Buyers who want lots of cargo space have no shortage of options these days. The exploding popularity of crossovers ensures that options exist at every size and price.
But if you don’t want an SUV-type vehicle, you have far less of a selection — a handful of minivans if you want something big, and a handful of station wagons if you’d like something smaller.
The latest entry into that narrow niche is the all-new 2018 Buick Regal TourX. Don’t confuse this midsize wagon with the classic Buick barges, which were road-trip staples in the 1970s and 1980s. Today’s Regal comes to the United States from Opel, General Motors’ former European division. It’s available both as the tested TourX wagon and the Sportback five-door liftback.
Standard all-wheel-drive and some black plastic cladding on the outside of the TourX are nods to today’s crossover tastes, as on the Subaru Outback, Volkswagen Golf Alltrack and Audi A4 Allroad.
These three wagons are the Regal TourX’s closest competitors — apart from midsize crossovers like the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano — but the Regal TourX fills its own niche in the market.
Priced from $29,995, the Regal TourX is several thousand dollars more expensive than the Outback or the Golf. But it’s also upscale of the Subaru in several ways, and significantly roomier than the Volkswagen. And it far undercuts the Audi’s base price of $44,500, though the gap shrinks a bit when you consider the A4’s additional standard features.
At a glance, the Regal TourX looks like a premium vehicle. Classy, understated lines give off an Audi-esque vibe. The TourX has slim headlights and taillights and a low roof — a clear contrast to the utility-focused Outback and the boxy economy-car Golf AllTrack.
The Regal TourX also feels moderately upscale on the road, thanks to a smooth, quiet ride and a peppy 250-horsepower four-cylinder engine. Most Outbacks use a fuel-efficient but sluggish 175-horsepower four-cylinder, and its available six-cylinder engine — while smooth and powerful — gets just 22 miles per gallon in mixed driving compared to 24 mpg for the TourX. (The tested TourX beat its EPA ratings to an average of about 27 mpg in mixed driving, using premium fuel.)
The TourX interior is also agreeably spacious. The front seats offer sports-sedan-grade support without feeling confining, and the comfortable rear seat folds flat easily, to reveal a voluminous cargo capacity.
It’s not without drawbacks. Notably, the TourX’s interior feels far downscale of an Audi’s — or even the Outback and Golf’s. The dashboard looks nice enough, though it’s styled more like a nice mainstream car than a contemporary luxury model. Moreover, the materials aren’t outstanding, even for a mainstream family sedan — there are too many basic-feeling plastics, and the optional leather upholstery feels sturdy but in no way posh. The controls are user-friendly, but the gauges and optional navigation system look dated by luxury standards. Even GM’s own Chevrolet Malibu midsize sedan, despite costing much less, feels more upscale than the Regal.
You also won’t find all the high-end features of a contemporary luxury car. Safety gear, such as automatic emergency braking, is offered only on high-end models, and other goodies, such as ventilated seats and digitally-rendered gauges.
Overall, the TourX combines elegant looks with functional interior space, while offering the driving experience of a nice car. Just don’t expect it to feel like a true luxury car, even with prices that can exceed $40,000.
Meanwhile, you can get the looks of a sedan along with five-door versatility from the Regal Sportback. And if you want extra power and agility, the five-door Regal is available in the V6-powered GS trim.
Visit tinyurl.com/regal-18-sentinel to see more photos of the tested 2018 Buick Regal TourX.
Brady Holt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association.