Buick Regal

With the abrupt demise in 2009 of half of GM’s divisions (in my opinion, a deeply logical and long overdue move—albeit a painful one—for which GM’s government overseers get zero credit), Buick suddenly had room to expand its footprint a bit. This is a good thing because a medium and a large sedan plus an SUV does not a healthy lineup make. So, the addition of a smaller, sportier sedan like the Regal strikes me as an entirely positive move.

I also support the notion of an all-four-cylinder engine lineup—normally aspirated, turbo, high-output turbo—which helps draw a distinction with the LaCrosse and also strikes a note of efficiency and modernity (as it does for the Audi A4 and the Hyundai Sonata). Speaking of the A4, that car has long been a favorite of mine, as was the original Acura TSX, both of which laid out a template that this Buick now  follows, in that they were but smaller and more expensive than their mainstream competition.

So this car should be right up my alley. But after spending a week with a normally aspirated Regal CXL, I find that it leaves me a little cold. A car like the Regal needs to make a case for itself on the intangibles, and there isn’t enough here that is special. The styling—purely subjective, granted—I find generically attractive, but it doesn’t really stand out in any way. The interior, with standard leather, has no glaring missteps (the logic of the optional multi-function screen is a little odd, but one gets used to it) but the overall impression isn’t any more upscale than the mainstream mid-size sedans’ upper trim levels.

It’s the same with the dynamics. The 2.4-liter, direct-injected four makes an impressive 182 hp, which is enough to move this midsize along. (This engine is far better suited to this car than it is in the larger LaCrosse.) It also gets pretty good gas mileage, at 30 mpg highway. However, I do wish it sounded happier in its work. This is not an engine that goads the driver into wringing out every last rpm. Similarly, the chassis is very capable, but you’re not really encouraged to discover its abilities, mostly because the steering is rather lifeless and disconnected.

The overall feeling that I get from this car is a little too Saturn Aura—which was to be its role originally (at least in the USA; it’s first iteration was as the Opel Insignia).

The design is right on but Buick please address the powertrains. If you want to compare yourself to the premium segment, then you should offer better engine choices in this price range. A nice 2.5 liter engine with about 170-180 hp acheiving in the mid-upper 30 MPG range. The turbo is a great choice but better with at least 250 -270 hp. The Regal GS could have been 300 hp turbo. The new Regal is a great car that needs a few more horses in the stable.
Tim Rosser
Seawolf, I agree with you wholeheartedly, except on the manual thing. I really believe the manual gear box cars will sell. But, yeah, the HP numbers are really downright disappointing and down right embarrassing.
Buick is having serious problems with the Regal horsepower. The should not have brought out anything with 182HP, that is Camry territory, when they are trying to brand themselves as premium. The Hyundai is 198HP, and you can get one starting at $19,000. Then look at the turbo, only 220HP, when the lower end Focus will come out with 247HP within one year. Published tests of the turbo, do not look to promising. Then they want to bring a stick shift, which at Buick will not sell, while, I don't know why, they keep the Lucerne in the dealers floor, an old car that weakens the change in image they want to develop. They are in the right track but, there is more work to do still.

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