A station wagon, also called an estate car, estate wagon, or simply
wagon or estate, is an automotive body-style variant of a sedan/saloon
with its roof extended rearward over a shared passenger/cargo
volume with access at the back via a third or fifth door (the liftgate
or tailgate), instead of a trunk/boot lid. The body style transforms a
standard three-box design into a two-box design — to include an A,
B, and C-pillar, as well as a D-pillar. Station wagons can flexibly
reconfigure their interior volume via fold-down rear seats to
prioritize either passenger or cargo volume.
American Heritage Dictionary defines a station wagon as "an
automobile with one or more rows of folding or removable seats behind
the driver and no luggage compartment but an area behind the seats
into which suitcases, parcels, etc., can be loaded through a
When a model range includes multiple body styles, such as sedan,
hatchback and station wagon, the models typically share their
platform, drivetrain and bodywork forward of the A-pillar. In 1969,
Popular Mechanics said, "Station wagon-style ... follows that of
the production sedan of which it is the counterpart. Most are on the
same wheelbase, offer the same transmission and engine options, and
the same comfort and convenience options."
Station wagons have evolved from their early use as specialized
vehicles to carry people and luggage to and from a train station, and
have been marketed worldwide.
1.1 Distinction from hatchbacks
2.2 All-steel wagons
2.3 Full-size wagons
2.4 Two-door wagons
3 Popularity in North America
4 Around the world
5 Tailgate evolution
6 Safety equipment
7 See also
10 External links
Renault Clio IV Estate, a segment-B station wagon. Nowadays, station
wagons also exist in smaller segments.
Volkswagen Passat "Variant"
Station wagon and wagon are the common names in American, Canadian,
New Zealand, Australian and African English, while estate car and
estate are common in the rest of the English-speaking world. Both
names harken to the car's role as a shuttle, with storage space for
baggage, between country estates and train stations.
Having shared antecedents with the British shooting-brake (originally
a wooden-bodied vehicle used to carry shooting parties with their
equipment and game), station wagons have been marketed as breaks,
using the French term (which is sometimes given fully as break de
chasse, literally "hunting break)." Early U.S. models often had
exposed wooden bodies and were therefore called woodies.
Manufacturers may designate station wagons across various model lines
with a proprietary nameplate. Examples include "Estate"
(Mercedes-Benz, Chevrolets with the fake-wood option), "Avant" (Audi),
"Touring" (BMW), "Tourer" and "Cross-Tourer" (Citroën), "SW" for
Station Wagon or Sports Wagon (Peugeot), Estate (Renault), MCV
(Renault/Dacia), "Tourer" (Rover), Kombi or Variant (
Saab) and "Sports Tourer", "SW - Sportswagon" (Kia) or Caravan (Opel).
Distinction from hatchbacks
Typical pillar configurations of a sedan (three box), station wagon
(two box) and hatchback (two box) from the same model range.
Both station wagons and hatchbacks typically share a two-box design
configuration, with one shared, flexible, interior volume for
passengers and cargo — and a rear door for cargo access.
Further distinctions are highly variable:
Pillars: Both configurations typically feature A, B & C-pillars,
station wagons feature a D-pillar and hatchbacks may feature a
Cargo Volume: Station wagons prioritize passenger and cargo volume —
with windows aside the cargo volume. Of the two body styles, a station
wagon roof (viewed in profile) more likely extends to the very
rearmost of the vehicle, enclosing a full-height cargo volume — a
hatchback roof (especially a liftback roof) might more likely rake
down steeply behind the C-Pillar, prioritizing style over interior
volume, with shorter rear overhang and with smaller windows (or no
windows) aside the cargo volume.
Cargo floor contour: Favoring cargo capacity, a station wagon may
prioritize a fold-flat floor, where a hatchback would more likely
allow a cargo floor with pronounced contour (e.g. the new
Mini or the
sixth generation Ford Fiesta).
Seating: Station wagons may have two or three rows of seats (e.g., the
Ford Taurus wagons) while hatchbacks may only have one or two.
Rear suspension: A station wagon may include reconfigured rear
suspension for additional load capacity and to minimize intrusion
in the cargo volume, (e.g., worldwide versions of the first generation
Rear Door: Hatchbacks typically feature a top-hinged liftgate for
cargo access, with variations ranging from a two-part
liftgate/tailgates (e.g., the 1958 A40 Countryman) to a complex
tailgate that can function either as a full tailgate or as a trunk lid
(e.g., the 2008 Škoda Superb's TwinDoor). Station wagons have also
enjoyed numerous tailgate configurations. Hatchbacks may be called
Liftbacks when the opening area is very sloped and the door is lifted
up to open.
