2018 Buick Regal TourX Buying Advice
This is the best car for you if you want a modern take on an American classic. The two words “station wagon” might be anathema to car companies and an SUV-crazed buying public. They appear just once in the press and sales materials for the Buick Regal TourX, a brand-new model for 2018. Instead, Buick brass promotes this midsize four-door wagon as a “crossover in the truest sense of the word, with the drive dynamics of a car and the versatility of an SUV.”
Regardless of what it’s called or how its perceived, we applaud Buick-parent General Motors for offering this sporty wagon in the U.S. The TourX deserves a high spot on your shopping list if you want something that stands apart from a typical crossover SUV but is also very practical, comfortable, and luxurious.
The Regal name is a Buick staple, offered originally from 1973 to 2004 as first rear-wheel-drive then front-wheel-drive midsize sedans, coupes, and yes, wagons. The nameplate returned from hiatus for 2011 as a sedan based on the Insignia produced by GM’s European Opel division. Model-year ’18 marks the debut of the sixth-generation Regal. It’s still built by Opel, although GM has sold that division to PSA Group, a French conglomerate that also produces Citroen and Peugeot. Buick offers the Regal in two body styles, the Sportback, a four-door hatchback, and the TourX four-door wagon. The Sportback comes in front- or all-wheel drive (AWD), the TourX in AWD only.
Should you buy a 2018 model or wait for the 2019?
Buick could introduce an entry-level TourX model with front-wheel drive for model-year 2019. It’ll cost less than its AWD counterparts, but we believe this wagon is best appreciated as a crossover alternative, and that means with AWD. If you agree, buy a 2018 TourX. The ’19 won’t change in any way worth waiting for, though it’s almost certain to cost more. The ’18 TourX comes in Base, mid-line Preferred, and flagship Essence trim levels. All use a turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
Styling: TourX’s Euro-chic design sports an upright grille, slightly stretched headlights, prominent side cutlines, and well-defined haunches. Nothing here would look out of place on a high-end German-branded vehicle of the same type. The elevated ride height and lower body cladding are nods to SUVs. The dark panels around the wheel arches and lower bumpers form a nice contrast with lighter paint hues, but we wish Buick would follow Audi’s lead by giving buyers the option to match them to the body color, even if they need to charge extra for it.
The interior design is more conventional General Motors fare. Materials quality is better than that of most mainstream cars, but the mostly monotone décor falls short of the lofty standards set by Audi and Volvo. The physical gauges are a touch on the small side. A supplementary multi-function display helps balance this. All models come standard with Buick’s intuitive IntelliLink infotainment system with support for Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto. Base and Preferred grades use a 7-inch touchscreen display. Imbedded GPS mapping is optional on the Preferred and Essence. Adding this feature to the Preferred includes an 8-inch screen that’s standard on the Essence. The climate controls are low and recessed into the dashboard, requiring a stretch to reach some of the buttons.
Seat padding is firmer than we expected, but support and comfort are very good all around. Front and rear legroom are plentiful. Visibility is much better than you might expect, especially to the sides. There’s more than enough headroom as well, even beneath the housing of the available panoramic sunroof. Rear-seat occupants get a pair of USB charge points, but oddly, there’s only one up front.
Cargo capacity bests most compact and even some midsize-class crossover SUVs at 32.7 cubic feet behind the rear seatbacks and 73.5 with them folded. Interior storage consists of a nicely sized glovebox and door pockets. Despite a full-length center console up front, its main storage box is tiny, with the USB port taking up more room than it really should. Wireless smartphone charging is available, but early production models used a first-generation system that is incompatible with the technology used on the iPhone 8 and X. Buick is addressing this, but you should verify functionality during your test drive if it’s a feature you intend to use.
Mechanical: All Regal TourX models use a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Output is 250 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, which is right in line with the Audi A4 allroad and BMW 3 Series wagon. It’s also competitive with the six-cylinder Subaru Outback, but it lags the upcoming 2019 Volvo V60 wagon, which will have 316 horsepower. Regal moves with sufficient dispatch from a stop and has more than enough reserves for confident highway passing and merging. GM builds some of the best transmissions in the business, and the included 8-speed automatic is a near-perfect match to the engine.
