Just as U.S. consumers are flocking to crossovers and SUVs, Buick has made a contrarian move by introducing the Regal TourX station wagon this week at the New York International Auto Show.
But in an admission of where the U.S. auto market is headed, the General Motors brand is putting a spin on its 2018 Regal TourX – a variant of the Regal Sportback sedan – by still calling it a crossover.
“Regal TourX is a crossover in the truest sense of the word, with the drive dynamics of a car and the versatility of an SUV,” said Duncan Aldred, global vice president of Buick and GMC.
Buick already has three vehicles in the crossover segment: the midsize Enclave, the sub-compact Encore and the compact Envision, one of only two light vehicles manufactured in China and currently sold in the U.S.
The Envision is gaining traction with sales of 8,900 in the first quarter of 2017. But that’s still far below the volume of the perennial mass market favorites. The Toyota RAV-4, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Ford Escape all have surpassed sales of 75,000 in the first quarter of this year.
But Buick is hoping to generate sales momentum from the Regal TourX and the debut of the next-generation Buick Enclave at the New York Auto Show this week.
Buick’s best performer is the Encore. Through the first three months of 2017, the subcompact crossover has sold more than 20,000 vehicles, an increase of 16.6 percent compared with the same period a year earlier, according to Autodata Corp., an industry research firm.
The Regal TourX will vie for the attention of consumers shopping among the other sedans with similar wagon variations. This includes the Volvo V60 Cross Country, the Audi A4 Allroad, BMW 3-series Sport Wagon and the Subaru Outback – all which do not offer as much potential cargo space as the TourX.
“The Regal TourX is definitely a station wagon with crossover design cues,” said Patrick Min, senior analyst for price forecasting firm ALG. “It will be categorized as a midsized car entrant, but consumers will consider it a blend of a wagon and an SUV.”
Through the first quarter of 2017, the Buick sold only 3,300 Regals, a 40 percent year-over-year decline. Overall, sales of passenger cars continue to slide as consumers favor crossovers and SUVs.
“With consumer demand for sedans shrinking, Buick is moving its Regal line in a different direction,” Min said.
The Regal TourX offers more capability than its sedan counterpart. As a utility vehicle, it is 3.4 inches longer, rides higher and has more durable fascia and fender moldings. Along with its more rugged appearance, the crossover has cargo space of 73.5 cubic feet behind the front seats with the second row folded down.
The TourX comes standard with a 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces 250 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a standard eight-speed automatic transmission and intelligent all-wheel drive with active twin-clutch for greater control on any surface. The engine also comes standard with advanced start/stop technology.
The interior cabin uses refined materials and features clean lines and surfaces. All TourX trims levels light up with a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot as well as a 7-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Higher trims levels get an 8-inch system with available embedded navigation. Bose premium audio is also standard.
Safety is also a consideration. The TourX offers a standard safety system that senses the presence of a pedestrian when driving between 16 and 30 mph and lifts the back of the hood up about 4 inches to lessen the impact.
Two additional packages – Driver Confidence I and II – provide drivers with advanced safety features. One includes lane change, side blind spot and rear cross traffic alerts as well as rear park assist. The second adds front pedestrian braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, forward collision alert and adaptive cruise control with forward automatic braking.
The Buick Regal TourX is available in TourX, Preferred and Essence trim levels. Pricing and on-sale date for the crossover has not yet been announced.