2011 Buick Regal Long Term Road Test

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2011 Buick Regal: Cabin After Dark

July 12, 2011

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The Regal lights up in a turquoise-and-robin-egg-blue color scheme when night sets in. Another look at the cabin after nightfall follows after the jump.

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Ends an Era

July 11, 2011

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So this happened this weekend...

Me, (without looking), "Get in the car, PLEASE. Are you in your booster? Buckled?"

My daughter (now 7-years old), "Can I sit here, Daddy?"

Me, "No, Honey-Bun. You have to sit in your booster because the belt (now looking), Oh. Um. You're right, this car does have quite a big hump back there and the belt is in the right place on your shoulder. Hm. Your legs aren't straight. Uh, it looks like, yes, you may sit there."

Her, "Yay! Does this mean I don't need my booster anymore?"

Me, "Nope, we'll have to look at each car to see if you fit. You're right on the border between a full 'Yes' and a 'Maybe.' In this car, 'Yes."

Her, "Thank you, Daddy."

Of course, I'm experiencing mixed feelings (pride and fear mostly), but this is a significant moment for her and also the beginning of the end of hauling yet another childhood aparatus around. Sheesh, the days are long and the years are short.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 8,722 miles

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Console Mirror

July 06, 2011

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Magrath quibbled about our longterm 2011 Buick Regal's reflective cabin trim, but missed the frickin' mirror that surrounds its console shifter. I assumed this metallic bad idea would have been blogged to death but I didn't find anything, so here it is.

Now, the Regal's not alone in having unnecessarily shiny bits in the cabin -- not by a long shot -- but this monstrosity of bling is a particularly nasty example, as it's polished to truly painful degree and shines from beneath the rim of the sunglasses.

At least the console mirror is curvy so that when you move your head to dodge one source of insane glare, three other locations take over to send lasers into your eyes. Who thought this was a good idea?

--Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Very Cool Tradition

June 30, 2011

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American cars, and GM vehicles in particular have long had a reputation for very effective air conditioners. As a kid, I remember my dad's 1971 Buick Electra's automatic climate control (yes, they had it back then) doing a great job of keeping that massive interior cool during those hot New England summer days.

With temps hitting the mid-90s here in So Cal the other day, our Buick Regal did a nice job upholding this tradition (even if it is actually a car from GM of Europe and not the U.S.). The air coming out the vents was cold enough that I was able to maintain a comfortably cool cabin with the fan on low. Because cool and quiet is how I roll.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 8,433 miles

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Road Trip Comfort

June 18, 2011

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You've already seen the fuel economy results for my road trip to Vegas in our long-term 2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo. Now I'll give you my verdict on comfort.

Ride quality is pretty agreeable. On some roads (the less good ones), it's a tad harsh/brittle, and I wonder if the optional 19-inch wheels aren't to blame (yep, I'm quick to blame). Mostly, though, the Regal is to my liking -- the ride is controlled with just enough compliance dialed in for the interstates of the American West.

Meanwhile, the steering has a comfortable dead spot on center and just enough feel to make the car feel buttoned down as you're cruising. The effort level is OK as you steer through cloverleaf on- and off-ramps, but there's not enough feedback to remind you that this is the sporty turbo model.

The cabin stays pretty quiet. The main thing you notice on the highway is some road noise. Again, I waggle my finger disapprovingly at the 19s, which aren't even that attractive as 19s go. Lemme see the brake calipers, for pete's sake, even if they're generic looking sliding calipers.

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Nice Interior Details

June 03, 2011

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Our Regal's interior isn't the cheeriest place on earth. All that black leather and chrome leaves it on the cold side, but there are some nice details that liven it up a little.

The contrasting stitching always strikes me as a high quality detail and the large piece of brushed metallic door trim on the door isn't bad either. The designers could have simply used one small piece on the handle, but instead they went for a larger piece that's better integrated into the whole door. And finally, note the way the door meets the dash panel. It's straight and the design is continuous, two things that are not always easy to pull off.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

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2011 Buick Regal: Buy a Lacrosse Instead

May 26, 2011

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I got a chance to drive a Buick Lacrosse home last night and was once again impressed by a sedan that truly deserves the prefix "luxury." Seriously, the Lacrosse needs a lot more love than it gets. However, it got me thinking about our long-term Regal and how underwhelmed I've been by it. The driving experience and interior haven't lived up to the expectations I had for the Regal after reading about the Opel Insignia upon which Buick slapped badges. It's a shame, because I think it looks great.