Automotive journalist Dan Neil, in a 2002 New York Times report
described verticality of the rear cargo door as the prime distinction
between a hatchback and a station wagon: "Where you break the
roofline, at what angle, defines the spirit of the vehicle", he said.
"You could have a 90-degree break in the back and have a station
A model range may include multiple configurations, as with the
Ford Focus which offered sedan (ZX4), wagon (ZXW) and
three and five-door hatchback (ZX3 and ZX5) models.
1929 Ford Model A
Main article: Woodie (car body style)
The first station wagons were a product of the age of train travel.
They were originally called "depot hacks" because they worked around
train depots as hacks (short for hackney carriage, an old name for
taxis). They also came to be known as "carryalls" and
Before the 1930s, manufacturers assembled the framing of passenger
compartments of passenger vehicles in hardwood. In automobiles, the
framing was sheathed in steel and coated with colored lacquer for
protection. Eventually, all-steel bodies were adopted because of their
strength, cost, and durability.
Early station wagons evolved from trucks and were viewed as commercial
vehicles (along with vans and pickup trucks), not consumer
automobiles—with the framing of the early station wagons left
unsheathed because of the commercial nature of the vehicles. This
would be reflected on those vehicles registrations--Pennsylvania, for
instance, issued special "Suburban" license plates well into the
1960s, long after station wagons became car-based. Early station
wagons were fixed roof vehicles, but lacked the glass that would
normally enclose the passenger compartment, and had only bench
seats. In lieu of glass, side curtains of canvas could be
unrolled. More rigid curtains could be snapped in place to protect
passengers from the elements outside.
In 1922 Essex introduced the first affordable enclosed automobile
(sedan), which shifted the auto industry away from open vehicles to
meet consumer demand for enclosed automobiles.
Initially, manufacture of the wagon's passenger compartments was
outsourced to custom body builders because the production of the
all-wood bodies was very time consuming. Major producers of
wood-bodied station wagons included Mitchell Bentley, Hercules,
USB&F, Cantrell, and other custom builders. The roofs of "woodie"
wagons were usually made of stretched canvas that was treated with a
waterproofing dressing. In 1919, the Stoughton Wagon Company of
Stoughton, Wisconsin, had begun putting custom wagon bodies on Model T
chassis. By 1929 Ford was by far the biggest seller of station
wagons. Since Ford owned its own hardwood forest and mills, at the
Ford Iron Mountain Plant in the Michigan Upper Peninsula, it began
supplying the wood components for the Model A wagon (although
initially some final assembly still took place away from the factory,
by Briggs, in Detroit, with wood from the Mengel Company in
Louisville, Kentucky). The same year, J. T. Cantrell provided
woodie bodies for
Chrysler vehicles until 1931.
Eventually, the car companies began producing their own station
wagons. In 1923 Star (a division of Durant Motors) became the first
car company to offer a station wagon assembled on its production line
(using a wooden wagon body shipped in from an outside supplier.)
By the mid-1930s, wood-bodied station wagons had some prestige. They
were priced higher than regular cars and were popular in affluent
communities. When it was introduced in 1941 the
Chrysler Town &
Country was the most expensive car in the company's lineup.
Woodie wagons required constant maintenance: bodies were finished in
varnishes that required recoating; bolts and screws required periodic
tightening as wood expanded and contracted through the seasons.
The popularity of woodies was to a limited extent renewed, in the
surfing culture, during the 1950s and 1960s.
Chevrolet Carryall Suburban
General Motors introduced an eight-seat
with an all-steel station-wagon body, based on the commercial
After World War II, automobile production resumed, with prewar
tooling. New advances in production techniques made all-steel station
wagon bodies more practical, eliminating the cost, noise, and
maintenance associated with wood bodies.
The first factory-built all-steel station wagon in North America was
the 1946 Willys Station Wagon, based on the Jeep produced by
Willys-Overland during World War II. Willys offered a trim
level, evoking earlier wood bodywork, rendered instead in paint and
trim work. In 1947,
Crosley also introduced an all-steel wagon version
of their 1946 model CC car.
