2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Road Trip Fuel Economy
June 16, 2011
I'm back from Vegas, and I'm pretty satisfied with our turbocharged 2011 Buick Regal as a road trip car. Although the Regal 2.0T never feels that potent leaving the line, it had adequate mid-range torque for climbing all the passes between Los Angeles and Las Vegas and the turbo 2.0-liter engine never felt strained.
A 0.68 6th gear (combined with a 3.33 final drive) has the engine down around 2,000 rpm at 70 mph, but the Aisin six-speed automatic was pretty quick to step down when I needed more revs for passing. However, I did notice that it upshifted a little roughly in a few instances.
Fuel economy for my 578-mile trip was very good, though my "fuel economy run" on the trip home left a bit to be desired. I'll explain.
On the trip out to Vegas, I was semi-hurried and I set the cruise control to 79 mph. After 290.2 miles, I put it 9.395 gallons of 91 octane. That's 30.9 mpg and pretty darn impressive considering my pace and the Regal Turbo's 18 city/28 highway/22 combined EPA rating.
On the trip back to Los Angeles, I thought, OK, I can do better than that. So I tried to keep as close as could to 70 mph -- not easy when other Vegased-out motorists are hightailing it back to L.A. I set the cruise on the flat sections of road, but cancelled it on the steeper grades so I could modulate the throttle more precisely (uphill) or allow the car to coast (downhill). So what I did get?
After 287.7 miles, I put in 9.363 gallons of 91 octane for... 30.7 mpg. Meh.
Why didn't I do any better? Well, for obvious logistical reasons, I refueled at different pumps and, although my refueling method was consistent, it's possible I got a short fill in Vegas. Also, I didn't drive the same route obviously since it was an up-and-back trip. I should also note that I set the air conditioner lower (sometimes as low as 70 degrees) on the drive back because the car wasn't staying cool enough at my preferred 76 degrees -- perhaps because I sat in the sun on the drive south, whereas as I was in shade on the trip northward. Finally, I was in stop-and-go traffic for the last 20 miles of the return trip.
So this was a failed test, completely unscientific, and no conclusions can be drawn. However, it was far more relaxing to drive the Buick at a 79-mph pace, so if I owned this car, that's what I'd do, speed limit permitting.
One other note, it was very hot (107 degrees) around Vegas and in California's Mojave Desert yesterday, and I noticed exactly the same apparent heat-soak phenomenon Dan has reported in our Cruze (also turbocharged) during his trip to Phoenix -- several times I stopped to take photos, and when I restarted the Regal, it felt like I was pulling away with the parking brake still on. I kept triple-checking. But it was never on. The car just didn't want to get moving.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 7,050 miles