ASHLAND, Oregon — I was floored by the question but I tried to play it off cool. “Why don’t people buy wagons?” my girlfriend’s mother asked. We were standing next to my White Frost 2018 Buick Regal TourX tester after finishing a five-hour drive from San Jose, California.
The cruel irony is that this question came from the driver of a 2006 Acura MDX, making her one of the folks that eschewed a long-roofed five-door for a luxury SUV for the usual reasons of more space and visibility. The Regal TourX is here to sway those buyers back to the wagon life.
Buick’s effort is an example of a U.S.-market wagon done right. The styling is crisp and there’s loads of room for both passengers and cargo. And as we found out over our weekend with the Buick, it’s excellent for road trips.
Much of this capability is derived deep beneath the sheet metal. The powertrain, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder hooked up to an eight-speed automatic transmission, is delicious. Rated at 250 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, it makes nearly as much power as the 260-hp LT1 V-8 in Buick’s last wagon, the B-Body Roadmaster. It sounds good too, emitting a deep rumble when at full throttle.
The TourX lays its twist down at all four wheels and offered generous passing abilities on California’s Interstate 5. Downshifts came swiftly and GM’s eight-speed continues to show competence by picking gears with accuracy. Even with four occupants and their luggage, the 2.0-liter turbo impressed with its linear power delivery, whether on the open road or off the line at a traffic light.
Once we reached the winding roads of northern California and southern Oregon, I began to notice the TourX’s fully independent suspension. Overall, it offers a comfortable ride with a dash of athleticism thrown in the mix, and the wagon maintains its composure even when there’s technical driving to do. With nicely weighted steering thrown in the mix, it was easy to enjoy the breathtaking scenery as the forest thickened as our journey took us further north past Mt. Shasta.
My time with the Regal wasn’t all spent on the highway, and this let me explore some of the TourX’s around-town chops. There’s no button to turn off auto stop-start, but it’s evident that a great deal of care went into programming the system. The engine only stops when it’s at the optimal point of its rotation and Buick told us on the Regal’s launch that it’s programmed with the “McDonald’s Drive-Thru Algorithm,” which prevents the motor from turning off again if the car hasn’t reached on-road speeds.
Out back, the TourX offers 32.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity, which was plenty to store our group’s luggage and there was room to spare for the case of wine we picked up during a visit to a southern Oregon winery. The Buick continued to shine as a great vehicle for travel with its versatile cargo cover, which rides on rails for ease of use. I was chuffed that it could also be raised up to a second level for easier access, however.
The infotainment system is a bit dated in terms of graphics and the 8-inch touchscreen offers a poor input-response time—and our tester even had the $1,095 “Sights and Sounds Package” which also includes HD Radio and premium audio. The setup is saved, however, by the inclusion of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Additional gadget-friendly kit includes a single USB port up front and two-charge only ports for rear passengers. The girlfriend’s parents loved the included 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and the ablity to stream videos and peruse social media for the duration of our drive that it granted.
The $1,725 Driver Confidence Package #1 offered similar value for price. It adds a slew of goodies that spice up the quality of life in the TourX. These include wireless charging up front, LED headlamps with cornering and automatic leveling (a favorite tech-nerd feature), four-way lumber for the front seats, seating position memory settings for the driver, and heated mirrors with auto-dimming on the driver’s side.
This suite also adds a bounty of safety features as well, which I found to be helpful while remaining uninterruptive. The rear park assist is great for backing the wagon in and out of tricky spots and rear cross traffic alert helps when there’s oncoming vehicles in busy lots. Lane changing alerts are also a helpful inclusion of the package and never fired off with false alarms.
Plying the highways of California and Oregon was a breeze in this Buick. It offered plenty of space for both rows of occupants and dazzles with an array of welcome standard and optional equipment. Our tester offered all of this for $39,760 after destination, which is competitive compared to luxury wagons like the Audi A4 allroad Quattro, which starts at $44,500 and the 2018 Volvo V60 T5 Dynamic AWD, which starts at $40,250.
If the world were a fair place, as it would be if people bought wagons with the same fervor that they buy CUVs and SUVs, the 2018 Buick TourX would be a knockout success. The world isn’t a fair place though, but that doesn’t mean I would recommend this car any less emphatically. Consider our road trip a success.
2018 Buick Regal TourX Essence AWD Specifications
|PRICE||$35,020/$39,760 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||2.OL 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|