Wagons

2018 Buick Regal TourX: A wagon on the verge of crossing over

The TourX falls prey to the same issues as its Sportback brethren, but the world needs more wagons, even if they've got some flaws.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

It is a well-known fact that station wagons are awesome. They pack the same cargo capacity or thereabouts as SUVs, but they sport the form factor of a car. What's not to like?

Well, apparently, there's a bunch not to like. Wagons may be popular overseas, but they get a bad rap here in the US. As a result, some automakers have turned to adding a dash of SUV to their wagons. Generally, this is limited to a small body lift, some beefier cladding on lower body panels and the addition of a more dirt-friendly drivetrain (think all-wheel drive).

That's the 2018 Buick Regal TourX in a nutshell. A European wagon modified for greater US market penetration, the TourX is a solid car that does a lot of things well. But, as I learned in five-door Sportback form late last year, it's not all fun and games.

Cladding and chrome

I thought the 2018 Regal Sportback looked very fetching, but the TourX takes it to a whole new level. Yes, I am biased as a wagon owner, but the proportions are spot on. I may not agree with the idea of adding cladding to a station wagon, but the TourX's hard black plastic works well enough, adding just a bit of machismo. It definitely has a European vibe to it, which it should, because that's what it is.

Out back, there's an interesting chrome strip that starts up at the front window and spans the side of the vehicle, all the way back to the taillights. I didn't get it on paper, but in person, it fits the look. And unlike the Sportback, which has exposed tailpipes, the TourX hides them behind the bumper, giving it some additional visual off-road cred.

The interior is unchanged compared to the Sportback. Let's start with the stuff that I like. The dashboard layering is nice, and the bit of physical switchgear for the infotainment system and climate controls is welcome in the Age of Screens Everywhere. Headroom is solid for a six-foot-tall passenger, and legroom abounds in both rows. The trunk is positively cavernous, swallowing up more than an Audi Allroad or a Lincoln MKX.

Now it's time for the negatives. The interior may look premium from a distance, but it's riddled with hard plastics and "leather" seats that feel much closer to base vinyl seats from German quasi-competitors. The transmission tunnel still has that oddly sharp piece of trim that you don't want to contact accidentally. I also don't like the gauge cluster, which is hard to read quickly and looks pretty dated already.

Buick's styling is on point right now. This wagon looks ace.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Solid on asphalt and dirt

While the interior might be a bit hit-or-miss, the Regal TourX's drive quality is way more fully baked. All TourX models pack a 250-horsepower, turbocharged I4 and all-wheel drive. The eight-speed automatic is smooth, swapping gears relatively unbeknownst to the driver. The stop-start system is pretty darn seamless, too -- unless you're really looking for it, it shouldn't make itself known.

On pavement, 250 hp is more than enough hustle. You get a bit of grunt from the motor in the cabin, and despite being heavier than the Sportback, it doesn't feel weighed down. All TourX models receive Buick's Quiet Tuning tires, which adds a layer of foam to the tires to mitigate road noise. Our testers were early off the production line and lacked these tires, so I can't speak to them, but in general, the cabin is very well isolated and pavement is the main factor in whether or not occupants will encounter road noise.

The TourX is billed as a sort of overlander, capable of hitting the dirt and coming out the other side unscathed. We spent several miles blasting down gravel and dirt roads, and the TourX did just fine. Washboard ruts in the road had the dampers working overtime, and some of that vibration was felt in the cabin, but it never felt lacking for traction. There was a bit more road noise, but that's expected because you're driving over nothing but rocks. I heard the suspension's bump stops only twice, and the rocks never did any damage to the cladding or the body.

Then again, these weren't incredibly difficult roads to drive on. Things will get a bit rocky (no pun intended) if you engage in some more difficult stuff, because there just isn't the kind of articulation or suspension movement that those kinds of roads require. But if you like going camping or just off the beaten path in general, the TourX should meet your needs. Just don't climb the Matterhorn in one.

The cladding looks fine, but I'm concerned about its longevity, especially with drivers who venture off asphalt regularly.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Good tech, but not as good as it could be

GM is good at providing a good deal of tech in its new cars, and the TourX is no exception. There's a standard 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot that almost always has great coverage, and a 7-inch touchscreen is standard with an optional 8-incher. Wireless charging is available, too, but I couldn't ever get it to recognize my iPhone 8 Plus, which barely fit in the tiny wireless charging slot under the center armrest.

All isn't perfect, though. While the rear seats might get two USB ports for charging, the front has to make do with a single port under the center armrest. The infotainment system is capable, but it still relies on GM's old UX, which is slowly being replaced. I'm told it should start reaching Buick models later this year, which puts it behind both Cadillac and GMC, but better late than never. It's really good and, in my opinion, worth waiting for.

In terms of safety tech, there's plenty you can shove into the TourX. Adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and rear parking sensors are all available. For some dumb reason, though, the most important safety systems -- namely, autobrake -- require the highest trim level and an additional $2,500-ish in options.

Considering how many automakers are offering these systems as standard equipment in 2018, it's disappointing to see Buick hide its tech away behind such massive paywalls.

This is the Sportback -- it was too bright to shoot the TourX's interior today -- but it's basically the same thing.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Priced to compete... for the most part

The 2018 Buick Regal TourX starts at $29,995, which nets you the drivetrain, the 7-inch infotainment screen and a few other bits of tech. But the majority of purchases will be the $33,595 Preferred trim and the top-tier Essence, which will set you back $35,995 before options. A fully loaded model will crest $40,000 by a small bit.

Alternatively, you could pick up a 2018 Subaru Outback with its safety systems for a fair bit less, because they're available as a single option on the second trim level. And Subaru's EyeSight system is cheaper, too, starting at about $2,000.

On the whole, the Regal TourX is a damn fine machine. It'll move like it needs to, it'll take you to the campground and haul a whole bunch of cargo at the same time. It drives nice, and its interior is bordering on Lexus levels of quiet. But it's got its fair share of missteps in the interior and in its options packaging. If it fits the bill for you, though, you'll definitely dig it.

Editor's Note: Roadshow accepts multi-day vehicle loans from manufacturers in order to provide scored editorial reviews. All scored vehicle reviews are completed on our turf and on our terms. However, for this feature, the manufacturer covered travel costs. This is common in the auto industry, as it's far more economical to ship journalists to cars than to ship cars to journalists. 

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