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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Return of the Wagon

Chrysler re-opened one of its smaller plants this past week after a brief haitus. Guess which one. It was the Magnum plant. That just supports one of my deeply held automotive opinions - that the station wagon has been and remains the most under-rated automotive format of all time.

I used to work with a guy who owned a Magnum. He went crazy if you referred to his car as a "station wagon." But, look at it. The Chrysler Magnum is a station wagon. It's not half the wagon my old Crown Vic Country Squire was, but it's a station wagon nonetheless. It's got 4 passenger doors and a tailgate. If it rode higher, it might be an SUV; SUVs are just station wagons with extra ground clearance and, usually, four-wheel drive. Since most SUVs never leave a paved road, the ground clearance and four-wheel drive are a waste. I don't know a single SUV owner who wouldn't be better off with a station wagon.

Years ago station wagons were considered "family-go-bowling" cars. Much like mini-vans are today. But, SUVs are just soooo cool. Yeah. That Pontiac Aztec is a slick ride. . . I'd like to have two of those. One to drive off a cliff and the other to cover up the mess. Porche's SUV looks like Pixar's Lightning McQueen with a lift kit. The Escalade looks like an overgrown hearse. Does anyone who thinks for themselves honestly think Escalades look good? Ick. I just don't like the whole SubUrban Vehicle concept. If you need a truck, buy a truck. If you need a big car, buy a station wagon.

Honestly, one of the greatest vehicles I've driven in recent years was a mini-van, but I'd still rather have a station wagon than any SUV ever made. I don't like the looks of the Magnum so much, but good for Chrysler for bringing back the most functional vehicle type of our time.