- Dynamic looks
- Taut Euro-style handling
- Regal Turbo and GS' turbo four
- New IntelliLink interface
- AWD now available
- Premium pricing
- Rear seat space is on the tight side
- eAssist gas mileage lags full hybrids
- Power's down on Regal GS
It's the best driver's car in the lineup, and the 2014 Buick Regal adds better infotainment and safety--with a slight cut to the GS' power.
The mid-size Buick Regal is the GM brand's best sedan, and one of the best-looking vehicles built by the company, too. New back in the 2011 model year, the Opel-derived Regal merits some upgrades that bring it closer to the premium-sedan ideal for 2014, including a new turbocharged engine, along with a new infotainment system and safety gear.
It wears one of the most sepia-toned names in the stable, but the Buick Regal is endowed with Euro manners, since it's a close copy of the Euro-market Opel Insignia. It's striking for what it isn't. It's not rear-wheel drive, and none of its engines have more than four cylinders.
The Regal's big optic hook--the Nike-like swoosh stamped into its flanks--hasn't been altered. It's still one of the best-looking cars GM builds, and the LED "wings" factored into its headlamps and taillights add a little more depth to the brilliant design. The grille's been retouched, and a metallic band now connects the taillamps.
The tasteful cabin merits its own upgrades for 2014. The big shield of controls on the center stack melds better into the dash, and an 8.0-inch LCD touchscreen replaces a smaller screen there, while a 4.2-inch screen tucked in between new gauges displays info from the available nav system, phone, audio system, and vehicle. On the Regal GS, the center of the gauge cluster swaps out for an 8.0-inch LCD screen with customizable looks for different driving modes. Two-tone themes with wood trim on some models liven up the already attractive cockpit.
On the road, the Regal splits its identities into frugal and fun. Buick's carried over the Regal with GM's eAssist mild-hybrid pack for 2014; the 182 horsepower accrued from its four-cylinder and battery/motor duo yields middling gas mileage compared to some full hybrids like the Ford Fusion, and handling and refinement have fallen short of the rest of the Regal lineup in recent test cars we've driven.
The other Regals are where enthusiasts flock, and for good reason--and it's in them that the biggest changes take place. The Regal Turbo and Regal GS now get a single turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder to replace last year's last-gen turbo four, which was offered in 220-hp and 270-hp spec. The new turbo's related to the one found in the Chevy Malibu and Cadillac ATS, with a twin-scroll turbo and direct injection. There's no longer a distinction between the two in output, however: Buick's settled on a single quote of 259 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, down 11 hp from the last GS but up 39 hp in the Turbo, both with the same choice of six-speed automatic or manual transmission as before. Zero to 60 mph times are identical to the outgoing car.
The Regal also can be fitted with a new all-wheel-drive system, with an electronically controlled limited-slip differential across the rear wheels. The reasonably taut feel baked into the Regal's ride and handling is still here--it has the muted damping of a good German sedan, and electric power steering that avoids the heavyweight cliches. With all-wheel drive, there's more effective power delivery out of corners--and maybe more interest from shoppers.
As for the GS, it's the only place to get a manual transmission now, and the only Regal to have the three-mode Interactive Drive Control system. It's not a 3-Series, or an ATS, in the level of handling precision it offers, but the GS remains our favorite Regal because it imparts a sporty feel without sacrificing its well-controlled ride, albeit at a price that overlaps some true sport sedans.
As for safety, Buick's earned great crash-test scores with the Regal in the past. This year, it adopts a standard rearview camera (and on the GS, front and rear parking sensors), and adds optional adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, a lane-departure warning system, and a forward-collision warning system.
Bringing the Regal's infotainment system another step forward this year, Buick has upgraded the available IntelliLink system to a simpler, more brightly colored interface based on Cadillac's CUE, without its haptic feedback--but also without the Regal's old knob-style controllers. The touchscreen interface allows users to reconfigure the home screen, to choose up to 60 favorites across its suite of applications, and to store up to a thousand contacts--while integrating smartphone-based streaming audio and accessing navigation with natural-voice commands. Bose audio tops off the package.