by Frank A. Aukofer

There are several clues that the 2018 Buick Regal TourX has its roots in foreign soil, not in the United States. The biggest is that it is a station wagon.

Wait. A Buick station wagon, something we’ve not seen since the big Roadmaster of two decades ago? Yup.

American buyers, who embraced big station wagons for 50 years after World War II as essential family haulers, all but abandoned them after the inventions of the minivan, sport utility vehicle and crossover SUV.

2018 Buick Regal TourX

A notable flop in recent years was the Dodge Magnum, a rear-wheel drive wagon with some performance chops that was introduced as a 2005 model but lasted only until 2008.

Still, a few manufacturers — none of them American — persisted in building wagons, mainly because they continued to be popular in other parts of the world. In Europe, for example, many buyers regard a station wagon as a step up from a traditional sedan, though they too are starting to succumb to the allure of crossover SUVs.

Note that traditional SUVs are based on pickup trucks, with rear- or all-wheel drive and body-on-frame construction. Crossovers usually have front- or all-wheel drive and the unit-body construction of traditional sedans. For example, the Chevrolet Tahoe is an SUV; the Chevy Equinox is a crossover.

2018 Buick Regal TourX

Yet despite the fact that some foreign manufacturers — Honda, Mazda, Hyundai and Subaru — tested the U.S. market with wagons, all of them fizzled. Subaru finessed the situation by converting its Legacy wagon into the Outback by jacking it up for better ground clearance and calling it a crossover SUV. Currently, a few lonely automakers still persist here with wagons, including Sweden’s Volvo and Germany’s Audi, BMW and Volkswagen.

So, the Buick Regal TourX comes as something of a surprise, especially coming in the tire tracks of the Regal Sportback, a four-door hatchback with fastback styling that resembles the Audi A5 and A7, as well as the new Kia Stinger.

As with many automobiles in an industry that has become globalized, the Regal TourX is an ethnic amalgam. Based on the Opel Insignia, it is built in Germany with a U.S. engine and a Japanese transmission. Only about a quarter of its components come from the U.S. and Canada.

2018-Buick-Regal-TourX-011A couple of minor tipoffs to its origins: as with some other European cars, the sun visors do not slide on their support rods to adequately block sunlight from the side, and the steering wheel telescopes but does not tilt.

Nearly 16.5 feet long with streamlined styling, the Buick TourX displays the modern attributes that could herald a station wagon comeback. It has 33 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seatbacks, which expands to 74 cubic feet if you fold the seatbacks. With its low profile comes a low lift-over height, which facilitates loading.

It also comes standard with all-wheel drive, which will come in handy in slippery conditions. But don’t think of the TourX as an off-road vehicle. There’s only 5.8 inches of ground clearance, where the Subaru Outback has 8.7 inches.

2018 Buick Regal TourX

The Outback is one of only a couple of competitors. It has comparable interior space to the TourX, though it’s a foot shorter. It also is less expensive. The only other competitor is the Volvo V60, which has a new model that arrives in 2018.

Motivating the new TourX is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which is becoming an industry standard. In this application, it makes 250 hp with 295 lb-ft of torque, delivered to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode.

In daily driving, the TourX proves itself to be a responsive companion in traffic, though there’s hesitation off the line because of the stop-start technology that shuts off the engine at stoplights to enhance fuel economy. The city/highway/combined fuel consumption, as rated by the EPA, is 21/29/24 mpg.

2018 Buick Regal TourX

Handling is nearly up to midsize sports sedan standards, with a solid steering feel around corners and good straight-line tracking. The brakes are excellent with a strong pedal feel. One minor drawback: the TourX’s length requires searches for generous parking spaces.

The tested TourX Essence was well equipped with a base price of $36,015. With options that included adaptive cruise control, forward pedestrian alert, automatic braking and collision alert; rear cross-traffic alert and park assist; blind-spot warning; premium audio, HD radio, and navigation and infotainment systems, the bottom-line sticker came to $40,950.

2018 Buick Regal TourX

Specifications

  • Model:2018 Buick Regal TourX Essence AWD four-door station wagon.
  • Engine:0-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged; 250 hp, 295 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission:Eight-speed automatic with manual-shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length:16 feet 4 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume:101/33 cubic feet (74).
  • Weight:3,745 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption:21/29/24 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge:$36,015.
  • Price as tested:$40,950.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

2018 Buick Regal TourX

Photos (c) General Motors.