To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of the station wagon have been greatly exaggerated. But so have stories predicting the comeback of that hallmark of the Leave it to Beaver era.
But that isn’t stopping Acura from giving one more try. The luxury arm of Honda used the New York Auto Show to unveil a two-box version of its popular TSX model. And the maker’s top U.S. executive, John Mendel, says he’s cautiously optimistic that changing tastes and lifestyles will help generate demand for the 2011 Acura TSX Wagon.
“We see growing potential for this type of alternative in the U.S.,” said Mendel, citing a forecast projecting that in the luxury segment, wagon sales will grow by as much as 40% between 2010 and 2014.
Today’s wagon isn’t the same as the wood-covered land yacht made famous by the Chevy Chase film, “National Lampoon’s Summer Vacation,” the executive stressed. They tend to be more stylish, while generating maintaining a level of functionality beyond that of a standard sedan, like the 4-door Acura TSX.
The 2011 Acura TSX Wagon features 17-inch wheel, a fully-independent suspension and low, sporty center of gravity designed to enhance its fun-to-drive factor. Standard equipment includes Bluetooth, a moonroof, leather seats and an upgraded audio system.
The wagon is powered by an all-aluminum, 2.4-liter VTEC inline-four engine that Acura claims can match the performance of most V6s in its segment, yet still deliver an estimated 30 mpg on the highway.
The 2011 Acura TSX Wagon will go up against import competitors such as the BMW 3-Series wagon, Audi’s A4 Avant and the Volvo V50. And if fresh product motivates the market – as industry planners often contend – then the fact that a number of other makers are getting into the segment should help Acura, too. The New York Auto Show brings the launch of a new version of the Mercedes-Benz E350 wagon, as well as the debut of Cadillac’s new CTS-V Wagon.
Nonetheless, Acura is being cautious about the 2011 TSX Wagon’s opportunities, Mendel predicting initial sales of just 300 to 500 a month.
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