Manufacturers are clamoring to create SUVs in every conceivable shape and size at the moment, but that doesn't mean wagons can't thrive too. The Buick Regal TourX, developed as the Opel Insignia Country Tourer, mixes the perks of high-riding SUVs with city-friendly road manners to create a compelling, stylish package.
They might be making a comeback at the moment, but the formula for high-riding wagons has been around for decades. Subaru was early to capitalize with the Outback, before posh Volvo and Audi wagons adopted the jacked-up wagon as well. Now, everyone from Skoda to Mercedes is on board. Not to be left out, Opel has taken the Insignia Sport Tourer and sent it to boot camp. Americans will be able to enjoy the results with a Buick badge on the nose, while Australians get their wagon in Holden form.
On the outside, the Regal TourX has been designed to look tougher than the regular wagon. Along with its 20-mm (0.79-in) taller ride height, the design team has slapped a set of black wheelarch extensions onto the wagon, and rounded out the look with some silver skidplates. We're not sure they serve any practical purpose, given most owners are unlikely to leave the pavement anyway.
Owners are likely to appreciate the GKN Twinster all-wheel drive system, borrowed from the drift-mode enabled, tire-torturing Ford Focus RS. Rather than using conventional differentials, the system uses a set of electronically-controlled clutches to shuffle torque between the wheels as required. It can even send all the engine's torque to one wheel, which is exactly what happens when owners prod the Drift Mode button in their Focus RS.
Although the Buick won't perform drifts on demand, the all-wheel drive system can shoot torque to the wheel with most traction when the going gets slippery. It will also send grunt to the outside wheels during high-speed cornering, helping nix understeer before it can ruin the fun. Coupled with the FlexRide chassis system – which allows drivers to tweak the feel of their damping, steering, throttle and gearbox – the GKN all-wheel drive should make the car competent in the corners.
Of course, the TourX wouldn't be a very good wagon if it wasn't practical. Folding the rear seats expands the load bay to a capacious 1,665 liters (58.8 cu.ft) and, if that's not enough room, the standard roof rails make it easier to carry skis, kayaks and bikes.
Engines will vary depending on market, but the Buick version of the car will be sold with four-cylinder engine making 250 hp (186 kW) and 295 lb.ft (400 Nm) of torque. Those outputs are nothing to be sniffed at, but it'll be interesting to see if displacement-conscious American buyers will be comfortable selecting a turbo-four over the bigger flat-six on offer in the Subaru Outback.
It might be down on cylinders, but the Buick matches the Subaru when it comes to safety. Along with the usual lane-departure, forward-collision and rear cross-traffic warnings, the car will automatically lift the back of the hood up by 4-inches in low-speed pedestrian accidents in the hope of reducing injury.
Pricing hasn't been announced for the Buck Regal TourX, Opel/Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer or the Holden Commodore Tourer. The car will be on show in Opel guise at the Frankfurt Motor Show.