- Euro-style inside and out
- Outback's a hit, so why not a Buick?
- Attractive styling
- Lots of power
- Will outdoorsy types buy a Buick?
- Will Americans see the advantage to a hatchback?
- Safety tech costs extra
- Price could escalate
A thorough reboot of the Buick Regal is just what the model needed. It looks promising, but will buyers show up?
For 2018 Buick has rebooted its Regal lineup. Gone is last year's conventional sedan, replaced instead by a Euro-style 5-door hatchback with clean lines and a wagon with extra ground clearance that has the Subaru Outback directly in its sights.
It's a two-prong effort with global roots: the Regal Sportback is basically the European-market Opel Insignia and the Regal TourX is a station wagon with fender flares, standard all-wheel drive, and a little more ground clearance.
Both models share the same general styling, interior, underpinnings, and powertrain, but they'll shoot for different buyers.
Underneath, the Regal line utilizes a 2.0-liter turbo-4 rated at an estimated 250 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. That latter figure drops to 260 lb-ft with the front-wheel drive that's standard on the Sportback, and all-wheel drive is available on all models. Front-wheel drive Regal Sportbacks use a 9-speed automatic transmission, while all-wheel drive versions shift power to the wheels via an 8-speed automatic.
That all-wheel-drive system features a twin-clutch rear differential to rapidly transfer power to the wheel with the most grip, although a traction control system is primarily responsible for monitoring wheelspin. Underneath both Regals sits a multi-link rear suspension and MacPherson struts up front.
Both models are five-seaters with an interior that straddles the line between mainstream and high-end. Although Buick hasn't announced equipment details yet, it has said that a 7.0-inch infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard and that an 8.0-inch screen with built-in navigation will be an optional extra. Bose audio is on the options list and all-wheel-drive variants boast active noise canceling designed to drown the outside world.
An option package on both adds blind-spot monitors, rear park assist, and rear cross-traffic alerts. A separate option package adds even more—automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, lane departure warnings, and adaptive cruise control.
Stretching 192.9 inches, the Regal Sportback is about 2 inches longer than the outgoing sedan. It's a near twin to the Insignia designed and built in Europe by GM's global subsidiary, Opel. But this might be the last we see out of Opel—GM is beginning to sell that brand to the French automaker that builds Peugeot and Citroen vehicles.
The Sportback looks mostly like a fastback sedan, but its rear hides a massive tailgate that opens to reveal a hefty 31.5 cubic feet of space with the second row upright. Fold those seats and maximum capacity swells to a crossover-rivaling 60.7 cubes.
The Sportback will be offered in base, Preferred, Premium, and Essence trim levels. Pricing hasn't been announced, but we doubt there will be a massive diversion from the outgoing model's roughly $28,000 price of entry.
Both models also include a pedestrian safety system that uses pyrotechnics to pop the rear of the hood upward if it detects a human making contact with the vehicle. It's a byproduct of European safety standards, but one that may be welcome in an increasingly urbanized America.
The TourX sits higher off the ground than a typical wagon, but it's not clear just how much ground clearance it will offer when it hits the market. It is, however, 3.4 inches longer overall, bringing it to 196.3 inches from bumper-to-bumper. That's hefty—7 inches longer than an Outback and more than a foot above a Volvo V60 Cross Country, the two models Buick says it's targeting.
Predictably, the TourX is roomy inside, offering 73.5 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume with the second row of seats folded forward. That's a figure that exceeds both of its rivals—but, again, it's not a huge shock.
The TourX should nearly mirror the Sportback in terms of pricing, albeit minus the mid-level Premium trim level.
The 2018 Regal duo marks a major redo for Buick, but one the brand may have needed. After all, its outgoing Regal was widely lauded as an undiscovered gem—emphasis on the "undiscovered," since it didn't exactly fly off of dealer lots.