- Regal Turbo and GS' turbo four
- New IntelliLink interface
- Dynamic looks
- Taut Euro-style handling
- AWD now available
- eAssist gas mileage lags full hybrids
- Power's down on Regal GS
- Premium pricing
- Rear seat space is on the tight side
The Regal GS is the best driver's car in the Buick lineup, and it makes for an interesting alternative for cars like the Volvo S60.
The 2015 Buick Regal is one of the best sedans currently built from GM; it marries European driving dynamics, tidy sport-sedan styling, and quite a bit of elegance, and it's probably the strongest argument, at present, for Buick's moves toward being seen as a premium (if not full-luxury) brand.
Based on a car sold by Opel, the Regal showed up in 2011, and it's moved closer and closer to the luxury category, thanks to a turbocharged engine, high-tech safety equipment, and an advanced infotainment system.
The tasteful cabin also looks great for 2015. 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. Plus, the Regal now offers 4G LTE connectivity via OnStar, and it can broadcast a WiFi connection in the car, too.
On the road, the Regal splits its identities into fun and frugal. The Regal Turbo and Regal GS now get a single turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. 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 previous models.
Buick carried over the Regal with GM's eAssist mild-hybrid pack last year; 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.
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.
The Regal also can be fitted with an 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 safety, Buick's earned great crash-test scores with the Regal in the past. It has 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, last year Buick 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.