Huh.

This is the new 2018 Buick Regal TourX:

Whee. (Photo: Buick)

It’s the first Buick wagon since 1996, when the last faux-woodgrain adorned Century and Roadmaster wagons plodded off the assembly lines and into America’s slow lanes. It’s also trying to pretend it’s not a wagon.

Rumors have been rife for some time that there would be a Regal wagon—since the last generation Regal appeared, in fact, although the drumbeat has grown more insistent as the 2018 models have approached. It’s an easy enough move, since the Regal is merely a rebadged Opel Insignia, and there’s always been an Insignia wagon. The question always posed alongside those rumors was whether the wagon would show up in the U.S. in its full Euro glory, or as a plastic-cladded pseudo-crossover.

So now we have our answer. And I’m not sure how to feel.

See, the thing is, I wasn’t lying. When our current “modern” car, a 2014 BMW X1, ages out of its warranty and free maintenance plan (thank god it was CPO—both will last longer than if we had bought it new) it’s bye-bye, BMW, and hopefully back to a real wagon for us. I really would have considered a Regal wagon. I’m not so sure about the TourX.

I’ve had three wagons in the past: a Volvo 850, a BMW 525iAT, and a Volvo V70R that I might rather forget about. The X1 is my first crossover/SUV-type thing, and it was not what we really wanted; the Golf Sportwagen was still months away from showrooms at the time (we would have been shopping TDI, too, so I guess we dodged a bullet), there were no CPO 3-series wagons within our price range, and the transmission on our Passat was going out. The X1 has been perfectly fine for what it is, but it’s too small to be truly useful, and too dynamically compromised for spirited backroad romps—and the wagonesque first-gen X1 is one of the least compromised crossovers out there.

The TourX—and the whole lifted ‘n cladded wagon concept—is unnecessarily compromised. It takes the advantages of a wagon over a crossover and weakens them just enough to make you wistful for what could have been. The handling dulled by a higher center of gravity and lower traction all-season tires; the fuel economy made slightly worse by the added weight and unnecessary complexity of all-wheel drive and the aerodynamic disadvantage of raised ground clearance; the carlike style marred by goofy plastic that will fade and discolor over time. What a waste.

The interior looks fine. Will it at least come in the nice brown that other brands have decided is appropriately “rugged” for lifted wagons? (Photo: Buick)

The problem is, barring some substantial raises for all contributing members of our household (the cats might have to get jobs, too), we’re priced out of most non-raised wagons. The new Volvo V90 and Mercedes E400 are lovely—and the Volvo is available without AWD, which as a Californian I have little use for, plus it comes with a free trip to Europe—and I’m looking forward to seeing the Jaguar XF Sportbrake that we’ve been promised for 2018, but these are all $55,000+ cars. Try finding a 3-series wagon for much less, as far as that goes, and it’s a size class smaller. As for the Volvo V60, well, it’s a little small, a little pricey, a little old, and my mom drives one. Sorry, mom. Let’s see the new one—and see if we get a non-Cross Country version in the U.S.

So compromise will likely be on the menu next time we go car shopping in a couple of years. Considering a Buick in the first place was already a bit of a stretch; can I stretch far enough to consider a TourX? Color me stumped.

Print

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *