I was very excited when Buick unveiled the new Regal TourX wagon. I know the words "excited" and "Buick" aren’t used in the same sentence very often, but the new Regal is a car that legitimately warrants excitement. Not only is the new Sportback an attractive offering in premium midsize sedans, the TourX is a return to form for what was once one of America’s premier producers of station wagons.
There’s something holding me back from liking the Regal TourX more, though. One of the first things that crossed my mind when I first saw images of the new wagon was that I wish they didn’t put that silly plastic cladding on the sides. It makes it look like a wagon that wants to be a crossover when it grows up. I wish it would just embrace its identity as a wagon.
Were the designers thinking, "this wagon looks great, but it needs more design elements from the Pontiac Aztek"? What would happen if they just left that extra unnecessary plastic off of the car? This is what would happen: The Opel Insignia wagon.
Yes, the Buick Regal TourX is identical to the Opel Insignia wagon in almost every way. The most notable differences are the grilles, the emblems and the lack of that ugly plastic cladding on the Opel. Look how much better the Opel looks! It might seem minor, and most normal people wouldn’t notice, but to me it makes a huge difference in the look of the whole car. The Opel looks more clean, refined and upscale, which I think Buick was going for. It seems they just couldn’t help giving the wagon version of the Regal some Subaru chic.
This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed plastic cladding making a nice looking car look, well, less nice. My wife likes the Fiat 500X, and in looking around at used ones on Autotrader, I’ve noticed that the most popular trim for these things by far is the Trekking trim. Apparently "Trekking" is Italian for "Plastic" because while every 500X has some plastic cladding, the Trekking model takes plastic to the next level. It’s supposed to be off-roady, but there’s already an off-roady version of the 500X called the Jeep Renegade. Fiat should be focusing more on the cute Euro look.
I thought GM learned its lesson. Everyone hated the look of the Aztek, so the first thing Pontiac did to make it less ugly was go easy on the plastic. Then there was the Chevy Avalanche, which looked like a Tonka truck in its first couple years of production, but it eventually shed some of its plastic to look more like a truck and less like a very large toy.
So what are you doing, Buick? Again, I still really like the Regal TourX, but it’s so close to looking so much better. Stop cosplaying as a crossover and be the wagon you were born to be.