Eleven of the last thirteen vehicles I’ve reviewed have been a crossovers or an SUV. This has served to remind me how much I’m a wagon man. Occasionally, a crossover or SUV will stick in my mind as good or even exceptional, like the Volvo XC 40 Inscription. But at the end of the day, wagons drive better, return better fuel economy, and better utilize internal space. Regardless, the marketplace place has little tolerance for them. There are only sixteen wagon models available for sale in the U.S. as of early 2019.
I was able to spend a week with one of them; the Buick TourX. I requested it for a trip to Virginia to pick up my new Irish Wolfhound puppy. Starting just north of Detroit, our destination at the borders of Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland was nearly 600 miles each way. That’s plenty of time and miles to discover how this longroof lives on the highway, back roads, and around town. In total, I put about 1,600 miles on the Buick in one week.
What It’s About
No two ways about it – it’s dead sexy. Especially from the rear three-quarter view. The car has a flow that makes it appear to be moving, even when parked. From the front there’s a smooth aero shape packed with character. This is no bland jelly-bean looking machine. I can certainly do without the black accents over the wheel wells and along the bottom sill, but that’s the nod you need to lend to crossover-crazed eyeballs.
Interior materials are better than good, but not amazing. The easiest way to put it is that you can tell the interior comes from GM Europe and not GM North America. The level of materials is good and for the most part, plastics are relegated to places that don’t have touch points easily seen. Overall fit and finish of the interior is nicely done.
On the road
Slogging hundreds of miles on the tollways and interstates will let you know just how good a driver’s seat is or isn’t. While the seat bottom could’ve used just a bit more padding, I logged no major complaints. The thrones aren’t quite as good as those in an Audi Q5, but they don’t lag very far behind.
Perhaps it’s driving too many crossovers, but TourX makes you feel as though you’re sitting sports-car low. Not Miata low, but it certainly feels a bit lower than a standard sedan. That’s not a problem, mind you, as this gives a much more dynamically secure feel on the road. You feel much more in control compared to a top-heavy, high-riding SUV or crossover.
Controls on the interior are well placed, and everything is easy to find. This is not a vehicle where you have to dig through the owner’s manual to find all of the features and controls. The infotainment is standard GM and comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The sound of the audio system is more than fine for the target audience.
Power from the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder is surprisingly good. Hammer the throttle and you are rewarded with very swift off-the-line acceleration. Power clocks in at 250 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and torque is 295 pound-feet from 3,000-4000 rpm. While every enthusiast wants more power, I think the TourX is pretty spot on at this level. And the eight-speed automatic gearbox handles it all with ease.
Fuel economy is rated at 21 mpg city and 29 highway. I saw just under 27 mpg for the trip. That was at the end of January on winter gas with temperatures dipping into the low teens.
My specific needs
One of the items I look for in any vehicle with foldable seats is a flat floor. I’m particular about this primarily because I’m a dog owner. I’ve found over the last decade plus that flat floors equal dogs riding happier. With the TourX they fold dead level flat. With the second row up you have a nice cargo capacity. Officially 32.7 cubic feet with the seats up and 73.5 with them down. Our gear? Easily swallowed with room left over for the new puppy’s crate.
While I didn’t spend any time in the rear seat, my wife rode most of the way home with the puppy in there and she had plenty of room and was comfortable. One item to point out for the rear seat is that there are no USB ports, only a single 115v plug, so we had to stretch a long cord to the back to keep her phone charged.
Comparing it my old Mercedes-Benz E350 wagon
Does the Buick feel as good and solid on the road as my Merc did? Not quite. But it is close. You can feel that the chassis and suspension were tuned in Europe. There’s more confidence on the road than expected. With either vehicle, you could toss it into a corner, an off-ramp, or quickly flip a Michigan left, and the wagon feels planted. Sure, there’s some body roll, but it doesn’t feel as if it’s fighting you. It’s working with you to help plant the outside tires rather than simply understeering for days.
The Wrap Up
The base price on the Essence trim TourX I drove was $35,070. This particular car had every option box ticked so with delivery the sticker price sits at $42,200. I’d consider that pretty fair value. Last year, I drove an Equinox that stickered at $40,000, and a Traverse that was $48,000. They were nowhere as nice as this Buick on the inside. The ride and drive quality was leagues ahead.
Given that GM has spent no money marketing this car, dealers are offering huge discounts on the TourX. It’s not uncommon to see $10,000 on the hood. You could walk out of a dealership with a fully loaded, top-level trim car for $30,000 – $32,000. In today’s world of car pricing that would be an amazing value.
At full sticker price, I can recommend the TourX with confidence. With the discounts available, you’d be a fool not to at least go test drive one. If you are in the market for a crossover, maybe give this wagon a chance. Not only is it better to drive, but in our current market where everyone just mindlessly buys the crossover, you’ll stand out as someone who can think for themselves.
[Images copyright 2019 Hooniverse/Eric Trytko]