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]

Share This Photo X