European Wagons Go (Out)Back To Crossover Roots

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

The modern Crossover family tree can be traced (aesthetically, anyway) back to three basic roots: the “light SUV” (Jeep Cherokee, Toyota 4Runner), the “pure crossover” (Lexus RX300 and endless copies) and the “jacked up AWD wagon” (Outback, Volvo Cross Country). In fact, one might even posit a Hegelian dialectic to explain the evolution from:

Light SUV (thesis) -> “jacked up AWD wagon” (antithesis)-> “pure crossover” (synthesis)

Well, leave it to Europe to screw up a perfectly good theoretical construct. It seems that the continent that gave us dialectics is going back to what was always the most interesting branch of the crossover family, the “jacked up AWD wagon.” Volkswagen seems to be responsible for a lot of the re-exploration of Subaru’s now-nearly-abandoned niche, with a CrossPassat coming to European markets next year, a possible “Skoda Superb Scout” being weighed as well, and an Audi A4 Allroad already on sale. But perhaps the most intriguing of this new class of neo-Outbacks comes from Peugeot, which is testing a leggy 508 diesel hybrid wagon that drives its rear wheels solely by electric power.

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  • Mark MacInnis Mark MacInnis on Mar 22, 2011

    You can have my Audi A6 Avant when you can pry the keys from my cold, dead hand.

  • JJ JJ on Mar 22, 2011

    Truth is in Europe despite the availability of a number of these, I see almost none on the road. Subjectively, I feel that for every Audi A6 Allroad I see there's about a hundred A6 Avants and maybe some 20-30 Q7s. I have never even seen an A4 Allroad in the wild that I can remember and frankly forgot about its existence until this post. Then again it makes absolutely zero sense in the Dutch market especially (flat country, usually relatively mild winters, ownership tax dependend on the weight of the car, sales tax dependend on fuel consumption and highest gas prices in Europe) cause people just buy -I mean lease- an FWD 2.0 TDI regular A4 instead). In Switzerland they might sell a couple more quattros and maybe allroads. Still, it seems like most people either realise they're just as well off with the 'regular' model and save a couple of Euros, or they decide to go all the way and buy a 'real SUV'.

    • Mhadi Mhadi on Mar 22, 2011

      Yes, people don't buy the faux-trim raised wagon in Europe. The only ones I have seen are the Volvo XC70s. They don't look particularly nice compared to their standard versions, and they are more expensive. They are pointless as wagons are bought for their functional capabilities. They don't work very well on rough terrain anyway. Raised height usually means a car like the Volvo XC60 or Land Rover to Europeans.

  • Ktm Ktm on Mar 22, 2011

    Audi sold the Allroad 10 years ago in A6 trim. It was, and still is, a very nice although unreliable car.

  • Ixim Ixim on Mar 23, 2011

    As the late Ken Purdy wrote about 60 years ago, [I paraphrase] "A station wagon is a mule by a truck out of a dreamboat". That is, the old wagons had the awful handling of contemporary sedans with the utility of a small truck. Today's CUV's, with their modern drivetrains and suspensions, are the old station wagons perfected. They deliver utility, versatility, handling, even fuel efficiency undreamed of for my old '76 Fury wagon.