New & Used Buick Regal: In Depth
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The Buick Regal is a handsome, sprightly mid-size four-door that's been in the Buick lineup, on and off, for decades. The more sporting companion to the compact Verano and the large LaCrosse, the Regal has European instincts and some globally influenced design cues.That's a 180-degree turn from its distant past. The Regal nameplate dates back to the early 1970s. In 1973, GM introduced the Regal as a two-door coupe spun off the Century sedan, as a "personal luxury" car along the lines of the Thunderbird. The Regal later added a four-door sedan model, and both were sold with V-6 or V-8 powertrains.
MORE: Read our 2015 Buick Regal review
The second-generation Regal arrived in 1978 and garnered a reputation for being a little bit sporty thanks to its three-speed manual--and to turbocharged models sold as the Regal T-Type, Grand National, and GNX.
In 1988 the third generation of the Regal was launched, this time on a brand-new front-wheel-drive platform. This version both departed from and returned to Regal tradition--being front-wheel drive for the first time but once again offered only as a coupe. Performance fans looked elsewhere as there was no longer a V-8 or turbocharged V-6 option available and eventually, sales started to decline. A sedan variant was reintroduced by 1990.
When the fourth generation of the Regal arrived in 1997, Buick was no longer offering a coupe and there was still no V-8 option. However, a new supercharged model with 240 horsepower on tap was launched bearing the GS name. A dealer upgrade labeled the GSX SLP Performance Package was offered on this GS model, boosting output to 270 horsepower and adding an assortment of performance accessories. Production of the fourth-generation Regal eventually died off in 2004.
The new Buick Regal
The popular nameplate made its return in the 2011 model year on what is essentially a rebadged Opel Insignia sedan. In fact, the Regal was initially planned as the replacement for the Saturn Aura sedan, but that GM division was shuttered in 2009, before it could offer the four-door.
The resulting fifth-generation Regal is a rival for sedans like the Acura TLX, Lincoln MKZ, and Volvo S60. It has barely anything in common with past namesakes, and it's offered in a few different flavors.
In its first model year, the Regal came with either a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter model or a 220-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four. For the 2012 model year, the high-output turbo version dubbed the Regal GS brought 270 horsepower to the table, along with an adjustable suspension and distinctive tuning and styling treatments.
Late in that model year, a version with a mild hybrid system called eAssist was added; it featured a 2.4-liter four-cylinder teamed with lithium-ion batteries that recaptured energy from regenerative braking to add some torque and to improve fuel economy to 25/36 mpg. For 2013, the eAssist hybrid system became the standard drivetrain.
All powertrains featured direct injection and came paired to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift control--save for the GS, which offered a manual transmission.
The current Regal has been fairly well-reviewed, with our editors complimenting its aero style, its neutral front-drive handling and the turbo thrust of the new GS edition. Rear-seat space is a rub for bigger passengers--the Regal's head and leg room in the back row aren't as good as some of the mass-market four-door sedans. Safety scores have been excellent, though, and every Regal has a good set of standard features, from satellite radio to leather upholstery.
For the 2013 model year, the Regal lineup was simplified into three models: the eAssist mild hybrid is the base edition, with the 2.0-liter turbo four powering upscale editions in either 220-hp or 270-hp form. An LCD touchscreen-driven IntelliLink interface controls phone, audio, and navigation when present--and can be ordered with the navigation system and for 2015, 4G LTE connectivity.
Buick brought back all-wheel drive for turbocharged Regals in 2014, as part of a mid-cycle refresh that merged those models into a single engine offering, one with 259 hp. The update also included new infotainment systems and some safety upgrades that carry over into the 2015 model year, including a standard rearview camera, and optional adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, a lane-departure warning system, and a forward-collision warning system.