By on April 25, 2017

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate – Image: Mercedes-Benz UK

News that the 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Wagon would arrive in North America with a diesel powerplant and all-wheel drive caught many industry observers by pleasant surprise early last year.

But it’s been 15 months since Mercedes-Benz announced at 2016’s Montreal Auto Show that the C300d 4Matic would be sold in Canada, albeit not the United States.

Not a crossover, not tall, not be-cladded, not even remotely intended for mass consumption, the C-Class Wagon was destined to be a cult favourite — that’s right, favourite — in The Great White North. However, eight months after the announcement, there was still no C300d 4Matic wagon in Mercedes-Benz’s Canadian showrooms. Blame Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal for delaying the certification.

Yet TTAC was told just yesterday the C-Class Wagon will appear in Canadian showrooms later this summer with a, how do you say in the Canadianese… minor change, eh? (Read More…)

By on April 24, 2017

panamara-sport-turismo

Refuting everything we assumed we knew about the North American car market, some Porsche dealers are claiming the Panamera Wagon is already getting a lot of positive attention. Could that could be down to Porsche offering a more practical seating configuration?

While the rear of the Sport Turismo does provide extra storage space and easier access, it’s not a game changer over the standard sedan. What it does offer is room for five, something the German carmaker couldn’t bring itself to implement on the standard Panamera. Of course, that was likely preordained. Porsche understands most people actually care about the ability to bring all and not just some of their children with them on a journey. By omitting a seat in the sedan, it gave consumers another reason to take a look at the wagon.

(Read More…)

By on March 14, 2017

Opel Insignia

General Motors has plans to swap the American spec Buick Regal sedan with the brand’s first wagon in ages. The replacement Regals are anticipated to be rebadged Opel Insignia Grand Sport hatchbacks and Sports Tourer wagons, both of which were on display at the 87th Geneva International Motor Show this month.

Ditching the sedan is big deal since it’s been Buick’s preferred body style and the only way to get a Regal since 1996. Granted, the five-door should appear sedan-like until it’s time to put away the groceries and the glass raises to offer unprecedented access to that sweet rear end. Those with the most highly evolved automotive palates will — obviously — opt for the unadulterated perfection that is the station wagon.  (Read More…)

By on March 14, 2017

2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack/SportWagen - Images: Volkswagen

It’s no Subaru Outback, soaring toward the top of sales charts with all the force of an automaker riding a decade-long wave of rapid U.S. growth. But the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, launched in the United States last autumn, is steadily earning a place as the most important Volkswagen wagon. By far.

In fact, the Golf Alltrack is quickly becoming the bright spot in Volkswagen of America’s Golf lineup and the Volkswagen brand’s overall hierarchy. Not surprisingly, the Alltrack is also dimming the spotlight previously shone upon the Golf SportWagen. (Read More…)

By on March 2, 2017

2017 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

If someone woke up today from 20-year coma, the two consumer trends they would have the most difficulty coming to terms with are just how skinny jeans have become and the fact that more than half the cars Porsche sells are SUVs. So, for those of us not emerging from two decades of slumber, the notion that the German automaker might someday produce a station wagon wasn’t entirely without plausibility.

Porsche showcased the Panamera Sport Turismo wagon concept at the Paris auto show in 2012, hinting that it might someday have a place in its lineup, but it wasn’t until last year that we heard anything further. Now its here and everyone is clamoring over how unexpected this is. If anything is unexpected, it’s that Porsche didn’t come out with a gorgeous five-door sooner. I’m willing to bet that this will be a you-got-your-peanut-butter-on-my-chocolate sort of situation — taking into account that some people aren’t all that fond of peanut butter.  (Read More…)

By on December 22, 2016

2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack – Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

If only I’d thought ahead.

If only a day earlier I had instructed the Department of Transportation to position cameras across the length and breadth of Nova Scotia and installed a few in-car GoPros, I could have sold footage from our first full day in the 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack to Volkswagen for the prototypical all-wheel-drive commercial.

Bitterly cold temperatures had made the snow-clearing efforts from the Friday before a hit and miss affair. Our 150-minute drive from the Atlantic coast, in Eastern Passage, to the Fundy coast, in Cornwallis, turned into a 200-minute drive because of messy roads throughout the Annapolis Valley.

That was only the beginning. The next low began to pass through just after the noon hour, and by the time our 4 p.m. departure time rolled around, we knew we were in for a long drive home. With the confidence inspiring, brand-new Continental WinterContacts at all four driven wheels, we steeled ourselves for what would become a 270-minute drive home.

Four Cains, fast-falling snow, freakishly heavy traffic: this calls for extra ride height. Just a very little bit of extra ride height. (Read More…)

By on November 10, 2016

2017 Audi A4 Allroad Glacier White lobster trapsThe Land Of The Free America may be, but the American car buyer’s right to buy wagons is increasingly encroached upon by government overreach. Or perhaps it’s just automakers’ collective desire to sell you a high-margin crossover.

