2018 Buick Regal TourX Essence AWD: A sporty wagon for a new age?

Price: $37,485 as tested ($35,070 for the trim level; $29,070 for a base model)

Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver likes the "nice lines, huge cargo hold, low starting price," but not the "recalcitrant transmission, commodity-car interior, neither sporty nor rugged."

Marketer's pitch: "Ready for adventure."

Reality: It's a wagon for a new age where "sporty" and "adventure" aren't always that sporty or adventuresome.

What's new: The Regal TourX is a station wagon that definitely draws some notice — mainly because so few station wagons populate American shopping centers these days.

The German-built import originates from the lands of our soon-to-be-former NATO allies as the Vauxhall Country Tourer and previously the Opel Country Tourer. But the long-time General Motors Opel brand has since been cast off to Citroen-Peugeot.

Up to speed: The Regal TourX should keep the family driver happy enough. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine creates 250 horsepower and, even better, 295 pound-feet of torque, an amazing feat of pulling from a turbo. Getting to highway speeds is a snap, as the car reaches 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, according to Motor Trend.

Shifty: Here's a rarity in a GM product — an actual shiftable automatic. From Buick to Chevrolet, the company is always offering just a button on the shifter for setting a certain gear; shiftable fun is not on the menu. (Cadillac, though, generally offers the full range of stickshiftesque enjoyment.)

The shifting is fun enough, but in automatic mode, though, the 8-speed just isn't up to the task. The shifts come too soon, and any semblance of power seems to float off to another world. The car takes on the personality of a Buick, and I half-expected the GPS would lead me to the 4 p.m. early bird special at local restaurants.

On the curves: That first impression of the TourX left me thinking that the handling would have the full Buick touch as well. The steering feels loose and light, and responsiveness is not part of the standard equipment.

But push the TourX a little bit and it responds nicely. Tight curves can be fun, and the little bit of lean and body roll from this wagon certainly pales in comparison to the average small crossover.

The interior of the 2018 Buick Regal TourX aims for simple but feels very plain. The seats are awesome, though, and space is generous for cargo and passengers.
Buick
The interior of the 2018 Buick Regal TourX aims for simple but feels very plain. The seats are awesome, though, and space is generous for cargo and passengers.

Driver's Seat: The comfort level is a 10. The seat offers a great mix of support and softness without a lot of the stiff feel of a Mazda or many premium brands.

Information please: The dashboard, though, just feels a bit too stark and unfriendly. The gauges have a narrow type that's hard to read, and I'm far younger than the average Buick buyer — though more astigmatic, it's true. Having a speedometer that squeezes 180 mph into a fairly small dial does not help much.

And the rest of the dash feels stark as well. The five blank buttons in front of the shifter will remind a buyer daily just how many more options could have been had.

Friends and stuff: Front seats are heated for free at the Essence trim level. The console is a fine size, but coffee cups move around wildly in the cupholders. Get a grip, Buick.

The rear seat is dreamy — comfortable, with plenty of legroom and headroom. Only foot room under the front seat is a bit tight. It also folds 40/20/40 for added versatility.

Cargo space is a fairly healthy 73.5 cubic feet; that's more than a Jeep Compass or Cherokee, or a Nissan Rogue. The load floor is a little high, though, so it's all about length.

Play some tunes: The Regal TourX gets the standard-issue GM stereo, with a couple buttons for changing stations and a central dial for volume. The touchscreen is actually pretty amenable to one's input.

Sound quality from the $1,095 Sights and Sounds Package premium stereo was B-plus or A-minus. Songs sounded pretty good, but nothing to write home about.

On one trip, though, the touchscreen turned completely unresponsive. Nothing I did could get it to come to life. Lucky I was only running an errand, and turning the car off for a few minutes reset it.

Toasty mitts: One complaint — the cruise control is part of a four-way button. The button features cruise-on on the right and cruise-off on the left. At the top is a blank, yet another reminder of coulda-woulda-shoulda options, while at the bottom is the … steering wheel heater. But, of course. A separate toggle controls the speed setting.

Yes, I often felt my hands warm up and the TourX slow down.

Fuel economy: I averaged about 23 mpg in the usual Mr. Driver's Seat round of testing — a bit of a disappointment, actually.

Where it's built: Ruesselsheim, Germany.

How it's built: Consumer Reports predicts the Regal TourX reliability to be 3 out of 5.

In the end: All-wheel drive. A bargain price. Plenty of amenities and space. The Regal TourX will sadly languish on dealer lots, but it's far better than most of the cookie-cutter crossovers coming out these days. Then smart folks like Mr. Driver's Seat can snatch up a bargain.