Not another anti-SUV thread.
December 18, 2002 4:18 PM   Subscribe

"This car isn't meant to be an SUV, a mini-van, or a sedan" ... becuase, of course, it's a station wagon (the body type that dare not speak its name), albeit a sleek new Chrysler Pacifica, now starring in double-page spreads in your finer magazines. The Europeans have never stopped making great wagons, but its been a while since anything less apalling than the Taurus Wagon came out of Detroit or Tokyo.
posted by MattD (49 comments total)
I dunno... A station wagon is really just a sedan with a sort of extened hatchback thingy. This pacifica is a lot larger over-all.

You can get a Focus wagon, i know. And also wagon versions of BMW 5s (iirc)

In all honesty, I'd really just call it a 'big car'.

At least it's not as retarded as the PT Cruser
posted by delmoi at 4:22 PM on December 18, 2002

Hmmm... looks quite a bit like a Bez, I wonder why?
posted by rotifer at 4:22 PM on December 18, 2002

Dangit, Benz.
posted by rotifer at 4:23 PM on December 18, 2002

Mmm, pez!
posted by luriete at 4:25 PM on December 18, 2002

Although I haven't run the dimensions, on first look it seems comparable to the heavy hitters in the Euro wagon category, the E-class Mercedes wagon and the Volvo V70, although bigger than the Saab, Passat and Audi full-size wagons.

With a well-tuned 3.5 liter V6 4x4, it will be considerably more powerful and agile, taking into account the lower weight, than all but the heaviest duty SUVs, too. And if they use old-fashioned "Detroit Iron" engineering, it will be at least as surivable as a Ford Explorer or GMC Envoy.
posted by MattD at 4:27 PM on December 18, 2002

Does it run on the powdered bones of war-orphans?
posted by wfrgms at 4:28 PM on December 18, 2002

and, more: we shopped cars this fall, and for us, the Euro wagon turned out to be the only way to go. Best possible combination of style, power, handling, safety, value, and practicality. We just didn't care for the driving experience in an SUV, so we were able to avoid what is now becoming, for better or worse, something of a political statement.
posted by MattD at 4:29 PM on December 18, 2002

Volvo Cross Country is a great station wagon made by a good old 'merican company.. ford.
posted by zeoslap at 4:30 PM on December 18, 2002

Another bloated slug of a car- the forte of the US Auto biz.
Is it an interpretation of this other US/Japanese lovechild?
posted by marvin at 4:32 PM on December 18, 2002

"on first look it seems comparable to the heavy hitters in the Euro wagon category, the E-class Mercedes wagon and the Volvo V70"

Yeah, I thought it was heavily E-Class influenced, too. However, if it's anything like the last Chrysler my family owned ('99 Sebring convertible) it's going to be a high-maintenance POS.

Chrysler's got a lot of ground to make up in the build-quality department before they'll find me in one of their showrooms, regardless of how nice their cars look.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:33 PM on December 18, 2002

Even though Volvo is a Ford sub, and Saab a GM sub, and Mercedes and Chrysler are the same company, each of the former has managed to keep its design and manufacturing a clean arms-length away ... I am especially glad that the dreadfully bad and/or odd interior styling that still afflicts even upscale Detroit cars seems not to have crossed over.
posted by MattD at 4:36 PM on December 18, 2002

Yaaay station wagons!
Boooh links to ads!
But I'll give in and plug away... I have a '93 Escort Wagon - yes, the ultimate kindergarten mom car, it's even teal. I bought it used & cheap, have driven 110,000 miles on top of the 30,000 it already had, haul my camping gear and miscellaneous crap all over the terrain of backwoods Northern Cali with it, get great mileage, and it treats me just fine. Why do people need SUVs again? Oh yeah, because they want other people to die.
posted by badstone at 4:41 PM on December 18, 2002

I have a pretty rad new Mazda Protege5 -- kind of a sportback, wagon, as they say. Still, how can one deny the awesome power of the Suburu Outback, the true king of the wagons?
posted by ph00dz at 4:42 PM on December 18, 2002

A car? Metafilter is reduced to talking about cars? This is sad, so sad . . .
posted by dhacker at 4:46 PM on December 18, 2002

"Metafilter is reduced to talking about cars?"

