Some of the best deals going are on the cars almost no one knows about – which stands to reason. How do you buy what you’re unaware exists?
How about the Buick Tour X wagon?
It’s the unknown soldier of the new car market – probably because GM hasn’t been marketing it much. And that probably has to do with the fact that the car it’s based on – the Buick Regal sedan – has been Corona’d.
But you might want to know more about the Tour X – so you can still buy one.
Well, while you still can.
The Tour X is a mid-sized five-passenger wagon built off the mid-sized Buick Regal sedan.
It is very similar in general layout, size, capacities and capabilities to the much-better-known Subaru Outback wagon. Both come standard with all-wheel-drive and both have about 75 cubic feet of total cargo space – about five times as much as a same-sized sedan.
But the Buick is much sexier – and much more luxuriously fitted out – and it comes standard with a powerful turbocharged engine – which is available in the Crosstrek, if you pay the extra shekels to get it.
Tour X prices start at $29,370 for the base trim – topping out at $35,070 for the Essence trim. In the middle is a $32,970 Preferred trim – all the trims having more (or less) optional equipment but all of them coming standard with a 2.0 liter, 250 horsepower turbocharged engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive.
The otherwise similar Subaru Outback also comes standard with AWD – but paired with a much-less-powerful 182 horsepower 2.5 liter engine. If you want an engine that’s comparable to the Buick’s standard engine, it’s available – in the $34,895 XT Outback, the $37,745 Limited Outback and the $39,695 Touring Outback.
That’s the price of getting there – without getting there slowly.
The previously optional dual-zone automatic climate control system is now standard equipment in all trims.
A loaded Outback turbo – for base trim Buick Tour X money.
Less nanny-laden than the Outback.
Less common than the Outback.
What’s Not So Good
Less ground clearance than the Outback.
Less legroom in the back than in the Outback.
Will probably depreciate more quickly than the Outback.
Under The Hood
Unlike the Outback – which comes standard with a low-performance engine and offers a high-performance engine – the Tour X comes standard with a high-performance engine.
All trims are powered by the same 2.0 liter turbocharged four, which makes 250 horsepower and 295 ft.-lbs. of torque – as opposed to the Outback’s standard 2.5 liter four (no turbo) that makes 182 horsepower and 176 ft.-lbs. of torque.
You should know that the Buick’s engine is a GM engine – the same engine, basically, as the engine used in a variety of other-than-Buick models, including the Chevy Camaro. So don’t worry about parts or service down the road, even if Buick gets Corona’d. This engine isn’t like the old Buick 215 turbo V8 of the ’60s – which was hard to find parts and service for after it got discontinued.
Subaru does offer a slightly stronger 2.4 liter four with a turbo – and 260 horsepower – but to get it you have to buy one of the much-more-expensive (XT, Limited or Touring) trims, the least costly of which will cost you $5,525 more than the as-it-comes Buick.
The Tour X has another advantage over the Outback.
It comes standard with a conventional eight-speed automatic while the Outback comes standard with a Continuously Variable (CVT) automatic.
The more efficient CVT gives the Subaru a slight mileage advantage – 26 city, 33 highway for the 2.4 turbo vs. 21/29 for the turbo’d Buick – but it’s a small advantage, especially given the cost differential of the cars – and people who prefer the feel of a conventional automatic that shifts up and down over the shiftless feel of a CVT will probably be happy to make the MPG sacrifice.
Especially when gas is so cheap that MPGs no longer matter much.
Both the Tour X and the Outback have comparable grip.
The big difference between the two is that the Buick has a lot less clearance than the Outback, which has almost 9 inches vs. the Tour X’s 5.8 inches, which is about the same as the Regal sedan’s.
This means the Buick looks slinkier but is less invincible in the snow – and definitely not as able to deal with badly washed out gravel/dirt roads as the more intrepid Outback, which can go almost anywhere a jacked-up 4×4 truck could go . .. without actually being a jacked-up 4×4 truck.
Your compensation is that the as-it-comes Buick is much quicker.
