The Buick Regal is a midsize four-door that qualifies as an American-made sports sedan, especially in GS trim. The Regal offers graceful styling and confident roadholding. Turbocharged models deliver invigorating performance.
The Buick Regal has been known by several generations for its shapely design, and the Gran Sport models have a lengthy history as the pinnacle of the Regal crop. Today’s Regal is related to the European-made Opel Insignia. Opels are not muscle cars but they are noted for crisp, German-style handling and performance.
2016 Buick Regal models have been updated with a new touch-screen, more intuitive controls and IntelliLink enhancements. A new Regal Sport Touring model joins the 2016 lineup. Regal was last redesigned for 2010 and facelifted for 2014.
Front-seat occupants can expect ample room, but back-seat passengers had better be small in stature, because space is tight. Premium-level finishes and features mix with an advanced infotainment system and high-tech safety equipment to produce a classy experience.
Two engine choices are offered. For frugality, the base model comes with a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder.
All other models come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 259 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission comes standard.
Regal GS is the only one with a manual-shift option and a three-mode Interactive Drive Control system.
Turbocharging, especially in the GS sedan, provides the visceral thrust that enthusiastic drivers savor. Yet, in some respects, Buick’s Regal is similar to less-costly family sedans.
Available all-wheel drive improves traction in harsh weather, but also helps the Regal come out of corners most effectively when driven hard.
A rearview camera is standard, and a selection of the latest safety technology, such as collision warning, can be obtained.
Crash-test results have been good, but not class-leading. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave Regal a Good rating. With available front collision warning and automatic braking, the frontal score rose to Superior. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave Regal a five-star overall rating.
Few would deny that the Regal sedan presents the most athletic-looking appearance of any current Buick. At the same time, design cues that evoke Buick’s heritage can be discovered anywhere on the tautly composed, but sleek and delightfully swoopy body.
Up front, the waterfall grille resembles other models. But unlike other Buicks, no simulated portholes detract from the Regal’s metallic beauty. This hood is clear and pristine. Adjoining LEDs are built into both the headlights and taillamps. At the rear, a metallic band ties the taillamps together.
On the Regal GS, the front end boasts blade-like, vertically-positioned air intakes.
Regal is slightly smaller than some midsize sedans but is generally comfortable for four. Front space is good, with comfortable cushioning. Two tall adults could have difficulty in back, however, where leg space is limited.
Regal GS has better-bolstered white-stitched black leather seats and a choice of trim.
Buick’s colorful IntelliLink infotainment interface is based on the Cadillac CUE setups, but no more knob-type controllers are used. Also, there’s no haptic feedback, as in Cadillacs, which use vibration to help make the proper touch selection. Most operating functions are intuitive.
A low dashboard with crisp LED gauges provides fine integration of buttons and screens with useful technology. Two-tone wood/leather trim, on upper trim levels, is handsome but subtle.
The Regal comes with a choice of engines, with nearly all models being fitted with the superior turbocharged engine.
Qualifying as adequate in both refinement and power, the base engine feels overstressed when faced with any terrain other than flat pavement. Driver Control mode helps, by letting the automatic transmission stay longer in lower gears. Even so, 2.4-liter performance is not a selling point for the base model.
The turbocharged engine falls into another category entirely. Fitted with direct injection, the turbo generates 259 horsepower and a healthy 295 pound-feet of torque. Not only can a turbocharged Regal accelerate to 60 mph in fewer than six seconds, but the engine revs enthusiastically when needed, emitting a lovely growl. In any turbo form, Regal is a seriously composed, swift performer that stresses smoothness, while maintaining premium family-sedan character.
Energetic acceleration and gratifying handling highlight the Regal GS, which delivers sporty sensations without impairing ride quality. Fitted with a lowered suspension, the GS rides on 19-inch wheels, with 20-inch available.
In the GS, a three-mode Interactive Drive Control alters responsiveness of the adaptive dampers, as well as throttle and transmission operation, and steering feel. GS mode heightens reflexes sufficiently to transform the Regal into more of a sports sedan. A GS stays flatter through curves than a Premium Turbo model.
Electric power steering isn’t excessively quick, and weighted nicely. Suspension damping is neatly muted, in Eurosedan mode.
Buick’s base engine is EPA-rated at 19/31 mpg City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined. The Turbo is slightly more thrifty, EPA-rate at 21/30 mpg City/Highway, or 24 mpg Combined, whether it has manual shift or automatic. All-wheel drive reduces the Turbo engine to 19/27 mpg, or 22 mpg Combined.
Often considered one of GM’s best examples, Regal deserves acclaim for excellent road behavior as well as elegant and refined design. We prefer the Regal GS, which qualifies as a benchmark for precision manufacture. However, any of the turbocharged models should satisfy its owners. We recommend skipping the model with the normally aspirated, 180-hp 2.4-liter engine.
Driving impressions by Marty Padgett, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.