SEATTLE, December 3, 2014 — It’s been a fun ride to see how Buick continues to evolve its branding, especially with a younger demographic over the past few years. Perhaps no other car has done more to bolster that effort than the Regal. Built on the platform of its European counterpart, the Opel Insignia, the Regal brings with it a spirited drive, great technology in a fantastic-looking car that has a few tricks up its sleeve.
When it was released a few years ago, the GS model was the only one available with the highest-performing engine and now that engine is available on the Premium 1 and 2 as well. Its 2.0-liter 4-cylinder churns out 259 horsepower @ 5300rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque at 3000-4000rpm on the Premium models. A bit of fine tuning allows the GS to hit that peak torque at 2500-4000rpm.
A six-speed automatic is your only option in the Premium line, if you insist on a manual transmission then you’ll have to step up to the GS model. Additionally, all-wheel-drive is an option, something to bear in mind for those who live in areas of inclement weather.
Fuel economy is pretty good, considering the weight of the car and the power developed. The EPA estimates on this care are 19 in the city and 27 on the freeway.
The front and rear fascia’s haven’t changed a great deal since the Regal’s major refresh took places a few years ago but there are some minor variances. Overall, the look is great-looking combination of being well-stated, reined yet bold and masculine as well. Unfortunately, Buick still has this odd insistence on using “bling” (shiny stuff) on parts of the exterior, the most annoying of which are the faux vents on the hood. These things not only cheapen the look of the car but also possess the well-honed ability to reflect the sun into the driver’s eyes no matter what the angle of the sun is in the sky.
Buick has stated time and time again, that they are “design cues” taken as a throwback to yesteryear when one could tell how many cylinders the engine is under the hood by looking at the amount of “vents”. They acknowledge they are useless in regards to adding any sort of functionality to the car and are simply there for “looks”. Here’s to hoping they get rid of things on future models that are non-functional but also cheap-looking.
Inside the driver’s seat, Buick has done a great job of helping to make its center-mounted infotainment system the primary focal point of interaction. Its touch-screen is fairly sensitive to the tough and does an admirable job of responsiveness. Audio quality is good but not great, thanks in part to the use of the Bose speakers. There are so many better-sounding speakers on the market, like those from Infinity and Harman/Kardon.
The on-board navigation, while mainly user-friendly, still has that outdated look compared to the Google Earth system you’d find in an Audi. The inclusion of the apps is a very nice touch, who doesn’t want a little Pandora while they’re driving? Overall, the infotainment system is very good and is a much welcomed improvement over previous generations. The eight-inch screen is a welcome improvement as is the IntelliLink system that powers the infotainment center. All the bells and whistles are included here: AM/FM/CD/MP3/Bluetooth Audio/Satellite Radio and Pandora.
The roominess of the Regal is rather good, it’s pretty good in the back, however, does not have tons of leg room for rear adult passengers if the folks up front are at least 5’9” or so. Front seats are comfortable, supporting and contribute to a comfortable ride, even on longer journeys. Another thing to point out is that the slope of the roof line may also inhibit the comfort of taller rear passengers.
Driving the Regal Premium is where the fun-factor really kicks-in. Our test model was equipped with adaptive cruise control as well. The spirited performance of the 2.0-liter engine feels like a very good fit for this car. The torque does a great job of propelling the car forward at a rapid rate from both a stand-still and while passing at freeway speeds. There was never a time when the car felt under-powered. Add-in the fact that the ride inside is nearly whisper quiet and you have the makings for a very rewarding driving experience.
Handling is superb as well. The car corners like it a well-engineered performance sedan should and never felt too “soft”. Ride quality is well dampened and does a good job balancing performance vs. ride. There is a bit of understeer present but nothing too far of what’s to be expected in a front-wheel-drive car.
In the end, Buick has done a good job of positioning this car in the mid-sized performance sedan market but will still have a hard time going after some of the more powerful V6 options available from the likes of Acura or Infiniti.
If you’re looking into getting a good-performing car for around the $40k mark, then seriously give the Regal a test drive. It’s a great driving car that does a lot of things well.