At last: a bona-fide wagon. Seems I’ve been driving a lot of SUVs and crossovers lately, which always leaves me wondering why drivers so almost universally prefer taller, more ungainly vehicles (the better to elevate one’s road status, I guess). The new Buick Regal TourX takes an alternative route, combining the lower-to-the-ground poise of a car with, when the second row seats are folded down, a massive 74 cubic feet of cargo room.
“That doesn’t look like most wagons I’ve seen,” said a guy in my building as I climbed aboard the TourX. And he was right: the Buick is swoopy and aggressive, recalling the Audi Allroad in stance but even more rakish in its lines. Standard wheels on all trim levels are 18-inch alloys, while available roof rails add additional cargo-loading versatility and enhance the adventurous look. This is a great-looking piece. Yet while all TourX versions come standard with an advanced all-wheel-drive system, the Buick lacks the ground clearance of some rivals (the Subaru Outback, for example, has roughly three inches more). Think of this rig as an all-weather wagon rather than a potential off-roader.
Climb behind the wheel and you’re definitely driving a car. You’re low to the ground, very much a plus if you enjoy feeling connected to the road. The dash is laid-out with simple gauges and controls that make finding what you need a breeze. My top-line Essence tester included such standard gear as a leather seats with 8-way power adjustments and heating up front, keyless entry with remote start, dual climate control, a heated leather wheel, a hands-free power liftgate, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Options included a Sights and Sounds package ($1,095) with 8-inch HD infotainment display and premium audio, a Driver Confidence package ($1,725), adding wireless charging plus a slew of active-safety features, a power moonroof ($1,200) and Smoked Pearl metallic paint ($395). The Essence trim starts at just under $36,000; with all the options tacked on my tester rolled out the showroom door at just over $40K.
That sticker undercuts similar wagons from Audi and Volvo by a ton. Yet while the features are certainly there, the cabin materials fall short. The cockpit is functional and clean, yes, but rich it isn’t. Something has to give to keep the price down where the Buick’s lies, but even a slight upgrade would help the cabin ambiance. You’d never mistake the TourX’s leather for Volvo leather.
The first time I parked the Buick a chime sounded and a warning flashed onto the center of the speedo: “Look in Rear Seat.” I almost jumped out of the vehicle. What’s back there? A carjacker? An early birthday present? A fer-de-lance snake? Apparently, the alert is a new feature from GM called Rear Seat Reminder, designed to alert drivers to check the back seat for, say, the laptop you forgot you put back there … or your Labrador retriever … or … your kid. Oh, how we as a society have fallen. The GM spokesperson says, “It’s easier than it seems to forget what’s in the back seat when moving between life’s events.” Translation: You’re so damn transfixed by your Instagram feed that now you need a warning bell to remind you your child is actually riding in the car along with you. Actually, if you’re the type of human who needs this sort of ding-dong, perhaps you have no business operating a two-ton projectile at all.
Drivers who deserve to be there will enjoy the TourX’s moves. The engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four with 250 hp and 295 pound-feet, both peaks arriving at 5,000 rpm. The mill moves the Buick well (0 to 60 mph in well under 7 seconds), puts the torque down without a skip (thanks to the AWD system), and for the most part performs with smoothness and refinement. The standard transmission is an 8-speed automatic, and while its cogs are well-spaced, shifts tend to come slowly. Rowing the center-console lever manually improves shift quickness (there are no wheel paddles), but most drivers probably won’t bother. Word is a 9-speed automatic is on the way for 2019. That could be a most welcome addition.
The TourX is pleasant to spool around in. The ride is agreeable, and while you’d never want to get overly playful at the wheel (understeer shows up quickly), steering feel and handling poise are just fine. The TourX is conspicuously quiet, too, with minimal wind or engine noise intruding into the cabin. It “sounds” expensive.”
This Buick is also a refreshing departure from the over-complexity that seems to blight so many of today’s vehicles. The climate controls are conventional analog dials and buttons. The color touchscreen is responsive and intuitive, with analog buttons below to bring you to the home page or back where you were. The rear camera and sensors and optional rear cross-traffic alert making parking effortless and worry-free.
Above all, the Regal TourX stands out for great looks, outstanding room, and a sticker that undercuts admittedly more upscale rivals by $5K or more. Given that it’s a sleek wagon, you also get to stand out from the run-of-the-mill crossover/SUV crowd. And there’s definitely no small amount of appeal in that.
2018 Buick Regal TourX Essence AWD Specifications
|PRICE||$35,945/$40,360 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve inline-4/250 hp @ 5,000 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD wagon|
|EPA MILEAGE||21/29 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||196.3 x 73.3 x 58.4 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.5 sec (est)|
|TOP SPEED||155 mph (governor limited)|