Could this Buick challenge the Subaru Outback for wagon supremacy?

Could this Buick challenge the Subaru Outback for wagon supremacy?

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It’s been more than 20 years since Buick sold a wagon, the last being the iconic Roadmaster that was discontinued in 1996. But there’s a new wagon from the company now: it’s the 2018 Buick Regal TourX and, awkward name aside, it looks pretty fantastic in photos.

The TourX is one half of the new Regal family, which ditches the sports sedan look in favor of a wagon and a five-door sportback. I’m a big fan of wagons, and that’s part of the reason I chose to test the Volvo V90 Cross Country for a month. The Regal TourX doesn’t really compete with the Volvo, instead aiming directly at the popular Subaru Outback.

Equipped with a higher ride height and Outback-esque plastic cladding, the Regal TourX has all-wheel drive, a two-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine making 250 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Buick says it has more total cargo capacity than the Outback (or other wagon competitors from Volvo, Audi, and BMW). The TourX, which Buick weirdly insists is a crossover when it’s obviously a wagon, won’t hit dealers until late this year. Pricing was not announced.

Most of Buick’s US sales (229,631 in 2016) came from its SUV lineup, with the company delivering fewer than 20,000 of its Regal sports sedan to customers. But Subaru has been hitting a home run with its Outback wagon, delivering nearly 183,000 last year alone. With sedans selling poorly across the industry, the shift to the wagon design makes sense — and though it’s relatively niche compared to the lucrative SUV and crossover markets, there are still cars to be sold.

The other new car from Buick is the Regal Sportback. It’s a five-door hatchback (kind of) that has a whiff of Tesla Model S to its design. It has the same engine as the TourX, though it’s available in both FWD and AWD flavors. It’s a bit closer to the traditional sedan, with a four-door coupe look and much more cargo room at the back. In its press release, Buick compares the new Regal to the Audi A5 Sportback and the BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe. Both are niche products, but perhaps Buick will find its niche within a niche.

I loved the outgoing Regal when I drove one in 2015. It was comfortable and had impressive performance, and I joked to company reps that it really lived up to the “That’s a Buick?” tagline that the company has been using in its advertising over the past few years.

I suspect both these new Regals will elicit the same reaction — but we’ll see if that turns into sales.

#gadgetbingo

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