AirFilter? OilFilter? FuelFilter?

Someone help me out here.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:49 PM on December 18, 2002

AirFilter? OilFilter? FuelFilter?

Someone help me out here.

posted by badstone at 4:55 PM on December 18, 2002

It's cute, but it's no Olds Vista Cruiser.
posted by planetkyoto at 5:06 PM on December 18, 2002

Olds Vista Cruiser. Feh.

Bow before the mighty proboscis of the AMC Matador!
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:16 PM on December 18, 2002

looks quite a bit like a Bez,

posted by inpHilltr8r at 5:21 PM on December 18, 2002

Much as I dig Matt's new Jetta, I still find it hard to resist the allure of the Impreza WRX.

The New York Times covered the wagon trend not too long ago.
posted by jjg at 5:41 PM on December 18, 2002


Ah, dear gord no. CarTalk needs to be beaten unconscious with a blunt object. Preferably soon.
posted by ncurley at 5:44 PM on December 18, 2002

I think the sexiset station wagon has come out of Japan - my dream car is a Subaru Outback (preferably the 3.0L Horitzontal 6 model). Those things are smooth. I've always found Subaru to somehow have the most aesthetically pleasing car shapes, from my old '88 Subaru Sportswagon right through to, of course, the WRX.
posted by Jimbob at 5:45 PM on December 18, 2002

I think of a real station wagon as having a third seat in the back (at least optional). As far as I can tell, the official website makes it impossible to determine if the Pacifica offers this. Are Volvo and Mercedes the only cars on the market that seat 7+?
posted by Zurishaddai at 5:52 PM on December 18, 2002

My parents have owned, and I have driven, both a Vista Cruiser ('72) and a Matador ('78, I think). Cars like that made me want to never want to drive anything American again; thank god the 70s are behind us.

Zurishaddai: How do you define "car"? There are numerous SUVs that can carry 7. Ditto minivans. GM still makes big passenger vans, too, IIRC.

dhacker: I find cars fascinating, and many of the other threads around here boring as hell. Different strokes. You're not scoring any cool points with your cynicism here.

Me, I'm dying to get my hands on an M3. *drool*
posted by jammer at 6:13 PM on December 18, 2002

What is the big fuss about a wagon that looks like a car? Australian, European and Japanese car makers have always had sedan-based wagons and I assumed that US makers were the same.

Jimbob - Subaru have always had nice looking wagons, but in terms of looks, you can't go past the recent Commodore wagons, in my opinion. I am a dedicated Ford fan too, so that says something.
posted by dg at 6:16 PM on December 18, 2002

If you want the best off-road, beat-the-crap-out-of-it-and-it'll-ask-for-more car ever built, do yourself a favor and pickup a Subaru Outback wagon. Hands down the best vehicle ever built for those who live in heavyily-snowed areas or do really spend much time offroad.

As a big car buff myself, I've taken Subaru ride comparisons where an Outback is pitted against a Volvo Cross-Country, BMW X5, Benz "M-Class" and by far the Subaru beat the everliving snot out of these cars.

I cannot praise the Subies enough.

A very *very* close second (and winner of the overall aesthetically pleasing combined with most excellent price-performance) is the Volkswagen Passat Wagon or the Audi A4 Avant (wagon). These sibling cars are pure Euro-design, have the best interior quality and layout of most any vehicle, and are priced very reasonably.

I will admit, this new Pacifica looks very pleasant...but I'm skeptical.
posted by tgrundke at 6:19 PM on December 18, 2002

Jimbob: Funny, I never thought of Subarus as the most aesthetically pleasing cars around. They are unmatched in their overall utility/price ratio, but there are prettier cars like Audis and many others out there.
posted by azazello at 6:19 PM on December 18, 2002

So 'station wagon' is just what Americans call an estate car? Well, I've learned something today. I always assumed it was... well, a wagon.

