2018 Buick Regal TourX review: Stylish and solid, but not a great value

Starting at $29,070
  • Engine 4 Cylinder Engine, Turbocharged
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • MPG 24 MPG
  • Passenger Capacity 5
  • Body Type Wagons

Roadshow Editors' Rating

7.5 Overall
  • Performance 6
  • Features 8
  • Design 8.5
  • Media 8

The Good The Regal TourX is a handsomely styled wagon, wearing its crossover suspension and cladding well. A smooth ride and Buick's QuietTuning make the cabin a very relaxing place to commute. A surprisingly sophisticated all-wheel drive system is standard.

The Bad The soft suspension and sluggish transmission preclude any sporty driving. The best driver aid tech is only available on the most expensive model.

The Bottom Line The 2018 Regal TourX is easy to like with its laid back performance, stylish exterior and quiet cabin, but Buick's tall wagon is again and again overshadowed by its competition.

Start with a long five-door vehicle, pop on a small lift kit, add some plastic cladding and, Bob's your uncle, you've found a way to make the station wagon appealing to the American SUV buyer. It's not a new formula, but it's the one followed by Buick when introducing the new Regal TourX.

The Regal TourX blends the functional cargo capacity and easily reachable roof rails of a sport wagon with a bit of the ruggedness and off-road capability of a small SUV. However, with just a one-inch lift over the Regal Sportback, this crossover still feels much better suited for on-road performance.

Still, I really enjoy driving the TourX. It's not trying to be sporty, so I just appreciate the relaxed ride and focus on comfort. Plus, I love looking at it; wagons are increasingly rare on US roads these days and, as longroofs go, this is certainly a handsome one.

Design

Usually the addition of suspension stilts and "rugged" cladding ruins a perfectly good wagon, but I'm alright with the TourX's exterior design. The slight one-inch lift doesn't throw off the TourX's silhouette or proportions and the gray plastic cladding actually works well with the Buick's handsome exterior design, especially in sharp contrast with my example's White Frost Tricoat paint.

The TourX's exterior design builds on the slick lines of the Regal Sportback and GS, smoothly transitioning the roofline into the extended hump of the wagon tail. I especially like the bit of chrome trim that stretches all the way from the wing mirrors, over the side windows and into the taillight housings.

The elongated roofline bumps the TourX's total storage space up to 73.5 cubic feet with the rear seats folded, nearly 13 more cubic feet than the Regal Sportback. Behind the rear seats, however, the 33 cubic feet of "trunk" space is only about 1.5 cubic feet more than the Sportback. This proportioning means that the TourX really only has a significant cargo hauling advantage for those who need to haul very bulky items.

Of course, the TourX also has the advantage of easier loading with its traditional vertical hatchback. My top-trim Essence model even features a hands-free power opening system that allows the boot to automatically open with the kick of a foot. There's an easy control knob for setting the opening height of the the hatch, which is helpful when parking in low-ceiling garages or when long items like kayaks are loaded onto the roof rails.

A quiet cabin

Looking inside, the TourX's interior is very well designed, but the materials themselves feel pretty cheap. There are hard plastics all over, which sort of diminishes the appeal of this car's optional leather-trimmed seats and steering wheel.

Behind the scenes, Buick uses its QuietTuning magic to make the TourX more cozy than those cheap materials would imply. By adding sound insulation to the floor, door panels and even the wheels and tires, as well as a smart use of active noise cancellation with the audio system, Buick is using every trick in the book to reduce wind and road noise in the cabin. The result is a more relaxing, premium driving experience, not to mention a quieter platform for the Bose audio system to work from, which makes listening to music more enjoyable.

2018 Buick Regal TourX wagon

The Regal's cabin is well designed, but the materials that make up the interior leave a bit to be desired.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Creature comforts are not in short supply here. My tester features power front seats with optional power lumbar adjustment, heated seating surfaces, a heated steering wheel, dual zone climate controls and more; the TourX at least checks all of the right "premium car" boxes at the Essence trim level.

You can have the TourX with an available panoramic moonroof that adds $1,200 to the bottom line. Mine was not so equipped and I can't say I missed it, but this option can let more light onto the second row, making the wagon feel a bit more spacious.

Handling and suspension

The Regal TourX uses Buick's new five-link rear suspension -- just like every all-wheel-drive Regal variant. The front end rides atop a MacPherson strut suspension. Despite its added inch of ground clearance, the TourX still sits lower to the ground than Subaru's Outback, its most fierce competitor.

The taller ride means that the TourX offers a softer, smoother ride than Regal Sportback and GS models. The TourX easily soaks up road imperfections and feels very comfortable over bumps. The trade-off, however, is less responsive steering. On turn-in, the extra body roll creates just enough of a lag between the wheels and the chassis that the wagon feels sloppy despite pretty good handling and grip once it's settled into a corner. The lack of steering wheel and seat-of-the-pants feel doesn't help.

