The Ultimate Test-Drive...
In GM’s New Buick Regal TourX Crossover Wagon
From the gates of Cape Cod, toughing out a nor’easter, maneuvering Boston traffic, cutting a path through the mountains of Vermont, and navigating the twisting, winding backroads of New Hampshire—after 600 miles, the Buick Regal TourX crossover has the right to claim “world-class” status.
Up for a journey?
The following is a story about the interaction between a car, its driver, and passengers.
It details experiences—first-hand—by those who act, rather than stand by and watch life pass by.
We hope to explain how technology, safety, and mechanical advances have moved data-points, enabling the consumer to drill down and discover the importance of how quality and value play into the design and building of this thrilling new addition to the crossover segment.
For millennials, who don’t recognize the company shield; Gen Xers and baby boomers, who believe Buick is for their parents; and grandparents, who are likely high-fiving each other because General Motors was up for the task—the Buick Regal TourX crossover wagon fits perfectly into an underserved niche market.
With the introduction of Buick’s TourX, there is now a luxurious and capable car that can deliver on a promise to build an authentic lifestyle vehicle—at an affordable price.
A few short weeks before a fresh new TourX was dropped off at our office near the banks of the Cape Cod Canal; we received a message from General Motor’s press agency. According to the representative, after a careful and exhaustive search, our lifestyle publication had met their criteria, and the agency wanted to know if we would be interested in joining a test-drive program.
We accepted the invitation
Before we had the opportunity to lay eyes on the car, I admit there was an inkling of trepidation—and a brief discussion about driving a Buick. (There, I said it.)
I’m not immune to stereotypes, and even though I’ve heard the car company’s catchy music and watched the commercial where people are surprised to learn they’re sitting in a Buick, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a good idea.
Initially, our job was to evaluate the new Buick TourX crossover wagon’s level of convenience, styling, and curb appeal, but more importantly, we were to decide if the TourX was able to handle the harsh environment found in New England.
Over seven days and 600 miles, we challenged the TourX crossover to perform in all types of weather, drove it through the most difficult road conditions, and spent hours assessing its amenities—many of which claimed to place the Buick TourX in a class of its own.
We asked questions as to whether the TourX would appeal to a cross-generation and where on a consumer profile it would fit. We also examined the vehicle’s form and function and then tested it so we could determine if an American crossover sports wagon would attract a diverse and demanding audience.
We question whether GM had built an automobile that appealed to those who blur the lines between working, living, and playing, regardless of their age.
The timing of the road trip dovetailed with a mid-March storm that delivered record amounts of snow in the region. The morning before we were to leave, an email arrived letting us know that we could bail if the conditions were too hazardous. While some would opt out of the event, we thought that the whole idea was to play in the snow, so we told them to expect us to arrive the next day in Woodstock, Vermont, where everyone was to meet.
The day before the storm, we met Jimmy, a retired veteran (thank you for your service, Jim) who delivered the car from New York. He was responsible for my indoctrination and made sure he had our contact information in case we didn’t come back with the car.
As I approached the new TourX, I began to smile, and the first thing I said was, “Wow.”
The car projects a youthful personality and a feeling of confidence; it has a bold and stylish look, along with a stable stance.
As I rounded the car a couple of times, I started thinking, “It looks like…it resembles …”—only to realize that the Buick TourX has its own DNA; there’s no comparison.
Jimmy handed me the fob (a keyless entry with an automatic start button) and told me to get in.
I effortlessly slipped into the comfortable leather bucket seat and noticed how my legs extended to the brake and accelerator. Adjusting the eight-way powered driver’s seat and putting the manually adjustable steering wheel into position, I was able to duplicate the same feeling when sitting in a vintage sports car. I found this satisfying since so many manufacturers have turned their automobiles into a one-size-fits-all, losing the custom driving experience.
Once in place, my eyes darted around the interior, I found the finishes reminiscent of a top-tier luxury sedan. I was impressed with accents of white stitching on leather, illuminated dash gauges (including one dedicated to RPMs), a three-spoke steering wheel (with hand controls), rich ebony finishes on the dash and console, and a large moonroof with a power shade. The transparent glass offers panoramic views, creating an illusion of a cabin double its size.
