by Roger Biermann
Station wagons in the US aren't exactly a dime a dozen, which makes it all the more special when they do come along. Buick's answer to the wagon comes in the particularly stylish Regal TourX, a lifted crossover wagon designed to appeal to the crossover-crazed market, despite being offered alongside sedan and sportback siblings. Introduced in the US for 2018, it's essentially a rebadged Opel from Germany, but the TourX is unique in that it marks the first time Buick has offered a station wagon in the last 22 years - the Buick Roadmaster back in 1996 was the last. Competing in the midsize segment, the Regal TourX has it difficult, with the Subaru Outback, Volvo V60 Cross Country, and Audi A4 Allroad all being viable rivals. Wading into battle against esteemed company, it's powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine flexing outputs of 250 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque - routed to the intelligent all-wheel-drivetrain via a standard eight-speed automatic transmission. The TourX features a rugged aesthetic and a raised suspension meant to accord it an off-road edge, but in reality, its more purpose-built rivals offer far greater go-anywhere capability. Fortunately, it's got style and practicality on its side, making it the ultimate urban family warrior.
With the TourX still fresh after just a year on the market, Buick has left the recipe as is, save for a single minor change. A new piece of optional equipment has been added to the order list in the form of the air ionizer for the climate control system.
The appearance of the TourX is a mix between that of a typical station-wagon and compact SUV, with its svelte silhouette underscored by its black-clad lower skirtings and wheel arches. Halogen headlights and daytime running lights are standard across the lineup, along with front and rear fog lamps and LED taillights. All models ride on 18-inch machine-faced aluminum wheels with painted pockets.
At 196.3 inches in overall length, the Regal TourX is 3.4-inches longer than the Regal Sportback from which it's derived. Both are 73.3 inches in width, but with the TourX's raised suspension it's 1.1 inches taller with a height of 58.4 inches. Subsequently, it also rides higher from the ground with a clearance of 5.8 inches, which is relatively meager in comparison to the Subaru Outback's clearance of 8.7 inches. With curb weights ranging from 3,708 lbs in the base TourX to 3,849 lbs in the Essence, the TourX is on par with the rest of the crossover wagon segment.
Cost-inclusive exterior color options are limited to only Summit White for the base TourX with Sport Red available for the Preferred and Essence. For $495 the Preferred and Essence can be optioned in any of the metallic hues, including Rioja Red, Dark Moon Blue, or Smoked Pearl, while the base model only gets the option of Ebony Twilight and Quicksilver. There is also a White Frost Tricoat available for those same models at an additional cost of $1,095. In our opinion, the TourX looks best in the Quicksilver Metallic as it complements the machine-faced alloy wheels and accentuates the sharp contours on its side profile, while contrasting with its black body cladding.
In terms of performance, the Regal TourX is no more a crossover SUV than it is a regular wagon, with some body cladding; while its 0-60 mph time of 6.3 seconds is decent, the Volvo V60 is quicker, blitzing from 0-60 mph in just 5.7 seconds. And while Buick has geared the Regal TourX with a raised suspension and intelligent AWD system for a moderate level of off-road capability, it's still relatively limited in the regard, with the Subaru Outback boasting a clearance of 8.7 inches over the TourX's 5.8. With the lineup's available tow hitch option equipped, the Regal TourX is availed with a maximum towing capacity of only 1,000 pounds which is bested by both the V60's capability of 2,000 lbs and the Subaru Outbacks 2,700-lb rating. The V60 is sold as FWD in regular form, but the Cross Country against which the TourX faces off, is strictly AWD
A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder powers the TourX's AWD system with outputs of 250 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, which are directed via an eight-speed shiftable automatic transmission. While the powertrain and its figures may look good on paper, especially when compared to either of the Subaru Outback's powertrains, in reality, its a rather mediocre composition.
