2018 Buick Regal TourX First Drive

The 2018 Buick Regal TourX looks a lot like a station wagon, a body type Buick hasn’t sold since the Roadmaster was discontinued in the ’90s. But a little ride-height lift, some plastic cladding and a smart all-wheel-drive system, and the TourX becomes a “compact crossover” — one of the hottest segments in the market.

This isn’t a new formula: Buick is following in the footsteps of Audi, Subaru, Volkswagen and Volvo, which all have some variation of the Alltrack/Allroad/Crosstrek/Cross Country formula. So what makes the Regal TourX more than just another Alltrek Roadtrack?

So Much Space
The TourX’s biggest trick is its capacious trunk. With 32.7 cubic feet of space with the rear seats up and a maximum of 73.5 cubic feet with the seats folded flat, this not-station wagon can compete with SUVs and blows most of the Trackall competition out of the water. It’s a very usable space, too, with no real liftover and a low, flat load floor.

There’s also lots of space for humans. The back seat is comfortable and offers plenty of leg- and headroom. In fact, as a 6-foot passenger, I had more clearance in the back seat of the TourX than some SUVs. Front passengers, likewise, have plenty of space. Although to my extra-large (but not extra extra-large, let’s be clear) posterior, the front seat cushions felt a bit narrow, with the bolsters pushing against my thighs

Tweener Luxury
In terms of both pricing and trim, the TourX is meant to slot into the white space between competitors. Prices start at that magical sub-$30K mark of $29,995, which is about what you’d pay for a midtier Subaru Outback. Load up the TourX with all the goodies and you’re looking at more than $40,000 (our Essence trim-level tester with extra options came in at $41,550), which is still less than a base Audi A4 Allroad.

Part of Buick’s nearly-a-luxury-car formula is a quiet ride, and the TourX is admirably quiet on the road. Active noise canceling is standard and is supplemented by foam sound insulation that’s been placed in the tires themselves. Whatever the market positioning, the TourX is certainly luxury-car quiet. Beyond that, luxury accoutrements are a matter of trim level.

We drove the top-tier Essence trim, loaded with all the goodies. Most of the touchpoints are coated with leather or soft-touch materials, but there are still plenty of plastics around that could be found in any Chevy, especially the switchgear. It all feels well put together, but there’s no denying that it’s straddling the mainstream/luxury line

The interior design is very clean, with accent lines across the dash and only a handful of buttons on the center console. Basic HVAC controls can be handled via real buttons, but if you’re not the type to leave the climate control on automatic, expect to use the touchscreen to make adjustments. Likewise, the audio controls are limited to a few buttons, with most functions being managed either through the touchscreen or steering-wheel controls.

Fortunately, Buick’s infotainment system runs a version of the MyLink system offered from Chevrolet. It’s a straightforward system that will be easy for any smartphone user to pick up, and it works just as well in the Regal as in any other GM product.

Only one engine is available for the 2018 Buick Regal TourX, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 250 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. All trims come standard with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

That’s solid output, but in the TourX it’s more in service of utility than performance. The eight-speed transmission is slow to respond to driver input, so downshifts don’t come quickly when you ask for more power. Even though the on-road handling is very carlike, the sluggish response from the transmission makes that part of the driving experience reminiscent of larger SUVs.

But on-road performance is only half the equation for a CountryTrek-style car. We had an opportunity to drive the TourX on some “primitive roads,” where loose gravel and hard, washboard dirt abounded. In those conditions, the TourX is a good companion. The suspension soaked up the bumps admirably, making the rough surface tolerable, and the all-wheel-drive system responded quickly in low-traction situations.

So there’s a bit of a trade-off with the TourX. The on-road experience isn’t particularly engaging due to a powertrain that doesn’t feel very responsive. On the other hand, the TourX seems as if it will prove quite able at inclement weather and light off-road duty, and it’ll take a lot of your stuff along for the ride.

EPA estimated fuel economy for the TourX is 24 mpg combined (21 city/29 highway), a bit lackluster for this segment. There are certainly more fuel-efficient options in the Allcountry Crossroad genre.

Pricing and Availability
A base Regal TourX 1SV comes with manually adjustable cloth seats, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and not much else. Of course, all-wheel drive is standard on the TourX, as is all of Buick’s noise-canceling technology. While it lacks equipment, the base model will still be quiet and practical.

The top-tier Essence trim starts at $35,995. For that you get full leather upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable front seats with heating, a 40/20/40-split folding rear bench, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with full smartphone integration and satellite radio, keyless entry and start, and other upgrades to the interior trim. Navigation, a premium audio system and a panoramic moonroof are all optional extras. Active safety features and driver aids are also extras, bundled into option packages, so if you want blind-spot monitoring or automatic emergency braking expect to spend a bit extra.

The 2018 Buick Regal TourX is in dealerships right now. We’ll have a full rating and review soon, so stay tuned for more information.