Now, even though I was driving a fully loaded $40,000 Lacrosse, I was curious to know how much one would be if it was equipped to the level of our long-term Regal. Now, the two can't actually be equally equipped due to packaging differences, but with a few features missing and a few others added on, a comparable Lacrosse CXL with the V6 would cost $36,660. It wouldn't have our Regal's good looks, 2 mpg advantage, 19-inch wheels, xenon lights or interactive drive control (wouldn't need the latter), but the Lacrosse would have a bigger sunroof, a better stereo, more interior space, a higher quality cabin, a usable navigation system, a more powerful engine and actual steering feel. You'd also have access to even more optional goodies.

Frankly, I think that's worth an extra two grand over our Regal's $34,435 price tag. Sure, the Lacrosse isn't a sport sedan, but A) I don't think the Regal is much of one to begin with and B) I don't think most people who'd consider one of these two cars would care. If you had a choice, buy the Lacrosse.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Buick-Sized Glove Box

May 16, 2011

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There's not a whole lot about the Regal that reinforces the old stereotypes many still have about Buicks. It doesn't wallow and sway like a Mississippi riverboat and its sheet metal doesn't look like it belongs in a retirement village parking lot.

But there's one thing about it that feels very Buick: its glove box, which is big enough to look like it belongs in one of the manufacturer's colossal land barges from yesteryear. Lots of room there, and there's a separate little storage cubby, as well. It's the kind of glove box that laughs at all those pint-sized glove boxes that can barely hold an owner's manual.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 5,577 miles

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Et Tu, Regal?

May 12, 2011

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No, this is not bizaro-Earth with two suns, the 2011 Buick Regal's dash is just concave enough to split the sun in two, focus the rays and shoot both of them like super-lasers directly into your face. The camera here is positioned directly over my eye (then cropped). And to make things worse, this bit isn't even chrome, it's black. It's slightly annoying when I'm staring straight ahead, and fairly blinding if I need to check my passenger-side mirror.

A few weeks ago Ford released a video and news story about their interior glare lab which features an artificial sun replicating dusk-to-dawn. (Though they didn't seem to care about the Mustang's gauges reflecting on the windshield at night, but that's another blog.) I wonder if GM has one.....

Luckily, with my commute, this only happens the entire drive home and back.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Inside Line @ 5,510 miles

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Wayward Floor Mats

May 09, 2011

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I've been driving around in the Buick Regal this weekend and the driver-side floor mats were all over the place. I kept bolting them back down but couldn't really get them to stay in place. Maybe my weak girly hands couldn't snap them into place correctly.

Every time I got in and out the floor mats slipped off again. It's not like I have big lumberjack feet or anything. No offense to any lumberjacks in our audience. But you know how dangerous it can be to have incorrectly placed floor mats.

What's the floor mat situation in your vehicle?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 5.358 miles

Bonus Question: Can you guess which sitcom I watched about 12 reruns of this weekend? (weak girly hands and big lumberjack feet)

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2011 Buick Regal: Now That's an Air Conditioner

May 05, 2011

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GM has always known how to keep Americans cool. Its air conditioners are not subtle but they are the best in my opinion.

Our Buick Regal is no exception. Strong fan, easy-to-use controls and they cool the car quickly even on the lowest setting. BMW take note.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Rear Window Slit

May 03, 2011

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The rear view on our long-term 2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo is limited. Like many vehicles today that have coupe-like styling, the Regal has a tall rear parcel shelf and trunk deck lid.

This makes it a little bit tough to see out the rear window when reversing. Our Regal also doesn't have a back up camera. But at least it does have defeatable rear parking sonar, which works fine.

