- What is it?: The relaunch of the popular Regal nameplate, which will be Buick's new mid-size sedan
- The basics: Four-cylinder only for now; front-wheel drive, 180+ hp
- Price: $21,500 (estimated)
- On sale: late 2010/early 2011
Rumors of the Buick Regal's return to production have been circulating for months, and at a dealers' meeting this week, GM finally confirmed them. After being out of the public eye for six years, the Buick Regal will return to showrooms in late 2010 or early 2011, likely as a 2011 model.
The revamped Regal mid-size sedan will be based on the Opel Insignia. (In fact, there's already an Insignia-based Buick Regal on sale in China. It's pictured above.) Like its big brother, the Buick LaCrosse, the Regal is expected to sit on GM's front-wheel-drive Epsilon II platform, but without so many of the LaCrosse's luxury touches. The Regal will also be shorter than the LaCrosse by about seven inches in length and four inches in height.
2011 Buick Regal
2011 Buick Regal: The basics
Buick says the new shape is sleek and sculpted, and we're inclined to agree, after seeing it in a GM design studio earlier this year. We liked the car as the Opel Insignia, and as the Chinese-market Buick Regal, and the swift details pressed into its door panels and the Buick waterfall grille have been integrated nicely (and quickly) into a car that at one point was to be the second-generation Saturn Aura. The Regal's interior sports LED-lit gauges, a low instrument panel, and a sweeping dash with suitably upscale trim. Buyers will have a choice of satin metallic interior trim, or piano-black plastic or a dark wood called Kibo.
Powertrain options will include the new, 182-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 220 hp. The latter's a surprise, since it's been expected that the Regal would get a V-6 engine--especially since Buick claims the Acura TSX and Volvo S60 are competitors. For the first model year, Buick says only the Regal CXL will be offered. In 2012 they promise other model versions, which likely means a V-6 is in the offing. A six-speed automatic is the sole gearbox, standard on both, with a manual shift mode. Buick estimates the smaller four will get 30 mpg on the highway, while the turbo engine will get 29 mpg highway ratings from the EPA.
The 2011 Regal will have some adaptive suspension pieces that could distinguish it in the class of near-luxury sedans. The GM brand says a new Interactive Drive Control System will be offered with the turbocharged Regal, and it will have suspension settings that are driver-selectable: Normal, Tour and Sport. IDCS will be like the systems on other cars, with electronic shocks varying their stiffness as traction, acceleration and steering inputs call for it.
Four-wheel anti-lock brakes with an electronic parking brake will be standard, along with dual front, side and curtain airbags. Rear side airbags will be an option. Stability and traction control also will be standard, along with OnStar.
For equipment, the 2011 Buick Regal will have standard 18-inch wheels, climate control, power windows/locks/mirrors, and an AM/FM/CD/XM/MP3 audio system, along with leather seats, heated power front seats, and Bluetooth. Options will include a navigation system, a Harmon Kardon premium sound system, and a 10GB music storage system with a USB port and a 1GB flash drive.
2011 Buick Regal: A smaller, hipper Buick?
In adding the Regal to the Buick lineup, GM appears to be positioning Buick as a slightly hipper, trendier luxury line -- sort of a beginner's Cadillac. The folks at Buick have often pitched their goal as being the American version of Lexus, too, so we're eager to see how upscale GM can take this package: had the global economy not fallen in the tank last year, this model would've likely appeared as a replacement for the Saturn Aura. As it is though, fans of the Buick Regal -- which remains one of Buick's most recognizable names -- are in for a bit of luck.
The Regal won't be the smallest Buick for long. In the next 18 months, GM also will bring to Buick a version of the new Chevrolet Cruze sedan, with more compelling Buick styling cues. Four-cylinder engines will be the stock and trade of the new small Buick, but since it will share some bits and pieces with the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, there's no end to the speculation about a hybrid version in the distant future.
GM's sent out new videos and photos for the Regal before it makes a real-world debut next month. See all the latest pics at our 2011 Buick Regal page, and stay with High Gear Media as we report from the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show later this month.