Despite numerous failures, GM had another go at the European import venture with the 2011 Buick Regal sports sedan. This time, instead of shipping over a normal, run-of-the-mill sedan, Buick brought over the European Car of the Year, the Opel Insignia and it seems the magic is still there.
Coming in at just $26, 245, the Buick Regal is the bargain of the entry-level luxury sedan world, as the equivalent BMW or Mercedes-Benz would cost thousands more in initial price and insurance costs. From appearance standards, the Regal does appear to be a pricier vehicle, but GM is fully capable of jacking that price up quite a bit. Order the turbocharged engine option, which we would advise you do, and the initial cost will jump by $2,500. In fact, a top-of-the-line Regal CXL Turbo could cost as much as $34,000, so don’t think this new half American and half German sedan is a bargain.
Still, the Regal’s appearance makes up for its interesting price, as this machine appears to be extremely luxurious yet modern. The test Regal was covered in a dark metallic gray, but it was more of a white color after driving through the snow and ice. Still, the overall design is brilliant in just about every way imaginable. In a word, this certainly isn’t you’re grandparents Buick.
The design incorporates classic Buick looks, such as the waterfall grille, but from there back all is new. The rear of the car is very similar to that of the European Opel and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. There is a tad too much chrome around the windows, rear and front of the vehicle, but being an American car that sort of thing is expected.
The interior of the vehicle is one of the Regal’s best aspects. The instrument panel, seats and door panels are covered in brilliant materials, but at times they can be a tad cheap in feeling. The interior of the test vehicle was pure black with black wooden accents and some chrome bits around the gearshift that we could have done without. The back of the car features some less than stellar bits, such as the door panel accents, but that’s sort of expected. The steering wheel feels nice in the hands, but once again, the fake-aluminum bits are not needed in this vehicle.
Still, despite the classic GM bits, the overall layout is stunning. The COMAND-type knob by the gearshift works well in this situation and it’s fairly simple to get accustomed too. While it might seem like a plethora of buttons that only a teenager could figure out, it’s actually fairly simple. The navigation and audio systems are easy to use and work well, especially the optional Harmon-Kardon sound system that is sensational.
With all these technological goodies adorning the Regal, one would hope that it would ride like a dream. Luckily, it does and the interior helps out immensely. The cabin wraps around the driver like a small Jaguar XJ and the leather seats are comfortable in the front, but at the rear there is a lack of padding that can grow tiresome on long journeys. Visibility is decent, but the large pillars can be a handful when changing lanes or backing out of parking spaces.
General Motors is attempting to market the Regal as a German sports sedan and well done to them, nothing sells sedans like those three words but sadly; real life is a little different. The 2.4-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine is a little down on power by Germany’s standards and even though those 182 ponies provide decent thrust, it just isn’t enough. Off the line, the Regal’s 172 pound-feet of torque won’t force anybody into the seat back, but it’s decent. As is the six-speed automatic transmission that lacks steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, which seems illogical considering most sports sedans are equipped with them. Still, it did its job and returned around 30 miles per gallon highway and 24 miles per gallon overall.