In 1949, Plymouth introduced the first all-steel station wagon in the
U.S., the two-door Suburban, based on an automobile platform. In 1950
Plymouth discontinued the woodie station wagon, converting to all
Buick discontinued production of the last North
American wood bodywork after the 1953 model year. Morris of England
continued to market its
Morris Minor Traveller until the late 1960s.
During the mid-1950s real wood accents replaced all wood sides, and by
the late 1950s, the accents had been reduced to being simulated wood
as durable, automotive-grade vinyl graphic appliqués were introduced
in the mid-1950. For example, only the very first Ford Country
Squire had real wood accents, most were built with simulated woodgrain
paneling. By 1955, only Ford and Mercury offered a woodie
model, accomplishing the simulation of wood with other materials,
e.g., steel, plastics and
DI-NOC (a vinyl product).
1954 Plymouth Savoy Station Wagon
Ford Country Sedan
Ford Country Sedan was actually a station wagon, they called it a
sedan to highlight it was for personal ownership rather than taxi or
other commercial use,as historically station wagons were for taxi
style or hire car, hotel convenience vehicle, etc. services.
Ford was undoubtedly the most known for the use of woodgrain appliques
on its vehicles. In addition to the well-known Country Squire, the
"Squire" trim level was an available option in a few different model
ranges. These include the Falcon Squire, Fairlane Squire, and in the
1970s the Pinto Squire. Surviving examples of these smaller "Squire"
wagons are much rarer than the more popular full-size Country Squire,
which was ordered and produced in much higher quantities. The Squire
was always the highest trim level of any Ford Wagon and included the
signature woodgrain applique, and usually additional exterior chrome,
nicer interior trim, special emblems, etc. Other manufacturers
marketed wagons and minivans with simulated wood from the mid-1950s
through the early 1990s. The most notable of these are the Chrysler
Town & Country,
Buick Estate, Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser, Chevrolet
Kingswood Estate, and Mercury Colony Park. The full-sized Jeep Grand
Wagoneer also became recognized by its signature wood grained
trim. Simulated wood appliqués became less common in the
1980s. With the introduction of the retro-styled
Chrysler PT Cruiser
wagon-like model, aftermarket firms began selling simulated woodgrain
AMC Ambassador 4-door pillarless hardtop station wagon
Station wagons experienced highest production levels in the United
States from the 1950s through the 1970s. The late 1950s through the
mid-1960s was also the period of greatest variation in body styles,
with pillared two- and four-door models marketed alongside hardtop (no
B-pillar) four-door models (e.g., American Motors' Rambler
Cross-Country wagons). Rambler offered a four-door of this body
style in 1956, followed by Mercury, Oldsmobile, and
Buick in 1957;
Chrysler entered the market in 1960. The pillarless designs could be
expensive to produce, added wind noise, and created structural issues
with body torque. GM eliminated the hardtop wagon from its lineup
in 1959, and AMC and Ford exited the field beginning with their 1960
and 1961 vehicles, leaving
Chrysler and Dodge with the body style
through the 1964 model year.
1967 Ford Country Squire
Traditionally, full-sized American station wagons were configured for
six or nine passengers. The basic arrangement for seating six was
three passengers in the front and three passengers in the rear, all on
bench-type seats; to accommodate nine, a third bench seat was
installed in the rear cargo area, over the rear axle. Through 1956,
all wagons had the third row facing forward, but Chrysler's 1957
models had a roof too low to permit a forward-facing seat installed
over the axle, so it was turned around and placed behind the axle. GM
wagons would adopt the rear-facing third row with 1959 models until
1971, and again in 1977.
In full-size Ford and Mercury wagons built after 1964, the
configuration was two seats facing each other, placed behind the rear
axle. According to Ford, each seat would accommodate two people,
raising the total seating capacity to ten passengers; however, these
seats were quite narrow in later models and could accommodate only one
passenger, limiting the total capacity to eight passengers.
Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser
Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser and 1964–1969
Wagon featured raised rooflines beginning above the second-row seat
and continuing all the way to the rear tailgate. Above the second seat
were acrylic glass skylights in which passengers could view the
outside from overhead. On the three-seat models of these wagons, the
third seat faced forward as did the first and second seats. Later, the
1971–1976 full-size "clamshell" wagons used a similar raised roof to
provide adequate headroom for a forward-facing third row, but without
Recent models of station wagons are usually built on smaller platforms
and accommodate five or six passengers (depending on whether bucket or
bench seats are fitted in front) in two rows of seating. The
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate, a mid-sized station wagon, has an
optional rear-facing jump seat for two passengers in the cargo
Full-size station wagons have been replaced by medium or full-size
SUVs (both light truck and crossover types) with three-row seating
such as the
Chevrolet Suburban, Ford Expedition, and Mercedes-Benz
Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad
The first two-door station wagon was the 1946 Willys Jeep Station
In 1951, the compact 100-inch (2,540 mm) wheelbase Nash Rambler
line included a two-door station wagon design whose production
continued through 1955.
In 1954 and 1955 the
Studebaker Conestoga available only as a two-door
station wagon. In 1956,
Studebaker introduced three new two-door
wagons in Pelham, Parkview, and Pinehurst trims.
Chevrolet Nomad and the larger, heavier, as well as
more the powerful and expensive
Pontiac Safari were two-door station
For the 1957 and 1958 model years, Ford produced the Del Rio two-door
wagon. Mercury marketed a two-door hardtop (no "B-pillar") station
wagon from 1957 to 1960, in the Commuter and Voyager trims. The
Edsel Roundup was a base model two-door wagon.
After the merger of Nash and Hudson, the new company, American Motors
(AMC) reintroduced the two-door wagon in the "new" Rambler American
line in 1958. It was "recycling" with only a few modifications
from the original version and targeted buyers looking for "no-frills"
economy. American Motors' strategy of reintroducing an old design
made for two distinct model runs, a successful business decision that
is almost unheard of in automobile history.
Mercury Commuter hardtop
Starting in 1959, the
Studebaker Lark was offered in a two-door
station wagon body style.
Volkswagen introduced the Type 3 (also known in various
markets as the Variant and the
Volkswagen 1500 - later the Volkswagen
1600), available as a two-door sedan and as a two-door station wagon,
which was commonly called the Squareback. VW's then-typical
rear-engine layout was retained for the Type 3, but the engine profile
was flattened, resulting in a small car offering interior room, as
well as trunk space in the front. The model was offered through the
1973 model year.
Chevrolet produced the 1964–1965 Chevelle 300 series two-door
The 1970s were a high point for two-door wagons in the U.S. as GM,
Ford, and AMC fielded examples in their subcompact car lines.
Chevrolet Vega Kammback, introduced in September 1970, was the
first U.S.-made four-passenger wagon and the first two-door wagon from
GM in six years. It shared its wheelbase and length with Vega coupe
versions and was produced in the 1971–1977 model years. The Pontiac
Astre Safari wagon is a Pontiac rebadged Vega that was introduced in
the U.S for the 1975 model year. The
Chevrolet Monza and Pontiac
Sunbird Safari wagons replaced the Vega and Astre respectively.
Retaining the Vega wagon body, they were produced for the 1978 and
1979 models years with Pontiac and
Ford Pinto and
Mercury Bobcat 2-door wagons were produced between 1972
American Motors also offered a two-door wagon version of the AMC Pacer
coupe from 1977 to 1980.
Chevrolet Vega Kammback
The last two-door wagon available in America, the
Volkswagen Fox, was
discontinued in 1991.
In the United Kingdom, estate car versions of small and middle sized
models were more common. The estate ("Traveller") versions of the
Morris 1000 ("Minor") and Mini, with external ash wood frames
(structural on the 1000); had two vertically divided van-type rear
doors in the style of older shooting-brakes (see "station wagons
around the world", below). The
Hillman Husky estate version of the
Hillman Imp was unusual in being a rear-engined estate. Other two-door
station wagons in Europe included the Ford Escort, Morris 1100,
Vauxhall Viva, Vauxhall Chevette, Fiat 127, and Saab 95.
