2018 Buick Regal TourX Review
Liz Kim | Aug 01, 2018
IntroductionThe primary difference between a station wagon and a crossover SUV is the vehicle’s ride height.
Both station wagons and crossovers are based on car architectures, both are typically available with all-wheel drive (AWD), and both offer a big cargo area behind the back seat that is larger and more useful than the trunk of a sedan. But crossover SUVs usually sit up higher and are easier to get into and out of while providing better visibility down the road.
Additionally, ground clearance makes a difference. For example, the Subaru Outback, one of the original modern crossovers, is essentially a Legacy station wagon sitting high off the ground and offering 8.7 inches of ground clearance.
Meanwhile, the new 2018 Buick Regal TourX, which is styled and packaged to compete with the successful Subaru, sits relatively low to the ground and supplies just under 5.8 inches of ground clearance.
My point is this: crossover SUVs essentially take the same recipe used to create a station wagon, raise the seating and ride heights, make AWD an option, and add some extra ground clearance. The result is simply a taller vehicle than a station wagon, which is what the new Regal TourX is.
Wagons have been out of vogue for a while, but there’s really no reason for it. Clearly, people want this type of vehicle. And now that everyone drives a crossover SUV, perhaps wagons will regain their 1970s popularity. If that happens, the new Buick Regal TourX makes a compelling case for Americans seeking a different kind of utility vehicle.
For this review, we evaluated a 2018 Buick Regal TourX Essence equipped with the Driver Confidence Package 1, Sights and Sounds package, panoramic sunroof, and roof rack cross bars. The price came to $40,705, including the $925 destination charge.
What Owners SayBefore we discuss the results of our evaluation of the 2018 Buick Regal TourX, it’s helpful to understand who buys the Regal, and what they like most and least about it.
Compared with the Midsize Car segment, Regal buyers—including the sedan, and new Sportback and TourX models—are overwhelmingly men (75% vs. 61%). They’re also much older (65 years of age vs. 55), and enjoy a higher median annual household income ($108,929 vs. $86,689). Most identify themselves as practical buyers (47% vs. 35%), but, likely due to the Regal’s reputation for enjoyable driving dynamics, 29% of Regal buyers call themselves performance buyers (vs. 11% for the segment).
Overwhelmingly, Regal buyers prefer to buy a vehicle from a domestic company (89%). This, despite the fact that the car is made by Opel in Germany, and Opel is no longer a General Motors brand.
Regal buyers are less likely to agree that they avoid vehicles with high maintenance costs (83% vs. 92%), and are less likely to agree that their first consideration when choosing a new vehicle is miles per gallon (53% vs. 74%). They are also less interested in paying extra for environmentally friendly vehicles (44% vs. 58%).
People who buy the Buick Regal are more likely to characterize themselves as someone whose family and friends think of them as a person who knows a great deal about autos (67% vs. 58%). Regal buyers like a vehicle with responsive handling and powerful acceleration (94% vs. 89%), and one that stands out from the crowd (96% vs. 71%).
To Regal buyers, a car is not just a way of getting from place to place. Only 27% agree with that assertion, compared with 47% of all Midsize Car buyers.
Buyers say their favorite things about the previous Regal are (in descending order) the exterior styling, driving dynamics, engine/transmission, interior design, and seats. Buyers indicate their least favorite things about the previous Regal are (in descending order) the infotainment system, storage and space, visibility and safety, climate system, and fuel economy.
What Our Expert SaysIn the sections that follow, our expert provides her own assessment of how the 2018 Buick Regal TourX performs in each of the 10 categories that comprise the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.SM
ExteriorBuick’s been creating some pretty terrific looking vehicles as of late. The entire Regal line, for example, draws the eye and suggests that this is more than just another midsize car.
The TourX’s wagon body style sits closer to the ground than a crossover. This inherently gives it a more athletic appearance. Go check out pictures of the Buick Encore, and even the Buick Envision, and you’ll see that being tall and narrow doesn’t do a car any favors when it comes to overall proportions.
I’m not a fan of the TourX’s lower cladding or the curiously tall roof rack crossbars, but there’s no disputing that the TourX is a handsome vehicle.
InteriorTastefully subdued, the Regal TourX’s cabin contains little in the way of overbearing brightwork and detailing, looking more Teutonic than American. This is not a mistake, given its provenance as an Opel Insignia, designed and built in Germany and rebadged for American consumption.
Unfortunately, the materials and their glossy appearance looked and felt cheap. This is to be expected in a vehicle that costs less than $30,000, but in my test vehicle, priced above $40,000, it seemed like egregious cost cutting.
SeatsFor the Regal TourX, Buick provides front seats with plenty of side bolstering and thigh support. During a heat wave, I wished for ventilated front seats, but they’re not available at any price. The rear seat was quite spacious for knees and feet, but a bit too narrow to accommodate three full-size adults.
The hot, sunny days also produced complaints from the kiddos about the lack of rear sunshades and tinted windows, as the intense rays baked the all-black interior and seared shorts-clad legs. The huge panoramic sunroof didn’t help to keep the cabin cool, but while the TourX lacked a third climate zone it did supply air conditioning vents for rear passengers.
