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Buick doesn't get a lot of respect from many in the automotive press. Accordingly, some people are under the impression that the brand is on a slow slide to oblivion, like Oldsmobile. That's not true.
Not yet, anyhow.
The fact is that Buicks, unlike Oldsmobiles, actually sell pretty well. The full-size LeSabre, for example, is one of the best-selling cars in its segment. The problem is that Buick's typical customer is an older driver, who prefers the senior-citizen styling, size and floaty ride that Buick, almost alone these days, continues to purvey.
It's a problem for Buick because attracting younger buyers — the type that currently purchases Toyota Camrys and Lexus ES300s, Nissan Maximas and Honda Accords — is critical if Buick wants to avoid taking a dirt bath like Oldsmobile sometime in the next decade or so.
Of all the current Buick models, the midsize Regal sedan is the first one since the turbocharged T-Types and Grand Nationals of the mid-1980s to cast a come-hither glance at folks under 50 — those not quite ready for Matlock reruns or Metamucil for breakfast. Too, it offers a body style that, although quiet and restrained-looking, does not suggest "starter casket" — especially when you chose the right color schemes, such as burgundy with tan interior.
More to the point, Buick tempts younger buyers interested in performance as well as comfort with the prospect of a stout, 240-hp supercharged V-6 engine in the Regal GS that can put the hurting on many import sport sedans.
The Toyota Camry and Nissan Maxima, for example, have 200-hp and 222-hp engines, respectively. Even the Lexus ES300 is a relative weakling compared to the muscular GS. Admittedly, these cars are better handlers than the Regal and their excellent chassis and suspension dynamics qualify them as "true" sports sedans, while the Buick is more of a sedan with some sporting attributes. But pulling onto a freeway or grunting away from the pack at a stoplight — real-world type driving situations — are areas in which the Regal GS really shines.