It's decent enough on initial pull-off, but sluggish throttle programming means the throttle is halfway pinned to the floor before the turbo wakes from its slumber. Once awake, it's a pretty smooth affair, passing and getting up to highway speeds without much fuss. It's let down by the eight-speed automatic gearbox, though, which is too slow to shift and too readily engages a higher gear - chasing economy at the expense of lugging the engine. Fortunately, there are glimmers of hope, as Buick looks set to phase out the Aisin-sourced eight-speed for the in-house GM nine-speed as they've done in the LaCrosse earlier this year.
With a ride height that is less impressive than most rival crossover wagons, the TourX does have one advantage - a lower center of gravity and improved handling as a result that behaves more like a sedan than an SUV. There's also a trick AWD system from the same company that produced the Focus RS's setup, giving the TourX impressive clout on-road, particularly on slippery surfaces like snow or ice. That's where it ends though, as the lack of ground clearance means that a Subaru Outback will always be vastly superior off the beaten track.
With a distinct bias towards comfort, the Regal TourX remains well-planted on the tarmac, absorbing bumps and divets pretty well, but becoming unsettled by larger bumps that are at odds with the soft suspension setup.
The Regal TourX's gas mileage estimates are relatively average for the segment, with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and eight-speed automatic transmission returning EPA estimates of 21/29/24 mpg city/highway/combined. The Volvo V60 gets 24/36/28 mpg with its more fuel-efficient powertrain option, the Subaru Outback 25/32/28 mpg. With its 16.3-gallon gas tank, the Regal TourX is accorded a maximum range of around 391 miles under varying conditions.
The Regal TourX is commendably well built with a solid feel to the doors and fixtures, and with soft-touch materials covering all of the key touch-points. The overall in-cabin impression is one of subtle elegance with a Sapele-like wood center console featured as standard, which is slightly betrayed, however, by dated-looking chunky buttons and controls. The standard cloth upholstery featured in the TourX and Preferred, and the genuine leather upholstery in the Essence both feel decent in quality. The seats themselves are, however, somewhat firm and on the narrow side, though there's plenty of head and legroom throughout the cabin.
The Regal TourX has adequate seating for up to five occupants in a cabin that's commodious, however, with seats that are only mediocre in comfort and that feel rather narrow. While the seats feature reasonable levels of adjustability, the cushioning in them isn't especially pliable which along with how narrow they are, slightly hinders overall seat comfort, especially for those with wider frames. Cabin room is otherwise ample overall with more than enough head and legroom offered upfront and in the rear. Rearward visibility is somewhat hindered by the wagon's thick C and D pillars, but the wide rear window is, fortunately, a little helpful. Ingress and egress are easy considering the TourX's low roofline, its raised suspension mitigates that, and the doors open pretty wide, too.
The base TourX comes standard with Shale cloth seat upholstery with no customization options, the dash is two-toned with a black upper segment and Shale lower that matches the rest of the cabin. The Preferred gets the option of either Shale or Ebony cloth seat upholstery and along with the Essence, comes standard with a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Essence is the only model available with genuine leather seat upholstery featured in either Shale or Ebony. Buick doesn't offer customization in terms of dash finish and trim inserts, but buyers can opt for the Sport Pedal Kit, which throws in brushed, polished metal pedals with raised rubber traction surfaces.
With its crossover-wagon body style, the Regal TourX offers an admirable level of practicality; behind the rear seats is 32.7 cubic feet of cargo room - enough room for a couple of hiking backpacks, a cooler box, and even a four-man tent. With the 60/40 split-folding rear seats down there's enough room for a bicycle or two, although they'll require some careful packing. The Essence offers greater versatility with 40/20/40 split tri-folding rear seats allowing for longer item storage between the rear seats without compromising occupancy of the outboard seats.
As for small-item storage, there's a small center console cabinet ahead of the gear shifter, an open storage tray just behind it, and a moderately sized center armrest cubby as well. There's an admirably sized door side pocket on every door capable of holding large bottles, there are seatback map pockets behind each front seat, and dual cupholders located in the center rear seat backrest.
