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Station wagons peaked in popularity in the 1960s and 70s, but fell out of favor as minivans and SUVs began dominating family vehicles. However, in recent years the station wagon has been making a comeback as automakers release new models with updated designs. This renewed interest in station wagons is driven by their inherent practicality and versatility.
For families looking for ample cargo space coupled with car-like handling, today's station wagons check all the boxes. Their low, sleek profiles reduce drag for better fuel economy compared to bulkier SUVs. At the same time, folding rear seats and deep cargo areas provide flexible interior space to haul gear. "We needed something that could fit our family of four plus luggage and camping equipment, but still be fun to drive," says Amanda S., who traded in her SUV for a new station wagon. "The wagon has been perfect for road trips and everyday errands alike."
Beyond families, even empty nesters are being drawn to new station wagon models. "We wanted something smaller than our previous SUV but that still had cargo space for antique shop runs," shares retired couple Gary and Susan R. For older drivers, the lower ride height of wagons can also make entering and exiting easier.
While minivans and SUVs offer abundant space, they lack the sporty essence of the classic longroof. New sporty wagons from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche prove these practical autos can also be performance vehicles. "I've always loved the look of vintage wagons, and the new editions bring back that iconic style with modern amenities," says auto enthusiast Ryan C.
Electric vehicles were once known for their quirky, futuristic designs that skewed function over form. However, as EVs gain mainstream popularity, automakers are upping their styling game to turn heads instead of raising eyebrows. Sleek silhouettes, aggressive fascias and wide stances give new EVs the look drivers crave.
"When we designed our first electric SUV, we knew styling would be key to getting petrol-heads excited about going electric," shares lead designer Sandra W. of EV startup Volta Motors. "We added creases and angles you'd expect on a sports car to give it an athletic stance."
Luxury brands like Audi are also injecting their EV models with eye-catching details. "Lighting design is so important for giving EVs their signature look," explains Audi lighting engineer Thomas F. "We use animated turn signals, digital LED matrices and 3D light sculptures to make our EVs unmistakable at night."
Beyond aesthetics, slippery shapes like coupe-like rooflines improve EV driving range by reducing aerodynamic drag. "Sculpting the body with aerodynamic performance in mind ultimately results in a shape drivers find appealing," notes wind tunnel engineer Rachel Y. of Tesla.
For eco-conscious consumers, styling also provides a visual indicator that a vehicle is electric. "I wanted everyone to know I'm driving electric when they see my car," says EV owner Ryan W. "The flowing lines and concealed charging port definitely give away that it's not just another sedan."
While early EV models hid batteries in boxy frames, new designs highlight their electrified power source. "We put the pouch battery design right on display under lighted glass," explains concept car creator Jayden L. of Levitron. "The styling draws attention to the technology powering the vehicle."
Mainstream brands like Hyundai aim to make electric cars cool to help drivers get over range anxiety. "Fun, forward-looking design elements like illuminated grille replacements and ambient interior lighting schemes get people excited about EVs," says marketing VP Michelle G.
As more electric models hit the streets, EV styling will continue to evolve and attract drivers. "We're working on a muscular hatchback design that borrows styling cues from classic rally cars," reveals Ali V., lead exterior designer for Bolt Auto. "It will capture the thrill of performance in an eco-friendly package."
The automotive industry is cyclical, and retro styling is back in vogue. Classic shapes and colors from the 50s, 60s and 70s are inspiring modern vehicle designs. Brands are reinventing iconic models to tap into nostalgia while incorporating the latest technology.
"Younger buyers may not have owned vintage cars, but they've seen the classics in movies and car shows," notes Zeke Hansen, lead designer at Hudson Motors. "The retro look takes them back to what cars represent - freedom, individuality and cool."
Nostalgic exterior elements like two-tone paint jobs, chrome bumpers, oval grilles and tail fins make new vehicles stand out. Interiors also capture retro flair with bench seats, analog gauges, and in-dash record players.
Heidi Morris traded in her SUV for a new retro-style coupe. "I love the white top over cherry red, and the interior reminds me of my dad's old cruiser with the wood paneling," she says.
Other brands are resuscitating once popular nameplates. "We revived the Bel Air name from the 50s to bring back those feelings of optimism and fun," says Chevrolet spokesperson Tad Dryden.
