Hooniverse Asks: What Mass Produced Station Wagon Wasn't an Improvement Over its Sedan Progenitor?

Fisker wagon
Small cars have always been the bane of the automotive stylist. The small canvases they afford do not generally allow for flowing lines, or provide enough room for connecting elements that bring cohesion to a design. That’s why stylists general prefer to work on larger cars, and they love station wagons.
The Station Wagon, the Estate, Touring Edition, Avant, Shooting Brake, or colloquially, Longroof, is a broad canvas. Perhaps the added roofline, the ability to extend a fender crease, or just the added glass area is enough to do it, but whatever the case, wagons very often outshine their sedan siblings when it comes to style.
Except when they don’t, because sometimes they won’t.* And that’s just what we want to find today, which wagons took a dark turn on their way from sedanity. What do you think, what do you think has the mass-produced wagon that was far uglier than the sedan upon which it was based?
Image: Autoconcept-Reviews
* Apologies to Dr. Seuss.

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  1. PotbellyJoe★★★★★ Avatar
    1. Marto Avatar

      I like the AU because it is so unpopular that you can get a good one for peanuts these days. I’ve seen beige ones for $1700 with only 120,000km on the clock. An AU wagon will probably be my next car. The previous model – the EL – with the same mileage can cost double!

  2. Maymar Avatar

    Disqualifier time – I still like these. But I find the rear fascia a little bulbous, they didn’t have much space in the back, and were automatic-only.
    I’d still drive one, mind you, and I’m still glad they built it.

    1. Krautwursten Avatar

      Seconded. Round it off a little more and it’s a hatchback. That’s what Subaru realized about the Impreza “wagon” a bunch of years ago, the thing is already mentioned further down.

  3. engineerd Avatar

    I saw one of these the other day and thought, “Wow, that’s almost as bad as the Saturn SW.”

    1. Kiefmo Avatar

      Fighting words, but I’m biased. I learned to drive on one of these, first excessively broke the law in one, and the website-that-must-not-be-named even tried to help me resurrect mine after the engine became victim to a bad timing belt.

  4. Alan Cesar Avatar
    Alan Cesar

    Take the jelly bean Ford Taurus—already an unattractive vehicle—and see if you can add a third side window that actually makes sense with the sedan doors. You can’t.

    1. Alan Cesar Avatar
      Alan Cesar

      I didn’t know it was possible, but the Hot Wheels version is even uglier.

      1. mzszsm Avatar

        But it could be an amazing Dodge Viper Shooting Breake with the right child’s imagination!

      2. JayP Avatar

        Naw- that’s a Deora II with a quadcab, tonneau kit.
        Or something.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Partial moulding reuse FTW.

          1. Alan Cesar Avatar
            Alan Cesar

            “Oh shit, nobody wants to buy a Taurus toy. What else can we do with this?”
            “Uh… that kind of looks like it could be the front of a spaceship truck thing.”
            “Williams, you’re brilliant! Sketch it up and let’s cast ’em. Next on the agenda: We’re launching an electronic mail system within the company.”

    2. Alan Cesar Avatar
      Alan Cesar

      Saturn did a better job transitioning the rounded sedan rear window/door by obscuring it.

    3. Jeff M Avatar
      Jeff M

      I had one for 5 years and until you showed this picture here I NEVER noticed how ‘wrong” that window is, maybe it’s the angle…great car though.

    4. Citric Avatar

      But, on the other hand, it gets rid of the terminal case of saggy butt the sedan version has.

      1. Alan Cesar Avatar
        Alan Cesar

        What the little pedo mustache on the SHO didn’t do anything for you?

  5. Alan Cesar Avatar
    Alan Cesar

    Early 2000s Subaru Impreza station wagon in non-WRX form is a sore sight. Without the wing over the back window, the big back glass makes the car look like it’s balding.

  6. Alan Cesar Avatar
    Alan Cesar

    The new Mazda3 is an absolutely wonderful car to drive. It is. I love that it comes in a 5-door. It’s a damn shame that the 5-door is not attractive from the back. The sedan is much prettier.

    1. Jeff M Avatar
      Jeff M

      Disagree with ya on this one, wagon is FAR better lookin’/proportioned in wagon form.

      1. dr zero Avatar
        dr zero

        I’m with you, but that’s not a wagon – it’s just a hatch.

  7. crank_case Avatar

    I think there needs to be some differentiation between what constitutes a wagon and a hatchback, and funnily enough, that brings me to a terrible offender where the “wagon” version is worse than the hatch. This is the Skoda Fabia, which is an attractive if conservative hatch http://cdn2.autoexpress.co.uk/sites/autoexpressuk/files/styles/insert_main_image/public/0/79//front-psd.jpg?itok=Ox-o1dCr
    The wagon version looks ok (especially compared to the the hideous previous generation) but when you compare the taught against the rear wheel design of the hatch it looks ungainly in comparison, like a dog dragging its arse on the grass. The similar Seat Ibiza has the same problem. At least it’s not as bad as the “shatchback” abominations where someones tried to make a saloon out of a small sub-golf sized hatch.

  8. Sjalabais Avatar

    This question really sound like there is no answer to it, yet you can’t improve perfect:

    1. wunno sev Avatar
      wunno sev

      absolutely. the Safari ruins the roofline, which is the most important part of the DS’ design.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        That’s the thing. The first time we went to France, right after reunification in 1991, I saw a DS wagon at the border. Thought it was a homemade car, interesting, yet spoiled. Then I looked around. French cars made 9 year old me doubt we were still on the same planet. My only somewhat car-nutty relative, an uncle, still enjoys telling me about my wide eyes. Formative vacation!

