There are a lot of theories about the death of the American station wagon. From their long sweeping lines of faux wood panels to the car’s utility once you have a couple of kids—and those kids make friends, with stuff. Buick’s TourX, its first wagon since the Roadmaster Estate of your childhood, is a bet that sport wagon category will lure buyers away from well-established import brands.
Well, maybe betting is a strong description, since the Buick is simply GM’s Opel Insignia Country Tourer, rebranded for the U.S. market. Still, this sport wagon is aimed at drivers considering a Subaru Outback, or a crossover with a starting price around $29,000. We took the TourX Essence (from $35,000), the highest-end version of the car’s three trim lines, around the burbs over a weekend. While it’s long, elevated, and has a rear hatch, it’s not like our Subaru Outback—which is good and bad.
The ride is much more car-like considering the clearance, which is raised beyond a basic Buick, but is still more akin to a Camry or Accord than the vantage point you’d get behind the wheel of an Outback. That might help drivers who don’t want that climbing into an SUV or crossover feel, but it also might not encourage confidence in those looking forward to hauls over rougher terrain.
The long, low rooflines still leave plenty of headroom for passengers, but getting in and out feels more sedan-like than a taller wagon. Interior finishes are traditional Regal, and here is where Buick’s going after the budget-minded Subaru crowd, not necessarily the luxe German brands. Our Essence had leather seats (the only trim level that offers it), upgraded safety features, and an intuitive touchscreen that included Apple CarPlay, though the latter never seemed to connect to our phones. The interior has plenty of soft-touch materials, faux stitching, and wood trim, so it feels more like a higher-end Chevy and less like an entry-level Cadillac. The interior cabin is pretty quiet, thanks to active noise cancellation, and you get a premium Bose premium system with the higher-end trims. The full-length sunroof floods the interior with light and extends well over the rear passengers.
The engine is GM’s turbo 2.0-liter, with four cylinders creating 250 horsepower and about 295 lb.-ft. of torque. Power flows through a Japanese eight-speed automatic and the TourX is built in a German factory, all of which helps the ride feel a little sportier and more responsive than a station wagon. On paved roads, it felt quicker than an Outback, though we wish we could have put the AWD to the test in less than ideal conditions. The start/stop engine feature comes standard, and it can’t be turned off—something that we found annoying.
Where the TourX shines is the cargo space, where it has 73.5 cubic feet behind the front seats, which is more than the Volvo V60 Cross Country, the Audi A4 Allroad, BMW Sport Wagon, and the Subaru Outback. Beyond volume, the storage is smart with rails built into the floor to accept tie-downs to secure cargo and a really clever retracting cargo cover. Buttons in the cargo area make it easy to flip down the rear seats. The liftgate on our model opens with a sipe of the foot, and a Buick logo shines on the pavement to help take the guesswork out of where you’re kicking.
During our weekend runs around town it handled nicely while drawing a few looks at the stoplights. For the asking price, it could be a viable option for a young family who needs max cargo space, but not necessarily the class-leading ground clearance of an Outback. Throw a roof rack up top, and the TourX should do a fine job hauling your skis or kayak. The 2019 TourX should be hitting the showrooms in the third quarter of 2018.