China just saw a new Ford Mondeo. A car that, had we all not have turned our nose up at it, could have become the next Ford Fusion in the US. But consumers shunned sedans, so much so that Ford has killed all three-box models throughout North America and Europe.
Estates have failed to find favor in the US too. And even though the long-roof bodystyle remains popular in Europe, Mercedes-Benz is reportedly prepared to kill them all.
This should all point to the conclusion that SUVs, and their crossover cousins, are the best body style of all. But is that really true? Yes, they offer families greater flexibility, especially if there’s a third row of seats and your kids’ friends want to come over.
But then, there have been plenty of estates with a third row in the past. Think Peugeot 505 or Mercedes W124. On a personal note, the car I most regret selling was a BMW E30 Touring. Despite being tiny compared to modern wagons, and the hatch being awkwardly shaped to get things into, it proved to be immensely practical, hauling parts for projects with nary a whimper. A friend recently purchased a used Subaru Legacy Lancaster. Being the dog lover he is, he couldn’t be happier with it.
Wagons can do all this with a much lower center of gravity than an equivalent SUV. Added bonus? You feel less silly driving them around town solo too. Perhaps the only body style that rivals the practicality argument would be a pick-up — less in a family hauler way and more of a builder type. Despite all sporting intent going out of the window, there’s a sense of purpose that you don’t get with an SUV. Plus, you’re not afraid to scuff up the rear when you’re (inevitably) asked to help a friend move house.
I’ll concede that SUVs and crossovers have their merits. Without a doubt, the feeling of safety — especially for loved ones — is unparalleled. And if Arnold’s brush with a Prius is anything to go by, well, I know which of the two vehicles I’d rather be behind the wheel of.
So why is it then that I keep picking up sedans — the humdrum saloon if you’re British. Is it because that’s the body style I was brought up with from birth? Is it because there’s an undeniable balance in that three-box shape. Or is it because I’m a stubborn mule who doesn’t want to join the hordes of SUV owners. The more I think about it, the more I worry it’s the latter.
What do you think is the best body style?