Full 2014 Buick Regal Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Buick Regal receives a variety of changes. Most Regals now come with a 259-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which replaces last year's 222-hp turbo engine. It achieves better fuel economy, too. The 2.4-liter "eAssist" four-cylinder is still available as an option, but the GS trim level's 270-hp turbo four-cylinder has been discontinued. All-wheel drive is newly optional on all turbo Regals. There are also some exterior design tweaks, an updated equipment roster (including new safety features) and a redesigned dashboard with a standard 8-inch touchscreen.
The 2014 Buick Regal sedan reminds us of a decent boxer who's trying to move up a class instead of staying put. From our standpoint, the stylish, sporty Regal is an intriguing alternative to mainstream premium sedans like the Acura TSX. But Buick has positioned the refreshed 2014 Regal against luminaries like the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series, and that's a whole new ball game. As worthy as the Regal is in many respects, sometimes you've got to know your limits.
Having said that, we can see how someone could take the 2014 Regal for a spin and return with a more favorable opinion. The car has no glaring faults to speak of (apart from sluggish acceleration on the "eAssist" model), and its newly standard 259-hp turbocharged engine makes a strong first impression, as does the car's collection of standard and available features. The dashboard is also less cluttered and more attractive this year, thanks in part to a redesigned touchscreen with improved graphics. Moreover, if you look closely at the base front-wheel-drive Regal's pricing, it's a few grand cheaper than the far less powerful 180-hp BMW 320i.
But membership in the entry-level luxury sport sedan club isn't just about power and features. If it were, we'd be talking about cars like the 274-hp Kia Optima SX in the same sentence as the Audi and BMW. To qualify, you need the sort of intangible excellence that makes every 3 Series a pleasure to drive, and you're frankly not going to find it here. The Regal can be good fun, particularly in playful GS guise, but lacking that je ne sais quoi, it's not a serious threat to purpose-built sport sedans, including GM's own entry, the Cadillac ATS.
It does, however, pose a tough matchup for some in-between offerings. The four-cylinder 2014 Acura TSX, for example, will seem considerably less impressive after a spin in the turbocharged Regal, while the stronger TSX V6 costs as much as a Regal GS AWD. The turbocharged 2014 Volvo S60 feels more special inside than the Regal, but the Buick is just as enjoyable to drive as the Volvo. Another car to cross-shop is the new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250, which has an arguably cooler vibe but considerably less rear seat room.
So where does that leave us? One takeaway is that the Regal doesn't really punch above its weight, so to speak. The entry-luxury sport sedan fraternity has little to fear. But on the other hand, the Regal's upgrades for 2014 make it a genuine contender against less focused rivals. Don't be afraid to bet on this Buick if the price is right.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Buick Regal comes in base, Premium I, Premium II or GS trim.
The base Regal starts with 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, dual exhaust outlets, heated mirrors, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat (with four-way power lumbar), a power height-adjustable passenger seat (with otherwise manual adjustments), split-folding rear seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Also standard are an 8-inch touchscreen display, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, OnStar emergency communications and a seven-speaker audio system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack, an iPod/USB audio interface and Buick's IntelliLink smartphone and voice command integration system.
The Premium I adds rear parking sensors, keyless entry/ignition, remote start, a heated steering wheel, an eight-way power passenger seat (with four-way power lumbar) and a 120-volt power outlet.
Note that the Premium I's available eAssist mild hybrid powertrain comes with 17-inch wheels, low-rolling-resistance tires and a concealed single exhaust outlet.
The Premium II starts with the Premium I's standard features and adds xenon headlights, rear-seat side airbags, a navigation system and a nine-speaker Bose audio system.
The GS boasts 19-inch wheels (20-inch wheels with summer tires are optional), a sport-tuned suspension with adaptive dampers, adjustable drive modes (influencing suspension, steering and shift calibration), front parking sensors, Brembo front brakes, body-color lower rocker panels, a rear spoiler, an upgraded and configurable gauge cluster information display, sport front seats and a three-spoke sport steering wheel.