So far though, the rear view hasn't been a problem.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 5,200 miles

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Would 'Blind Tasting' Help?

May 02, 2011

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In 1976, a blind tasting that came to be known as the Judgment of Paris turned the wine world on its head. Two wines from California's Napa Valley, the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and the 1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, beat out their French competitors (and it was French judges doing the tasting). Quel scandale.

I thought about that tasting this weekend when my car-loving husband was driving the Buick Regal CXL Turbo. He didn't love it -- didn't hate it, but was decidedly unimpressed. "It's a Buick," he said repeatedly, as though that explained everything. (I should add that the last American car he owned was a very sad little used Gremlin. It's been Japanese and German cars ever since.)

"What if you couldn't see any badges or logos?" I asked. "What would you think you were driving?" He pondered that. "A Japanese luxury brand," he said. I somehow think GM wouldn't mind hearing that, even if the Regal was engineered in Europe. It beats what some people say about Buicks.

It's too bad that we can't blind test-drive cars (as opposed to test-driving blind -- not advisable). There's so much baggage associated with a car's history and its marketing that it can be hard to shake that off when you get behind the wheel. GM is featuring Buicks in its Main Street in Motion events in the belief that if it can get people to just drive the cars, for crying out loud, they'd like them -- perhaps despite their name.

So what do you think? Can a car's history drag it down? Is it possible to test-drive with a completely open mind?

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @5,210 miles

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Parking Brake

April 22, 2011

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A couple days ago I wrote that our Regal would benefit from having a rearview camera. A few people commented that I was just whining and drivers get along just fine without them. Say what you will about all that, but along those lines allow me to present our Regal's electronic parking brake.

It comes standard on the Regal and, yes, it's another non-necessity. (It's certainly less of a necessity than a rearview camera.) Personally, I find electronic parking brakes mildly annoying as it just takes longer for the electronic motor to operate than it does with a traditional hand brake. (You just wasted a whole second of my life, man!) But Buick was smart to put one in anyway as I think consumers shopping for a premium sedan will see it as more luxurious than the typical hand- or foot-operated brake.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2011 Buick Regal Turbo: Could Use a Rearview Camera

April 19, 2011

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Last month Donna posted a video of outward visibility in our Buick Regal. I would say that rear visibility is not so great due to the Regal's sloped, coupe-like rear window. This is no big deal by itself -- the coupe-like roofline for sedans is a growing trend. But I'd personally appreciate having a rearview camera to complement or replace our CXL Turbo's rear parking sensors. With a camera, you can see what's behind you when in reverse, not just know "something" is back there.

A camera isn't offered currently for the Regal. But bundling it with the navigation system makes sense. Plus, most competing cars in the entry-level segment (Acura TL, Volvo S60, Lincoln MKZ, for instance) have cameras as options.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 4,040 miles

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo vs Lexus IS 250

April 15, 2011

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A friend of mine saw on the blog that I was driving our Regal CXL Turbo. "How does it compare to my IS 250?" he asked me. It was an interesting question. "I'm not sure," I told him. "Meet me for lunch with your IS and we'll find out."

My friend's Lexus IS 250 is rear-drive with six-speed automatic and 18-inch wheels. I was curious to drive the two cars as it's been a while since I've driven an IS. Plus, I think it's fair to say that the two cars are pretty close competitors.

His car is a 2008, but the IS haven't had any major mechanical updates since then. Here are a few 2011 Regal and 2011 IS 250 specs.

Regal IS 250
Base MSRP $28,745 $33,815
Power 220 hp 204 hp
Torque 258 lb-ft 185 lb-ft
Weight 3671 lbs 3435 lbs
EPA Combined 22 mpg 24 mpg

I drove the cars back to back on a 20-minute loop that included city streets and some highway. It wasn't much, but it was enough to get some general impressions.

Powertrain: Neither car held a big advantage here. Around town the Regal is a bit quicker and more responsive, which makes sense given its greater amount of torque. Both transmissions have a manual mode; the Regal's shifts more quickly in manual mode, and has rev-matched downshifts as well.

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Does the Bike Fit?

