Nobody seems to want a wagon these days. To solve that, manufacturers take their wagons, add a bit of black plastic around the wheels, jack the ride up a hair and call it a crossover. This is exactly what Buick did with its new Regal TourX, a new crossover with all-wheel drive, a massive cargo area and room for five.
Looking to buy one? Here's what you need to know about it first.
The TourX is massive. It's a full foot longer than Buick's midsize SUV offering, the Envision. It's 16 inches longer than a Honda CR-V. Unless you operate a traveling percussion ensemble, you won't need more room.
It also looks leagues better than just about any other crossover. The body cladding and roof rails add to the active look, but the core design is so handsome that it's hard to notice. I also love the lights, which do a little startup dance as you unlock the car at night. It's the little things that show someone cared about designing this car.
It looks much more expensive than its rivals, but the TourX starts at $29,070. That's nearly $5,000 below the $33,995 starting price of the Buick Envision. Even our loaded tester, at $41,550, is priced far below where premium SUVs kick off.
Of course, there's a debate to be had over whether the TourX is a premium product. If you're judging purely on the driving experience, it makes a strong case. The TourX is well-damped and quiet where rubber meets pavement, with Buick playing to its specialty of whisper-quiet commuting. The transmission is smooth and smart, never making itself noticed and working hard to keep the 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder quiet. The Regal finds itself most at home on the highways, but it's not flummoxed by the occasional corner. You feel in the corners that it's heavy and long, but it isn't uncontrolled or floppy.
As far as user experience goes, I'm once again impressed by Chevy, GMC and Buick's ability to design a user-friendly cabin. There are nice tactile buttons or for essential functions like volume and climate, with everything else being handled by the car's MyLink infotainment system. It's not the prettiest system, but it's easy to learn and use.
The true premium-grade stuff in GM's arsenal is saved for Cadillac. That helps keep Buick prices down, but the interior of the TourX feels much more like an optioned-out Chevy than it does like a bargain Cadillac.
Part of that comes from the company's downright refusal to ditch the dull gray plastic that adorns the cabin, while some of it must be blamed on the fact that mainstream cars are getting incredibly nice inside.
It's not that the Regal isn't nice. It is. It drives like a premium product and it feels seriously solid, but it doesn't offer the most premium equipment set. GM left off top-shelf stuff like cooled seats, a 360-degree camera, any real semi-autonomy or the trick camera-based rear-view mirror that's in the Enclave.
The TourX is wonderful, but it could have been even nicer. Buick could have rolled out higher-quality cabin materials, top-shelf tech and dialed up the price to boot. Wagon buyers tend to be wealthy — Mercedes says the E-Class wagon is bought by more wealthy clients than any other product in their lineup — so Buick may be leaving money on the table by not offering a full-fat luxury experience.
You're paying more for a near-premium driving experience and cabin, so it makes sense to option it up to the standard of an upscale product.
So we'll start with a Regal TourX Essence, which gets you upgraded infotainment, power tailgate, heated seats, ambient lighting and remote start for $35,995. Expect to spend $395 on a color, unless you want a white or red TourX. There's one white tricoat that goes for $995, but that seems like a tough sell against the cheaper and more varied options.
You'll probably want to spend $2,915 to get the Driver Confidence 1 & 2 packages, which get you LED lights, blind spot monitoring, auto-dimming outside mirrors, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and radar cruise control. Should all that prevent one accident, it will have paid for itself in avoiding headaches and increased insurance.
Buick could easily take the TourX further upmarket, since Cadillac doesn't make a competing wagon from which is would peel sales. Given the company's new focus on its luxury sub-brand, Avenir, there's a good chance the Regal TourX gets the treatment sometime in its life cycle.
The TourX is a nice car and a good place to spend time. It's refined and well-mannered, with a driving experience that's good enough to support a higher price tag and a more luxurious interior.
Exterior: 5 stars
Interior: 3 stars
Driving Experience: 4 stars
Value: 5 stars
Overall: 4.5 stars
Price as tested: $41,550