On my way to the 2011 Buick Regal event, hosted on November 12th at the Hollywood Palladium, I had some time to kill at LAX while I waited for my ride. As I stood outside baggage claim, I tried to count how many Buicks drove past. It turns out it was a very easy job, besides an older Century and previous generation LaCrosse, nary a Buick sped by. That dearth of market penetration explained part of the reason why I was in LA to cover a Buick, two things you probably wouldn't put together. Buick is changing and it would dearly love Californians to give it another chance.
Buick has been on a bit of a roll. The Buick Enclave crossover has received a lot of notice and re-launched the brand. The recently arrived 2010 Buick LaCrosse kept that momentum going as one of the best looking Buick sedans in decades. Now Buick is turning to the 2011 Buick Regal to keep the ball rolling.
Both the LaCrosse and Regal share a common platform, Epsilon II, with the Regal coming in just a bit shorter than the LaCrosse (four inches less on the wheelbase and 6.7 inches shorter overall) . From an exterior perspective, the Regal is the plainer looking of the two cars. The Opel Insignia was going to be next Saturn Aura, but that plan was changed when the ringed brand was phased out. This shift in GM's game plan allowed the Chinese Regal to arrive stateside. The Regal's front end has the traditional Buick waterfall grille, but its execution is less elegant that the LaCrosse. The side profile is clean, but you really miss drama of the LaCrosse's sweep-spear. The trunk of the LaCrosse is a bit discordant to me, with its integrated ducktail spoiler, it doesn't match up Buick's design language.
You might notice in the slideshow below that there are no portholes on the Regal's hood. Initially Regals shipped from Germany will not be wearing the Buick signature styling queue. I asked GM design chief Ed Welburn about missing portholes and he said that "All Buicks should have portholes" but would not officially comment on when the Regal might get them. I speculate that this will remedied when Regal production moves to North America.
The Regal on display at the Palladium had its doors locked, so I was unable to capture any interior shots. However, we do have official imagery from GM, and simply peering into the Regal's windows reveals what you might expect: a pleasing design that looks modern and well executed. While there might be a few more buttons on the center stack than you would like to see, there is little to argue about. General Motors has clearly grasped an understanding of how a cars interior should look and feel and has moved to the head of the class.
In this link you can view a video I shot from the reveal event at the Hollywood Palladium. Susan Docherty, GM sales chief, and Bob Lutz, GM marketing chief, co-introduce the 2011 Buick Regal.
Will there be a manual transmission? How about an OPC version? What future models, not yet revealed to the general public, did Buick show us? What was Colbie Caillat like? All these questions and much more material area headed your way in part two of this series, stay tuned!
General Motors covered my expenses to attend this event.