Beyond aesthetics, integrating modern technology into classic designs poses engineering challenges. "The iconic shapes aren't always compatible with new electrical architectures," explains Paolo Tasca, lead engineer at Torino Motors. "But we developed solutions like consolidating under the hood to accommodate vintage style."
Safety regulations also require adapting crumple zones and pillars to protect passengers while maintaining signature silhouettes. "It took a lot of optimization to meet rollover standards but still evoke the spirit of the original Bronco," says Kathy James, safety engineer at Ford.
For collectors, restomods enhance classics by blending vintage style with modern performance. "Electrifying a vintage Mustang improves reliability and torque while preserving the iconic contours," says Tyler Davidson of Revive Restorations.
Others update legends with cutting-edge features inside and out. "We integrated the designs of the first and final air-cooled 911 generations into an all-new hybrid model," notes Anika Fischer, Porsche spokesperson.
For decades, SUVs conjured images of boxy family haulers favored more for function than fashion. However, recent years have seen sport utility vehicles undergo dramatic styling shifts, with brands injecting sleek, sexy silhouettes into the segment. This movement towards dynamic design matters because it increases SUV appeal for buyers beyond parents and adventurers.
"In the past, our SUVs were primarily targeted at families who needed space and capability," explains SUV designer Stacy Chen. "But as more millennials and empty nesters flocked to the segment, we realized the importance of aesthetics."
Sculpted curves along wheel arches, tapered roof pillars and elongated rear taillights give new SUVs athletic stances once exclusive to coupes and sedans. Full-width grilles and lowered ride heights emphasize sporty dispositions over off-road abilities.
"Buyers still expect SUV functionality, but design drives the initial emotional connection and ultimately, the sale," Chen states. "The sleeker, almost coupe-like look communicates that SUVs can be stylish too."
"When car shopping, the Rover SUV instantly caught my eye with the fighter jet-style cockpit and quilted seats," says customer Lucia Flores. "The modern, sexy interior is what sold me on my first SUV."
Makeovers extend beyond aesthetics with smoother, quieter rides reflecting SUVs' transition from rugged workhorse to refined people hauler. "Customers want that feeling of graceful agility you get in a luxury sedan," explains acoustics engineer Ryan Howard. "We focused on tuning the chassis, sound-proofing and insulating materials to deliver that smooth, silent driving experience."
Even performance enhances the allure, with powerful V8 and hybrid powertrains enabling potent acceleration and handling not associated with SUVs. "The days of the soccer mom SUV are over," proclaims adrenaline junkie Cliff Burton. "When this baby goes from 0 to 60 mph in under 4 seconds, friends don't even realize it's an SUV!"
Designers must still maintain ergonomics, sightlines and space for passengers and gear. "The balancing act is creating something exciting and indulgent yet highly functional," says Chen. "The magic happens when design uplifts SUVs to objects of desire without sacrificing their versatility."
Sleek, low-slung coupe silhouettes make hearts race as they hug curves and growl down straightaways. Buyers crave the intimate cockpits, responsive handling and performance these two-door tearaways promise. Brands are catering to this desire by injecting extra passion into new coupe designs.
"Coupes represent automotive desire in its purest form," explains Rob Marchant, lead designer at Torque Motors. "It's about connecting directly with the road, surrounding the driver in an intimate, driver-focused environment."
Dimensional tapestries along sweeping hoods and tapered cabins tease speed and athleticism. Flared wheel arches and wide stance emphasize solid traction and grip. Aggressive fasciae with large intakes signal power lurking under the hood.
"The long hood hints at the turbocharged inline 6 ready to push you back in your seat," shares coupe owner Maya Teo. "Just looking at the shapely silhouette gets my heart pumping before ignition."
Inside, wraparound dashboards and aluminum trim surround occupants for a cockpit aesthetic. Body-hugging bucket seats keep passengers firmly planted when cornering. "As soon as I experienced how the G-forces press me into these heavily bolstered seats, I was addicted," says sports coupe aficionado Hank Murdoch.
Automakers splurge on details, with features like contrast-color stitching, track-inspired pedals and drive mode selectors enhancing the experience. "It's not just about going fast in a coupe but feeling like a professional driver," Murdoch explains.
