Few cars have undergone the transformation that the station wagon has. The sports car has always been the sports car, built for those who love the pleasure of driving; the minivan has always been the minivan, built for those with families in need of space for traveling; and the truck has always been the truck, built for those who need its hauling capabilities.
But perceptions of the station wagon have changed over the years. And no car company has embodied the station wagon – and all that it stands for – like Volvo. It’s undeniable that the station wagons of today – namely the Volvo V60 and XC70 – hardly resemble their earlier relatives. Let’s take a look at the evolution of the Volvo station wagon, as it grew from a stereotyped “soccer mom” car, to the pinnacle of optimizing both style and functionality.
Station wagons – in some form or another – have existed for nearly as long as the automobile has been around. But it wasn’t until Woodies came around and became popularized as “surfer cars” in the 50s and 60s that station wagon gained popularity. Still, as much as woodies are romanticized now, they weren’t incredibly hip cars. They were more like the minivans of their era – practical family cars.
The First Volvo Station Wagons
The first Volvo that truly resembled the station wagons we have come to know was the 140 series, which first hit the markets in the mid-1960’s. The 140 series laid the foundation for Volvo station wagons to come. It wasn’t as popular as the models that proceeded it, but it did introduce the concept of a spacious five-seater; all the practicality and storage of a Volkswagen Vanagon, but the size and driving feel of a sedan. It was the perfect family car, and was depicted as such in the media.
Volvo 200 and Beyond
When the Volvo 200 was announced in the early 1970’s, the identity of Volvo’s take on the station wagon was stamped and sealed. This was truly a car for soccer moms and dads: it held five people, making it great for parents; the “wagon” aspect resulted in a very large amount of storage space; and it was a very safe vehicle. It was perfect for the family headed on a camping trip, the parents taking their kids and kids’ friends on a field trip, or the mom or dad headed to the little league game with a few coolers of popsicles.
As the car experienced great success, it continued to evolve, from the 200, to the 700, to the 850, to the 900, to the V70, until it was temporarily halted in 2011. In the process, the Volvo station wagon remained the ultimate family car, but slowly gained style, and quickly was considered the safest family car in the world. Volvo’s main innovations were safety related, which made the station wagons all the more associated as a perfect family vehicle.
The XC70 and V60
Over the years, the “soccer mom” station wagon became less popular. With the inception and popularization of the SUV, families shifted more and more toward larger vehicles, and the station wagon became slightly obsolete. As a result, the Volvo station wagon was put on hiatus in 2011.
But the newly designed Volvo XC70 and all-new Volvo V60 have put Volvo back on the map with what they are deeming a “sportswagon” – a complete redesign of the traditional station wagon, with all the attributes of the old vehicle (safety, practicality, and spaciousness), but with a new found emphasis on style, performance and driving experience.
The V60 was recently given a 5-star safety rating by the government, exemplifying Volvo’s safety prowess, and their vehicles now come with an all-new 7-inch infrared beam monitored navigation system – as well as newfound performance and driving feel.
Volvo has always been the face of the station wagon, but even great things need evolving. And that’s exactly what they’ve done.
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