By on August 10, 2012

Hyundai revived an old nameplate for their 5-door version of the Elantra. So how about a return of the Wagovan?

According to USA Today

“The next generation is expected around 2016. It will have multiple body styles – a 5-door hatchback is under consideration for North America – as well as many different powertrains.”

The Wagonvan was a 5-door hatchback Civic sold in the 1980s that featured one of the first iterations of Honda’s RealTime 4WD system. The next generation of the Civic will be developed under the supervision of Honda’s North American arm – so a tall wagon variant is a possibility. At this price point, all-wheel drive may not make the cut.

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38 Comments on “Ready For The Wagovan Redux?...”

  • avatar

    The only thing to come out of it being developed in North America is it will be an ungainly sedan based off of a decent looking hatch that will be sold to the rest of the world. Wagon? Not on the upper 2/3s of North America!

  • avatar

    Hmm – due to the fact that Acura has a lot of low end cars – Honda needs to make sure it will not be a good performer and slow (oh…didn’t they do that with the mid 00’s Civic Si”gh”). Or copy as usual what Toyota is doing but then use Pontiac Aztek styling influence (oh…I just learned Honda makes a car called the Crosstour and had to remove the name Accord from it due to embarrassment).

  • avatar

    “The Wagonvan was a 5-door hatchback Civic sold in the 1980s that featured one of the first iterations of Honda’s RealTime 4WD system.”

    The 1983 Toyota Tercel Wagon was the first car I can remember having 4WD. However, its a toss-up to whether the Subaru GL or the AMC Eagle Wagon was the first to offer 4WD in NA.

  • avatar

    This would be an ideal replacement for my aging Element, but can’t wait until 2016.
    Build it now!

  • avatar

    Isn’t the Fit basically this exact car? I remember the Wagovan fondly, and the Fit matches it in just about every relevant dimension.

    Are talking a Fit-based crossover?

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      Good point, Also, the CRV would seem to occupy the space.

      • 0 avatar

        The CRV replaced the wagonvan, just as the RAV4 replaced the Toyota version. The boxy tall-roof wagonvan and it’s Toyota and Nissan equivalents were compact competitors to the minivan, but now those makers have minivans, and the early, useful compacts are now CUVs, with less space, less visibility and lower fuel economy.

  • avatar

    Lots of Caliber/PT/Summit/Mazda5/Rhondo type cars have been successfully marketed. They’ve got the Accord CrossTour(L) and Fit(S)– why not make it in M?

    Maybe people are over them? These type cars seem to sell well at first, then taper off to nothing in a model cycle. Inside my head they seem to have, at least.


    Since the Caliber/PT, Rhondo are certainly gone, and there aren’t many current others that come to my mind(and this is what I’m in currently, a small MPV) this could be a nice market niche to exploit. Chrysler-Fiat seem to be about to field a Chrysler Delta/100 hatchback, as well. It will likely have the space-wagon format, to replace PT. Will it be a Dodge instead? It’ll surely be a Jeep’s cousin. Maybe it is the Liberkee?

  • avatar

    I think folks are confusing the Civic wagon with RealTime 4 wheel drive with the Wagovan. They were TWO Different models. The Wagonvan was a two wheel drive model based solely on the regular wagon(what is erroneously called here the five door hatchback. My understanding is the Wagovan was a thinly veiled attempt to import more Civic wagons. It had all-vinyl seats(the regular Civic wagon was cloth and vinyl)and it had a rear seat seatback with a more upright(read very uncomfortable)angle. Dealers sold a kit to restore the angle to that of the regular Civic wagon. The wagon with RealTime 4wheel drive was a separate model based on the features of the regular Civic wagon

    • 0 avatar

      snakebit is correct. I had a 1989 Wagovan for over 8 years. It was, in fact, a way for Honda to get around the sedan quota. They came over without back seats, which qualified them as trucks, and not subject to the quota. The seats were installed in the US and shipped to the dealers. Tho the rear seat kit was “optional,” by the time I bought mine the dealers sold the cars with it installed.

      It also increased the availability of wagons. I waited over 5 months for an ’84 wagon. I would have had a similar wait for an ’89, but I got instant gratification with the Wagovan. At the time I had the option of a company car or an IRS rate mileage payment on my expense account, so I chose the Honda. I never missed the cloth seats or the 4wheel drive, even in the frozen winters of upstate NY. Four snow tires, and your good to go. (Better mileage than the 4wheel drive wagon, too.) That was the first car I ever put over 200,000 miles on. That car was like a tax-free part time job.