While sedans deliver practicality and space, coupes provide an escape from the mundane. "When life gets serious, nothing clears my head like dropping the top and hitting an open switchback road," says Maya joyfully. "It's like therapy on wheels!"
But brands can't sacrifice too much function. "Designing a coupe is a careful balance between emotional thrill and everyday livability," shares Rob. Small back seats and trunks preserve signature silhouettes while allowing occasional passenger and cargo hauling.
Torque reigns supreme in the truck segment, with brands cranking up twist to prove their pickups have the brute force needed for serious towing and hauling. "Raw torque gets the job done when you"re pulling 10,000 pounds up a steep grade," says truck owner Teddy Hoffman, who relies on his heavy duty diesel to transport agricultural equipment. The latest HD trucks churn out up to 1,000 lb-ft of torque courtesy of muscular diesel engines north of 6 liters displacement. Giant turbos crammed into engine bays spool quickly to put twist to the tires in an instant.
Even light duty trucks are flexing impressive torque figures aimed at recreational towers and hobby farmers. "The cummins turbo diesel spinning out almost 900 lb-ft means my trailer feels weightless behind my RAM 1500," shares horse trailer owner Sabrina Cox.
Beyond engine enhancements, truck makers carefully calibrate transmission gearing to keep the engine in the sweet spot of the torque band. Automatic transmissions now sport up to 10 speeds to optimize incrimental power delivery based on load and grade changes. "The close-ratio gearing keeps the engine churning in the heart of the torque curve," explains drivetrain engineer Tina Ramirez. "Turbochargers enhance low end grunt, so shorter gearing amplifies that V8 rumble."
Suspensions stiffen to handle prodigious payloads without squatting. Upgraded drivelines transfer torque smoothly to prevent drivetrain shock under extreme loads. "Tuning the chassis and drivetrain to withstand brutal towing duty was just as important as cranking up torque," emphasizes chief truck engineer Garrett Evans. "Together they enable trucks to confidently conquer the toughest jobs."
Hatchbacks fuse pragmatism and playfulness into tantalizing two-box designs. Their truncated rear ends optimize cargo space while expressing vibrancy through styling. Hatches speak to buyers craving both utility and excitement from their daily driver.
"I wanted something as fun-to-drive as my old coupe but with room for my hiking and climbing gear," explains hatch owner Tessa Wu. The wide rear liftgate openings and fold-flat rear seats in her hot hatch accommodate bulky gear. Yet the sport-tuned suspension, short wheelbase and peppy turbo engine provide agile acceleration on serpentine back roads.
Other passengers also appreciate the hatchback layout. "Even with the back seats up, there's generous headroom and legroom to comfortably fit my tall friends," shares Yu Zheng. For owners frequently accessing the cargo area, the lower lift-over height spares backs. "No more heaving kayaks over my head like with a crossover," Yu says.
Brands inject style into hatch designs with body lines that converge towards the rear to highlight the truncated tail. Shorter front and rear overhangs communicate agility and athletic poise. For hot hatches, central exhausts and rear spoilers signal playful dispositions.
Enthusiasts can indulge their inner race car driver with high-performance variants. "The rally-inspired hatch just begs you to take on twisty gravel backroads," proclaims Sam Packer. Beefy body kits, traditional 3-door layouts and grippy upholstery enhance the connection between car and driver.
Yet hatches also adapt to more subtle tastes. "I wanted the cargo versatility without the boy racer vibe, so I chose the upscale premium hatch," explains Lisa Chen. Chrome accents and luxury materials inject sophistication, while the hatchback profile maintains everyday practicality.
Some brands imbue their hatchbacks with retro charm via heritage styling cues. "The two-tier headlamps and italicized logo on the tailgate reminisce iconic 80's hatchback," says heritage model owner Ryan Cooper.
Manufacturers can more easily achieve EPA fuel targets with hatches rather than traditional trunks. The truncated rears enhance aerodynamic efficiency. "A few extra cubic feet of cargo space lets us drop the coefficient of drag below the threshold for qualification," notes engineer Vera Lopez. Thus hatches appeal to eco-minded buyers.
Ride-hailing drivers also gravitate towards hatches for hauling travelers and luggage. "The configurable rear seats and hatch opening let me accommodate airport pickups easily," shares driver Rafael Santos. Professional photographers and videographers appreciate the enlarged wide-angle access to equipment.