Friday, April 21, 2006

Wagon HO! To Squire or not to Squire?

Earlier this week in comments ThatDudeMike asked a question that I've been asking for a while. Why can't Ford bring out a decent mid-size station wagon based on the Mazda 6 Sport Wagon. That resulted in me repeating my suggestion that Ford's Mercury brand take a chance by building such a wagon version of the Milan. More on that later. And in comments Someone asked why Ford couldn't make a station wagon version of the 500.

I'm among a small percentage of the population that likes station wagons, having fond memories of family vacations and realizing their inherent usefullness. But station wagons have fallen out of fashion, replaced by first mini-vans, then SUVs and now crossover wagons. Wagons had almost disappeared from the market. But they're there if you look beyond the camo.

Take the Freestyle Crossover, it's nothing more than a Ford 500 station wagon. I've said it before they should have played up that fact by naming it the 500 Country Squire or Ranch Wagon. The Freestyle name was too close to the Freestar name, and that vehicles poor reputation infected the initial rollout in my opinion. But Baby Boomers have some hang up with Station Wagon, some repressed memories of being beaten with one hand while Dad drove with the other. To some, the wood paneling seemed less macho I think. Ok, so don't put wood paneling on the Country Squire, or make it optional. But back to my point.
Among the few Wagons still on the market under that label, is the Mazda 6 Sport Wagon. It's handsome styling and good utility and performance are quite the package. And the "Sport" label saves it from being an imasculating "station" wagon.
And since the Milan, like it's Fusion and MKz siblings are Mazda6 based, it shouldn't be technically too difficult to produce a Milan Colony Park or Villager. But if it's the image that you don't like, make it more like a Euro wagon. All of the German manufacturers make wagons and sell them here. Drive to your local country club and you'll see that in that market wagons never really left.
Market it more like Audi's A6 Avant. The Milan's styling lends itself to this treatment more than the Colony Park anyway. And by using the Milan, Mercury could have a unique vehicle that it doesn't share with Ford or Lincoln. And since no Mercury version of the Edge/MKx has been anounced it may be a differntiation for Mercury's image.

I really think that people need to get over the station wagon phobia. Myself, I fear mini vans, packs of soccer moms in mini vans talking on cell phones while yelling at the kids and drinking Evian at 50 mph past a school zone. Nothing scary about a little wood paneling.

1 comment:

Joel A said...

I've rented the 6 sports wagon and found it felt like a regular sedan. I had to look back several times to realize it was a wagon.