After a review of the basics, we drove Jimmy to pick up a car for the ride home; it’s doubtful he was aware that this was to be my first time behind the wheel of a Buick.
Nimble, sleek, and sexy—is the description that came to mind as I drove around the Cape. Artfully appointed, the vehicle also possesses a ruggedness that’s identified by its dynamic off-path capabilities. With its Intelligent-AWD (all-wheel drive), StabiliTrak—stability control, and the Smart-Electronic twin clutch platform at the rear wheels, Buick is determined to provide safety and peace of mind to drivers regardless of the conditions or terrain. With all of this, I couldn’t wait to find snow.
My car came with a “Driver Confidence Package.” This long list of features launches drivers into the next realm of road warrior by combining a cadre of revolutionary alerts, assists, and monitoring systems; the most skeptical will be impressed when they see how this new technology functions.
After about an hour, I marveled at the ingenuity and adaptive functions found in the TourX. Not only do the features improve safe travel, but they act as a second set of eyes and ears while behind the wheel.
Load it up
For those with an active lifestyle or a busy schedule, the cavernous storage behind the driving cabin—accompanied by a variable roof-track system, which is compatible with a variety of sports racks and accessories—makes it a pleasure to haul skis, fat bikes, kayaks, or cargo containers without looking like an amateur. It’s a short and easy step from the ground to a position where you can access everything at the roof level; loading and unloading equipment is effortless.
We ended up packing three suitcases with wheels, two smaller bags that fit on top, two more filled with camera gear, a ski bag, and three briefcases with files and computers. If that wasn’t enough, we added a cooler for refreshments and a couple of totes holding snacks.
Everything fit perfectly, leaving room for additional items we knew we’d pick up along the way.
While loading the TourX, I noted the hands-free power liftgate (just wave your foot under the bumper) to be a lifesaver. There’s also an automatic rear-seat retractor; at a touch of a button, the backrests automatically flatten, giving you more cargo space than a Volvo Cross Country, an Audi A4 Allroad, the BMW 3-Series Sports Wagon, or the Subaru Outback.
Hitting the road
After the first leg of the trip—about four hours—we stopped for fuel, something to eat, and dropped by the bank and post office. We ran the TourX through this routine and compared it to vehicles we usually used to do these errands. Knowing that you learn a lot about a car when navigating parking lots and local roadways, we found that our crossover killed the monotony.
Soon after, we ended up traveling through Boston (which is usually a nightmare) onto Route 93 North into New Hampshire; then we picked up 89 North toward Vermont; with all of this, the TourX gently sipped fuel, giving us an impressive 28 MPGs for the trip.
Both on the highways and secondary roads I noticed the quietness of the interior, its stable ride, and responsiveness both in steering and acceleration. Even with what was left over from the storm, the car’s ability to push through snow and ice was outstanding.
We were only a few minutes into Vermont when we had real-world experience. While setting up a photo-op, I had positioned the car in a driveway that hadn’t been plowed; the road was steep, and the car ended up in a rut. I quickly realized that I was going to test the soul of the TourX crossover.
Worried, but optimistic and doing what was advised, I straightened out the wheels and gently applied the gas. Suddenly, the all-season TourX began to do its magic and started to exit from the snow bank by evenly distributing the power to the wheel(s) that required traction so it could retreat to a level surface and find stable ground.
We discovered that the TourX demands attention—so much so that it took a little time to get comfortable with the double takes by pedestrians and other drivers. We faced delays when stopping for fuel, food, or rest when asked, “What kind of car is that?” To be honest, we never grew tired of the compliments or talking about the TourX.
The electronic and digital upgrades—often found in the most expensive European counterparts—made navigation a breeze. The entertainment system rocked, and we discovered hundreds of music options. With multiple phone chargers—including a wireless one—we were always connected to the rest of world.
Our takeaway at this point was that the Buick TourX is a strong competitor to overpriced foreign luxury wagons and the no-frills, rough-riding, lower-end imports. With a base price of about $35,000, plus a very reasonable five grand for a whole slew of options and delivery, a sticker price around $40,000 is an excellent value.
