BMW’s decision to introduce the M5 Wagon to the United States has sparked a debate about what to name this highly anticipated vehicle. While the term “wagon” is deeply rooted in American automotive culture, BMW might consider adopting the “Touring” moniker that is prevalent in Europe. The distinction between these names could carry significant implications for branding, marketing, and consumer perception.

The Historical Context of “Wagon” in the United States

In the United States, the term “wagon” evokes images of practicality and utility. Historically, wagons, also known as station wagons, have been synonymous with family transport, offering ample cargo space and functionality. Originating from “depot hacks” in the early 20th century, these vehicles were designed to carry passengers and luggage from train stations to various destinations. Over the decades, station wagons evolved from utilitarian wood-bodied cars to more refined all-steel models, enjoying peak popularity from the 1950s to the 1970s. Despite their versatility, the utilitarian connotation of wagons has often overshadowed their potential for sportiness and luxury. BMW last sold a sports wagon in America back in 2019 in the shape of the 330i.

The Sophistication of “Touring” in Europe

In contrast, BMW and other European luxury brands have sought to distance their sporty and luxurious estate cars from the utilitarian image of wagons by adopting alternative names. BMW introduced the “Touring” designation in the early 1970s, emphasizing a more sophisticated and versatile vehicle designed for performance and luxury, not just practicality. This naming strategy aligns with other European brands: Audi uses “Avant,” Mercedes-Benz opts for “Model-T,” and Volkswagen prefers “Variant.”

But of course, in Germany, the term touring is almost always associated with a BMW product, and the Bavarians sell quite a few of them. As a matter of fact, BMW says they sell more tourings than sedans in Germany, across the 3 and 5 Series models.

The American Dilemma: Wagon or Touring?

Bringing the M5 Wagon to the United States presents BMW with a unique branding challenge. Should they stick with the American “wagon” nomenclature, which is instantly recognizable but carries utilitarian connotations? Or should they adopt the “Touring” name, aligning with their global branding and emphasizing the vehicle’s sporty and luxurious attributes? There are compelling arguments for both approaches. The “wagon” will bring recognition and nostalgia, while “touring” will evoke sophistication and modern appeal. So I’m sure there were a lot of debates in Munich and Woodcliff Lake on what the final name should be in America.

According to our sources, the moniker landed on the BMW M5 Touring which emphasizes the global appeal of this product. It’s also easier to market one model name, rather than two. So, there you go, when it comes to the U.S. later this year, you will buy the BMW M5 Touring.