Station wagons are facing extinction, but getting more expensive

The automotive enthusiast community went into a frenzy this week when Audi announced plans to sell a high-performance station wagon in the U.S. next year.

The Audi RS6 Avant has a 591 hp twin-turbocharged V8.

The Audi RS6 Avant has a 591 hp twin-turbocharged V8. (Audi)

The all-wheel-drive Audi RS6 Avant is powered by a 591 hp twin-turbocharged V8 and capable of hitting a top speed of around 190 mph.

Wagons, especially the sporty ones, are a favorite among many car geeks, who maintain that they deliver a superior combination of driving dynamics, efficiency and practicality compared to SUVs. But is anybody buying the argument, let alone the cars?


According to data released by J.D. Power VP Tyson Jominy, not so much the latter. Jominy said that just 1.4 percent of cars sold in the U.S. last year were wagons, but it’s even bleaker than that sounds. The figure includes 178,854 Subaru Outbacks, which is technically a jacked-up wagon version of the Subaru Legacy sedan but positioned in the market more as an SUV. Eliminate that from the results and wagons drop to .2 percent of sales.


The only wagon currently available from an American brand is the Buick Regal TourX, and that’s dressed more like the rugged Outback than a Roadmaster. Aside from the VW Golf SportWagen and Alltrack -- both set to be discontinued after the 2019 model year -- the handful of models still available are all from premium brands and comprise just .3 percent of the high-end sales.


So why is Audi even bothering? Well, it’s because of the high prices the cars can command. For instance, the $64,500 Mercedes-Benz E-450 wagon is priced $5,000 more than the sedan version, while the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo starts at $190G.


Nevertheless, a high price is no guarantee of success. Many Jaguar dealers have been offering discounts of $10,000 and more to help move the $71,000 XF Sportbrake off the lot.

Pricing for the Audi RS6 Avant hasn’t been announced, but Car and Driver estimates that it will be over $112,000.