Forget history for a moment, and contemplate what life would be like if the station wagon had survived the minivan craze and SUV surge, and a continued interest in the segment inspired fresh models to emerge. The American landscape could be littered with elegant, low-slung, fuel efficient sport wagons, and Subaru wouldn’t be the only one out there still making family friendly models — which by the way, are impossible to keep on dealer lots.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way, and America’s station wagon selection nowadays is either European and expensive, or a back-ordered Subaru. But just when it seems like there’s no hope of seeing a new American station wagon, General Motors has made moves that have piqued our interest.
According to a report from Automotive News, the next generation Buick Regal sedan might “spawn a wagon for the U.S., [serving as] the brand’s latest bid to target sparsely occupied market niches.” While Buick has no official comment, a reputable source at a national dealer meeting in May claimed that the next generation Regal will likely be joined by a wagon variant after the sedan launches.
While there aren’t any specifics on price, powertrains, or rollout, late 2018 is likely the earliest we’ll see a Regal wagon, should it get the green light from GM brass. Like much of the Buick lineup, its design will be based on the upcoming generation of what’s pictured here: the Opel Insignia wagon. The only question now is, will Americans buy it? Research firm IHS Automotive estimates that only 1% of all cars being sold nowadays are wagons, signaling that the automaker will likely have an uphill battle ahead of it.
Nevertheless, Buick has had success by utilizing what it likes to call a “white-space strategy,” where it capitalizes on developing vehicles in sub genres that its rivals don’t compete in. With cars like the performance oriented Regal GS sedan, the well-timed release of the Encore, and the Cascada convertible leading the way, there are recent triumphs that encourage bold action in the future. Being fans of the luxury brand, we found five reasons why American needs a Buick wagon, and after a little thought, the future for this long-roof looks more promising than one might expect.
1. America still likes wagons
Despite making up just 1% all new car sales, the wagon market has seen an uptick in recent years, as cars like the Subaru Outback continue to fly off lots, and Volvo wagons still have a dedicated following. If Buick learns from these successes and markets its wagon to the American market properly, it stands a strong chance of finding its niche.
2. It’s a small, but fundamental cornerstone
GM helped make the station wagon what it is today, and without Nomads and Vista Cruisers, the genre probably never would have caught on like it did. As disinterested as many Americans are in long-roofs today, they have a level of nostalgia that could serve as a vital tool during the campaign process. Remember, Subaru can’t make wagons fast enough, so chances are there’s an opportunity there to snag some sales with a GM model that has the heritage and know-how, along with a healthy dose of sex appeal and performance.
3. A GS could be a sport wagon for the masses
Speaking of performance, we love the Buick Regal GS, a turbocharged, all-wheel drive sleeper that outperforms models that sell for $10K more. There’s nothing we’d love more than to find its features transplanted into a station wagon. A Regal GS wagon could be the long-awaited successor to the Cadillac CTS-V wagon from a few years ago, and would likely be within reach of a lot more practical-minded speed junkies.
4. It wouldn’t have a lot of competition
Since so few automakers are even making wagons anymore, Buick would have a corner of the market to itself. Despite being a premium brand, all of its competitors are European and reside in a different price bracket. While Subaru represents a volume competitor, Buick’s ability to provide things like magnetic ride suspension, upscale interior touches, and winning tech packages could make the Regal wagon seem like a bargain.
5. The Buick brand could use another surprise attack
Despite its conservative reputation, Buick has made some bold moves that people tend to overlook. Offering a manual version of the Regal was a huge mistake right from the get-go, and even though the Verano was an American premium compact that was actually done right, neither was a success. But nothing was ever won by not rolling the dice. We would love to see Buick take a chance on a wagon. If it’s sporty enough, and competitive enough, the growing millennial market just might welcome it with open arms, and prove that the Tri-Shield brand isn’t for grandparents anymore.