Most of these GS features are exclusive, but the sport-tuned suspension (minus the adaptive dampers) is also specified on non-GS Regals with AWD. A sunroof is optional on all Regals, and the navigation system can be added to the base and Premium I trims.
Optional on Premium II and GS are two Driver Confidence packages. The first -- which requires the sunroof -- includes numerous safety technologies (blind-spot monitor, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision alert) as well as driver memory settings, while the second -- which requires the first -- adds adaptive cruise control and a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking.
Powertrains and Performance
The Regal's primary engine for 2014 is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 259 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is newly optional. A six-speed automatic transmission is mandatory unless you spring for the GS, which offers an optional six-speed manual with front-drive (the GS AWD is automatic-only).
In Edmunds testing, an all-wheel-drive Regal accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, which is impressively quick for an entry-level luxury sedan with AWD.
The EPA rates the turbocharged Regal at 24 mpg combined (21 mpg city/30 mpg city) with front-wheel drive and the automatic, 22 combined (19 city/27 highway) with AWD and 24 combined (20 city/31 highway) for the front-drive Regal GS with the manual.
Optional solely on the Premium I trim is the former base engine, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with mild hybrid technology called "eAssist." Output measures 182 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque, with shifting duties handled by a six-speed automatic. EPA fuel economy estimates stand at 29 mpg combined (25 mpg city/36 mpg highway).
The 2014 Buick Regal comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control, front seat side-impact airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Rear-seat side airbags are standard on Premium II and GS. The standard OnStar system includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, an emergency button, a stolen vehicle locator and remote door unlock. The optional Driver Confidence Package #1 includes blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert and frontal collision warning systems. The additional Driver Confidence Package #2 further adds a more sophisticated frontal collision mitigation system that initiates automatic braking in potential crash situations.
In Edmunds brake testing, a 2014 Regal Turbo came to a stop from 60 mph in 118 feet, which is shorter than average for a car in this class. A 2014 GS with the optional 20-inch summer tires managed to stop in an even shorter 113 feet, although most other sport sedans with summer tires fare better.
In government crash tests, the Regal received the top five-star rating overall, including four stars for total frontal impact safety and five stars for total side impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Regal its highest score of "Good" in moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength crash tests. The Regal's seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside, the 2014 Buick Regal features a redesigned dashboard with reduced button clutter compared to the previous layout. The appearance is upscale, and materials quality is satisfactory, if not quite luxury-grade. The front seats are surprisingly snug and supportive; slim folks will smile, but the broader of beam may wish for more wiggle room. The backseat is more cramped than the Regal's midsize dimensions would suggest, and the sloping roof line is a double whammy for rear headroom and rearward visibility.
The new 8-inch touchscreen for 2014 comes with the IntelliLink infotainment system, which features large icons and Pandora radio compatibility. The IntelliLink interface has been revamped to include smartphone-style swipe commands and navigation/audio voice commands, plus the graphics are better now, too. Even so, this touchscreen is occasionally frustrating to use due to slow or missed responses to touch inputs.
Out back, the standard trunk measures a decent 14.2 cubic feet, but its narrowness makes longer items like golf bags a tight fit. When the eAssist powertrain is specified, cargo space drops to 11.1 cubic feet due to the trunk-mounted battery pack.
The 2014 Buick Regal's standard turbocharged engine gives this sedan a new lease on life. Previously, only the low-volume GS offered real power and performance, but now every Regal's got spunk. Well, every Regal except the party-pooper 2.4 eAssist version, which prioritizes fuel economy to the detriment of brisk response in traffic. For the majority of shoppers, the turbo engine is far and away the better value, even though its mpg ratings are lower. It's not the most refined four-cylinder engine in this price range, but acceleration is strong in most situations.
The available all-wheel-drive system is another feather in the 2014 Regal's cap, as it adds additional wet-weather traction, plus enhanced handling when powering around turns. In normal driving, the Regal rides smoothly and quietly, with light but precise steering. The car doesn't really excel in any one category, but it remains composed and confident in most situations, and that's more than some rivals can say.