Mountain Wheels: Buick’s Regal TourX is a new twist on the station wagon theme | SummitDaily.com

Mountain Wheels: Buick’s Regal TourX is a new twist on the station wagon theme

Andy Stonehouse
Mountain Wheels

Is a German-made Buick the Subaru Outback-styled wagon alternative you've been looking for? Strange as it may sound, the new Buick Regal TourX is a pretty credible variation on the long-neglected American station wagon category, an all-wheel-drive, turbo-powered machine with ample interior storage and an intriguing overall demeanor.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the admittedly unusual TourX, Buick's first wagon since the mid-'90s. Fear not — the faux wood paneling and ungainly largesse of those old-time family haulers has gone by the wayside, with a sharp-looking and thoroughly contemporary-styled automobile that might appeal to folks who cannot simply abide yet another Outback on Colorado's increasingly crowded highways.

The sharpness is largely due to the fact that the Regal TourX is a marginally Americanized version of the Opel Insignia Sports Tourer, made in Germany but slightly retooled for U.S. tastes.

The TourX's swept looks put it somewhere between an Audi Allroad, a Mercedes E-Class wagon and a very, very updated version of the old Ford Taurus wagon – which is, to say, a capacious and intriguing machine that doesn't have quite the tall and bulky chunkiness as the new Outbacks have developed.

The new Buick comes with a 250-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo engine with a decent 295 lb.-ft. of torque for your high-altitude or highway-passing needs. The Japanese-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission is occasionally a little burpy on its handoffs, though Buick has promised a domestically made nine-speed in upcoming models to smooth out some of the few complaints about the debut vehicles.

I found the power more than adequate and the overall driving experience quite poised and enjoyable, though the shocks and dampers are a little loud at times over rougher pavement — I drove it absolutely empty of passengers and gear (you can fit an admirable 73.5 cubic feet of cargo inside if you drop the rear seats, or 32.7 cubic feet if you bring rear passengers along) and the space is practically cavernous.

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The U.S. version of the Opel also becomes a moderately off-road-ready machine with a little more ground clearance than its European model, and combined with intelligent, on-demand AWD, the TourX becomes a formidable wintertime cruiser and a decent machine for gravel road camping trips.

Being lower to the ground does make it feel more car-like than crossover-esque, and I enjoyed the whole feeling of a real wagon. Two sets of cargo-management rails in the back, plus roof rails, mean you can also load it up with bike racks, kayaks and all the other bits of your active lifestyle.

Interior design and detailing is attractive but pretty austere, though the TourX's most basic model is also just $29,070, so don't come expecting Audi or Mercedes luxury. There's precious few knobs and switches anywhere, actually, with very simple audio and air conditioning controls, and a single open cupholder in the middle of the console (two more under a sliding tray up front, a concession to American drivers). The armrest console box features just a single USB connection, but also had a drop-in wireless phone charger slot.

Despite the simplicity, things are still pleasant, and with the addition of a full range of options in the vehicle's upscale Essence model, the price tag drifted closer to $42,000 — squarely in Outback territory. Other competitors include the Volvo V60 Cross Country and BMW's 3-Series Sport Wagon.

Essence also brings more leather surfacing and seats, with highlight stitching — and the seats have slightly oversized side bolstering, but it's not stiff or difficult to get in and out of, and felt comfortable during an extended drive.

We really do live in a station wagon desert in modern America, so rolling around in the Regal TourX definitely makes you stand out (I am also looking forward to an upcoming drive in the Jaguar XF Sportbrake, another new European wagon). They've taken the Regal Sportback and added 3.4 inches of overall length, giving the car an interesting and stylish presence.

Mine came equipped with an absolutely gigantic full-body moonroof, which adds to the car's feeling of capacity; other options included a Bose stereo system, Buick's version of the GM touchscreen infotainment system, LED headlamps and the full range of road safety systems (adaptive cruise, lane-keep assist, rear parking assist and rear cross-traffic warnings).