On Autos: New Buick wagon offers elegant utility

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The 2018 Buick Regal TourX, priced from $29,995, is European-designed a midsize station wagon with standard all-wheel-drive. Photo courtesy of Brady Holt.

When SUVs were booming in the 1990s, Subaru jumped into the craze by dressing its Legacy station wagon into the now-famous Outback. Now that the crossover SUV market is overflowing with options, there are few choices left for shoppers who want a lot of cargo space but not a boxy, high-riding vehicle. To split the difference between these two models, Buick launched the all-new 2018 Regal TourX.

This German-designed, all-wheel-drive, midsize wagon was created by Opel — which was General Motors’ European division. Priced from $29,995, the Regal TourX is styled like a premium European car, paying no homage to the famous Buick station wagons of the 1970s and 1980s. And while it doesn’t drive like an Audi, it manages to blend a smooth, quiet ride with contemporary handling agility.

Aside from the looks, the TourX also distinguishes itself from the Outback for its peppy engine. A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, the Buick provides 250 horsepower as standard equipment compared to 175 horsepower for the Outback. Even if you aren’t a speed demon, you’ll appreciate that the Regal accelerates effortlessly and more quietly than the Subaru.

The 2018 Buick Regal TourX combines a spacious interior with elegantly restrained exterior styling.
Photo courtesy of Brady Holt.

Furthermore, the TourX features a usefully interior with comfortable seats and a roomy cargo hold. And its rear seat folds easily flat to provide a generous 73 cubic feet of total cargo capacity. If you don’t need quite so much space, Buick also sells a less-expensive Regal called the Sportback — a five-door hatchback styled like a sedan.

Both Regal versions have their downsides. In particular, though they look suitably upscale on the outside, the cabins are more dated and humdrum. Utility-grade leather upholstery, hard plastics, old-looking gauges, and instrument panels cast aside any comparison to an Audi. And some luxury features aren’t available.

Even the Outback feels richer on the inside, though the Regal’s extra-supportive front seats are appealing. The Regal TourX is several thousand dollars more expensive than the Outback, offers less high-tech safety gear, and saves other such technology for the priciest version.

Lastly, the Regal TourX’s EPA-estimated 24 mpg in mixed driving trails the four-cylinder Outback’s. And while it edges out the six-cylinder Outback version, the Subaru drinks less-expensive regular fuel than the Buick’s premium.

If you’re interested in the TourX or Outback, don’t write off one of the many excellent crossovers, which can increasingly compete with cars’ driving dynamics, fuel economy, and value. The Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue are two excellent affordable models with tons of interior space. But the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Edge, and Nissan Murano are worthy options if you prefer extra polish and luxury.

If you want to see more photos of the tested 2018 Buick Regal TourX, you can visit Brady Holt’s facebook page. Brady Holt also writes weekly car reviews, too.