Features are relatively decent starting from the entry-level trim, the base TourX trim comprising keyless entry and ignition, a tilt and telescoping steering column, a six-way manually-adjustable driver's seat, a four-way manually-adjustable passenger's seat, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, an eight-point digital compass, active noise cancellation, and standard air conditioning. The Preferred is very much preferable, however, featuring a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat with a passenger seat featuring two-way power lumbar controls, as standard. But, for the full experience of what the Regal TourX lineup has to offer, only its Essence can deliver, shipping with remote start, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, an eight-way power-adjustable passenger's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, and 40/20/40 tri-folding rear seats. Standard across the lineup in the way of driver assistance is an integrated rearview camera, cruise control, and teen driver settings. There are options such as lane-keep assist with lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and forward automatic braking, but these are only available via packages, and only from the mid-spec Preferred trim onwards. On the upper two trims, a power-operated sunroof is a standalone option.
Even the base TourX comes standard with an impressive infotainment package, comprising a crisp seven-inch infotainment touchscreen display tethered to an AM/FM stereo and premium seven-speaker audio system. Though somewhat slow in its response to inputs, the system has vast functionality, including both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality as standard along with Bluetooth audio streaming and 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capability for up to seven devices. The top-spec Essence boasts an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, which is optional for the Preferred, along with the option to on-screen navigation and HD radio connectivity. There are two charge-only USB ports in the center console of every Regal TourX. A premium eight-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system is also optional for mid and top-spec trims. Rivals may offer newer tech, but for what it is, the system functions well.
Despite having only been on the market for a couple of years, the Regal TourX has already been the subject of a recall, albeit only one that affected more than 200,000 GM products. In the recall, certain Regals could have an insufficient coating on the rear brake calipers, subsequently reducing braking efficiency and potentially increasing the chances of an accident. With only the single recall and few complaints, J.D. Power accorded the Regal TourX with an above-average predicted reliability rating of four out of five. A new Buick Regal TourX comes with a four-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile transferrable powertrain warranty.
While the NHTSA is yet to evaluate any year model of the Regal TourX for its crashworthiness, the IIHS has only evaluated the 2019 year model in three specific test areas, in which it scored top ratings of Good for all. While that may seem decent, most vehicles are evaluated in a minimum of five specified test areas, so it's hard to tell where the Regal TourX stands relatively in terms of its crashworthiness.
Every Regal TourX comes with an impressive consignment of ten airbags, including front driver and passenger knee airbags. As for standard safety features and driver aids, there's only an integrated rearview camera, cruise control, teen driver settings, electronic stability control, and a ABS with EBD. The Preferred can be optioned with an available Driver Confidence Package I, which equips it with LED headlamps, rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane change alert with blind-spot monitoring. A Driver Confidence Package II is available for the Essence, which comprises advanced adaptive cruise control, forward automatic braking, front pedestrian braking, forward collision alert, following distance indicator, and lane-keep assist with lane departure warning.
It's an uphill battle for wagons to prove their worth against more popular crossovers, with the only manufacturer really selling wagons successfully being Subaru. That makes the TourX's job a difficult one for the Buick brand, and one for which it resorts to trickery in order to complete. It offers no more ground clearance than a Toyota Camry, but an elongated roof and black cladding around the wheel arches immediately give the TourX a gruffer approach that will instantly sway buyers looking for a crossover. Most will never take it off-road in any case, and on-road, the trick AWD system will handle snow and ice with aplomb. You get all the interior volume of a larger wagon, along with a stylish design and impressive levels of functionality - even if the infotainment is dated and most safety features are left to the options list. But the powertrain is lacking, both in gas mileage and in overall efficacy, which puts a severe dampener on the whole thing. While it might be tempting to buy one now, we'd suggest waiting another year or so until Buick equips GM's faultless nine-speed automatic gearbox - that way you'll be getting the best faux-by-four possible from the tri-shield brand. But if you're looking for a proper semi-off-roader, then you'd be better off looking elsewhere.
There's a lot of value offered in the TourX lineup with the base-spec TourX available at an MSRP of $29,070, excluding Buick's $925 destination charge as well as any tax, registration, and licensing fees. The Preferred follows with an MSRP of $32,670 while the Essence gets a sticker price of $35,070. Fully-equipping the TourX Essence with all its available optional packages and standalone features will bump its price up just past the $40,000 mark.
