They may not be popular, but some folks out there just love wagons. Most of us here at the TFL office are no exception, as they offer a practical, and even stylish, alternative to the ubiquitous crossover. The Subaru Outback is the go-to choice for most wagon buyers, but they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. Tim wrote to us specifically saying he didn’t want a Subaru Outback, but wanted to know which wagon we’d recommend as an alternative:
“I recently moved from Houston Texas to Minneapolis Minnesota and need an AWD vehicle. I like wagons and hate the Subaru Outback, so I’ve narrowed it down to a VW Alltrack or a Buick TourX.
What advice can you give? The car will be a mobile office of sorts for me so storage and features are important. The Alltrack is being heavily discounted as is the TourX so both will be similar price I think I would appreciate any advice on which will fare better in the long run.”
Weighing the options
There’s no mention of budget in Tim’s question, but the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack does sport a slightly lower starting price ($27,790) than the Buick Regal TourX ($29,995). Both come with all-wheel drive as standard fare, but there are some key differences to consider.
The 2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack uses a 1.8-liter turbocharged inline-four cylinder engine with 168 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque. That engine sends its power to all four wheels through either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed DSG automatic. On the other hand, the 2019 Buick Regal TourX has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It is more powerful, producing 250 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the Alltrack, it’s mated exclusively to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
While the Buick is more powerful, the Golf Alltrack wins on ground clearance. The Regal TourX gets by with a meager 5.8 inches of ground clearance, which is much less than Subaru’s 8.7 inches. It’s also less than the Alltrack, which comes in with 6.9 inches of ground clearance. So, as far as dealing with the harsh Minnesotan winters, the Alltrack wins out on clearance here.
On the other hand, the Buick Regal TourX is roomier, by virtue of being physically larger than the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. In terms of features, both cars are fairly equal in terms of what they provide by trim level.
Tim mentioned both Buick and Volkswagen are heavily discounting their wagons, and that’s true. Take the local VW dealer in Minneapolis, for example. Even on their website, they’re taking $5,000 off brand new Golf Alltracks — no questions asked. While the city’s Buick dealerships had a noticeable lack of Regal TourX models, I did find one locally here in Boulder, Colorado and it’s the same story. With dealer markdowns and manufacturer incentives, you can get Buick’s wagon for about $5,000 off.
Which is the better long-term buy?
On the basis of value for money, depreciation and capability, I’d lean toward the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Sadly, this wagon is slated to go out of production this year, so you won’t be able to buy a new one for much longer. That said, the Volkswagen is less expensive to buy and shouldn’t suffer as badly from depreciation over time.
TFL by and large doesn’t do reliability testing, so we can’t say which car will hold up better in the long term. Over the three months we had the Volkswagen Alltrack, it didn’t give us any issues, but we haven’t gotten to test the Regal TourX long-term.
Apart from Subaru, other wagons mainly come from luxury brands like Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Volvo. These two are the lowest-priced wagons out there, and they are both viable alternatives if you don’t want to buy a Subaru.
Which wagon would you recommend to Tim? Let us know in the comments! If you have a car buying question, send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.