August 29, 2016
WHITHER THE STATION WAGON?
by Jim Corbran, Automotive Columnist
People who’ve been reading my automotive rantings over the years are by now pretty much used to my favorite peeve:
Whatever happened to the station wagon?
This thought came to mind once again during a recently-completed driving vacation to Pigeon Forge, Tenessee. My Better Half and I packed a week’s worth of clothing, electronics, and other necessities and threw it all into the back of my Ford Focus station wagon, where it all remained out of view under that ingenious invention called the retractable cargo cover. The Focus never let us down, and was a much more comfortable highway ride than our Scion xB (which is actually my favorite of the two — and kind of a little station wagon in its own right).
I couldn’t help but notice the dearth of other wagons on the road the whole trip, and the profusion of crossovers which, for all intents and purposes, are (shh!, don’t tell anyone) station wagons! But the marketing people are afraid to call them that anymore because, well, because who buys station wagons besides old guys (guilty!) and, hmm… other old guys?
But I’m on to them and I’m outing them. So here, for your perusal, is the station-wagoniest vehicle for sale today. A vehicle which its manufacturer, the Ford Motor Company, isn’t quite sure just what to call. Here’s a quote from a press release for the Ford Flex: “Ford Flex is a seven-passenger utility that offers new power, efficiency, technology and driver-assist features in a one-of-a-kind vehicle.”
Not a crossover; not an SUV; not a station wagon. But, a utility. A one-of-a-kind vehicle. Well, I guess it’s just about the boxiest vehicle on the market, which I would hope translates into gobs of useful interior space. If you think about it, except for the their missing aerodynamicity, the Flex and my wife’s first-gen Scion xB are the ideal shape for a family car. No rounded-down roofline to steal precious head room; a box-like interior space for storing all kinds of stuff; and acres of glass for an ideal 360° view of the road.
I guess it’s not the end of the world that nobody calls these things station wagons anymore. Just as long as they keep building them.
Read more about the Ford Flex utility, and maybe even build your own online version, here.
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