A former East German car fleet made uniformly of Trabants and
Wartburgs had a distinct luxurious version of a 2-door "estate coupe"
Trabant 601 Estate with a C-column far back to extend the rear
compartment of the car. This version had a full scale liftgate
allowing to access the entire rear room of nearly 1000 l with rear
Popularity in North America
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AMC Rebel Cross Country wagon
Since the 1970s, sales of station wagons in the United States and
Canada dropped for several reasons. The
1973 oil crisis
1973 oil crisis was a turning
point against the "traditional classic American station wagon—with
its acres of fake woodgrain siding, sticky vinyl bench seats and
lazy-revving V-8 engine", which have been described as "wallowing land
arks". The 1983 film
National Lampoon's Vacation
National Lampoon's Vacation parodied the
styling cues of 1970s station wagons with its garish Wagon Queen
Chrysler introduced the
Chrysler minivans derived from the K
platform. While the K platform was also used for the Plymouth Reliant
Dodge Aries station wagon models, the minivan would soon eclipse
them in popularity. Since minivans and SUVs are classified as light
trucks under US CAFE standards, manufacturers had a strong incentive
to market those vehicles over station wagons, which are classified as
cars. Station wagons have remained popular in Europe and other
locations whose emissions and efficiency regulations do not
distinguish between cars and light trucks.
Plymouth Reliant station wagon
The emergence and popularity of sport utility vehicles which closely
approximate the traditional wagon bodystyle was a further blow. After
struggling sales, the
Chevrolet Caprice and the
Buick Roadmaster, the
last American full size wagons, were discontinued in 1996. The Ford
Taurus wagon was discontinued after the 2005 model year. The Dodge
Magnum was marketed during the 2005–2008 model years.
Since then, smaller wagons have been sold in the U.S. as less
expensive alternatives to SUVs and minivans. Domestic wagons also
remained in the Ford, Mercury, and Saturn lines until 2004 when the
bodies began a phase-out, replaced by car-based crossover SUVs and
minivans designed to look like station wagons.
Subaru has been a notable exception to the rule, offering full-size
Legacy and Outback station wagon models in the United States and
worldwide consistently from 1989 to the present. These models continue
to be produced at the
Subaru of Indiana plant in Lafayette.
The last subcompact station wagon produced in the United States and
Canada was the 1992
Toyota Corolla. Compact station wagons have been
declining since the 2000s. Ford dropped the
Ford Focus ZXW wagon after
its 2007 model year, and
Subaru replaced the
Subaru Impreza wagon with
a 5-door hatchback model.
Volvo announced that they will withdraw
their compact station wagon, the
Volvo V50, from the U.S market in
2012 due to poor sales figures. In Europe the V50 remains popular.
The VW Golf Sportwagen is Volkswagen's mid-2015 attempt to rectify the
absence of a subcompact wagon from any manufacturer in the North
Buick Roadmaster Estate wagon
European luxury carmakers such as Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz
continued to offer wagons in their North American lineup, using the
labels "Avant", "Touring", and "Estate" instead of wagon. However,
these wagons had fewer trim and powertrain levels than their sedan
counterparts, for instance the wagon styles of high-performance
trims such as the
BMW M5 and
Audi RS6 were never imported to North
Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG in Estate trim is the sole
performance wagon offered in the U.S. market. The
wagon was not offered in the United States and Canada unlike the
previous generation. The
BMW 5 Series Touring was dropped from BMW's
North American lineup after the conclusion of the E60 generation, due
to slow sales in the United States with only 400 wagons sold in
2009. Due to the popularity of SUVs in North America, these
European manufacturers have been supplanting their wagons with
car-based crossovers such as the
BMW Sports Activity Series, the Audi
Mercedes-Benz M-Class, with these models offering a wider
range of options and engines than wagons.
Cadillac CTS gave rise to its wagon counterpart, the 2010
CTS Sportwagon. Unlike European luxury wagons sold in North America,
the CTS Sportwagon has almost as many trim levels as its sedan
counterpart. The CTS wagon was discontinued in 2014. Volvo
reintroduced a large wagon to the US market with the 2016 V90, but
only by special order 
Around the world
Citroën DS Break
Volvo 240 wagon
European manufacturers often built two-door station wagons in the
post-war period for the compact class, a practice that continued at
Ford (amongst others) with its Escort Mark III well into the 1980s. By
that time, manufacturers developed four-door models. In Europe, these
vehicles remain popular and in volume production, although minivans
(known in Europe as MPVs—multi-purpose vehicles) and the like have
expanded into this market segment. As in North America, early station
wagons were aftermarket conversions and had their new bodywork built
with a wooden frame, sometimes with wooden panels, sometimes steel.
Station wagons were the originators of fold down seats to accommodate
passengers or cargo.
