Road Test Review – 2019 Buick Regal TourX Essence – By Carl Malek

When Buick first unveiled the revamped Buick Regal a few years ago, the liftback’s lines reflected the current styling trends embraced by some of its European competitors, while also cementing its quest to bring the Regal even more upmarket. Imagine our surprise when Buick also revealed the all new TourX wagon after a several decade absence from the segment. The TourX is far different from the lumbering Caprice based Roadmaster Estate that defined Buick’s prior attempt at the station wagon, and the TourX aims to trade bulk and pillow-esque isolation for a more involved driving experience that still aims to deliver luxury and capability in a CUV dominated world. But can the TourX stand out in a crowded segment that not only has entrants from many of its rivals, but also internal competition from GM’s rapid push towards adding more SUV and CUV entries into the core lineups of its respective brands? (Buick included.) We were eager to find out.


Station Wagon Form Channels Family Identity:

The TourX was created for those that want more space from their purchase, but don’t want to buy a bigger CUV offering. With this author actually fitting into this customer bracket, we were pleased to see that the TourX does a very good job of being a modern interpretation of a proper Buick family car. Wheras the Roadmaster was a giant yacht that wore its outlandish proportions and accompanying wood grain accents like badges of honor, the TourX adopts a much more athletic suit of clothes that was crafted by the needs of a new generation of buyers. Like other modern Buicks, the TourX is a rebadged Opel Insignia, with the Country Tourer in particular having its turn under the rebadging knife. As is the case with recent wagon models, Buick wanted to try and give the TourX a bit more capability, and has added copious amounts of black plastic cladding to help protect vulnerable areas of the car from debris. The TourX was also given a slight lift in ride height, though look for this to mainly benefit driving in slippery terrain and light gravel roads versus being a more comprehensive solution for rock crawling and difficult trails.

For those wondering how the TourX has still managed to be in production following GM’s sale of Opel to PSA group in 2017, that’s due to a provision in the deal signed by the two firms which requires PSA to supply Regals from Opel’s plant in Russelsheim, Germany. The provision also applies to other Opel sourced Buicks including the Encore, and even the soon to be axed Cascada convertible. Moving back to our sleek tester, we like the way the wagon form naturally fits onto the platform, with the front fascia embodying its strong Regal family ties. The side profile is very tidy, and it leads out to the handsome rear fascia. We like some of the design touches on display here, with the bold character line cutting its way through the lower portion of the rear doors, which helps give the car a slightly sporty appearance. The low slung look makes the TourX look like its ready for action, but some of the finer details might not be what they seem to appear at first glance. For example, the integrated rear exhaust tips are fake, with the actual pipes being hidden away underneath the car. We will give Buick a pass here since many of its rivals also employ the same visual illusion, and this magician’s secret is only noticeable to keen observers, versus the bulk of the driving public.

When compared with some of its rivals, the TourX is a handsome offering, but it cannot quite measure up aesthetically against more established fare like the Subaru Outback, and even more premium flavored rivals like the Audi A4 Allroad and the Volvo V60 Cross Country. That said, it is still a strong showing for the Buick, and we will give the brand’s designers some props for working with the source material that they had available, and making a stylish alternative to mainstream CUV and SUV offerings as a result.


Cost Cutting And Bean Counter Inspired Vibes Tarnish Capable Interior:

When it comes to the interior of the TourX, a good chunk of its DNA is shared with the Regal liftback. Like other modern Buicks, the design is crisp and it has a minor athletic undertone to its luxurious intentions. We liked the leather seats in our Essence grade tester, which had healthy amounts of lumbar and lower back support. While these seats pale in comparison to the more aggressive thrones in the Regal GS, the amount of comfort and long haul support on hand here should please a wide range of buyer tastes, and help make the TourX an interesting road trip companion. The gauge design is aging somewhat, (they are still very reminiscent of the units on our out of production 2013 Verano turbo.) but the instruments still help enhance the TourX’s spirted personality, and even feature warm backlighting during nighttime driving.

The interior also features several thoughtful items to help enhance its versatility. These include rear mounted switches in the cargo area to automatically fold down the rear seats, as well as tie downs that slide along an integrated track in the floor While the rear seats are comfortable for most passengers, folding them down really allows the TourX to shine as a cargo hauler, and the 74 cubic feet of space that is created allows the car to haul a wide array of loads (even some that might surprise you.) Oh and did we mention that this is more cubic feet than the bigger and decidedly more expensive Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon?


The infotainment system builds on this by offering newfound levels of connectivity, with optional Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability along with an available WiFi hotspot. The screen looks pretty slick, and many controls and menus are logically placed. However, the infotainment system also serves to highlight some of the evident cost cutting that exists in the TourX. These include hard plastics for dashboard, cheap looking carpet in the loading area, and some switches and controls lacking the state of the art charm that is a common sight in the TourX’s European rivals. Instead, it is more reminiscent of what is seen in a Subaru product, which further reinforces the TourX’s role as an Outback fighter versus targeting Audi’s and Volvos.