There are three models that comprise the 2019 Regal TourX lineup: Base, Preferred, and at the top of the range, the Essence.
The base TourX is relatively unalterable with only a single set interior and exterior appearance scheme and with no optional packages available to build onto its base selection of standard features. Fortunately, it's reasonably well-equipped, coming standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen installed with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, manual air conditioning, a six-way manually-adjustable driver's seat, four-way manually-adjustable passenger's seat, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, cloth upholstery, and a rearview camera.
In the Preferred version, you'll find a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat with a passenger seat featuring two-way power lumbar controls. At this point, the Regal TourX can also be optioned in a variety of exterior color options, and receives availability to the lineup's selection of optional packages.
The Essence gets a huge raft of upgrades such as remote start, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, an eight-way power-adjustable passenger's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, and 40/20/40 tri-folding rear seats, and comes standard with leather seat upholstery.
Unfortunately, there are no optional packages available for the base TourX with only a few standalone items available including a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, while the Preferred has the most extensive availability to packages.
For the mid-spec Preferred, there's a $1,240 Driver Confidence Package I, which comprises LED headlamps, rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane change alert with side blind-zone alert. There's also a Sights and Sounds Package which, for $1,870, outfits the Preferred with remote vehicle start, an enhanced driver information center, an eight-speaker sound system, navigation, HD radio connectivity, and an eight-speaker Bose audio system.
A $1,190 Driver Confidence Package II can be optioned on the Essence, which includes advanced adaptive cruise control, forward automatic braking, front pedestrian braking, forward collision alert, following distance indicator, and lane-keep assist with lane departure alert.
The simplistic line-up of the TourX severely limits getting a great value for money package, with the mid-spec Preferred getting some benefits such as available safety, but missing out on leather upholstery, dual-zone climate, and advanced collision mitigation systems. For that reason, it' beneficial to go straight to the top of the TourX line-up, as the Essence ensures dual-zone climate control, heated seats, a heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, a standard eight-inch infotainment system, and crucially, access to both the Driver Confidence and Driver Confidence II packages, without which you don't get blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, and lane departure warning - all of which should, admittedly, be standard at this price point.
Despite a starting price of $23,000 less than the Volvo V90 Cross Country, the Regal TourX surprisingly rivals - and in some areas beats - the big Volvo, offering up comparable front and rear passenger space and substantially more cargo volume in its standard configuration, betraying its technical classification as a mid-size vehicle. But practicality and price are where the similarities end, as the Regal's powertrain - despite being almost identical in output to the base V90 - is unrefined and is thirstier than the V90's, while the Swedish offering also gives buyers the option of more powerful engines, albeit at double the Regal's starting price. The Volvo is substantially more luxurious, though, and is loaded with standard safety and tech features the Regal doesn't offer, or in some cases only offers as an option on the top-spec model. Speaking of value for money, the Regal is hugely practical, but if you're after a luxury car with more off-road capability, the V90 is the better buy, even if the price difference makes you feel like crying.
What separates these two vehicles are their significantly different ride and handling traits - where the Regal TourX exhibits more of a penchant for the road, the Outback offers the far more superior off-road capability. In terms of overall performance and on-road ride quality, the TourX is certainly the better of the two, but it's the Outback, with its 8.7-inch ground clearance and well-tuned AWD system, that will get you over the dirt roads and mild off-road courses with poise. Not only is the Outback the more rugged cruiser, but the more capable one in practicality too, offering more cargo volume at the rear and a far greater towing capacity of 2,700 lbs. It'll be the crossover to go for if your vacation home is hidden behind unpredictable rocky roads and shallow crossings. The Outback is the safer vehicle, receiving a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA and a 2019 Top Safety Pick + designation from the IIHS. The TourX rides and handles way more comfortably on-road and is certainly more premium on the inside, making it the better daily driver. But if you're planning on going on true off-road adventures, the Outback is the far more capable pick and the more economical option too.