Subaru Outback Owns US Wagon Market With Astounding 85.7 Percent Share

Automotive journalists like to complain that U.S. buyers don’t have enough wagon models to choose from, but the truth is the market for such vehicles is so small that automakers have little incentive to enter the segment.

Station wagons made up just 1.4 percent of all car sales in the United States last year, according to data from J.D. Power cited by CNBC in an interesting video report on the U.S. wagon market that you can find at the end of this article.

That’s insignificant compared to the 48-percent market share of the crossover-SUV segment, so it’s little wonder that wagons are such a rare sight in America’s car dealerships these days. However, there is one model that is thriving in the States: the Subaru Outback.

Also Read: European Markets Will Keep Wagons Alive, Despite Slumping Sales

2020 Subaru Outback

As a matter of fact, one could say the Outback practically IS the wagon segment in the United States. That’s because the Japanese model has a 1.2 percent overall market share, or 85.7 percent of its segment, with 178,854 sales in 2018. This means that all the other wagons on sale in the U.S. are fighting for just 0.2 percent of the market, making Audi’s introduction of the 2020 A6 Allroad to the United States a rather daring move.

So how does Subaru manage to dominate the wagon market so strongly? As Road & Track notes, a lot of it has to do with the Outback’s design. The jacked-up wagon offers more ground clearance and rugged styling cues that appeal to buyers of both wagons and crossover SUVs.

2020 Subaru Outback

There may be other models that do to the same thing, such as the Volvo V60 / V90 Cross Country and the Buick Regal TourX, but they are significantly more expensive than the Outback, which starts at just $27,655, including $1,010 destination. It also helps that the Outback is a long established nameplate in the U.S. and has a solid reliability record.

For all its success, the Outback lost more than 10,000 sales compared to 2017 – which is a lot. It remains to be seen whether that’s attributable to buyers holding off a purchase until the launch of the all-new 2020 Outback or the overall decline of the segment.


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  • Stephen G

    Quite deceptive figure. Chevrolet sold 333K Equinoxs, Ford sold 272K Escapes, Jeep sold 240K Chreokees and 171K Compass’, Toyota 472K Rav4s, Nissan 412K Rogues.

    • Alduin

      Nissan sold 400+k Rogues? man I feel bad for those chumps when they find out their crappy Jatco CVT fails and Nissan won’t stand by their defective products. Whats even more funny is Jeep sold 240k Cherokees and a measly 171k Compasses. Both are horrible vehicles.

  • pcurve

    I’m a purist. Anything with jacked up ride height and/or body cladding isn’t a wagon!

    • Matt

      So if you put off-road tyres on a Miata it’s no longer a convertible? I don’t see your logic.

      • Ben

        Rally spec Miata? I’m in.

    • MarkoS

      Thing is, it still is, and it is a formula that works, at least for Subaru.

      • ScottM

        The Outback hasn’t been a wagon, jacked up or not, since 2014. It’s taller than an Audi Q5 these days. It has more car like weight and mpg than similar crossovers maybe, but that doesn’t make it a car, and therefore no longer a wagon. V90 XC not-R-design probably pushes the limit of what I would call a wagon, at just under 61″ tall. Anything taller than that is not something you sit down into.

        • MarkoS

          Is still a Wagon, just a more modern version.

  • MarkoS

    Amazing considering some of its quality problems in the last two generations, mainly electronic gremlins, but still. I hope Subaru gets this under control, maybe that Toyota partnership is not so good. I would love to see Honda do something like this with the Accord. And no you all needn’t bring up the Crosstour. I much prefer the last generations styling, it was much more subtle and premium looking to me. I am so sick of this silly black wheel trend too.

    • Matt

      If minor electronic gremlins were detrimental to sales success, then automakers would have trouble shifting any cars at all.

      • MarkoS

        Just saying Subaru people expect more in this car.

        • Alduin

          The earlier version touch screens had problems with the screens namely lines in them and backup cameras not working. Jeep has problems with their infotainment too its not just a Subaru infotainment issue other manufacturers have some hiccups to fix and address with their infotainment systems.

          • MarkoS

            I was not speaking of the infotainment at all. Tail gates mechanics, seats, cruise control to name a few.

  • charlotteharry57

    It’s a shame that the Buick Regal Tour X isn’t selling, but since inception, like a ton of other GM products, it’s been underequipped and overpriced. This is one GM product that customers can’t be fooled, unlike others…I already miss the Golf Sportwagen. My sister would’ve probably gone for one in about 2 years, but, alas…they aren’t CUVs. The Outback is such a success due to Subaru’s extremely loyal fan base and Subarus are idolized in snowy climes.

    • Thetruthísntalwayspopular

      The sad part is the tour x is a really good car and much better to drive than the Subaru.

    • Alduin

      Because GM=Garbage Motors. I think it’ll be discontinued since it’s really a PSA product now not a GM one.

    • Alduin

      I’m a loyal Subaru owner but with the direction and way they’re heading I refuse to buy a new one ever again. Used from here on out.

    • if i remember right the TourX actually sells better then what GM anticipated.

      but i doubt GM is planning a direct replacement for it… the only future platform they really have to do such with is the upcoming modular RWD chassis and that’s 2024 at the earliest

  • Alduin

    The 2015-2017 was a great car. Now it’s morphed into a bloated wagon with way too much body cladding on it. This new one has even more! The screen now has climate controls integrated into it which is a very bad idea. I’d rather have physical controls. All these new cars now with the touch screen integrated climate controls and mandatory safety nannies are making new cars less desirable each model year. I refuse to buy a new Subaru anymore since now they’re cramming eyesight standard in all their cars now. You can’t even get one without it anymore except the manual WRX/STI. Subaru is losing their way and their minds with these ugly models. The new Forester this new Outback the current Impreza and Crosstrek and the bumper redesign on the WRX (2018) Not to mention that Subaru is now adding start stop across the board on all their cars from 2019+ Start Stop is the WORST automotive invention ever created. WTF is happening with Subaru? They need to fire their latest designer.

  • not surprising. the Outback found it’s niche early on and stuck the landing.

  • Nexus7

    That is one ugly vehicle.

    • TRB0T0Y

      Its all very lovely and proper.

  • Emoto

    I can’t understand why nobody has really gone directly after the market that Subaru owns. Surely, someone else can make a small to mid-sized AWD wagon that appeals to people. Subaru styling has often been horrible, and yet people buy them.

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