- 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. First, the tech: an 8.0-inch touchscreen mounted in the dash replaces last year's smaller screen, and a new 4.2-inch screen wedged between the gauges supplements the touchscreen by featuring nav, phone, system, and audio information for the driver. For Regal GS models, that 4.2-inch screen is upgraded to an 8.0-inch screen that changes depending on selected driving mode. Buick's shield of controls better wraps around the new 8.0-inch screen, and two-tone themes with wood trim make the interior cabin a little classier.
The Regal has a split personality this year, depending on trim. The Regal eAssist mild-hybrid version is the frugal pick for 2014; it blends an inline-4 with a small battery pack and electric motor for 182 net horsepower. It falls down compared to full hybrid systems such as the Ford Fusion and the Buick eAssist just isn't as refined as some of the other Buicks we've driven in recent years.
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 twin-scroll, direct-injection unit is borrowed from other GM applications such as the Chevy Malibu and Cadillac ATS, and Buick has landed on a single output number for both cars instead of separating them by 50 hp last year. Both Regal Turbo and GS make 259 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque. That's 11 hp down from last year's GS, but up 39 for this year's Turbo (glass is always half full, right?) with 0-60 mph times staying identical. A 6-speed manual or automatic transmission is available in either car.
All-wheel drive is available in the Regal too, with an electronically controlled limited-slip differential holding court between the rear wheels to aid traction. The Regal's smart ride is still intact—tamed dampers borrowed from the Germans, smooth ride preferred by the Americans, and electric power steering that's not too heavy preffered by us all. All-wheel drive adds better power into corners, something we thought we'd never say about Buicks anyway.
The GS is the only way to get a third pedal, and the only Regal to have Interactive Drive Control, which tunes the suspension, throttle, and steering. The Regal GS won't be confused with many sports cars or sport sedans, but it's our favorite because it offers a sporty ride without sacrificing comfort.
The Regal's excellent safety scorecard should carry over from previous years. This year, the Regal adds a rearview camera as standard, and offers optional forward collision warning, blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and parking sensors.
Buick updated the Regal's infotainment system this year, which they call IntelliLink, to a simpler, brighter interface and removed the old knob controllers. The touchscreen can be configured with user-defined presets—anything from radio presets to destinations—and natural-voice commands seamlessly integrate into the system. Smartphone streaming adds a longer life to the system, and Bose audio adds premium sounds for interested shoppers.