It can get to 60 MPH is just over six seconds. The much less puissant Outback – with its as-it-comes-engine – needs 8.7 seconds in a best case scenario to accomplish the same. With a two or three people riding along plus a load in the back, the Outback – as it comes – is seriously slow.
Even with just a driver on board, the difference between the two is big enough to be immediately obvious – as well as an everyday liability in normal traffic vs. the occasional advantage of a bit more snow-fording/unpaved roading capability.
You almost have to buy the Outback’s optional 2.4 liter engine – while with the Tour X, you don’t have to buy anything extra at all.
The Outback’s standard AWD system does boast a potential high-speed handling advantage in that it can adjust the power flow from wheel to wheel (“torque vectoring”) as opposed to just front-to-back, which is a useful way to automatically correct for understeer and oversteer during high-speed cornering.
But the Buick has the advantage of being much more capable of high speed – at least, as it comes.
It’s also a Buick – and rides like one.
Which you’ll like if you’re tired of the endless emphasis on “sportiness.” Not that there’s anything wrong with sportiness – as Seinfeld used to say. But it’s become hard to find a new car that emphasizes poshness.
The Buick does.
Not in a 1960s way – but not like the way almost all new cars do. They sacrifice comfort on the altar of lap times and G forces, which become the basis of advertising copy and numb legs, after four or five hours of not driving on a track.
This Buick has the graceful feel of a modernized Electra 225 – and that’s high praise, if you can remember what it was like to drive or ride in a deuce and a quarter.
Especially as regards quiet – and this (besides the power) is the Tour X’s winning hand over the Outback, which is much noisier as it comes because of its much less powerful standard engine and – thus – much noisier engine. Which noise is magnified by the CVT automatic – because it keeps the underpowered and so struggling engine revving, unless you’re just coasting.
To be fair to the Outback, this problem goes away . . . if you buy the optional 2.4 liter engine, which not only has plenty of power but even more torque than the Buick’s engine, which means the engine rarely has to rev and so is very quiet as well as very punchy most of the time.
But there’s that small matter of the extra $5k-plus you’ll have to pay to reach par.
The Tour X is a car you don’t see in practically every parking lot.
The Outback is a car you see everywhere.
It’s also got an association.
I like the Outback; it’s a very capable, very versatile car that can eliminate the need to own an SUV or a truck in addition to owning a car. And though it’s underpowered as it comes, the Soobie’s standard boxer engine – which isn’t turbocharged – wears the heavyweight title belt for long-term durability.
It may not go fast – but it goes long.
But, there’s that association. Of liberalism – and alternate lifestyle-ism. Somehow, Subaru became the brand for both.
Which, if you’re neither, you may not like.
What’s cool about the Buick is that it’s basically the same car – without the baggage.
Like the Outback – almost exactly like the Outback, in fact – the Tour X has tremendous room for cargo: 32.7 cubic feet behind its second row and 73.5 cubic feet with the second row folded (the Outback has a functionally identical 32.5 cubic feet behind its second row and 75.7 cubic feet with its second row folded).
You can cover all that cargo, too. With the car itself, of course – an advantage over the bed of a truck. And also with a full-length retractable cargo cover, that hides your stuff from whomever might be looking.
Also available is a beautiful full-length glass sunroof that makes being in the Tour X feel almost as airy as being in a ’69 225 convertible.
The Outback does have more backseat legroom – 39.5 inches vs. 36.9 in the Buick – but if you like the idea of driving something not everyone else is, then you might like driving this Buick.
There’s one more advantage the Tour X has over the Outback:
It is older.
Not much has fundamentally changed since the launch of the original Tour X back in 2018 – while the 2020 Outback is fundamentally new. Which means it comes standard with all the latest “safety” and “driver-assist” features, even including facial recognition tech. But some people find these features aggravating as well as creepy.
If that’s you, then the Tour X could be for you.
Because you don’t have to deal with any of it, much less pay for it – unless you want it.
The as-it-comes base trim does not have “forward collision warning” or “automatic emergency braking.” It doesn’t even have “rear parking assist” or “cross-traffic alert.” These things are all available – if you do want them – in the Preferred and Essence trims.