Standard AWD is a welcome convenience, and it does a fine job of enhancing both dry- and wet-road grip. TourX is not an off-roader; it has just 5.8 inches of ground clearance (the Outback has 8.7). Nor is it as athletic on-road as its German-brand rivals, which we primarily attribute to steering feel that lacks their precision. The Buick is also nearly 10 inches longer overall than the A4 allroad and 3 Series, so it’s a bit more difficult to maneuver in close quarters. Still, there’s little body lean in fast turns, and TourX feels confident on the road.
Ride quality is excellent, with the suspension ably soaking up all but the harshest impacts. Kudos to Buick for sticking with 18-inch wheels and tires rather than the 19s or 20s available on rivals. Quietness is another hallmark, with the engine producing a refined growl during acceleration and fading into near silence at cruising speeds. Wind noise is a non-issue. The tires on our test vehicle exhibited some roar on concrete surfaces, but this should not be a problem for retail purchases. TourX models available at dealers now use a new type of tire with an inner layer of foam designed to reduce that source of noise.
Features: TourX has upscale aspirations, but the Base model is rather spartanly equipped. It has 18-inch wheels, LED daytime running lights, active noise cancelling system, keyless entry with pushbutton ignition, 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, IntelliLink, and GM’s OnStar telematics with built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity. This grade has cloth upholstery, manually adjustable front seats, and a urethane rubber steering wheel.
The Preferred adds a power driver’s seat, height-adjustable front-passenger seat, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Essence models gain rear seatbacks that fold in a 40/20/40 arrangement, remote engine start, leather upholstery, heated front seats and steering wheel, power front-passenger seat, hands-free power rear liftgate, and 8-inch infotainment screen.
Its competitive set includes much more expensive German-brand wagons, but the TourX’s pricing is more in line with that of the six-cylinder Subaru Outback. Including Buick’s $925 destination fee, the Base grade 2018 TourX starts at $29,995, the Preferred at $33,595, and the Essence at $35,995.
Exterior paint colors that are not Summit White or Sport Red will cost $395-$995 extra. A power panoramic sunroof is a $1,200 option for the Preferred and Essence. Most other factory options come in packages that are exclusive to the top two trim levels. Some share names but have slightly different content, depending on which grade you select.
The Sights and Sounds Package is $1,870 on the Preferred and $1,095 on the Essence. For both models, it includes imbedded GPS mapping, HD Radio receiver, and upgraded Bose-brand audio system. The Preferred adds the 8-inch touchscreen display and remote engine start that are standard on the Essence.
The Driver Confidence Package 1 is $1,240 on the Preferred and $1,725 on the Essence. Both grades get full LED headlights, rear-obstacle detection, and blind-spot alert with rear cross-traffic detection. The Essence also includes power lumbar adjustment for the front seats, memory driver seat, auto-dimming driver-side exterior mirror, and wireless smartphone charger.
The only way to get more advanced driver-assistance features is to order the Essence-exclusive Driver Confidence Package 2. For $1,190, you get adaptive radar cruise control, forward-collision warning, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and lane-maintaining automatic steering correction.
Our pick for best value would be a fully equipped TourX Essence, which carries a list price of $41,600. That’s about $2,000 more than a comparably equipped Subaru Outback 3.6R Touring, but it’s also thousands less than the A4 allroad, 3 Series wagon, or V60.
With EPA ratings of 21/29/24 mpg city/highway/combined, the Regal TourX is midpack among direct rivals. In our real-world evaluation, however, the car did significantly better. Our Essence review sample returned an outstanding 30.7 mpg in our usual suburban test loop.
Buick recommends premium-grade 91-octane gasoline for this car. It can run on 87-octane regular with a slight decrease in horsepower and torque.
As this is the first year of a new/redesigned vehicle, we don’t expect Buick to make any significant changes to the Regal TourX until it’s due for a mid-lifecycle freshening, which would be for model-year 2020 or 2021. In the interim, we would like to see some democratization of the driver aids that are currently only available for an extra cost on the flagship trim level.
Audi A4 allroad, BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon, Subaru Outback, Volvo V60 Cross Country