2016 Buick Regal Review

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The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
June 11, 2016

The 2016 Buick Regal turbo intrigues us, with excellent styling and handling; we'd skip the base car, and make sure our back-seat passengers were small.

The Buick Regal sports all the equipment it needs to make it a convincing performer in the sport-sedan and luxury-sedan world: a turbocharged engine, high-tech safety equipment, and an advanced infotainment system. The Regal is simply one of General Motors' best sedans, and some of that is due to its roots. The Regal is essentially a version of the Opel Insignia, a car developed and sold by GM's European sales arm.

The Regal is a Goldilocks among mid-size sedans: it marries sport styling with great road manners. It's elegant, refined, and makes an excellent pitch for the kind of car shoppers Buick wants more of—the ones who pay a little more for premium features and finishes for a car that's similar in other ways to less expensive family sedans.

The swoopy, sleek, and tightly composed look of the latest Regal is one of the reasons we recommend this mid-sizer so often. It's the most athletic-looking vehicle in the Buick lineup, and it's completely discarded any Buick cues from the past. The Nike-like swoosh down its sides says as much about its mission, as the absent chrome ventiport holes that can be found on just about every other Buick, past and present.

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Inside, the Regal is mostly intuitive and completely pleasing. Its two-tone wood and leather trim on top models is handsome but subdued, and the cockpit's been progressively updated for a smooth integration of buttons, screens and new technology.

On the road, the Regal splits its identities into fun and frugal. On the frugal side, there's a base model powered by a 2.4-liter, 182-horsepower inline-4. It's just adequate in power and in refinement; there's a reason it's been on and off again in the Regal lineup over the past few model years. Off the menu this year: the Regal's mild-hybrid eAssist model, which is only offered to fleet buyers in 2016.

We don't mind, we'd rather have either of the Regal Turbo models anyway. Both the Regal Turbo and Regal GS get their power from a 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes 259 hp and 295 lb-ft of twist. Both models power up to 60 mph in less than 7 seconds, and each has a decent growl, but if you're looking to give a shift, only the GS is available with a manual transmission.

The GS isn't exactly a BMW 3-Series or even Cadillac ATS competitor, but its our favorite of the lineup because of its sporty feel and good-natured ride. What we lack in top-end performance, we appreciate it cruisability while keeping our spines intact.

The Regal can be fitted with all-wheel drive, including an electronically controlled limited-slip differential for the rear wheels for better control and stability. The Regal's ride is composed and taut, without being stiff, and takes all of the best parts of its German heritage and brings them to the U.S. in an unlikely package. Its power steering is meaty, without being overly heavy, and the performance from the all-wheel-drive system is well worth the look from shoppers—especially in cold-weather states.

The Regal is rated for five, but most comfortable for four. It's slightly smaller than some of the mid-sizers in its class that are bordering on full-size territory. There's plenty of room up front for adults, but we've found that asking three to fit in back would require some familiarity with yoga, or one or two pre-teens.

Buick's safety scorecard with the Regal has been respectable. The Regal now boasts a standard rearview camera on all models, and GS cars are equipped with front and rear parking sensors. Safety extras include adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitors, and forward collision warning systems.

The Regal uses Buick's latest and greatest infotainment system, dubbed IntelliLink, which borrows all the good parts of the Cadillac CUE system, without porting over the bad parts. The Buick skips CUE's haptic feedback, but offers a programmable interface that can store up to 60 "favorites," which could be anything from a radio station to a destination preset. Bluetooth phone connectivity and streaming will give the Buick a long shelf life, and Bose audio is just the frosting if you're looking for premium sounds.

Supplemental information from the IntelliLink system is fed to a 4.2-inch display between the gauges on most cars, but GS models upgrade to an 8.0-inch screen. Navigation, audio, phone, and vehicle information is displayed on the screen, which controlled via steering wheel-mounted controls. The Regal, like other GM vehicles, now boasts 4G LTE connectivity to turn the Buick into a rolling hotspot for an added monthly fee.

Base Regals are rated at 19/31/23 mpg—well below 4-cylinder Hyundai Sonatas and Nissan Altimas. The Regal's turbo 2.0-liter inline-4 earns a 20/31/24 rating when paired with a manual transmission, or 21/30/24 mpg with the automatic.

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