The Outback comes standard with all – and more – of these things.
You might also want to cross shop the Tour X vs. a Volvo XC90 wagon – which costs almost twice as much, is smaller – and has less cargo capacity.
It’ll make you feel even better about this Buick.
The Bottom Line
GM should have tried harder to not keep this one a secret.
If they hadn’t, it might have sold better.
. . .
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Might be worth buying in a decade when a fully-loaded version goes for under $5000 used…assuming the powertrain has stood the test of time.
Glad someone else knows the Subie (WRX exempted) comes with a “I donated to Friends of Global Progress wildflower and hunger fund” glow in the dark bumper sticker. And I never drive at or over the posted limit – and I will make you too – attitude.
I’m not sure why – but there it is! My main gripe with Subaru these days is the inclusion of intrusive “safety” and “assistance” systems above and beyond what’s mandated as part of the standard equipment suite. It’s possible their audience actually wants this stuff, of course – but it could also be a horse-and-cart question in that by pushing it so aggressively (and it’s not just Subaru) demand for it is manufactured – by peer pressure.
Wow, that car’s a gem! WTF was GM thinking by keeping this a secret? As someone else said, St. Mary has to go; she needs to GTFO of GM…
I hope that the impending bankruptcy of the American car companies forces a big change in leadership. Problem is, I doubt that there are still car guys working at any of the car companies.
The industry needs a reboot. There are exceptions (FCA, Mazda) but in general the trend has been away from cars that make functional and economic sense, that are fun and desirable – to making high-cost virtue-signaling appliances.
Post-Corona (if Corona ever ends) there will be a crying need for affordable, sensible cars again.
I agree that affordable, sensible, fun, and practical cars need to be built. The question is: with gov’t fatwas in place, how can they DO that? For example, an early 90s Geo Metro would be ILLEGAL to build now! The same goes for the early Mazda Miatas or the old MG Midgets. The Chevy Sail, which is sold in many countries around the world; a car that many would buy; isn’t even AVAILABE here, thanks to gov’t fatwas! What do you see happening on that front, i.e. the fatwas? Until that’s dealt with, such cars can’t be built…
Trouble is too, how many people even want a stinking Geo Metro? (Or Neon, etc.?)
The biggest segment of the car market that we’ve lost- and which will likely never return are large durable but non-luxury cars. Ya know…just plain cars, like we always had until the late 80’s.
Many people don;’t give a damn about fuel efficiency (I certainly don’t- and I still drive vehicles that get 10MPG- and there’s no reason a full-sized sturdy yet simple 3500-4000 vehicle can’t get 25MPG or more….as many used to)
I fear that even if the regs were rescinded (Never happen!), we’d only end up with a plethora of little cheesy Tatas and other flimsy high-MPG micro-cars- or like “Smart” Cars of Fiat 500’s…which obviously, no one wants- at least here in the US.
We need to turn the automotive clock back to about 1967…..
That looks nice but the only new vehicle I might even consider would be a heavily discounted pickup. As it stands my Grand Cherokee is 19 years old and my current pickup is 27 years old. (No rust problems where I live)
The biggest advantage of the ground clearance for the Subaru; I can change my own oil without having to raise it.
Can do the same with the Tour X. Just use an oil extractor and do it all from above the hood.
This would be great except for the low ground clearance and those low-profile tires.
I wouldn’t own a Subaru if you gave it to me (someone offered and I turned it down).
Local dealer has a 2019. MSRP $35, they have it listed for $25 as a special. It’s caught my eye, but the AWD is a turnoff. The quietness and smoothness sounds like a huge positive.
Did a little research, and read this is an Opel with Buick badges.
I was going to say: “But it’s a GM, so it’ll be plagued with endless problems, and fall apart before long”- but now knowing it’s an Opel…..double what I said!
I wonder what gems of GM/Opel engineering these things have?- Like the Envoy’s front axle which ran through the oil pan! ….GM…LOL.