      When I got rid of it, it started and ran every bit as good as the day I bought it. It burned no oil and the gas mileage was consistently good. After 8 years, tho, the rust bug started to take its toll and the front suspension creaked when I went over bumps. In all those years it only left me stranded once, and that was due to an igniter that was subject to a recall. By that time Honda no longer offered a Civic wagon, and I opted for a “left over” ’97 Mercury Tracer wagon.

      I, for one, would like another Civic wagon, and preferably one without 4 wheel drive.

  • avatar

    aren’t we kind already back to the wag-o-van thing? You could say the Rav4 or the CRV are kinda CUV-ish, but then you look at the new BMW x3 and the thing is definitely a high-top sneaker version of the 3 series wagon.

  • avatar

    My 17-year-old son drives a 1987 Civic RT4WD. And LOVES it! Has 144,000 on the clock just had the timing belt changed. He soft roads it in the canyons here in southern CA in between trips to H.S. Got it on Christmas Day 2011. Same color as the one in the photo above.

    • 0 avatar

      Let me guess, you’re in California. Seriously, you guys are so lucky that you don’t have the tin worm to contend with. That together with the dependability of Hondas and Toyotas is why you get to drive 25 year old Hondas. You’d never find one of those here in New England now. I worked for Honda in the 1980’s in Portland, so I know what a neat ride the Civic wagon of 1984-1990 was.

  • avatar

    If Suzuki can make an affordable AWD vehicle in the SX4 and Aerio, why can’t Honda do the same with the Civic? And I don’t mean a crossover like the CRV or Element.

  • avatar

    My first two cars were Civic wagons. They kicked ass compared to rivals from similar years, but they were fugly. If Honda brings back the 5 door, it needs to be slightly less ugly because now the competition has them beat in driving dynamics.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    *cough*Subaru*cough* A Civic wagon with enough awd to get you home during rush hour flurries? Looks like a big gaping hole in the market to me. Make it only slightly higher than a regular Civic. Some don’t like the tippy feeling of an SUV.

  • avatar

    What is the new Toyota product this shape and size? I walked past one a few weeks ago and have been meaning to ask.

    I couldn’t figure if someone get the car scale wrong or shrunk up a minivan in the laundry, but maybe it was something penned in this forgotten format (or maybe a Toyota from another country?)

    I can’t remember exactly, but it may have said hibrid on it too.
    The proportions were all wrong, and so was the size and shape. It just looked so wrong.

    It looked too big for a Corolla platform, but too narrow for a Camry, and just generally awkward. I have never seen, or heard of anything like it. Anyone know what it could have been?

    • 0 avatar


      It’s based off of the Camry, smaller and more car-like the RAV4. I think it was intended for people who had a Highlander or RAV4 with 3rd row and no longer need the space but like the ground clearance of an SUV.

    • 0 avatar

      C170Guy– It was a Prius V, and it was everything you said.

      • 0 avatar

        Wow! Bingo! Thank you iNeon, I just looked it up and there it is. Helps when you know what to look for. I was aware they were making a smaller cheaper one, but I started looking at the venza earlier I wasn’t totally sold it being what I saw.

        It also sits way low to the ground, even for that format. Should have been a giveaway for a green car. Forgot about that though.
        The PV was never on my radar and it isn’t the type of thing that I follow (not much interest in electric cars), until I stumbled across it in a parking lot one day. I thought it might have been something that might have come up/down from Canada/Mexico, and trying to figure out who sells what, where can eat up some real time.

        Wagovan it might be, but it seemed to be a graceless take on simple utility. The little Civic in the picture up top gets away with it better, and I think Toyota made one like it too that wasn’t that bad to look at in that era.

        Am I ready for the wagovan redux? Not if they are like the V
        That thing is just…

  • avatar

    These are kinda love / hate cars, owned mostly by liberal-minded English professors. But my wife and I had the 5 butt sliding door version Eagle Summit Wagon.

    It was fabulously cheep and reliable and utilitarian. We also called it “the Wagovan.” But it was bigger than Civic. I guess it was more like a Vanwagon (not to be confused with the Vanagon)…

  • avatar

    Wow, what would happen if VW put their 4Motion system in the diesel jetta sportwagon. Heck, even the gasser. That would cover the niche we’re talking about.

  • avatar

    Technically, in NA, possibly in Canada too, the traditional wagon body never existed after 1983, the tall wagon, dubbed the Wagovan was the only wagon available for the Civic through 1992 before the wagon was dropped all together.

    The wagons and 4 door sedans were both the same overall length, only the 3 door hatchback was shorter.

    The wagon was first introduced in 1976 and was a low roofed long bodied wagon, much like the Mazda Protege5 in shape with a full height liftgate in the back. It had a longer wheelbase and overall length to the 3 door hatchback and coupe.