Anyway, add the Audi RS4 Avant Estate to the list: as this review says, it's probably the fastest dog carrier on the planet.
posted by riviera at 6:20 PM on December 18, 2002

Yes, riviera, "wagon" is just an abbreviation of "station wagon".

dg: The big fuss is that station wagons have been nearly completely missing in the States since some time in the 80s. They started becoming unhip when minivans began to catch on. Then minivans became unhip when SUVs got popular. And now "crossover vehicles" are becoming popular. Some of the, like the Volvo crossover, aren't what I would consider to be pure wagons, more like a wagon/SUV crossbreed. But others, such as the Pacifica, seem to be more wagon, even if they dare not call it that.

(The term "station wagon" in the US is hopelessly melded with the completely lackluster family haulers of the 70s and early to mid 80s).

Personally I love all the new sport-wagons, especially the fact that they're managing to make a car that can carry a large television in the back without giving up its driving dynamics.
posted by jammer at 6:28 PM on December 18, 2002

Thanks jammer - I guess the "family haulers" you talk of are the wood-panelled behemoths we see in movies. The station wagon has always been popular here and they are a great, practical solution for those who carry more than a briefcase, but who still want to drive a decent car.
posted by dg at 6:40 PM on December 18, 2002

"...wood-panelled behemoths..."

My wife calls them "Never-see-me-again" cars, as in "If you bring one of those home for me to drive, I'm leaving you".

The odd thing is, I once bought her an Eagle wagon, complete with faux woodgrain, and that was OK.

Go figure.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:46 PM on December 18, 2002

Just because we haven't seen too many interesting station wagons coming out of Tokyo doesn't mean they're not making them.

Oh, and shut up, dhacker, your blowhard-ocity adds nothing to this discussion.
posted by saladin at 6:49 PM on December 18, 2002

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, saladin.

dg, I recently had the opportunity of testing a new Australian V6 station wagon. It was an absolute pleasure to drive; it was almost impossible to tell the difference between the wagon and the V6 sedan I own.

Station wagons have lifted their game to the point where they are an acceptable alternative to sedans, and utterly preferable to 4WDs, with their extra weight and poor handling.
posted by emf at 7:26 PM on December 18, 2002

I'm disappointed it looks like such a blatant ripoff of any number of vehicles. The foglights and contrasting body cladding are pure Subaru. The grill and headlights are vaguely Mercedes, the sharp waistline BMW 5-series wagon, the greenhouse is Volvo, and the overall stance is X-5 ish.

It's like they trusted the design team with nothing other than the Chrysler badge....
posted by jalexei at 7:49 PM on December 18, 2002

This is only tangentially related to this thread but I thought you wantt to know that the world is coming to an end. (reg. required) "...a top speed of 150 miles an hour...
posted by rdr at 7:55 PM on December 18, 2002

The big fuss is that station wagons have been nearly completely missing in the States since some time in the 80s.

Ford continued making Escort and Taurus wagons pretty all those years (and still do, I think, substituting Focus for Escort of course). I'm pretty sure GM had one or two models as well; I could swear I've seen Caprice and Roadmaster wagons. Chrysler did seem to be underrepresented in the category.

Several Japanese makers have tried to reposition their station wagons as mini-SUVs, minivans, or "5-door hatchbacks." The latter term really cracks me up because it tries to make the staid wagon appeal to younger buyers. "You know... for kids!" The Toyota Matrix (also sold as the Pontiac Vibe) is one of those, basically an answer to the Subaru Outback Sport. Hyundai also has a pretty decent-looking 5-door Elantra (yes, I know they're not Japanese).

I don't think much of the looks of the Pacifica. But that Holden is frankly gorgeous. I must admit that, stupid Yank that I am, I hadn't realized that Australian even had an automotive industry.
posted by kindall at 8:14 PM on December 18, 2002

Yeah, kindall, we have the best looking cars here. If you can afford to buy them, that is. They hold together a lot better than most, too.
posted by dg at 9:55 PM on December 18, 2002

Given that exchange rate, dg, that Holden's actually pretty reasonably priced in US dollars -- a little over $22,000 for the model shown in your link. Of course if I tried to import one, it'd cost a lot more.
posted by kindall at 10:24 PM on December 18, 2002

I worked as an auto mechanic doing heavy (engines) line for a Ford dealership a few years back. Both of the other guys on heavy line drove nothing but Subaru Outbacks. Their entire families all drove Subaru Outbacks. That should be a lesson to anyone thinking of buying an Explorer or an Expedition (very shitty SUV).

