New & Used Buick Regal: In Depth
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The Buick Regal is a four-door, mid-size sedan that rejoined the GM brand's lineup for the 2011 model year. Off and on, it had been a part of the Buick family for decades, in many different forms and sizes.
Today, the Regal is the middle child in a three-sedan lineup that includes the large LaCrosse and the compact Verano. More so than those siblings, the Regal has European instincts and some globally influenced design cues.
MORE: Read our 2015 Buick Regal reviewThe Regal 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.
When today's Regal was introduced, it offered a choice between a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a 2.0-liter turbo that made 220 hp. Buick revived the Regal GS nameplate for 2012, with that car powered by a higher-output version of the turbo engine tuned to produce 270 hp. The GS also received its own exterior and interior treatments as well as an adjustable suspension that could be tuned for comfort or sportier driving.
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.
Buick dropped the entry-level four-cylinder for the 2013 model year, replacing it with a mild-hybrid "eAssist" powertrain based on a four-cylinder engine that uses a small battery to power what is essentially am upsized alternator motor that provides some boost and gets recharged with regen. The 220-hp Regal Turbo and 270-hp Regal GS remained, both using turbocharged 2.0-liter fours.
All-wheel drive was made available on both turbocharged Regals for the 2014 model year. The Regal Turbo and GS models also now share an engine—a 259-hp version of the turbo four—and are differentiated by trim and chassis tuning. The 2014 update also brought new infotainment systems across the lineup, as well as safety upgrades, such as a now-standard rearview camera, available adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and forward-collision warning.
An LCD touchscreen-driven IntelliLink interface controls phone, audio, and navigation when present--and can be ordered with navigation. For 2015, Buick is offering 4G LTE connectivity that can turn the car into a WiFi hotspot for mobile devices.
Buick Regal history
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.