The Buick Regal may bring plenty of European sophistication to Buick's line-up, but buyers have collectively shrugged their shoulders of late; the Regal is now outsold by its American sibling, the Verano. To stay fresh, the Regal needed an infusion of technology and a bit more style and technology, which would explain why the 2014 Regal offers all three.
The Regal's freshening starts with a facelift: the front end features a slightly bolder, wider grille and some tweaked headlights (halogen projectors are standard, HID projectors are optional) with standard LED running lights. Out back there's a new trunklid with a more prominent chrome "wing" that extends out from the Buick badge all the way through to the revised LED taillights.
That fresher look is more apparent on the interior, because Buick engineers were able to clean up the current Regal's messy center stack and replace it with a much simpler setup. Buick leveraged the fact that its IntelliLink system is primarily touchscreen-based and removed a great portion of the current model's physical buttons. Crucially, the car keeps physical controls for the HVAC system and volume/radio station, which should satisfy purists. Buick says that four new interior color combinations spice up the interior, including a black-on-brown scheme. GS models feature black-on-black interiors with contrast stitching.
The IntelliLink system received some updates as well. The system, which more closely mimics Cadillac's CUE, adds updated voice activation that more accurately understands natural language (as opposed to a strict set of commands), and offers smoother operation by hand by allowing users to drag or scroll with their fingers, even while using a traditional resistive touchscreen.
Elsewhere around the interior, Buick added a 4.2-inch color display in the middle of the standard gauge cluster to show trip computer, economy, and navigation information from the IntelliLink system. GS buyers get a bit more flash, and much more screen real estate: the top-trim Regal uses an eight-inch color screen in the middle of the cluster, flanked by physical gauges. The digital "gauge" is customizable via steering-wheel controls to show information like your current speed, navigation directions, audio source/track title in two modes, "touring" and "sport."
The refreshed steering wheel also has a spoke's worth of buttons devoted to the Regal's new safety features. General Motors gives the 2014 Regal a full complement of active and passive safety features, which include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic braking intervention, blind spot monitoring, front and rear park assist, a rear back-up camera with cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning.
The Regal's base model will continue to be powered by GM's 2.4-liter eAssist mild hybrid system, which combines a 2.4-liter I-4 with a 15-horsepower electric motor to improve efficiency and acceleration. Total system output is 182 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque. The eAssist powertrain is unchanged for 2014.
Buyers who want more speed will have two more Regal models to choose from, but they'll have the same engine either way. Buick ditched the old 2.0-liter Ecotec turbo--which made 220 hp in Turbo guise and 270 hp in GS guise--and replaced it with an all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4, borrowed from the Chevrolet Malibu Turbo. That engine makes 259 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque in both the Regal Turbo and Regal GS.
It's a strange move on GM's part: not only does the GS have no more horsepower than the Regal Turbo, but it also makes 11 fewer horses than before. GM says that the new engine will make up for the horsepower deficit with a broader torque curve. Maximum torque is still 295 lb-ft., achieved at 1700 rpm (the old engine needed 700 more revs to achieve the same figure).
Buick says that the GS will have some exclusive features, the most notable of which is a six-speed manual transmission (a six-speed auto is optional). Other exclusive features include a drive mode selector that tweaks steering effort, automatic transmission behavior, and damping levels. The GS comes standard with Buick's HiPer strut system, which quells torque steer under hard acceleration and improves ride and handling, and four-piston Brembo front brakes. 19-inch alloy wheels with Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires are standard, but buyers can step up to 20-inch polished-alloy wheels with Pirelli P Zero rubber.
If you're still worried about torque steer and handling, Buick's 2014 Regal does have one more trick up its sleeve: all-wheel drive. The system uses a center differential that can send up to 90 percent of torque to the rear wheels in low-traction situations, and Buick added an electronic limited-slip differential (brake programming) to the rear wheels to improve cornering ability. All-wheel drive is available on Turbo and GS models with an automatic transmission. The six-speed manual GS and eAssist models are front-wheel drive only.
While pricing for the new cars haven't yet been announced, General Motors promises that the new cars will go on sale this fall.