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2011 Buick RegalEnlarge Photo
General Motors is busy remaking its Buick brand, and the 2011 Buick Regal is a big piece of the puzzle. With the first units now hitting showrooms, I was able to get a few minutes behind the wheel of a Regal CXL in east-central Wisconsin recently.
My drive was brief, but it included four-lane highway, in-town surface streets, twisty back roads, and two-lane by-ways with broken pavement.
The CXL is powered by a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder that matches up to a 6-speed automatic. For now, the 2.4 is the only engine choice, but a 2.0-liter turbo four is expected later in the year.
The most glaring trait of the new Regal is its ride--it's composed and solid, striking a nice balance between soft and firm. It's not a sporty ride, but it's not soft and floaty like Buicks of yore. It's simply unconcerned with anything happening at street level. All pavement breaks are filtered out, resulting in a ride experience that is eerily flat.
Acceleration is also a bit flat--those who want to win stoplight drag races should probably wait for the turbo. There's enough power for around-town action, but it's not enough grunt to really satisfy the enthusiast driver.
Handling is also a tad disappointing. There's a bit too much body roll, and the car isn't as sharp in corners as one would like. The too-light steering feels a bit disconnected. Expect the upcoming GS performance model to address these concerns.
Those familiar with the larger LaCrosse will recognize the interior, since it bears many similar styling cues. This is a good thing, given how well the LaCrosse has been received. The materials have an upscale look and feel about them, which is necessary for the Regal to compete against cars like the Acura TSX.