The Car Connection Buick Regal Overview
The Buick Regal has been rebooted for 2018 as a mid-size, five-door hatchback and a station wagon with a lift kit that straddles the line between car and crossover.
The Regal nameplate dates back decades. Under the nameplate, Buick has sold vehicles of many sizes and shapes. In the 2011 rebirth of the Regal, the name came applied to a European-bred sedan.
The Regal Sportback is a roomy fastback-shaped vehicle that boasts a large tailgate instead of a conventional trunk, while the Regal TourX guns for outdoorsy types with its increased ground clearance and rugged styling cues.
Behind its Buick badge, the Regal is an Opel Insignia—a German-designed car that's large by European standards. Opel is currently Buick parent General Motors' European subsidiary, but the Detroit automaker is in the midst of selling the division to a French automaker, which means this may be the last Americanized Opel we see.
With this sixth-generation Regal, Buick has in the Sportback a more practical rival for sedans like the Acura TLX, Lincoln MKZ, and Volvo S60; the TourX has been shaped in the mold of the Subaru Outback and the Volvo V60 Cross Country.
MORE: Read our 2018 Buick Regal preview
For 2018, the Sportback comes standard with front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive is optional there and it's standard on the TourX. Both models use the same 2.0-liter turbo-4, rated at 250 horsepower. A 9-speed automatic is included with front-wheel drive, while an 8-speed automatic is included with all-wheel drive. That all-wheel drive system is pretty trick, with two clutches integrated into the rear differential to apportion power from side-to-side.
Both models share essentially the same styling—to a point. The Sportback sits lower to the ground and lacks the TourX's bulky fender flares. And, of course, the Sportback is a few inches shorter since the TourX is a station wagon. Either one is roomy inside, with the Sportback offering more than 30 cubic feet of luggage space with the rear seat upright. The TourX is exceptionally cavernous, with 73.5 cubes of maximum capacity when its second row is folded.
A 7.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard on all, while an 8.0-inch system with navigation is an extra-cost option. Buick offers a wide range of optional safety tech—automatic emergency braking, lane departure warnings, lane change assist, and more—but it's all optional.
Buick Regal history
The Regal nameplate dates back to the early 1970s. In 1973, GM introduced the Regal as a two-door coupe spun off the Century sedan, a sort of "personal luxury" car along the lines of the Ford Thunderbird. The Regal later gained a four-door sedan model, and both were sold with V-6 and V-8 powertrains.
The second-generation Regal arrived in 1978 and garnered a reputation for being a little bit sporty thanks to its 3-speed manual. Upping the performance ante were turbocharged models sold as the Regal T-Type, Grand National, and GNX. These are now easily the most collectible of all Regal models.
The third generation of the Regal was launched in 1988, this time on a brand-new, front-wheel-drive platform. This version both departed from and returned to Regal tradition—the name was applied to a front-wheel-drive car for the first time but it was once again offered only as a coupe. Performance fans looked elsewhere as there wasn't a V-8 or turbocharged V-6 option available, and eventually sales started to decline. A sedan variant was reintroduced by 1990.
When the fourth generation of the Regal arrived in 1997, Buick was no longer offering a coupe and there was still no V-8 option. However, a new supercharged model with 240 hp on tap was launched bearing the GS name. A dealer upgrade—labeled the GSX SLP Performance Package—was offered, boosting output to 270 hp and adding an assortment of performance accessories. Production of the fourth-generation Regal eventually ended in 2004.
The Regal came back for 2011, an Americanized version of the Opel Insignia. Initially, it offered a choice between a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that made 220 horsepower. In a nod to the model's heritage, Buick revived the Regal GS nameplate for 2012, with that car powered by a higher-output version of the turbo engine tuned to produce 270 hp. The GS also received its own exterior and interior treatments as well as an adjustable suspension that could be tuned for comfort or sportier driving.
Late in that model year, a version with a mild-hybrid system called eAssist was added; it featured a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder teamed with lithium-ion batteries that recaptured energy from regenerative braking to add some torque and to improve fuel economy to 25 mpg city/36 highway, according to the EPA.
All powertrains featured direct injection and came paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift control; the GS offered a manual transmission in addition to the auto.
Buick changed the powertrains in the Regal for the 2013 model year. Buick dropped the entry-level 4-cylinder and the eAssist engine became the standard powertrain. The 220-hp Regal Turbo and 270-hp Regal GS remained, both using turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4s.
Since the 2014 model year, the Regal Turbo and GS have shared an engine—a 259-hp version of the turbo-4—and are differentiated by trim and chassis tuning. All-wheel drive was made available on both turbocharged Regals that year as well. The 2014 update also brought new infotainment systems across the lineup, as well as safety upgrades, such as a now-standard rearview camera, available adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and forward-collision warning.
An LCD touchscreen-driven IntelliLink interface controls phone, audio, and vehicle settings—and could be ordered with navigation. Buick offered 4G LTE connectivity that can turn the car into a wi-fi hotspot for mobile devices and also speeds up the link to OnStar.
For the 2016 model year, Buick brought back the base 2.4-liter, normally aspirated 4-cylinder and demoted the eAssist Regal to fleet-only sales. For 2017, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto became standard equipment.