Climate Control SystemThe TourX’s climate control system is simple to use, with two knobs and just a few buttons to manage everything. It seemed to take a long time to cool down the cabin, but on such savagely hot days, few cars, if any, could provide instant relief.
Infotainment SystemInformation and entertainment functions are contained within Buick’s Intellilink technology, which is basically a re-skinned version of Chevrolet’s MyLink system.
This is a very good thing, as it’s easy and intuitive to use, supplies clear graphics, and offers speedy start-up and input response. A central power/volume knob controls the radio, and is flanked by tuning buttons, a ‘Home’ button, and a ‘Back’ button. Everything else is operated through the 8-inch touch-screen display.
Intellilink includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone projection, OnStar subscription services, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, and Teen Driver technology. They’re all free, but after the first month you’ll need to pay extra for OnStar and Wi-Fi.
Storage and SpaceWagons (and crossovers) exist to provide extra storage and space, and the Regal TourX doesn’t disappoint. Behind the rear seats, 32.7 cu. ft. of space is available. Fold them down to access 73.5 cu. ft. Those numbers are comparable to midsize crossovers, and especially the TourX’s target competitor, the Subaru Outback.
With Essence trim the TourX’s rear seats are split 40/20/40 for greater flexibility when it comes to carrying cargo and people. In base and Preferred spec, the seat is a 60/40 design.
Curiously, Buick provides three cupholders in the center console. I suppose that provides extra flexibility with regard to what space gets used for storage. Don’t look for extra space in the bin under the center armrest, because it is rather small. That leaves you with the glove box or the decently sized door panel trays.
Visibility and SafetyWith a sloping hood and thin pillars all around, the TourX provides the driver with excellent visibility all around. A standard reversing camera and available rear parking-assist sensors also help, as does the optional blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert and lane-change assist functions.
While neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have performed crash tests on the 2018 Regal TourX, the hope is that active safety technologies like forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and lane-keeping assist will keep you from getting into a collision in the first place.
Unfortunately, these features are only available on the highest trim level, the Essence, and cannot be added on any other versions of the car.
Engine/TransmissionA turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 250 horsepower powers the Regal TourX, and an 8-speed automatic transmission gets the power to the ground through an active twin-clutch AWD system.
Acceleration was a delight, the transmission crisply shifting to the correct gear to provide generous and turbo-lag-free propulsion across the rev range. In fact, the turbo 2.0-liter is good enough to move this Buick from zero to 60 mph in about 6.5 seconds, according to third-party publications.
Fuel EconomyOut on my testing loop, the Regal TourX returned 21.9 mpg, falling short of the 24 mpg the EPA says I should have gotten in combined driving. However, it is worth noting that extreme heat blanketed the region, and the TourX’s air conditioning was blasting at ‘full ice mode’ the entire time.
Driving DynamicsThe TourX’s Opel roots were readily apparent in terms of this wagon’s driving characteristics.
At once the ride proved nice and compliant around town and over bumpy pavement, then showed its sporting intentions in the sets of S-curves in my local mountain range. Fun to hustle down a road, the Regal TourX rotates gracefully and with minimum body movement. The brakes were stout, too, and easy to modulate. But the steering seemed rather slow in an otherwise sharply tuned vehicle.
Taller cars usually have a higher center of gravity, so the TourX felt nice and low to the ground, meaning that the tippy feeling common to many crossovers was absent in this car.
Though the TourX has an AWD system, I didn’t have a chance to test its capabilities. No rain, no snow, and no off-roading, especially in light of its meager 5.8 inches of ground clearance.
Final ImpressionsIn the Buick Regal TourX, you get just as much utility and space as a midsize, 5-passenger crossover SUV, but without the popularity tax. It costs less than Buick’s own Envision (made in China), and the Envision is also much smaller inside (57.3 cu. ft. of cargo space with the rear seats folded).
What the Regal TourX can’t supply is the tall ride height and higher ground clearance that most crossovers supply. Due to that more than anything else, the TourX is unlikely to shift the consumer tide away from crossovers and toward station wagons any time soon.
But for those tired of seeing the same types of vehicles clogging American parking lots and freeways, or folks who simply prefer the more stable and engaging driving dynamics of a car, the Regal TourX makes all kinds of sense.
General Motors supplied the vehicle used for this 2018 Buick Regal TourX review.
Subscribe to the J.D. Power Newsletter
You are now subscribed to the J.D. Power Cars Newsletter.
Explore new car previews
2020 Mazda CX-30 Preview
Read the full review
Based on the redesigned Mazda 3 platform, the new 2020 Mazda CX-30 is larger and more sophisticated than a Mazda CX-3, but smaller and sportier than a Mazda CX-5.
2020 Subaru Outback Preview
Read the full review
Introduced at the 2019 New York International Auto Show, the 2020 Subaru Outback has been optimized to offer better fuel efficiency, a quieter and safer ride, boosted technology, and turbocharged power, which is something Subaru hasn’t given its Outback in over ten years.
2020 Toyota Supra Preview
Read the full review
Developed in partnership with BMW, the 2020 Toyota Supra is set to debuts in the summer of 2019. It is a cousin to the recently introduced third-generation BMW Z4.