2018 Buick Regal TourX Essence AWD Review

The only true American station wagon


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Unique design that stands out, potent engine, big cargo capacity, very non-Buick in terms of looks and purpose.
Negatives: Poor ground clearance for an AWD wagon, cheesy fake tailpipes, sluggish transmission, tiny buttons and fonts, lacks driving verve.
Bottom Line: The TourX is a bit of a disappointment for a segment we love. While it's good to see Buick bringing something new into its mix that increases brand appeal, the driving experience is lacking. But for those who want space, comfort, and cargo capacity that rivals crossovers, the TourX is a solid choice.
Not many carbuyers would care about the fact that the Tourx is essentially a rebadged Opel (European division of GM). This mid-sized wagon comes as somewhat of a surprise as a Regal iteration (alongside the Regal Sporback hatchback sedan). Rather than compete against the likes of the Audi allroad and the new Volvo V60 Cross Country, the TourX slots in against the Subaru Outback, the wagon segment leader. We drove it for a week to see how it stacks up.
 

Driving Experience

6

 

Based on the TourX's looks, we were hoping for a more exciting stint behind the wheel, but even with the healthy power output, the driving experience was lackluster.

Ride Quality: The ride quality is very good, and the TourX does a fine job of dispatching bumps and gaps.

Acceleration: 0-60 takes about six-and-a-half seconds, which is more than adequate in this segment. The power and torque to all four wheels is solid, but the transmission's downshifting habits are slow even in manual shift mode.

Braking: Brakes are strong and bring the TourX to a stop very well. It could use a bit more brake pedal feel, though.

Steering: Steering response and feel are poor. There's no precision, practically no feedback, and an off-center feel.

Handling: This is not a car to take hard into turns. The tires squeal under duress, and the chassis doesn't feel very stiff.

Technology

6.6

 

The in-car tech is decent overall, but the look and feel of the infotainment system needs work. The fact that GM's robust set of OnStar and Wi-Fi boosts the tech's appeal.

Infotainment System: There's an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and 4G LTE Wi-Fi. Though the screen looks nice, it's almost too fancy with its graphics. Simpler graphics would help drivers navigate its menus quicker.

Controls: Center stack controls for infotainment and climate are pretty good with buttons and knobs. It's the steering wheel controls we hate. Music controls are small and poorly placed.

Styling

8.6

 

Though we wouldn't call the TourX the sexiest wagon around, it certainly bests the Subaru Outback against which it competes. The overall look is both sleek and rugged, and it actually looks better than some of Buick's other models.

Front: Quite possibly the best front end on a modern Buick. The wide black grille is tastefully accented with the brand badge and chrome wing. The lower half of the fascia with the black plastic stays simple and true to the ethos of this semi-rugged wagon.

Rear: There's nothing particularly special about the back, but it remains tasteful with zero chrome and slim, flush ellipsoid tailpipes that look good but are sadly fake. The real exhaust ports are underneath. Carmakers do this to keep the back end free of exhaust residue.

Profile: The long body is elegant with some nicely characteristic fender trim. The greenhouse slopes gently, giving it a more aggressive profile. The hockey-stick body crease is a nice touch, as is the steep angle of the D-pillar.

Cabin: It's pretty dark in here, and though we woudn't call it depressing, it could use some contrast. The center stack design is clean, as is the dash, but the overall look and feel doesn't befit a nearly $40K vehicle. Mazda does a better job for less money. Way too much piano black plastic here, too.

Comfort

8.8

 

The four main seating positions are roomy and comfortable, and the TourX provides a spacious environment but doesn't quite enter the realm of luxury.

Front Seats: The front seats are decently supportive and bolstered. They just look a little dull is all.

Rear Seats: Rear outboard positions have good head and legroom, and the seatbacks have very good contouring. The middle position is poor since it lacks legroom and is too vertical and flat to be comfortable.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The TourX is Buick quiet inside with no errant noises. It remained hushed at highway speeds, as well.

Visibility: Visibility all around is good, even out the back where the raked D-pillars are on the thick side.

Climate: HVAC worked very well, and the big vents delivered plenty of cool air. The automatic climate control system is also very responsive.

Safety

6

 

Neither the Regal Sportback nor the TourX have been crash tested by the IIHS or the NHTSA yet. Optional equipment provides it with solid additional safety measures not covered by the basics of ABS, airbags, traction and stability control.

IIHS Rating: Not tested.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: In Essence trim, the TourX gets automatic headlights, Teen Driver that encourages safe driving with programmable warnings and provides a report card, a tire pressure monitoring system, and a rear vision camera.

Optional Tech: Our test vehicle came with the Driver Confidence Package that upped the safety quotient with features like Rear Park Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert.

Storage/Cargo

9.3

 

If you want to take a road trip in the TourX, fear not. Just because it's a wagon doesn't mean it can't handle a healthy amount of luggage and gear.

Storage Space: Between the center console open cubby, and the retractable compartment under the center stack, there's plenty of accessible cabin storage. The center armrest is a good place to keep mid-sized items out of sight. The door pockets, however, are on the shallow side.

Cargo Room: If you pit the TourX against the class leader Subie Outback, it's about on par in terms of cargo space with three fewer behind the second row and about 0.2 cubic feet more with the seats folded flat at a rather voluminous 73.5 cubic feet. That's quite a bit larger than even the Buick Envision crossover with only 57.3.

Fuel Economy

6.6

 

The TourX is no miser largely because of weight. It's not terribly heavy, but the turbo four and the poor-responding transmission hampers the fuel economy.

Observed: 20.3 mpg

Distance Driven: 109 miles

Driving Factors: Even though there's no Sport mode (which it desperately needs), we still drove it aggressively to try to overcome the transmission's shortcomings. Most of our driving occurred on local roads with about 25% on the highway.

Audio

7.5

 

The upgraded audio system in our tester's Sights and Sounds Package didn't especially wow us. It's decent, but we don't think it warrants the additional $1K for the audio and for a navigation system you'll rarely use.



Final Thoughts

Wagons aren't dead yet, and they still present a great option for those who want something other than a ubiquitous crossover. It's too bad Buick didn't infuse its wagon with more verve. The TourX looks great and provides oodles of room inside, but the way it drives is disappointing. It neither has good ground clearance nor does it perform well, aside from going and stopping. It's not as numbing as the Outback, but it has a long way to go to catch up to Audi, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz.
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