Station wagons are generally called estate cars or simply estates in
the United Kingdom. The term shooting-brake, a term for an original
hunting vehicle, came to be known synonymously with station wagon and
were also custom built as modified luxury coupés with an estate
car-like back. They generally retain two side doors. Until the early
1960s many of them were built with structural wooden rear frames,
making them some of the most expensive and luxurious "woodies" ever
Most small cars produced in the UK from the 1950s until the 1980s had
Estate versions, some of which were also used as small delivery vans
minus the rear windows. By the mid-1950s most British car
manufacturers offered at least one estate model. Manufacturers often
chose a specific model name to apply to all their estate cars as a
marketing exercise – for example Austin used the Countryman name and
Morris estates were called Travellers. The famous wood-framed Morris
Minor Traveller was produced from 1952 to 1971 and larger Morris
Oxford Travellers were produced during the same time, initially also
with wood-framed bodies but in five-door all-steel form from 1957.
Some British estate cars were closely derived from existing commercial
van models – such as the Austin A30/35 Countryman and the Hillman
Husky while the Morris Travellers, the
Austin Cambridge Countryman and
Standard Ten Companion were bespoke. One of the smallest estate
cars ever made was the two-door Countryman/Traveller version of the
Mini, initially available with or without (purely cosmetic) wood
framing for the rear body – an option that was dropped in 1970 when
the model was revised to become the more upmarket
Mini Clubman Estate,
which stayed in production until 1980.
Despite the popularity of station wagons in America, the two
U.S.-owned manufacturers present in the UK (Ford and Vauxhall) were
both relative latecomers to the estate car market, but the Ford Consul
Vauxhall Cresta were available as estates via factory-approved
conversions from specialist coachbuilders such as Friary and Farnham.
Ford BF Falcon
Ford BF Falcon station wagon
Rover and Austin produced 4×4 canvas-topped utility vehicles in the
1950s that were available in estate car body styles that were sold as
"Station Wagons". They incorporated better seating and trim than
standard editions with options such as heaters. Early advertising for
Land Rover version took the name literally, showing the vehicle
collecting people and goods from a railway station.
Germany is the largest market for station wagons in the world. Some
600 to 700,000 vehicles are sold each year, amounting to some 20% of
all car sales. The German language generally describes station
wagons as Kombinationskraftwagen ("combination motor vehicle") or
Kombi for short. During the 1980s
Volkswagen Polo crossed car
categories by offering a two-door station wagon shape (not named as a
wagon) as the main model in its range in some markets.
In France almost all station wagon models are called the Break (with a
different spelling from the English shooting brake). French breaks
Citroën were available in seven- or eight-seater
"family" versions long before MPVs became known in Europe. The break
version of the
Citroën ID, introduced in 1958, was the first European
model to offer the same size, style and luxury as an American
full-size station wagon (prior to this breaks had been basic
semi-commercial vehicles more like the American 'suburban'). The ID
Break (known as the Safari in English-speaking countries) had the same
eight-passenger seating arrangement as many American station wagons
with two front-facing bench seats and two folding inward-facing seats
in the load bed. The 'Familiale' version had a front bench seat, a
forward-facing three-space bench seat in the middle and a folding
forward-facing three-seat bench in the rear, providing a versatile
nine-seater car. The
Citroën also boasted an American-style two-part
tailgate while its unique hydropneumatic suspension provided both
self-levelling and automatic brake biasing regardless of the load
carried. The car could also 'kneel' to the ground for easy loading of
heavy or large items. The successors to the ID, the CX and XM,
continued the tradition of offering some of the largest estate cars in
Europe but the XM's replacement, the C6 was only produced as a saloon.
Peugeot 404, introduced in 1960, offered a conventional
alternative to the innovative Citroëns for buyers wanting a large
estate car. Its replacement, the 505 was available in both five-seat
and seven-seat 'Familiale' versions. As with the Citroëns, changing
demands in the French car market led to the end of the large Peugeot
estate models in the mid-1990s, with the smaller and less versatile
Peugeot 406 becoming the largest estate model in the range from 1995.
Volvo built a mid-sized station wagons such as the V70, but this model
was dropped from the company's U.S. lineup for the 2011 model year.
