches and style-over-utility people movers on the market, and more are on the way. The most recently announced entry into the tall wagon segment is the Honda Accord Crosstour, which is destined to hit the showroom floor this Fall. As far as we can tell from spy shots, it's taller than a standard Accord and has a hatch-like boot, giving it an aerowagon or "touring" style appearance. It certainly won't hurt the Crosstour's case that it's a Honda, and any association with the Accord name is likely a good thing, but customers have proven to be very picky when it comes to the angular tall wagon format.

What passes for success these days? We think Toyota's Venza is a particularly well-done example that manages to marshall an extra dose of style with still-reasonable utility. It's roomy and almost luxurious, yet Toyota has only sold 20,000 copies through June. The Japanese automaker was hoping for 50,000 sales per year, but Toyota national large car GM Bob Zeinstra tells Automotive News that the Venza is just now starting to pickup steam at the dealerships, and one has to factor in the perilous economy when considering total sales of any new vehicle.

For its part, BMW's X6 crossover, perhaps the poster-child for this automotive platypus segment, has actually been selling well for the German automaker, albeit in significantly smaller numbers than more mainstream models.

If Honda's Crosstour succeeds where the Freestyle, Pacifica and SRX failed, the segment may have some life in it. If it doesn't pass the sales test, we're wondering if automakers will finally give up hope on a segment long on new entries, but short on success stories.

[Source: Automotive News subs req'd | Images: M. Balisky]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 47 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I love wagons, but I hate these sloping hatchback rears.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Truck based SUV's seem to be a dying species.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Because every manufacturer is just cocky enough to think they can suceed where others have failed and will try anything once. I don't think tall wagons or real wagons will ever catch on in this country. Or if they do, only one manufacturer will do well with them, while the rest suffer, like Volvo used to do well with theirs in the 80's and early 90's, then they kind of passed the torch to Subaru. But the other companies with their Magnums and their R class aren't doing so hot.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Mix an old Phoenix with a new Panamera, add a dash of AMC Marlin and four chrome door handles, and you've got another Pacifica: neither fish nor fowl.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It doesn't help that the entries into this category are butt fugly.
      • 5 Years Ago
      No mention of the Subaru Forester? That tall wagon that, you know, has gone a long way toward helping Subby kick butt and take names while everyone else sheds sales every month?

      It seems to me sales in this segment have been mixed because of the vehicles themselves. The Pacifica was hobbled from day one. The Freestyle/Taurus X was 1) too big and 2) about as exciting as cardboard. The R-Class was a $60,000 minivan without the sliding doors.

      But Volvo's XC70 has been a steady seller for years. And I'm pretty sure the Infiniti EX and Toyota Venza are both doing pretty well.

      It's too soon to tell with this segment. It's kind of like judging diesels based on the what, six cars that have a diesel option...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Forester is a small SUV. The Outback is Subaru's tall wagon.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Most of the US automakers got into trouble by spreading their model range too thin with too many useless specialty models. It's funny but I can't help but imagine these "Tall Wagons" -I refuse to validate these things by calling them some sort of slick Acronym - are the exact anathema which led us Yanks into trouble. Rather than playing Russian Roulette with their new model ranges and hoping something eventually sticks to the wall, (forgive that turn of phrase I have to amuse myself), these companies could probably save a chunk of change running comprehensive market research on these things. I can't imagine a tall wagon buyer would outright shun a beautifully styled purpose built SUV
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Pacifica, SRX and Taurus X all failed in this market because they looked more like wagons than CUVs or SUVs, never mind that it was an image not substance (or substantial difference) problem. No rational explanation why Americans take to CUVs and SUVs (which definitely are tall wagons), but tend to reject tall wagons that really look like tall wagons.

      The Honda however is a five door hatchback version of the Accord sedan. It is NOT a tall wagon. Hatchbacks, though growing in choices (and sales) are still struggling in the US, while wildly popular elsewhere. Probably because they are so versatile and space efficient. And never mind that all CUVs and SUVs are actually hatchbacks (though not all hatchbacks are CUVs or SUVs).

      The market and preferences change. At one time, minivans were the hot item. Go back far enough, and station wagons were the ticket in the US. None of this is rational. Thank goodness Honda and others take chances on new types of vehicles or we would all just keep driving SUVs, even though most owners don't off-road or tow with them.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Have it your way, Aki. Go ahead, split a hair. The Accord sedan to the Accord hatchback is like the Legacy wagon to the Outback. Same essential body and interior. Different rear, like the difference between the Golf and the Jetta, or the 4 door and 5 door Mazda6. If the Honda is jacked a couple of inches it would ostensibly be to better accommodate AWD.
      • 5 Years Ago
      There was a period in the early to mid-80's when everyone had a "five-door" hatchback of some sort. GM had the Citation and Phoenix, Acura had the Integra, Saab had the 900. Toyota, Ford and others also had them. Back then, we were in a major recession, gas prices were unstable, and everyone wanted more function from a smaller package.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why would you think the X6 is a wagon??!?! It's in no way the prototype of the class. This class is a dead class and the fact that gray-haired codgers can't seem to reconcile the difference between a wagon and a crossover is the only reason manufacturers keep churning them out. (OK, and the fact that it's cheap to piggy back on a sedan platform)

      The X6 is a crossover, like the Ford Edge, the NEW SRX, and the Infinity FX. BMW might want to claim the X5 is a crossover but it's a SUV, the X6 is the crossover in their stable.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I absolutely love my Dodge Magnum HEMI wagon. It's versatile, agressive looking (with my aftermarket tweaks), hauls a lot of stuff (hockey gear, landscaping stuff, baby seat, etc) and it's FAST when needed. Gas mileage is okay but it comes in handy all the time. Long Live Wagons!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      The stigma that wagons are uncool doesn't apply to children of the 80s who have fond memories of riding in the rear-facing third row seats and pretending they were the gunner on a B-17. The only people that don't like station wagons are those who drove them the first time around...and lets be honest...cars(including wagons) have come a LONG way since wagons were last fashionable. A new wagon would provide the mileage/driving dynamics of a sedan, with the cargo of an SUV.

      Anyhoo...would it be safe to say that this was the first crossover? Just a tall wagon, right?

      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e6/AMC_Eagle_wagon.jpg
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