As Scotty Kilmer likes to put it: “An endless money pit!” 🙂
I like everything about this car except the turbo four. It’s not a bad engine, by any means. I just personally am leery of turbocharged anything – except for high-performance cars used irregularly. I keep cars for a long time, though. As in 15-20 years. People who change cars every 6-8 or so will probably not have any unusual issues to deal with.
Still, if I could wave a wand, I’d fit this car with GM’s 3.6 V6 and call it done.
I’m with you, Eric! There’s absolutely no reason for the abundance of turbos these days- just more to go wrong, and what is the point? If ya drive the damned things as if they had a bigger engine, which the turbo is trying to replicate, they get poorer mileage- so essentially, they exist just make the vehicles look good on paper for Uncle. Meanwhile, the turbos AND the little engine being worked so hard wears out much faster than a bigger, non-turbo engine.
You wonder what GM is thinking when it comes to Buick. Guess the answer is, they aren’t. Here is another nice vehicle that they don’t bother marketing (like the Chevy SS a while back) that will be gone before anybody even knew existed to begin with.
Another storied brand ruined by morons. They need to show Mary the door so badly and discontinue the electric nonsense that will bankrupt GM yet again. Better yet, break GM up so the brands can survive.
“This Buick has the graceful feel of a modernized Electra 225.”
Now there’s a marketing hook that’ll function like a dog whistle only Boomers can hear. Among the intended thirty-something clientele (implied by the bright red paint and mountain bike on the roof), it would elicit only bafflement — is Electra 225 a new high-end cell phone, or maybe Elon Musk’s latest spaceship?
The more literary might think it a Eugene O’Neill-endorsed special edition: in the Mourning Becomes Electra 225, all the world’s your stage!
In an auto market where pickups were the majority of sales in April, with SUVs taking second place, the smushed-down look of the Regal Tour X is, to put it charitably, an outlier. Certainly its styling cues hark back to the iconic Chrysler 300. With its sinister turret windows tinted ink-dark, the 300 was just the ticket for cruising Harlem or Anacostia in search of some brown sugar. But that was so 2005.
As consumer-depositors (mostly FORMER depositors, except for government checks) have their last vestiges of automotive autonomy stripped away by intrusive technology that overrides their inputs, a high seating position affords perhaps the last available illusion of actually being in command.
Maybe Buick should offer a factory-installed 3-inch lift kit.
Dude! The mountain bike is so that when the car breaks down, you can hop on the bike and pedal away!
I’ve always liked the “sport wagon” vehicle as a concept. But they almost never deliver. I was all set to buy an Audi Allroad at one point until I started reading about the nightmare of dealing with the airbag suspension (and that the TDI’d version wasn’t available in the states). Buick was the traditional station wagon line for GM, although the Olds Visa Cruiser is the one that people remember. An AWD with adjustable suspension and a V6 engine, now that would be interesting. Call it the Wildcat and market it to the retro crowd like Chrysler did with the Hellcat and Trackhawk.
What I’d love to see is a GS version of the Tour X with a V6 (turbo or no turbo) priced just under the Outback Limited, along with a few go-fast goodies. You’d have a sleeper’s sleeper that Subaru couldn’t compete with.
Of all the divisions of GM, it seems that Buick builds the best cars in terms of longevity and reliability. That may be like saying that Buick is the healthiest horse in the glue factory, but I’ve noticed that for the last 30 years, the oldest GM cars on the road were most often Buicks.
This from someone who loves my Outback 3.6R.
That might have something to do with the clientele, i.e. usually 60+ year old retirees that took really good of their stuff, took it to the dealer to get service, didn’t put many miles on it, etc. That said, this is a really nice looking car (learned of it 2 years ago from Eric’s initial review) and have contemplated buying one. But alas, there’s no manual and no naturally-aspirated V6. Give us those two things and hen they’d be on to something!
Amen to that…in my wildest dreams, there’s a GS with a no-turbo V6 and a rare, limited edition GSX with a dual turbo V6!
You have a good point on about the reliability of GM brands being a function of their customers: the same car badged as a Buick being driven by a 60-something vs. a Pontiac being driven by a 20-something. It’d be an interesting thing to study.