Affordable wagons? There are a few left: the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen, the Toyota Prius V, the Mini Clubman (if the definition is stretched). Premium wagons persist at Volvo. The BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon continues. (For now.) Mercedes-Benz does an E-Class Wagon.

But if wagons that were available in the relatively recent past — TSX, A6, CTS, 5 Series, Magnum, Focus, Taurus, Elantra, C-Class, Lancer, 9-3, Legacy, Passat — were to return to the United States, they would likely have to do so in elevated fashion.

Just look here. This is an Audi A4 Avant, a successor to the car that finished its course in 2012. Add up to 4.5 inches of matte black cladding, raise the ride height by nine-tenths of an inch for 6.5 inches of ground clearance, and you have a 2017 Audi A4 Allroad. The Avant that’s available. (Read More…)

By on June 28, 2016

Golf Alltrack Subaru Outback combo

We don’t yet know the exact price of Volkswagen USA’s 2017 Golf Alltrack.

We are certain, however, that Volkswagen, a company with a brand image severely tarnished in the United States, will be able to do no better than slightly undercut the basic price of the Subaru Outback.

And that might be a problem. (Read More…)

By on June 20, 2016

2016 BMW 328i xDrive Sports Wagon

Why? Surely you jest.

Why is an automobile manufacturer’s U.S. arm killing off its lone remaining wagon? You don’t need to ask, for the answer lies therein: it’s a wagon. So they’re done with it. Insert the proverbial duh.

A report on BimmerFile.com, sourced both anonymously and from prolific BMW forum user Scott26, says the current BMW 3 Series Sport Wagon will be the last iteration of the car imported by BMW USA. (Read More…)

By on June 6, 2016

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate (BR 213), 2016

The three-row Buick Roadmaster and Chevrolet Caprice wagons of yesteryear are gone, but Mercedes-Benz now offers a modern, refined alternative to minivans and crossovers for the few who want it.

The German automaker’s E-Class Estate bows this fall on the far side of the Atlantic (a little later here), in both luxury and sport-minded guise. It’s the wagon you’d drive if you had to drive a wagon. (Read More…)

By on August 5, 2015

At one point few vehicles epitomized the American family car as the station wagon, particularly of the fullsize variety. Today, most car companies are pretty much convinced that American consumers will not buy station wagons. A few of the European luxury brands offer them here, but for the most part wagons are not welcome in the contemporary automotive scene in the U.S. According to Pete Bigelow of AOL Autos, the fault for that lies with the vehicular star of 1983’s “National Lampoon’s Vacation” — the Wagon Queen Family Truckster, a hideous pastiche of just about every bad malaise era styling trend appliqued over a Ford LTD Country Squire.

(Read More…)

By on September 17, 2014

Volvo V60 wagon redYou didn’t think the V60 was going to save Volvo, and it hasn’t.

The job of saving Volvo in North America will be left up to the next XC90, a nameplate which accounted for 28% of Volvo USA sales in 2004, but just 9% so far this year.

The hope was that the V60 would show loyalists that Volvo is still in the wagon business, that Volvo is still Volvo. However, the owner of a one child/two dog V50 may not yet have even noticed one of the new wagons on roadways, as only 9% of the Volvos sold in the United States so far this year have been V60 wagons. (Read More…)

By on December 19, 2012

Lately, in no small part due to Michael Moore, the “documentary” film has become the carborundum upon which filmmakers from a variety of perspectives have ground their own axes and then proceeded to chop down the subject of their films. It’s nice, then, to see a documentary made that exhibits some affection for the subject. Wagonmasters, a film made by Chris Zaluski and Sam Smartt as part of their work for MFAs from Wake Forest University’s Documentary Film Program, looks at the great American station wagon with affection. Wistful affection for the now disappeared suburban icon of Americana, but affection nonetheless. (Read More…)

By on October 12, 2012

If you haven’t been paying attention to my life story (discretely woven into my reviews), I’ll spell it out clearly: I live in what is considered to be a temperate rainforest on the California coast, the nearest asphalt or concrete surface is over a mile away, and I have a deep (some say questionable) love for station wagons. If you combine this with liberal political leanings, my DINK (Dual Income, No Kids) status and a passion for Costco runs, I am the target market for an off-road wagon. Enter the 2013 Audi allroad. (No, for some reason “allroad” doesn’t get a capital letter.) Audi invited Michael Karesh to a launch event, event a few months ago, but what’s the XC70’s only competition like to live with for a week? Let’s find out.

(Read More…)

By on October 1, 2012

Close your eyes and imagine it’s 1979. A first-term Democratic president struggles with unemployment, malaise, high energy prices, and embassy trouble. The landscape of today looks like the landscape of then, but there’s one important thing missing: The compact pickup. Where did they go? The small pickup was an indelible symbol of America’s lowered expectations in the Seventies and Eighties. Now that crappy times are here again, where are the paper-thin truck beds and wheezy-but-indestructible four-cylinders to pull them?

(Read More…)

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