    2. Vavon Avatar

      Same here! I love the DS, but I can’t stand the DS Safari.

  9. marmer Avatar

    No, no, no, no! Wagons get a pass on their looks just out of sheer coolness, kind of like Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But I’m having a little trouble extending it to that Saturn, I must say.

  10. Citric Avatar

    The Austin Allegro was already very ugly. And yet the wagon was worse somehow.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      It looks very practical. Needs racing stripes.

      1. Vairship Avatar

        Or A-Team stripes…

    2. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      Or a Vanden Plas grille. M.D. Harrell doesn’t have one of these yet.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Serving a sentence in taste jail until 2045?

  11. Citric Avatar

    The early ’90s Camry Wagon was an odd one. It’s not like it would have been hard to make a good looking wagon out of it, but they threw a bunch of weird styling on the back that didn’t work with the rest of the car. Similar rear window line to the Austin Allegro wagon actually.

    1. marmer Avatar

      Careful. There are a handful of people out there who think the Camry Wagon is the most beautiful car ever built!

      1. LEROOOY Avatar

        Well, it’s functionally beautiful…that counts!

    2. Fuhrman16 Avatar

      But it has two rear wipers!

  12. Drives Dead Marques Avatar
    Drives Dead Marques

    Does it have to have a sedan version to qualify? This “wagon” (hatchback, I know) was wrong on so many levels.

    1. Drives Dead Marques Avatar
      Drives Dead Marques

      Nevermind, they actually made Chevette Sedans, in South America, I believe.

  13. Juliet C. Avatar
    Juliet C.

    So awkward looking! Made from a coupe not a sedan…….but still!

    1. Alan Cesar Avatar
      Alan Cesar

      Good god, these things were hideous. I remember reading that all that glass and extra material on the back gave these cars a rearward weight bias, something like 48/52 distribution. But maybe that was a typo.

  14. JayP Avatar

    Personally I didn’t have a problem with the US spec Pulsar hatchback transformation but many people did.

    1. dead_elvis Avatar

      Hideous. Plus, a loathed college roommate had one & thought it was the greatest car ever built, so… hate by proxy?

  15. mzszsm Avatar

    Please do not stab me. I sat in one once and was very underwhelmed with the interior space and visibility. I’d imagine it’s louder inside as well. I also simply do not like the details of how the upper half of the rear set of doors and back window are done.

    1. Alan Cesar Avatar
      Alan Cesar

      I will respectfully disagree with your opinion.

    2. Sjalabais Avatar

      I think Cadillac design of the last decade and a half, at least, has been very unfortunate, unorganic, disharmonic. Also the sedan looks overstyled, lacking a coherent message. I just hope the manage to get out of that blind spot soon, with the brand restart and all.

      1. CraigSu Avatar

        Of all those posted thus far, the Caddy wagon is the only one I can’t stand. Too many sharp creases in their design language. One quote from Edward Bulwer-Lytton sums up my own design philosophy: “In life, as in art, the beautiful moves in curves”. In that regard Cadillac isn’t even close.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Hehe, that’s a nice one! I am an automobile cubist, know nothing better than Volvos, 60s Lincolns and the occasional GAZ. Yet the Cadillac design is so overstrained…all these crevasses seem so pointless. It’s really just taste, but I guess Cadillac is nothing for me then.
          I have one, somewhat obvious, favourite designer quote, that fits here:
          “The functional is often the beautiful. Follow the laws of nature and don’t make things more complicated than they really are. Functional and reasonal solutions are often the most attractive, too.”
          Jan Wilsgaard

    3. Citric Avatar

      It hides the terrible rear window cutline and kind of mitigates the pretty bad proportions on the sedan. I don’t know if I’d call it good looking – I don’t like this generation of the CTS – but of the two I’d take the wagon.

  16. Vavon Avatar

    There are three Citroën Wagons I can think of: the DS, the BX and the XM…

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      I think we have a brand winner. The XM wagon though is positively huge out back.

      1. Côme Ficara Avatar
        Côme Ficara

        You could had the CX and Xantia. A bit akward but cheap, huge and confortable.

        1. Tanshanomi Avatar

          I kind of like that Xantia wagon.

  17. 0A5599 Avatar

    Her friends fix her up on blind dates by saying she has a nice personality.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      I hope you’re aware these are collectables now:

    2. Gerardo Solis Avatar
      Gerardo Solis

      I take offense 😛
      But seriously, at least it has something going for it. The tercel hatchback was considerably less practical

    3. Vairship Avatar

      Plus her ass is like an ATM! 😉

  18. Vavon Avatar

    Let me throw in a Peugeot for good measure…
    306 Hatchback, 306 Sedan and 306 Wagon
    A.k.a. the good, the bad and the ugly!

  19. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

    The Escort Mk1 Estate, although not totally ugly, was not in improvement over the sedan

  20. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    This must be the winner.
    The ’72 to ’77 Nissan Skyline C110 series.
    How to resolve the problem of integrating the ‘D’ pillar glass? Don’t bother. Leave the glass out entirely.
    and the sedan
    and Coupe, an early GTR

  21. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    And nearly as bad as the C110 Skyline, the C210/211. It’s successor from ’77 to ’81. The wagon was so ugly very few were sold, which perversely makes them valued today for their rarity. This one has a sliver of glass in the ‘D’ pillar.