Japanese manufacturers did not build station wagons in large volume
until recently. Models marketed as passenger station
wagons in export markets were often sold as utilitarian "van" models
in the home market. Some were not updated for consecutive generations
in a model's life in Japan: for example, while a sedan might have a
model life of four years, the wagon served for eight years, such as
Toyota Corolla (built until 1987) and the 1987 Mazda Capella
(built until 1996). The
Nissan Avenir is an example of a model that
began its life as a utility vehicle and became a passenger car in the
Toyota no longer builds a wagon version of the Camry, but has
wagon versions of Corolla or Auris, as well as Avensis. Station wagons
remain popular in Japan with the likes of
Subaru Levorg and Toyota
Corolla Fielder, although they are in slow decline as the SUVs and
minivans have taken over a large portion of this market.
In Australia and New Zealand the most popular station wagons were the
large Ford Falcon and
Holden Commodore models, although the Falcon
wagon ceased production in 2010 due to wagons being replaced by SUVs
in the Australian marketplace. The Commodore is slated for
discontinuation in 2017. These are usually built on a longer
wheelbase than their sedan counterparts, though they share the same
door skins, leading to a slightly unusual appearance with the rear
door not reaching all the way to the rear wheel arch. Traditional
station wagons in Australia have seen a major market share decline
since the early 2000s as they are replaced by medium and large SUVs.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class and
Volvo V70 are examples of seven-seater
estates not manufactured by the French manufacturers.
South Korean manufacturers do not have strong tradition in producing
Baojun 310w wagon
Buick Excelle GX estate sold exclusively in China
In China, both foreign and local manufacturers have started to
introduce wagons to the market as the trend started to rise.
Station wagon Renault/
Dacia Logan MCV 1.5 DCI with dual side-hinged
Many modern station wagons have an upward-swinging, full-width,
full-height rear door supported on gas springs—often where the rear
window can swing up independently. Historically, wagons have employed
Split gate: The earliest common style was an upward-swinging window
combined with a downward swinging tailgate. Both were manually
operated. This configuration generally prevailed from the earliest
origins of the wagon bodystyle in the 1920s through the 1940s. It
remained in use through 1960 on several models offered by Ford,
including the 1957-58 Del Rio two-door wagon. This style was later
adopted on aftermarket camper shells for pickup trucks, seeing that
pickup trucks already had a bottom half tailgate as an OEM feature.
Retractable window: In the early 1950s, tailgates with hand-cranked
roll-down rear windows began to appear. This was another innovation
first seen on Rambler wagons. Later in the decade, electric power
was applied to the tailgate window—it could be operated from the
driver's seat, as well as by the keyhole in the rear door. By the
early 1960s, this arrangement was common on both full-size and compact
Side hinge: A side hinged tailgate that opened like a door was offered
on three-seat wagons by
American Motors to make it easier for the back
row passengers to enter and exit their rear-facing seats. This was
later supplanted by the dual-hinged tailgate.
Studebaker Wagonaire with rear roof retracted
Retractable roof: The
Studebaker Wagonaire station wagon had a unique
retractable rear roof section as well as a conventional rear tailgate
which folded down. This allowed it to carry tall objects that would
not fit otherwise. Water leaks, body flex and noise prevented the
innovation from being adopted by other manufacturers. The concept was
reintroduced in 2003 on GMC's mid-size Envoy XUV SUV.
Dual and tri-operating gates: Ford's full-size wagons for 1966
introduced a system marketed as "Magic Doorgate" — a
conventional tailgate with retracting rear glass, where the tailgate
could either fold down or pivot open on a side hinge — with the
rear window retracted in either case. Competitors marketed their
versions as a Drop and Swing or Dual Action Tailgate. For 1969,
Ford incorporated a design that allowed the rear glass to remain up or
down when the door pivoted open on its side hinge, marketing the
system, which had been engineered by Donald N. Frey as the
"Three-Way Magic Doorgate". Similar configurations became the standard
on full-size and intermediate wagons from GM, Ford, and Chrysler. GM
added a notch in the rear bumper that acted as a step plate; to fill
the gap, a small portion of bumper was attached to the doorgate. When
opened as a swinging door, this part of the bumper moved away,
allowing the depression in the bumper to provide a "step" to ease
entry; when the gate was opened by being lowered or raised to a closed
position, the chrome section remained in place making the bumper
Buick Estate Wagon with open "clamshell" tailgate
General Motors 1971–1976 wagons — the
Chevrolet Kingswood, Belair and Caprice Estates;
Pontiac Safari and
Grand Safari; Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser, and the
Buick Estate models
— featured a 'clamshell' design marketed as the Glide-away tailgate,
also called a "disappearing" tailgate because when open, the tailgate
was completely out of view. On the clamshell design, the rear
power-operated glass slid up into the roof and the lower tailgate
(with either manual or optional power operation), lowered completely
below the load floor. The manual lower tailgate was counterbalanced by
a torque rod similar to the torque rods used in holding a trunk lid
open, requiring a 35 lb push to fully lower the gate. Raising the
manual gate required a 5 lb pull via a handhold integral to the top
edge of the retractable gate. The power operation of both upper
glass and lower tailgate became standard equipment in later model
years. Wagons with the design featured an optional third row of
forward-facing seats accessed by the rear side doors and a folding
second-row seat — and could accommodate a 4 x 8' sheet of plywood
with rear seats folded. The clamshell design required no increased
footprint or operational area to open, allowing a user to stand at the
cargo opening without impediment of a door — for example, in a
closed garage. Subsequent GM full-size wagons reverted to the doorgate
style for its full-size wagons.