    The second generation Civic now offered a 4 door sedan, and it shared the same chassis as the wagon, same wheelbase and overall length, with, again, the hatchback being shorter and with a shorter wheelbase.

    The third gen Civic did the same thing, the wagon sharing the same overall length and WB with the sedans, with the difference being that the wagovan, which came in both FWD and real time AWD configurations, but had a taller boxier roofline/profile.

    And they weren’t the only ones back then, the Toyota Tercel wagon was another tall boxy wagon, same out that same year, as did the Nissan Stanza wagon, except it was a pillarless 4 door with the 2 rear doors being of the sliding variety, the others had conventional swing out rear doors.

    The 1 generation Ford Focus had 3 basic body styles, 4 door sedan, 4 door wagon and a 3 and 5 door hatchback. The hatchbacks tended to be the shortest body with the sedan being in the middle and the wagon a mere 3 inches longer, mostly due to the rear overhang, though they all shared the same wheelbase.

    I would not classify the Wagovan as a hatchback as it really was a wagon, my Protege is more a wagon than a hatchback, for starters, it’s the exact same length as the 4 door sedan variant of the Protege. Typically, a wagon will have a bit larger cargo hold behind the seats than a typical hatchback and that their rooflines tended to be flatter and don’t slope down like many hatchbacks now do.

    However,I read that the first gen CRV was supposed to bring back the tall wagon format, but it’s really that in an mini SUV package, despite it originally being available as a FWD model as well as AWD.

    Even if the Wagovan was AWD, it was only slightly higher off the ground than its FWD sibling if I recall.

    Otherwise, I’d have one of these overly boxy wagons myself as I’ve always like these and the 84-87 Tercal wagons too.

    • 0 avatar

      Even if the Wagovan was AWD, it was only slightly higher off the ground than its FWD sibling if I recall.

      The Wagovan was front drive only.

      I was interested in a first-year fwd CRV, but it only came with an automatic. By the time the came with a standard you could only get all wheel drive, at least around here.

  • avatar

    The Wagovan’s unique combination of practicality and butt-ugliness has already been reincarnated, in the Kia Rondo.

    Doubtful Honda will ever go there again as long as the CR-V exists.

  • avatar

    Funny how the Rondo is condemned for being “butt ugly” while absolute monstrosities like the Suburban, Escalade, Durango and Expeditions get a pass.

    • 0 avatar

      This scrutiny of which vehicles should be termed “butt ugly” reminded me of one of my all time favorite posts from TTAC:

      Jonny Lieberman
      October 25th, 2006 at 11:57 am

      As my mother used to say of the band Ratt when I was a kid, “They’re so stupid they can’t even spell their name right.”

      The owners are satisfyed? Yeah, cause there is something wrong with them!

      Erinth excepted, asking an Aztek owner if they like their purchase is like asking a pedophile if they are happy with their sex life.

      Their brains do not work properly!

      I’m sorry, I don’t care what is right about the car (and from the one I drove a few years back, the answer is very little), there is no way to overcome the siren of “I look like a dick, I look like a dick, I look like a dick” that plays constantly through your head every second you are behind the wheel.

      Er, that is what should be going through your head if you have a properly funtioning brain.

      It is not as if cars suddenly just showed up in 2001. Humans had had a century of design precedence pre-dating the arrival of the wrongly spelled Aztek.

      Only the insane could look at one and go, “that’s me.”

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Those four are truck based station wagons. They’re styled to somewhat look like the trucks they’re based on. The Escalade is a luxury version of the Suburban. Some are sold to haul boats, horse trailers, etc, the Escalade is sold for the bling factor, and some are sold because they want a large vehicle. Bias here, I’ve spent many hours in a Suburban loaded with men, guns, and dogs to go bird hunting.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, and I’ve spent many hours watching suburban soccer moms doing nothing more rugged than depositing their kids at school and then heading to the mall with their 4×4 Suburbans. I know an older couple whose only reason for buying a Denali XL is because of their fear of other motorists on the road.

    • 0 avatar

      +1 Amen brother.

  • avatar

    Has anyone enlarged the picture of this Civic station wagon. If they had, they’d notice cloth seating surfaces, and NO Wagovan emblems, just “Honda” and “Civic”. Clearly just a Civic wagon,not RealTime model, not a Wagovan.

    As I posted before, a Wagovan is distinguished by all vinyl seats, and a rear “Wagovan” emblem . A RealTime model has steel wheels unique to that model.

    • 0 avatar

      Now that you mention it…

      The Wagovan also had a metal bar across both side back windows, about half way up, tho I’m not sure why. I never found any use for them.

      Those bars are missing from the pictured car.

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