The Woodstock walk around—go around
The following morning we got up early, had breakfast, and planned to meet our group for a day of learning more about the new Buick TourX and participate in an off-road test drive in more extreme conditions.
As drivers and their passengers moved into position around the bright-red demo (with a fat bike attached to a roof rack), camera shutters sounded, tape was rolling, and smartphones began recording the presentation by Mikael, the Buick, product manager. Additional details were shared about the mechanical, interior, exterior, and connectivity features that have gone into the vehicle—and once completed, we loaded into our respective wagons and lined up for an adventure into the wilderness for an off-road experience.
Our time in Woodstock allowed participants from all parts of New England to exchange stories and discuss their impressions of the new Buick in their charge. One conclusion was that the Buick TourX crossover is an ideal vehicle for the ever-changing conditions we all face in our travels and the needs we have due to differences in lifestyles.
But to me, what was most surprising about this group was the vast age differences but similar interests.
From the international traveler of 20-something to a photojournalist who is continuously on the go (also the oldest participant taking part), the common denominator they shared was how each of them fit so perfectly into the features and conveniences the Buick TourX provides.
More to go
The next day we departed. Everyone went their way. We took a ride north and cut through the back roads of New Hampshire, allowing the TourX to find glory. This side trip allowed us to enjoy long straightaways, steeps hills, tight turns, and rolling country roads—passing century-old farms. It also afforded us another opportunity to experience the power and agility of its four-cylinder, 2.0-liter turbo engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission away from traffic.
We found that off the line at a stoplight or accelerating from 60–80 mph (for testing purposes only), the sports wagon behaved better than expected. We were continuously impressed by the performance and reliability, regardless of changing conditions, as we made our way through Franconia Notch to our next destination.
A happy ending—for sure
It was the last day with “our” Buick; we packed up the TourX with more than we started out with and planned a leisurely ride to the SouthCoast by leaving early to avoid traffic. The sun was bright, and the air was crisp; it was a near-perfect day.
Hoping to get our piece submitted for the April issue, we were excited to file our story; we knew ahead of time that it was going to be a busy week, but it would be worth the effort.
Just after 9:15 a.m., we jumped on the highway, quickly passed the Waterville Valley exit, and figured the ride would be uneventful but pleasant.
The radio was tuned to CNBC; we caught the opening bell of the stock market and were enjoying the peacefulness of an early morning ride.
Having been on the road for about 20 minutes, we were just outside Plymouth, New Hampshire. As we climbed an elevated section of the highway (with a lip at the top blocking our view), my eyes left the road for only a split second. My navigator blurted out with a sense of urgency, “Headlights are approaching us!”
With a frightening chill running through my body, I felt the hairs on my neck electrified. I caught the sight of an oncoming car—moving at about the speed at which we were rolling. The driver was heading north in the high-speed lane of Route 93 South and coming directly at us with a vengeance.
The small SUV, driven by a senior citizen, was hurtling toward us and only a few hundred feet ahead; worse, he showed no indication he was aware of the impending danger which would lead to our deaths.
The scene seemed to play out in slow motion—although it passed in about three seconds. Within this limited window, I evaluated the speed of the vehicles traveling toward each other and decided if there was room to change lanes because braking was not an option.
Having no other choice and little time to react, I held my breath and gripped the steering wheel with the determination that this wasn’t going to end badly; I pulled us into the opposite lane, narrowly escaping a head-on collision.
Once out of danger, we notified the New Hampshire State Police of the driver who continued down the turnpike—never putting on his brakes or making an effort to pull over to the side of the road.
I am very thankful to my partner for having incredible observational skills; her actions gave me extra hundredths of a second to respond.
Not meaning to pander or offer a clichéd solicitation, I am sincerely appreciative that the Buick TourX performed as needed. Considering our lives depended upon the crossover’s precise reaction to my demands, I’m glad to report that there was no indication of oversteering, an inclination to roll, or a decrease in power when I needed it most.
We will never forget the exciting events of the past week, and will always be grateful that we were driving the Buick TourX crossover sports wagon when faced with the unexpected. Of all the cars we could have trusted, it was a Buick—while on the ultimate test drive—that got us home alive.
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