Liftgate: A simplified, one-piece liftgate on smaller wagons.
Subsequent generation of GM's full-size wagons returned to the
upward-lifting rear window as had been used in the 1940s.
Swing-up window: An upward-lifting, full-height, full-width rear door,
where the window on the rear door can be opened independently from the
rear door itself. The window is also opened upwards and is held on gas
Renault Laguna II estate featured this arrangement.
Fold-up license plate: Wagons (including the
Volvo Amazon wagon, early
models of the Range-Rover, and the
Subaru Baja) had an upward folding
hinged plate attached to the lower tailgate of the split rear door.
When the tailgate was folded down, the plate hung down and remained
readable. The wagon versions of the Citroen DS, variously called the
Break, Familiale or Safari, had a different solution- two number
plates were fitted to the tailgate at right angles to each other so
one would be visible in either position.
Some station wagons are fitted with additional front-facing or
rear-facing seats, along with safety belts, to enable passengers to be
carried safely in the cargo area.
Cargo barriers may be used to prevent unsecured cargo from causing
injuries in the event of sudden deceleration, collision, or a
^ a b c Hillier, Victor; Coombes, Peter (2004). Hillier's Fundamentals
of Motor Vehicle Technology: Volume 1 (5th ed.). Nelson Thornes.
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The estate body, also known as station wagons in some countries, has
the roofline extended to the rear of the body to enlarge its internal
capacity. Folding the rear seats down gives a large floor area for the
carriage of luggage or goods. Stronger suspension springs are fitted
at the rear to support the extra load. Hatchback: The hatchback is
generally based on a saloon body but with the boot or trunk area
blended into the centre section of the body. The hatchback is
therefore halfway between a saloon and estate car. This type of body
is very popular due to its versatility and style. Although some
hatchbacks are in fact saloon bodies with the boot or trunk
effectively removed (usually the smaller cars), many hatchbacks retain
the full length of the saloon but the roofline extends down to the
rear of the vehicle. As with the saloon bodies, a hatchback can have
two or four passenger doors, however there is a tendency to refer to
hatchbacks as three or five doors because the rear compartment lid (or
tailgate) is also referred to as a door on the hatchback bodies. As
with the estate, the rear seats fold down to give a flat floor for the
transportation of luggage or other objects. When the tailgate is
closed, the luggage compartment is usually covered with a parcel
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Hatchback cars are identified by a rear door including the
back window, that opens to access a storage area that is not separated
from the rest of the passenger compartment. A hatchback may have two
or four doors and two or four seats. They are also called three-door
or five-door cars. A hatchback car is called a liftback when the
opening area is very sloped and is lifted up to open. Station Wagon: A
station wagon or wagon is a car with a full-height body all the way to
the rear; the load carrying space created is accessed via a rear door
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compartment, which is an extension of the passenger compartment.
Access to the luggage compartment is gained through an upward opening
hatch-type door. A car of this design can be a three- or five-door
model; the third or fifth door is the rear hatch. Station Wagon: A
station wagon is characterized by its roof which extends straight
back, allowing a spacious interior luggage compartment in the rear.
The rear door, which can be opened numerous ways depending on the
model, provides access to the luggage compartment. Station wagons come
in two and four-door models and have space for up to nine
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Media related to Station wagons at Wikimedia Commons
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