I somehow bamboozled my way onto one of the most epic drive programs we’ve ever attended: A 1,300-mile road trip from Denver, Colo. to Oregon City, Ore. spanning four days and four nights, across the western United States, in 2018 Buick Regal TourX wagons. A journey that would have taken the original pilgrims months, would take us just a few days. I was paired with a familiar face – Mike Accardi – once of the *ahem* other news site that’s managed by a group of Canadians, now of another website ran by Israelis. This essentially should make Mike and I the fiercest of rivals. However, this time was different. It was a lifestyle wave, and we were outnumbered.
These premium Buick wagons were obviously a far cry from the lumbering ox-pulled buckboards that were used 175-150 years ago, when pioneers and frontiersmen braved the nearly half-year-long journey from the Eastern United States to the Pacific West Coast. Just like the old computer game some of us got to play as kids, these emigrants risked life, limb and diseases like dysentery after months in the wild to forge a new life, in a new place, far far away from what will eventually be where the civil war was fought. The intensity of the journey – where as much as ten percent of travelers are estimated to have perished along the way – makes the first world problems of today’s modernist society appear laughable.
Accardi and I were some of the only automotive media in attendance, while the rest were lifestyle and travel writers. This, of course, meant that they were the enemy, and left me to pair with my rival in an effort to best our mutual adversaries in a series of competitions. Not unlike an episode of Top Gear, but it’s doubtful much of the travel and leisure people would understand that reference.
The journey began in Denver on a Sunday, with a quick jaunt to Cheyenne, Wyoming upon arrival. Accardi and I, in characteristic fashion, were unable to participate in Day 1 activities due to later flights into Denver. This meant we had to miss the first challenge: lassoing. This put us on the bottom of the scoreboard, out of ten teams, and on the back foot from the start. This also meant we lost out on claiming various supplies that would come in handy for the long journey ahead. Items such as cooking utensils for the forthcoming biscuit making challenge, or extra paintballs for the target shooting challenge. What we were left with were frontiersman costumes, which we didn’t wear, and a drum of pretzels, which we didn’t eat. The game could have been rigged against us. After all, auto writers aren’t supposed to win competitions on lifestyle drives.
The Caribbean Of The Rockies
Monday morning greeted us with a 400-mile drive from Cheyenne to Garden City, Utah, which was shored up on Bear Lake. The lake, we learned was nicknamed “The Caribbean of the Rockies,” because of its pristinely blue color, was an impressively large body of fresh water that expanded mostly north and south, with half of it crossing into Idaho. For most, that meant at least six hours on the road, without stops or breaks factored in. Especially because Buick was keeping track of each team’s OnStar Smart Driver score. A “Smart Driver” is allegedly somebody who never breaks 80 miles per hour, initiates zero hard braking events, and is light on the throttle. They should realistically re-name it to “Boring Driver” if you ask us. That criteria implies that any driver of the Corvette Racing can’t possibly be “smart” because they are used to quicker driving patterns and have adapted accordingly. Just as well, our Boring Driver score dropped each time we wanted to make the vast expanse of Wyoming – a vast expanse of big sky, rolling hills, and… nothing – go by just a little faster. And at the end of the day, we still had a car to evaluate.
Being that we weren’t boring drivers, we can fully attest that the 2018 Buick Regal TourX enjoys soaking up the miles as well as you’d expect something developed in Germany to do. The Regal TourX is autobahn capable, and thus laughs at the principle of the OnStar Smart Driver score. Having driven all three variants of the 2018 Buick Regal, the TourX emerges as our personal favorite, even if it doesn’t have the performance chops of the V6-powered 2018 Regal GS. Its cargo space is superior to most crossovers, at 73.5 cubic feet with the second row folded, while possessing a superior center of gravity at the same time. The Regal TourX is the underdog hero for anybody opposing the crossover SUV market shift, and for not too much money.
With roughly an hour left into the journey, the scenery became increasingly vivid. The road whimsically cut through the green and jagged mountains, before revealing its secret. The massive body of liquid azure situated over 5,900 feet above sea level. Our final stop for the night was Conestoga Ranch – a resort where people are allowed to freely practice the art of glamping. Which is basically like pretending to be nomadic and rugged in the wilderness, but just on the outside. Because unlike camping, these massive tents – larger than most one-story houses – featured everything that would make a temperamental spouse happy. Heated blankets, running water, and modern plumbing were seamlessly conjoined with the smell of wood smoke, the sound of windy grass, and a sunset behind the mountains. It was time for our next challenge.
Not sure about you, but our idea of biscuits involves a flaky, handheld clump of joyful carbohydrates and butter baked in an oven. The challenge allowed for different methods of biscuit making, which would be cooked on an open fire. Per the recommendation of the chef demonstrating to everybody who hasn’t been in a kitchen before, the lifestyle people chucked their wads of dough into unwieldily cast-iron dutch ovens with indoctrinated inputs. Allegedly this counts as making a biscuit, and not a loaf of bread. For the sake of time, as we were told, we used a baking pan and made actual biscuits, because the dutch oven method could take 45 minutes, and we were supposed to be graded on both time and flavor. Seeing as we finished 20 minutes faster than the others, the rules mysteriously changed, and everybody was only graded on flavor. We finished middle of the pack because of our gamble with salting the dough. But we were the only ones that made actual biscuits.
All we could do was wait out the night, until our next challenge the following morning.