Many automakers are using the term “white space” these days, as each one seems to be trying to find its own special niche with new products.
Such seems to be the case with the new 2018 Buick Regal TourX. It falls more into the wagon category than the SUV or car categories – but don’t call it a wagon. It is positioned as a luxury vehicle, but it doesn’t quite compete with the likes of Audi or BMW.
It’s what Brad Wolf, marketing manager for Buick, calls “obtainable luxury.” It’s the vehicle you look at when you need the functionality of a Subaru but lux-level amenities afforded by an Audi Allroad.
In effect, it sits in the area known as “white space.”
Buick re-imagined the Regal for 2018, replacing the sedan with a sportback, adding a performance GS version and creating a functional (cough) wagon for those who want more utility.
The TourX comes standard with all-wheel drive and offers 73.5 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the first row – more stowage space than many SUVs on the market, and plenty of space to hold a couple bikes.
As Wolf pointed out during a press briefing for the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the target buyer for the TourX will be someone who wants not only the driving dynamics of a car but also the added space and utility of an SUV.
I’ve long been a fan of wagons and hatchbacks for just this reason, and during the test week, I found the TourX to deliver on both capability and drivability.
The TourX is equipped with Regal’s 2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that delivers 250 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.
Even though TourX is longer and heavier than the Sportback, I still thought this was a decent amount of power for this vehicle – especially at highway cruising speeds. Though, wouldn’t it be something if the GS’s V-6 were available in the TourX?
I had a couple of long drives during the test week and found the seats to be comfy and fully appreciated the suspension wasn’t too stiff for all the potholes I encountered.
One of the benefits of the 4-cylinder engine is better fuel economy. EPA estimates TourX will get 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. I found that I was getting better than 30 mpg in highway-only stints, and I ended with a combined average of 24.2 mpg.
The TourX comes with auto stop/start technology, which turns your engine off and mutes your HVAC when you come to a complete stop. The reasoning is that it will give you better fuel economy, but I’ve found in practice that any gains are negligible – especially when there’s a stop sign on every corner in an urban environment.
This is popping up in a lot of new cars these days, but whereas a lot of automakers allow you to turn this feature off, Buick does not. So be sure to give this vehicle a good long test before you buy to see if the auto stop/start is a deal breaker for you. It would be for me.
I really like the styling of the TourX. The long lean lines and low center of gravity make it relatively unique in the marketplace, and in fact, I’d argue that the only similarly styled vehicle is the Jaguar XF Sportbrake, which will cost about $40K more.
Plus, if you’re ever going to use the roof rails, which Buick anticipates TourX owners will, the lower height makes access much easier.
The interior is nicely designed and appointed as well. The test vehicle had leather trimmed seats with reverse stitching, and I fully appreciated the simplicity of the buttons and dials on the center stack.
The TourX, however, suffers from the same problem I had with the Sportback model – the grade of materials used were a bit cheap. They were better than a Subaru, though, and not quite as luxurious as an Audi. So, maybe that’s mission accomplished in Buick’s book.
The TourX will have a similar trim structure to the Sportback with the breakdown as follows:
TourX ($29,995): The base trim comes standard with all-wheel drive and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility as well as 4G LTE, rearview camera, cloth seats, 1 USB port, passive entry and push-button start. There are no packages available at this trim, but you can get features such as blind-spot monitoring and a panoramic sunroof as one-off options.
Preferred ($33,595): This trim adds an 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, auto-dimming rearview mirror and a height-adjustable passenger seat.
Essence ($35,995): At this level, you’ll add a 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat, heated leather wrapped steering wheel, remote start, heated front seats, leather seating surfaces, ambient interior lighting and a hands-free power lift gate.
What irks me about the trim breakdown is that the high-level safety content isn’t offered on the base model. The Driver Confidence Package I is available (read: extra money) starting at the Preferred trim and includes LED headlamps, rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, lane change alert and blind spot monitoring.
The Driver Confidence Package II is only available on the Essence trim, and this includes the really good safety technology such as adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking and lane keep assist. And, you can’t get this package without including the first one. So, if you want all the safety features, you’ll end up spending at least $38,910.
The Bottom Line
If you were in a one-vehicle household, the 2018 Buick Regal TourX would cover the full range of what you might need from easy city parkability to I-need-to-make-a-trip-to-Ikea functionality.
As a Northerner, I also really like the standard AWD.
While I wouldn’t say it’s a joy to drive, the TourX is a solid cruiser. And it offers a lot of amenities – if you’re willing to pay for them.
However, considering that only high-end automakers like Jaguar and Audi or regular automakers like Subaru and Volkswagen are offering what passes for a (cough) wagon, Buick might be well-positioned to snag those buyers who are in the middle.