Station wagons are the vehicles in which people who are currently old grew up, the vehicles your parents replaced with a minivan, the vehicles you now say you want but refuse to actually buy.
In the eyes of many automotive writers, the ideal vehicle is an all-wheel-drive, diesel-powered wagon with a manual transmission. And brown paint. And cloth seats. It would be the ultimate Q car, a cargo hauler that’s enjoyable to drive down a twisty road but doesn’t cause the neighbours to think you’re going through a midlife crisis.
Because you’re an automotive writer, you dream of having an 2002tii project car, a spouse who drives a rust-free 1984 Jeep Wagoneer, and a Chris Harris-like salary that will enable you to park a Cuprite Brown Mercedes-Benz E63 Wagon in your driveway.
Most manufacturers tell us they don’t import wagons to North America because of poor sales. (It also has something to do with CAFE.) The thing is, most manufacturers don’t share their wagon sales info. So we don’t know how bad things really are. That’s not abnormal: you don’t see Honda breaking down Civic sales by coupe and sedan, Ford doesn’t share F-150 and F-250 and F-350 sales data, and Chevrolet doesn’t split their monthly release with Camaro and Camaro Convertible sales figures.
Only on rare occasions do automakers share abundantly. Examples include Mini, in the U.S. but not in Canada, which breaks down Cooper sales by Hardtop, Clubman, Convertible, Coupe, and Roadster. Fiat, in Canada but not in the U.S., breaks down 500 sales by hardtop and cabriolet. Infiniti USA considers the G sedan and G Coupe/Convertible two different cars. Cadillac shares Escalade, Escalade ESV, and Escalade EXT data.
Generally speaking, however, automakers are loathe to share such data. Hyundai USA doesn’t even provide the split between Genesis sedans and coupes, for goodness’ sake. And the data that is shared? You don’t see Cooper vs. Cooper S. vs Cooper S JCW, do you? Nope, nothing of the kind, not from Mini or any other automobile manufacturer.
So we don’t know how many Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagons have been sold this year, and we therefore can’t use the (presumably) small figures to help support Audi’s theory that there’s no point in delivering to us the A6 Avant. BMW doesn’t share 3-Series Touring numbers. Cadillac throws the not-long-for-this-world CTS wagon in with the sedan and coupe.
Come to think of it, there isn’t that much wagon sales data missing, because there are so few wagons on sale, because we don’t actually buy brown, manual-trans wagons with diesel engines; we only say we will. Wagons have either been turned into quasi-SUVs – like the Audi A4 Allroad, Subaru Outback and Volvo XC70 – or erased from the North American market, like the Mazda 6, BMW 5-Series, and Volvo V50. Or they’ve never even been offered here, like the Chevrolet Cruze, Buick Regal/Opel Insignia, and Ford Focus.
What are we left with? Fortunately, Volkswagen USA and American Honda provide information for the Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen, which is actually a Golf Wagon, and the Acura TSX Sport Wagon.
Total Volkswagen Jetta sales through November 2012: 154,763, down 5% from last year. The Jetta is America’s 21st-best-selling nameplate so far this year, but would fall behind the 25th-ranked Jeep Grand Cherokee without the wagon.
Total Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen sales through November 2012: 21,387, down 13.9% from last year, a 3458-unit drop. There’s talk of limited SportWagen supply, but one assumes that Volkswagen would manufactur more if the company genuinely felt a substantially larger number could be sold.
The Jetta SportWagen accounts for 13.8% of all U.S. Jetta sales. Interestingly, the SportWagen outsells non-GTI Golfs by a healthy margin and outsells the Golf GTI and Golf R combined. Volkswagen’s Tiguan, sales of which have risen 20.5% this year, has found 7034 more buyers than the Jetta SportWagen.
On to Acura then. The TSX Sport Wagon accounts for 14.3% of all TSX sales through November 2012. TSX Sport Wagon sales are up tp 3820 this year, a 31% gain, or 905 extra units. TSX sedan sales are down 6.4% to 22,903. The TSX is America’s 111th-best-selling nameplate. Without the Sport Wagon, the TSX would drop just behind the 122nd-ranked Mercedes-Benz GL-Class.
Meanwhile, Audi has sold 2680 A4 Allroads since May and managed to sell 92% more Allroads in November 2012 than Audi sold A4 Avants in November 2011. The Volvo XC70 ranks 209th in U.S. new vehicle volume with 4995 sales, down 2.4% this year. The Subaru Outback is very popular, relatively speaking. Sales are up 15.9% to 105,481 in 2012, making the Outback America’s 37th-best-selling vehicle. 2012 has proven to be the Outback’s best post-Legacy separation sales year yet.