As the gold standard for off-roady station wagons, the Subaru Outback has inspired several imitators. The most surprising — and I imagine it came into being after a vigorous round of throwing darts at a board lined with pictures of cars that sell well — is the Buick Regal TourX. It’s also an absolute bargain to buy used now that they’re showing up on Autotrader.
Buick wants to fill the middle ground between mainstream and luxury, and so it positioned its turbocharged tall wagon with standard all-wheel drive against high-end versions of the Outback. This has not worked especially well for Buick, which sells about as many TourXs in a month as Subaru does in 48 hours. Buick doesn’t officially break out TourX sales versus other Regal versions, but it delivers around 1,000 cars with Regal badges every month. Subaru sells approximately 16 times that many Outbacks in a 30-day period.
The TourX has been on the market long enough that there is a reasonable supply of lightly used 2018 models, which can be had for around $22,000 with reasonable miles and a few options. That’s well under what a 2018 Outback with similar miles commands, and the TourX boasts more standard features and a 75-horsepower advantage from its 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. The Outback’s optional 3.6-liter flat-six roughly matches the TourX’s power output, but 6-cylinder Outbacks of this vintage cost at least $8,000 more. Additionally, a used TourX with less than 50,000 miles on the odometer should still be covered by the automaker’s 4-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.
The TourX is shaping up to be a brief experiment for Buick, in part because it’s not a Buick in any way other than its badge. Instead, the car was designed by Buick parent General Motors’ European Opel division as a reasonably-priced counter to off-roady Volvo and Audi wagons popular where coffee is consumed in small ceramic mugs rather than paper cups. Over there, it’s known as the Opel Insignia Country Tourer (except in the U.K., where it’s called the Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer because why not). That seemed like a good idea until GM sold Opel to the French a couple of years ago, which could leave the Regal as a stillborn nameplate for the second time.
History and economics lessons aside, one minor annoyance is the TourX’s trim level strategy, and not just because the grades are called 1SV, Essence and Preferred. For real, those are the names Buick picked. The bigger issue is that driver-assist features such as adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking, features standard on most 2018 and all 2019 Outbacks, were optional only on the top trim level TourX Preferred.
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