SEDONA, Ariz. -- Buick does not refer to the 2018 Regal TourX as a wagon, despite it clearly being a wagon.
It's a marketing move that annoyed me at first but I've come to accept it as a smart tactic.
Why the change of heart? The simplest answer: "The Brady Bunch."
"We just want people to look at it for what it is, consider it and not pigeonhole it," Phil Brook, U.S. vice president of marketing for Buick and GMC, told Automotive News last week during a media drive here. "And not think of 'The Brady Bunch' when you say, 'wagon.' "
It's true. Americans have fallen in and out of love with wagons, despite a passionate infatuation with black, diesel-powered wagons with manual transmissions by many, if not most, auto journalists.
For many customers, the word "wagon," like "diesel," can bring about negative preconceived notions.
Consider when someone says, "minivan." What do you think of?
I'm guessing your first thought wasn't the Chrysler Pacifica, a sleek, tech-savvy minivan that Waymo is using to test autonomous technology. Instead, it likely involved wood paneling and a "soccer mom."
The Plymouth Satellite wagon was a great car for the Brady family in the 1969-74 TV series but the Regal TourX is not a traditional station wagon.
Like many brands, Buick has advanced the wagon to be better-looking, tech-savvy and well-powered with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 250 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque combined with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It also features an all-wheel-drive system with active twin-clutch that disperses torque to each wheel based on need.
Buick also knows that customers looking for a wagon know it's a wagon, which is likely why when you search Google for "Buick TourX" or "Buick wagon," the car is listed as a "luxury wagon." That's despite "wagon" not appearing in the description of the TourX on the brand's website.
Buick isn't the only one distancing itself from the preconceived notions that come with "wagon." At Audi, wagons are "allroad" models, while at Subaru they are "crossovers" -- both conquest target brands of Buick for the TourX.
"We just want to be seen as one of those cars, not a wagon," Brook said.
There's also little to no downside for Buick by adding the TourX. Buick has repositioned the redesigned 2018 Regal as a hatchback and wagon in hopes the nameplate will stand out in the declining, yet crowded, midsize car segment.
It's arguably a crossover alternative for those who don't want to give up the handling and ride of a car but would like the cargo room of a crossover.
While I'm not going to call the TourX a "true 'crossover,' " as Buick has referred to it; the wagon is a nice addition that I don't expect to be selected for any modern-day remakes of "The Brady Bunch."