April 04, 2011

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The 2011 Buick Regal Turbo serves as the next installment in my hard-hitting piece of investigative journalism that's been taking a deep look into which cars sold in the U.S. can handle the stuffage of a bicycle within their confines.

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Drives Good?

April 01, 2011

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One time in a previous life I had to come up with an on-the-spot video standup for a Bentley Continental GT Speed. One of my colleagues at the time stared at the car, and offered: "Hmm...looks good, goes good, drives good. There you go." Gee, thanks a lot for the help, knucklehead.

Obviously the Bentley deserves more hyperbole than just "goes good."

I was reminded of this exchange as I drove the Buick home yesterday. "Looks good, goes good, drives good" is a pretty apt description of the Regal Turbo. And I don't mean that in a negative way in the least.

Looks good: Okay, this is a pretty subjective category. But in my humble opinion the Regal is a sharp looking sedan, with chiseled lines and a set of stylish 19-inch wheels filling up the fenders. Even better, when I look at the Regal I don't instantly think: "Buick."

Goes good: You'd think with 258 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm the Regal Turbo would be quick. But a healthy case of turbo lag means it hesitates off the line, and then can't even spin the front tires under full wood. But once it's moving, the little turbo-four offers more than adequate midrange punch. It's smooth, too, although the engine's sound is completely devoid of character. The quick (but overly light) steering works with a chassis that's definitely not afraid of corners.

Drives good: Much like Mark Takahashi mentioned a few posts back regarding the Regal, sometimes you just want to get home, with no need to be bowled over by a car's sportiness. The Regal's quiet interior, cushy seats (which actually do offer a minor amount of lateral support), good armrests and supple but composed ride do the trick just fine. In other words, the Regal Turbo is a damn good piece with which to while away the miles and traffic.

No, it's not going to blow you away with its capabilities in any one particular area, but yeah, the Regal Turbo does look good, go good and drive good. And sometimes, that's enough.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 3,502 miles.

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Honda Accord Comparison

March 30, 2011

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So I’m just getting into the traffic, anticipating the next 90 minutes it'll take to get there, and I spot a nicely equipped Honda Accord EX-L V6 in front of me. It starts at, what, $29,400?

And I say to myself, “Well, at least I’m not in that.”

I couldn’t believe I said it. The words just came right out of my mouth.

Times have changed, eh?

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 3,414 miles

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2011 Buick Regal CXL: Better Than the TSX. Maybe

March 25, 2011

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Having spent successive evening and morning commutes with both fine automobiles, here's why the Buick Regal is cooler than the TSX wagon:

-Mini iDrive-style dial controller falls right to hand fore of the armrest. The TSX's graphic user interface offers better color, contrast and larger font, but you have to lean to the center stack to use the dial. Longer periods of wandering the sat radio stations, or working the phone functions, necessitate dropping your shoulder and resting your elbow on your knee.

-On the same theme: scanning through the sat radio stations displays not only channel name, but current artist playing. Great for restless DJ'ing.

-Phonebook loads automatically on pairing. Easy to scroll through the phonebook and see who you can road dial.

-Regal sounds cooler than any alphanumeric name.

-Let’s not use the f-word (ffff…..floaty…sorry), but the Regal, intentionally or otherwise, keeps the road at a distance. If you're an old dude like Takahashi, that may be exactly what you want.

-Boost whistle is fun!

-Made for Americans by Germans.

Now, why the TSX wagon owns the Regal:

-Tighter chassis. Bushings, shock valving, spring rates, unibody "hoop" structure - whatever's responsible, the TSX is just tighter, more responsive and offers better relationship with the road. For some - perhaps the legacy Buick buyer - the TSX will be too stiff. For others, it's welcome and invigorating.

-More refined transmission. The TSX hangs onto revs better, and isn't as eager to shift as the Regal. Factor in the Regal's turbo lag - not unusual or excessive - and you end up bogging in sixth coming out of a hot corner more often than not. Caveat: this applies to standard D mode in both cars, but you can instantly grab a paddle for a downshift in the TSX in D-mode. Yes, I know you can grab the Regal's shifter, yank it into "manual" mode and push up for a downshift. TSX wins on simplicity.

