Although the Buick Regal nameplate has been around since the mid-1970s, the most common examples for automotive shoppers will be either the new, European-influenced model or the previous generation, as the latter debuted back in 1997. Between the two generations there was a six-year hiatus, and although these cars have the same name, they couldn't be any more different. The current Regal offers sophisticated styling and road manners, while the previous generation is much more in the traditional Buick mold, meaning squishy seats, an isolated driving experience and a roomy but old-fashioned cabin accented by some cheap plastic trim.
The older generation makes for an inexpensive family car, as there are plenty available, and there's even a supercharged version for those who'd like a midsize sedan with some kick. The latest Regal provides an entertaining drive along with the strengths that Buick has long been known for: a smooth ride and very quiet cabin. As such, this well-rounded midsize sport sedan should appeal to driving enthusiasts who never thought they'd consider a Buick.
Current Buick Regal
The current Regal's exterior styling combines traditional Buick elements (such as a chrome waterfall grille) with neatly tailored European lines, no mere coincidence considering the Regal is based on GM's European Opel Insignia. The cabin is likewise attractive, with splashes of metallic trim to brighten things up a bit.
The Regal comes in three main trim levels: base, Turbo and GS. There are also Premium sub-trims of the base and Turbo models. Base Regals come with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with the fuel-efficient "eAssist" light hybrid powertrain. Combined, the engine and 11-kilowatt electric motor/generator and lithium-ion battery system generate 182 horsepower. A six-speed automatic is the only available transmission on these models.
The Turbo packs a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 good for 220 hp, matched to either a six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission. The Regal GS has a higher-output version of that engine making 270 hp with the same transmission choices.
The base Regal's standard highlights include 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power driver seat, Bluetooth, OnStar and a seven-speaker sound system. The Premium 1 package adds keyless ignition/entry, rear parking sensors and a power passenger seat. The Premium 2 package adds automatic xenon headlights, an upgraded sound system and rear passenger side airbags. The Turbo versions of these two trim levels add 18-inch wheels, a heated steering wheel and unique powertrain components.
The Premium 3 package is a Turbo-only trim and includes 19-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension and adjustable driving settings. The Regal GS comes with all of the above along with Brembo brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, front sport seats and unique exterior and interior accents. A sunroof and a touchscreen navigation system are optional for most Regals.
Inside, the Regal has an upscale-looking design that features a sweeping arc on the dash. The standard front seats provide plenty of support for spirited driving and comfort for long-haul trips. Those riding in back, however, may find the rear seatbacks a bit flat and uncomfortable, and tall adults will likely bemoan the lack of headroom.
On the move, the base 2.4-liter engine tends to generate more noise than acceleration, due in great part to the car's 3,600-pound curb weight. The Turbo models are obviously much quicker, though there's a slight delay after the gas pedal is floored before the car really hits its stride. On a curvy road the Regal displays impressive athleticism, especially in GS and Turbo versions. Some enthusiasts may find the precise steering too light (except on the GS) and disconnected for their tastes, but for most buyers this won't be an issue. The Regal's ride is hard to fault, as the suspension flattens out bumps and ruts and the cabin remains hushed at highway speeds.
Read the most recent 2014 Buick Regal review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Buick Regal page.