Then again, not everyone's looking for a bolted-down, sport-tuned drive. For the more relaxed driver, the Regal TourX's comfort and laid-back character more than make up for its less than razor-sharp responsiveness.

2018 Buick Regal TourX wagon

Body roll takes a toll on the responsiveness, but the TourX 5-link rear suspension feels planted once settled into a corner.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Power and economy

Speaking of responsiveness, the standard (and only) powertrain for the TourX is Buick's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, producing 250 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. On paper, that sounds like a decent amount of power for a car of this size, and on the road it sort of is. However, the standard eight-speed automatic transmission is a bit of a killjoy.

The gearbox seems well-tuned for efficiency and smoothness; it's certainly well-matched for the Regal TourX's relaxed handling. However, the transmission is also very slow to downshift for acceleration. This hurts responsiveness and makes the TourX feel sluggish and slow when it's time to pass, merge or otherwise haul ass.

All-wheel drive is standard and fairly sophisticated. At the rear axle, the system uses two electronically controlled clutches which gives the TourX the ability to send torque to a single rear wheel, keeping the wagon moving forward even if the other three wheels have no traction. With its one-inch lift, the TourX gets a little bit of off-road cred, but its capabilities are less "trailblazer" and more "get you home in a snowstorm."

The EPA reckons the Regal TourX will return 21 miles per gallon in the city, 29 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg combined. That's on par with the likes of the much more expensive Audi Allroad and the smaller Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. However, the Subaru Outback again proves to be the TourX's foil with a superior 28-mpg combined estimate.

There's ample power and torque from the turbocharged engine. I just wish the transmission was less of a killjoy.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

IntelliLink Tech

Back in the cabin, you'll find a standard seven-inch version of Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system front and center in the dashboard. My example features the optional eight-inch navigation setup that comes as part of a Sights and Sounds upgrade package for $1,095.

Either way, IntelliLink features pretty rudimentary graphics and, in this case, maps. The whole system really feels dated. However, the bones are still good, with solid menu organization and a few new features added to keep up with the times.

The home screen is an icon-based affair that's easy to read and tap. Digging into the various functions, IntelliLink features a shortcut bar along the top of the screen with shortcuts to the five most commonly accessed features. This bit feels well thought-out and makes navigating the software an easy, intuitive process.

Audio sources include USB, Bluetooth and HD and satellite radio. There are even a few onboard audio streaming apps -- Fox Sports, Pandora Radio and more -- that take advantage of IntelliLink's 4G LTE data connection. A subscription is required to maintain that data connection, but a few months' trial is included out of the box. Data can also be shared with passengers' mobile devices via the Buick's Wi-Fi hotspot.

If, after all of that, you're still not impressed, there's also standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. I tend to default to plugging in my smartphone because that's where all of my apps, destinations and data live. However, here I highly recommend it because higher resolution graphics supplied by your smartphone better highlight the large display and just look better than the low-resolution OEM software.

Beyond IntelliLink, the Buick's cabin is home to a plethora of USB ports (including two charging ports on the second row). My example also features an optional wireless charging slot that comes as part of a Driver Confidence package. That said, I'd prefer a charging pad to the slot, as larger phones or bulky cases may prove a tight fit.

Driver aid systems

A rear camera is standard on the Regal TourX -- as it is on all new cars in 2018 -- which aids in parking safety. There are also a host of features aimed at monitoring teen drivers.

To get more advanced technologies, you'll first have to consider the aforementioned Driver Confidence Package ($1,725), which adds the ultrasonic rear sensors that power the rear proximity detectors when parking, rear cross traffic alert when reversing and blind spot monitoring system on the highway. This package also adds a few unrelated comfort features like the aforementioned wireless phone charging, memory for the power seats and mirrors, power lumbar adjustment and more.

Next is the Driver Confidence Package II ($1,190). My example is not so-equipped, but this package adds adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert with automatic braking and pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist and more.

It's not very sporty, but I really enjoy the quiet and laid-back TourX. It's too bad it has to live in the Subaru Outback's shadow.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Pricing and competition

The 2018 Buick Regal TourX starts at $30,990 for the base 1SV model, including a $995 destination charge. However, if you want access to the best driver aid tech, you'll have to step up to the $36,015 Essence model to gain access to both Driver Confidence packages. Add those and the Sights and Sounds package to reach a recommended price of $40,005.

If you're feeling fancy, add $995 for the White Frost Tricoat paint. It looks nice, but not really worth the money, to my eyes.

But once again, I consider the Subaru Outback. The Outback Touring is better suited for off-road driving, it's more fuel efficient on tarmac and offers driver aid and cabin tech comparable to what you get in a loaded TourX Essence for about $2,000 less.

For $40,000, the Regal TourX feels a bit pricey for a car with an interior that feels so low rent. The TourX checks a lot of the right boxes and has a lot of features, but the execution feels just short of the premium price. Smarter packaging, or making the driver aid features available at the lower Preferred trim level, would go a long way toward improving the value of this ride.

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