AUSTIN, TX – Station wagons get a bad rap. It’s wrong for people to diss them as unhip. To avoid sinking to that level, I shouldn’t stick up for station wagons by putting down CUVs. I shouldn’t. But I will.

I’ve nothing against CUVs in general, but the compact ones make no sense. Their cargo space is limited. You can’t take them offroad without a tow truck as your chase vehicle. Small CUVs get so-so fuel economy considering their size. Otherwise, they’re great.

The bigger CUVs aren’t so bad. Nor is the concept. Create a vehicle that looks like an SUV, but rides like a car. Congrats to who came up with that. Subaru says it did, with the Forester. Honda and Toyota claim firsts of sorts with the CR-V and RAV4, respectively.

But what is a CUV if not a station wagon on stilts? Sure, some people like high seat positions. That’s why we have bar stools and highchairs.

It’s unjust to call high-rider CUVs functionally cool and low-rider station wagons hopelessly square. That’s stereotypically where we’re at, though.

Once a mainstay, heckled station wagons virtually left the market with their long tails between their legs. Seeing a reincarnated version of the Ford Country Squire or Buick Estate Wagon is as likely as spotting a pterodactyl in the yonder sky.

But not every automaker has bailed from the segment. Just, like, 99% of them. One notable member of the 1% (and I mean this in the best sense of the percentage) is Volkswagen.

The German brand is rightfully proud of its latest SportWagen that has undergone some recent alterations, including a name change for this model year. It had been a Jetta. Now it’s a Golf. The new wagon is wider, longer and lower than its other-named predecessor.

Part of the switchover has to do with the ’15 vehicle now on the same Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) architecture that’s shared by the Golf lineup.

“We finally called the SportWagen for what it is, a Golf,” says VW product planner Mike Klopotowski.

VW also is riding on the fame of the Golf winning the 2015 North American Car of the Year award.  

Although the new model for all intents and purposes is a station wagon, VW isn’t going quite there. Wagen, as in wagon, is fine. But the modifier “station,” as in “see-you-at-the-train-station-when-the-6:33-arrives,” isn’t. What’s a better descriptor? How about “Sport”? Put that in front of Wagen and squeeze the two words together. You have yourself a nice car name.   

“The car is designed as a wagon,” Klopotowski says. “It’s not a Golf hatchback. Obviously being a wagon, the versatility is huge. And it’s fun to drive.”

Station-wagon owners of old didn’t extol the joy of driving.

But the SportWagen, going on sale in April, offers that. It comes with more torque than its Jetta predecessor. It shows self-confident stability and agility as we drive through the hill country outside of this capital city. And in town, it’s right at home as a car with an urbane look, including a hood that slopes down, horizontal design cues and distinctive D-pillars.