When a family needs a vehicle for hauling kids or stuff, or both, the default choice in 2019 is a crossover SUV. It’s not hard to see why crossovers have become so popular. They offer a lot of practicality, they’ve gotten pretty affordable,and there’s not even that much of a fuel economy penalty anymore for upgrading from a more traditional sedan or a hatchback to a more modern crossover.
Modern crossovers do make good family vehicles — but what about modern station wagons? When you think of a station wagon, your mind might go straight to the likes of the B-body Buick Roadmaster Estate of the 1990s — but Buick is back in the wagon game again with the Regal TourX, and it’s here to give crossovers a run for their money. I had a chance to spend some time behind the wheel of this new Buick wagon to see if it has what it takes to make people consider a wagon rather than a crossover.
The Regal TourX, and a handful of other modern-day wagons like it, have a lot to offer. They have many of the same virtues that people love about their SUVs — like a space-efficient design that yields a lot of room for passengers and cargo. Many of them (the TourX included) even come standard with all-wheel drive, which is another feature that people like about crossovers. Another characteristic that wagons and crossovers both share is the fact that they’re not minivans, which is something that seems to be very important to a lot of parents today.
But there’s one aspect of crossovers that people really get addicted to — and that’s ride height. Once people get used to sitting higher up in a more commanding position on the road, they never want to go back to feeling like they’re dragging their butts on the road in a regular car. People love the ride height of SUVs, and it makes them never want to go back.
And this is where the wagon falls short on the shopping lists of many drivers — which is part of what makes them flock to crossovers. Sure, a long-roof wagon has the driving characteristics of a sedan, plus the extra cargo room — but those sedan like driving manners are something that most people don’t really care about, unfortunately.
One of the best reasons to consider a wagon over a crossover is that fact that they’ve become such an oddity. Sure, the Subaru Outback is everywhere and that’s technically a wagon, but is it really a wagon? So many wagons today are cosplaying as SUVs, and it seems like a true old-school wagon is getting rarer with every model year as crossovers continue to dominate in sales.
So, is a wagon a good crossover alternative? Absolutely. They offer similar roominess and the versatility of AWD in the case of the Buick Regal TourX I drove. They also offer an aesthetic that you just don’t see every day anymore, giving them a charm that the vast majority of increasingly bland crossovers today just can’t match. They just don’t have that all-important ride height. But if that doesn’t matter to you, consider a wagon for your next family vehicle instead of a traditional crossover.