While we understand the reasons for the bulk of this cost cutting, this fact might not sit well with some brand loyalists, especially considering that Buick’s aspirations at being an entry level luxury brand (versus Subie’s more mainstream focused approach) comes with the expectation that higher material quality for your dollar will accompany anything with the tri-shield badge. As such, these key buyers may be a bit turned off by what the TourX brings to the table.


Performance And Ruggedness That Has Subaru In Its Crosshairs:

Taking on a segment benchmark like Subaru requires hardware that can go above and beyond in surpassing the bar that the fore-mentioned Japanese bar has set. In the case of the TourX, it comes from the venerable 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder that has seen duty in numerous GM offerings. In the case of the Buick, it brings 250 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque to the party, which allows the TourX to have spirited acceleration, with the sprint to 60 mph being completed in a brisk 6.4 seconds. An eight speed automatic is the sole transmission choice available for now, but while Buick admits that it is a stop gap measure until the nine-speed automatic can be incorporated into it. The eight speed lacks a lot of the precision we have come to expect from other eight speeds, with the unit in our tester being too eager to upshift. This caused the engine to commonly lug below 2,000 rpm in seventh or eighth gear as if it is under the influence of some kind of eco mode.

The transmission does not come bundled with this green focused mode, nor a sport mode for that matter, and thus it forced us to utilize manual mode to finish our performance tests and get our best numbers. Manual shifts are done with the gear selector versus steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, and while it is an improvement, shifts still felt muted, and we wished there was indeed a sport mode for those looking to squeeze a bit more fun out of the 2.0 lite


Along with the transmission woes, it is also evident that the TourX engineers still need to go back to the drawing board in a few areas. A prominent one is the amount of ground clearance that the TourX has on hand. The Outback for comparison has 8.7 inches of clearance, which is three more than the TourX’s 5.7 inches. Unlike the Subaru, Buick engineers achieved the bulk of the “lift” by fitting taller 235/50-R18 Continental tires versus the 245/45-R18 rubber that adorns other Regal models. Even the marginally taller springs do little to hide the fact that the TourX is no taller than a standard issue Toyota Camry. A brief trek through a small pockmarked trail revealed that the suspension goes to its bump stops, and also produced groans and noises that discouraged us from venturing to our far more challenging off-road driving route in Bruce Township.

Handling is another glaring area that needs work, with the steering in our tester feeling too light and lacking some of the road feel that we have come to expect from a vehicle of its type. Turn-in is slow, and a big dead spot on-center forces drivers to take their time, and let the suspension fully compress before the steering builds enough weight for it to compensate for that. Despite its light 3,747 lb curb weight, we also noticed occasions where our tester lacked body stiffness, with vibrations working their way through the steering wheel and front seat when traversing rougher sections of our daily commute. Braking in our tester fared much better with the TourX boasting shorter stopping distances than the Subaru.


Value Quotient:

The pricing of our tester reflected the split personality that exists within the TourX model family. Base TourX models start at $29,970, which is relatively inexpensive for a family oriented vehicle especially one that comes with an impressive amount of standard equipment. A base Essence model like our tester on the other hand is a much more expensive proposition with a base price of $35,995. This particular trim is also the only way to get leather seats, adaptive cruise control, and the bulk of the advanced safety features that the TourX has. Our fully loaded tester had a final MSRP of just over $42,000 which is before taxes and fees. Skipping a trim level to the Preferred model doesn’t help much, with that model starting at $33,595 which brings Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality to the model.

This pricing ladder puts it in lock step with six cylinder Outback models, and the 18.4 psi of boost that is swallowed by the Buick’s four cylinder puts it only six horsepower behind the 3.6 liter flat six cylinder engine. The maligned eight speed is also dynamically better than the CVT which hobbles the Outback in more dynamic driving, and costs it a half second in the 0 to 60 sprint. Other competitors include select flavors of the Audi A4 Allroad, the Volvo V60 Cross Country, as well as smaller CUV entries.


Taken at face value, the 2019 Buick Regal TourX is certainly a compelling alternative to mainstream SUV and CUV models thanks to its unique blend of sport inspired style, impressive capability, and its value focused pricing. We look forward to seeing if the nine speed automatic helps cure some of the TourX’s transmission woes when it eventually makes its way to the TourX in 2020. Especially since we think that it can really help synergize the TourX’s mission, and allow it to build upon the already strong sales numbers that it has managed to achieve during its short time in production. As for whether it will indeed replace the Verano in our personal fleet one day, we certainly think it has a fighting chance.