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The Regal may have the most vintage name in the new Buick lineup, but it's the best driver's car the brand offers. It's a version of Opel's Insignia, endowed with Euro manners--and devoid of anything rear-wheel drive or any engine with more than four cylinders.
New in 2011, it's being updated for the 2014 model year, with more infotainment and safety equipment countering a drop in power output on the Regal GS.
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. 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 (Touring and Sport). Two-tone themes with wood trim on some models liven up the already attractive cockpit.
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. Buick says 90 percent of peak torque is available as low as 1700 rpm, but hasn't given performance estimates versus last year's sedans yet.
The Regal also can be fitted with a new all-wheel-drive system, one that uses anti-lock control to simulate a locking differential across the rear wheels. Variable torque distribution front to rear allows the system to send up to 90 percent of the power to the rear wheels, which could improve on the Regal's already zesty, immediate feel. We're predicting the taut feel baked into the Regal's ride and handling, the muted damping of a good German sedan (hint: that's where it was developed), and the reasonably good steering feel in the turbocharged cars will remain intact.
The Regal GS' three-mode Interactive Drive Control system carries over, and exerts some influence over the AWD system, when it's ordered. Computer-controlled shocks Brembo front brake calipers return for the 2014 model year as well.
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 huge 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.We'll have more on the 2014 Regal later this year, with a first drive before it goes on sale in the fall.
- 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