-Better armrest than the Regal's sliver of support, impeded by two cupholders. So when I sweep my arm distractedly while talking to my agent about the meager percentage he negotiated, I can also knock my venti latte all over my leather passenger seat.

-TSX looks similar to Mazda6 wagon. Regal looks like Acura RL. Almost a tie, but decision goes to TSX for better inspiration.

-Bluetooth streaming.

-Made for Europeans by Japanese, and now a test case to see if Americans like the taste.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: I'm Getting Too Old for This...

March 24, 2011

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I'm not the target demographic for the Buick brand. I like ridiculous modes of transportation that are either inconvenient, dangerous or both. Say what you will about Buick's push for a more youthful audience, but I think the brand will always appeal more to the older folks. I think that driver places performance and driver engagement low on their priorities -- well below comfort and ease of use.

Last night, however, I was that driver.

It's been a busy couple of days. I was drained. The rain was coming down and traffic was backed up for miles. I just wanted to get home to my girl, my cat and my TV. I didn't want to be entertained by slick-road powerslides or a roaring exhaust -- my ears were still ringing from the last motorcycle I rode. I was tired, probably on the edge of being annoyed. I looked at the Regal and said, "Don't try to impress me, just get me home, ok?"

In the process, the Regal did manage to impress me, because it was just what I needed. It didn't keep me busy, or demand anything past the basics of driving skills. It was quiet, allowing me to just relax. The ride was smooth and the steering was featherlight. Nobody hassled me by trying to get me to drag race them at a signal, I just anonymously faded into the background. Perfect.

My complaints were few, which was surprising, since I was on the verge of being cranky when I left the office. I forgot my iPod cable on my desk and the Regal doesn't have streaming Bluetooth. Oh well. Parking in my backyard requires some sharp maneuvers in very cramped quarters and there's no backup camera. Rear visibility is pretty poor, but the parking sensors did their job just fine.

While there's no such thing as a perfect car, the Regal was perfect for me-- at least it was last night. I'm hoping to get the bounce back in my step real soon.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: First Impressions

March 21, 2011

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My first whirl behind the wheel of our longterm 2011 Buick Regal came this weekend, and the impressions arrived in my cerebral cortex in convenient bullet point format.

  • It's quiet
  • It's got quite a stiff chassis. Feels very solid; bodes well for upcoming performance-oriented variants
  • Dynamically, there's no one home
  • The overall ride quality has been well exectued -- compliant without resorting to numbing softness. The stiff chassis helps here.
  • There is some unnecessary busy-ness that I attribute to the very short tire sidewalls
  • Or perhaps it could be heavy wheels. Sometimes it's discern to tell the difference between sidewall impact harshness and 'heavy wheel feel'.
  • The steering is quick
  • Yup, real quiet
  • Looks pretty sharp, especially in the front three-quarters view

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Visibility

March 08, 2011

I made you a video from the driver seat.

What do you think about the mirrors, pillars, etc.?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Central Locking. Literally.

March 04, 2011

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The Regal's door lock/unlock button is centrally located on the dash -- something that was once a European standard. Yes, I know, the thing is an Opel, built in Germany, blah, blah, blah.

Doesn't really matter. Point is, is this the best place for the button?

I'm rather indifferent. I can deal with it wherever I find it. Found it quick in the BOpel Regal.

You?

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: A Macro Look at Interior Materials

February 28, 2011

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Here are some macro shots of our 2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo's interior. Our car cost $35,185 (base MSRP $29,495). What do you think, does the interior material match the price? You like?

Again, for those who couldn't hear in the back, "macro" is photography lingo for "close-up."

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2011 Buick Regal: Nonsensical Electronics Controls

February 25, 2011

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The Regal's electronics interface is just wrong, period. This isn't a matter of preference. If someone would like to tell me that they prefer the Regal's absolutely nonsensical array of buttons, knobs and screen, they've apparently never used anything else.

Let's see if I can properly described its ridiculousness.

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2011 Buick Regal in WA is:

$144 per month*
* Explanation
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