It wasn't that long ago that American households embraced the station wagon as part of its collective identity, as much a part of the family fabric as the dog. But if minivans beat those humble haulers into retreat in the '80s and '90s, the rise of SUVs and crossovers all but finished them off in the 2000s. In fact, looking around the market today, there really isn't even a single model offered from an American automaker. Ford's aging Flex is probably the closest thing. But that changes this fall, when the 2018 Buick Regal TourX hits dealers.
"[The] Regal TourX is a crossover in the truest sense of the word, with the drive dynamics of a car and the versatility of an SUV," claims Duncan Aldred, vice president of Buick and GMC. On some level, that's true, but more than perhaps every CUV on the market today, this car is quite clearly a wagon at heart -- it only sits some 0.6 inches taller than its five-door Sportback sibling. Regardless of how it's classified, after ogling it at General Motors' Technical Center in Warren, Michigan today, I can tell you that the TourX is quite a looker.
Based heavily on the Opel Insignia Sports Tourer recently introduced for Europe, the TourX will come standard with all-wheel drive, and is solely available with a General Motors 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder offering 250 horsepower and a healthy 295 pound-feet of torque. You can have any transmission you like, so long as it's an eight-speed automatic.
Buick is ambitiously targeting the Audi A4 Allroad, BMW 3 Series Sport Wagon and Volvo V60 Cross Country as the Regal TourX's competitive set, but it's actually a much larger vehicle, spanning 196.3 inches. That's over 9 inches longer than the A4 Allroad, its next biggest rival, and well over 2 feet longer than the BMW. Predictably, that gives the TourX a sizable advantage in cargo space, which maxes out at 73.5 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. Other, less premium cross-shops include the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack and the Subaru Outback, the latter of which is also based on an overseas-only wagon. The Subaru is admittedly assertive about its crossover credentials, and should have significantly more off-road ability than this Buick.
Whatever it actually lines up against, the Regal TourX will be available with a boatload of tech goodies. A 7-inch infotainment screen comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and an 8-inch unit with embedded navigation is also available, as is a Bose premium audio system that includes active noise cancellation. Unusually for the class, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot will also be standard equipment.
On the advanced safety equipment front, all TourX models are fitted with an active hood to curb pedestrian injuries. When an impact of the human kind is detected at between 16-30 mph, a small pyrotechnic charge fires, popping the rear edge of the hood up by 4 inches to cushion the blow. This is technology rarely seen at this end of the market, and it's no doubt appearing here because the Opel Insignia upon which this car is based is designed to meet Euro pedestrian crash standards. In fact, it's worth noting that the TourX will be built in Rüsselsheim, Germany.
Other available active safety features include lane-change and blind-spot alerts, rear cross-traffic alert and rear park assist, all bundled into an options package. A secondary grouping adds automatic pedestrian braking, lane-keep assist, forward collision warning and adaptive cruise with auto brake.
Sadly, the advent of the Regal TourX isn't likely to jumpstart consumers' dormant love affair with the American station wagon. If that was going to occur, it would've happened long ago, perhaps with GM's own Cadillac CTS Wagon or the Dodge Magnum. But that doesn't mean this isn't ground worth covering for Buick. As automakers like Mercedes-Benz have long known, statistically speaking, wagon buyers are both unusually loyal and particularly well-to-do, and those are exactly the types of customers car companies want in their fold.