I can't wait until people stop with the giant SUVs & get back into wagons. I guess there'll be a new generation of kids that will never want wagons when they grow up...
posted by password at 11:36 PM on December 18, 2002

At least it's not as retarded as the PT Cruser
Ah, the gratuitous PT Cruiser bashing. Tip: you'd have more credibility if you could at least spell the name of the vehicle correctly, delmoi.

And if they use old-fashioned "Detroit Iron" engineering, it will be at least as surivable as a Ford Explorer or GMC Envoy.
Yes, MattD, Pacifica is designed to achieve five-star ratings in NHTSA crash tests. (I'd link to the Automotive News article from this week's issue, but it's for subscribers only.)

Another bloated slug of a car- the forte of the US Auto biz.
Thank you for your informed opinion about this vehicle, marvin... which is based upon what, exactly? Experience? Reviews? The vehicle is not even out yet, nor have the early buff magazine reviews appeared. Did you at least look up the specifications to see if it actually conforms to your preconception?
posted by pmurray63 at 11:55 PM on December 18, 2002

Like Riviera, I had to click the link to answer the question: What the hell is a station wagon? Silly'll be calling the bonnet a hood next... ;-)

I don't see what the big deal is. Estates, hatchbacks, saloons and coupes are usually just the same car with a different back end on them.
posted by salmacis at 12:55 AM on December 19, 2002

Crash, our neighbor across the street had the Matador, all white, while we had the Vista in cream yellow with wood paneling to haul our travel trailer beyond and back. Those were the days....
posted by planetkyoto at 1:01 AM on December 19, 2002

Yes, I was talking about Commodores. You get a hell of a lot of car for your money in Australia.
posted by emf at 1:15 AM on December 19, 2002

Hey saladin, you're right - my comment added nothing to the thread. Thanks you for pointing out your opinion in such a nice manner. I suppose I'll refrain from talking about talking about cars in the future. I'm sure this thread has something to do with what Metafilter is all about - I'm just not sure what it is. I'm also sure that you will enlighten me.
posted by dhacker at 8:17 AM on December 19, 2002

I've no idea what Ford are like in America, but in the UK they're bloody awful looking cars [and thier website is a flash hellhole]. I know we gave you the Focus. What else have we given you?

I'm glad they've kept Volvo, Jag and Aston as more than just badge engineered Fords. I just hope they do the same with LandRover. The only thing I've never worked out is why my dad's 16 year old Granada had a front screen with thousands of little heating elements in it yet my four year old Toyota doesn't...

[yes, I'm arsey cos I've had frost on the inside of my screen the last 3 mornings]
posted by twine42 at 8:21 AM on December 19, 2002

ah, thanks dhacker. now i now what metafilter is all about - dhacker.
posted by badstone at 10:19 AM on December 19, 2002

hey a great new tagline! we could all modify it to suit our needs though

MetaFilter: It's all about me
posted by dhacker at 11:35 AM on December 19, 2002

twine42 - Ford's Australian site is a Flash nightmare also, once you get past the front page. Their large cars are not as good looking as the Holden in my opinion (much as I hate to admit it), but they are usually better value for money, particularly second hand. We recently bought a 1999 Falcon sedan for around $2-3,000 less than the equivalent Commodore. I don't know how much cars cost in the US, but people here tend to feel that our cars are more expensive than in other countries.

I am curious - how long would you expect a US-built car to last before it becomes a maintenance problem? The average age of cars here is about 8-10 years, which seems old on a world-wide basis.

dhacker - aren't there some small children you can annoy somewhere?

posted by dg at 1:49 PM on December 19, 2002

I've no idea what Ford are like in America, but in the UK they're bloody awful looking cars

The Ka, the Puma, the Cougar: that line (the boy-racer-with-company-car bracket) is pretty nice. You're right about the web site though.

And Jaguars count as Fords now, so nuff said.
posted by riviera at 2:51 PM on December 19, 2002

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