2011 Buick Regal Long Term Road Test - Comfort

2011 Buick Regal Long Term Road Test

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: For Both of Us

July 21, 2011

Regal-Lonely 911.jpg

This scene made me sad. There, our 911 Carerra, forlorn and parked for the night. No takers and me settled into the Regal. But I had to do it. For both of us. We can't force the 911 to make too many mule runs to Orange County. It's a rough drive on both driver and car, invigorating though it is.

This is a 25-year-old car. With 115,000 on the odometer, it deserves a better allocation of 100 miles.

Anyway, it'll spend a nice weekend in OC soon enough at the 356 Club of Southern California's Dana Point event, where we'll no doubt have to account for the black powder-coated Fuchs.

So I took the Regal home. It was the right call. Comfortable, no fuss, and finger-flick steering just right for the surging and slowing of the late-evening San Diego Freeway. The iDrive-style interface is really the only way forward, less taxing than touchscreen. I also forgot how capable the Harman Kardon stereo is.

Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros' "Get Down Moses" (Strummer's cinematic Rastapocalypse by way of Tennessee) brings an underpowered factory system to its knees. But the Regal's handles the throbbing dub bassline with grace, accepting a steady stream of gain before the speaker cones start leaping from their surrounds.

This is not faint praise. The Regal is a fine mule.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Ends an Era

July 11, 2011


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: Very Cool Tradition

June 30, 2011

regal climate 001.jpg

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 2.0T: Santa Rosa and Back, Part 2

June 28, 2011


I had plenty of time to consider the ride quality in our long-term 2011 Buick Regal CXL 2.0T during my 900-mile weekend road trip. Overall, I'd call it pretty good, but I'm not convinced the adaptive dampers provide that much of a benefit... over the conventional shocks on the Regal 2.4.

In the default Normal mode, the Regal is compliant enough for me on most roads, but definitely on the firm side. As soon as we hit the Grapevine/Cajon Pass stretch of Interstate 5, though, my boyfriend pointed out that the ride was getting pretty busy, as the suspension and tires weren't filtering out enough of the small, quick impacts. So we switched to Tour, and sure enough, as James wrote, this mode subtly but usefully softens up the damping response and improves comfort over rougher pavement.

Although it's nice to be able to call up some extra compliance on our turbo Regal, the conventional dampers on the base Regal 2.4 I drove worked just fine. Ride quality was actually the thing I liked most about the Regal 2.4, and I remember that our test car was particularly adept at insulating its occupants from small impacts. The setup on our Regal 2.0T is certainly acceptable in Normal/Tour, but I'd bet I like this car as much or more on the base 2.4 suspension.

Further, I don't care for the Sport damping mode on our Regal CXL Turbo. It's too harsh for most roads and it doesn't do much to make the Regal feel sporty. I drove on some back roads in Sonoma County, but I wasn't about to use Sport. Too much of a compromise.

On a completely unrelated note, our Regal's nav system brings up this screen whenever it activates the low fuel warning. This is an incredibly handy feature when you're driving in an unfamiliar city, and I took advantage of it in Santa Rosa.

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Santa Rosa and Back

June 27, 2011


Over the weekend, our 2011 Buick Regal CXL 2.0T and I went off on another adventure, this time to Santa Rosa, California, some 428 miles to the north, for a wedding.

This was a lot of mileage to pack into 52 hours, so I didn't attempt any fuel economy heroics and just stayed with the flow of traffic on Interstates 5 and 580, and U.S. 101. The drive back on Sunday was littered with numerous traffic delays due to the Sprint Cup race at Infineon and roadwork near Bakersfield. So I didn't come close to my 30.8-mpg average for the Vegas trip.

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Road Trip Comfort

June 18, 2011


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: Road Trip to Vegas

June 13, 2011


Here's the latest installment in your favorite Long-Term Road Test blog series "Inside Line Editor Goes to Vegas Under the Guise of Business." This time, it's true, though. I'm going there to drive a couple new cars. And I'll be using our Buick Regal Turbo for the 566-mile round trip.

I'm looking forward to it, as I drove the Regal over the weekend. Already, I've decided that the 220-horsepower, turbocharged and direct-injected, 2.0-liter four-cylinder should be the base engine on the Regal CXL, not the step-up option. Straightline performance is just fine with this engine. There's just enough torque for passing, even in this heavy car, and you hear the turbo every now and then. It's kinda good -- far better than the normally aspirated 2.4-liter.

Also, I'm really liking the ride quality over LA freeways and city streets, and I haven't even bothered with the Tour and Sport modes yet. So this bodes well for the next 283 miles ahead of me today.

If you have any questions about the Regal that I might be able to answer over the next 3 days, post them here and I'll do my best to respond.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor, @ 6,542 miles

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2011 Buick Regal: I Pressed Tour

June 09, 2011


I usually treat the "Comfort" option in selectable drive settings as if it actually said "kick to the business" or "mustard gas release." Be it an Audi, BMW or whatever, I don't want whatever floaty ride, nebulous steering and top-gear-happy transmission programming comes with a car's softest setting. If that's comfort, I'm happy being uncomfortable.

But then I was driving on L.A.'s Wilshire Boulevard yesterday, which if compared to a street in Kabul, it would be an insult to Kabul. Brent Romans recently popped by my neighborhood from his home up north in Fresno and declared, "I completely forgot how horrible the roads are around here." I'm not saying there's a street wherever you live that isn't just as bad or worse, but I am saying that what is essentially LA's main East-West street looks like something from Life After People.

Right, well, as such I pressed the Regal's "Tour" button to see how it changed the suspension for Bomb Range Boulevard (In France, this button automatically programs the navigation system to go here). And you know what? It did a great job, as I could tell a clear difference between Tour, regular and Sport. The latter actually lets in a surprising amount of impact harshness, though in Sport you can specify which attributes you want changed.

So I pressed Tour, but only for crap pavement. And kudos to Buick for offering such a technology when other cars at this price point do not.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 6,377 miles

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2011 Buick CXL Turbo: Flirtatious Keys

May 26, 2011


As you can see, I have five keys. I'm sure some of you have more and some of you have less. By the way, please don't turn this into a key chain pissing match. I will be severely disappointed.

Anyway, as you can see, when I'm comfortably situated in our Regal, my keys tickle the top of my leg in a flirtatious manner. Had the keys been attractive, I wouldn't have minded, but as they're metal and incapable of love, it really bugged me.

It seems like a fairly obvious oversight, yes? Keyless start would do the trick, or maybe I should get over my fear of sensual metal.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 6,021 miles

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Three Things I Like

May 24, 2011

Regal Tail Lights.jpg

I drove our long term Buick Regal last night and I came away impressed with the car. Here are a few things that caught my attention:

1. Comfortable: I chose the Regal because I wanted a comfortable ride and it didn't let me down. I thought that the 19-inch wheels would affect the ride quality, but the ride never suffered as even as I drove over potholes and cracked pavement.

2. Information Display: While this display isn't exclusive to the Regal (Our Cruze has it too), I love the amount of information it gives you. You can check your tire pressure, condition of the oil, average fuel economy, navigation info, and trip information.

3. HID/LED Lights: Xenon lights aren't standard on the Regal, but if I were purchasing one, I would definitely check off that option. Xenon lights are only available on the turbo model, which give them a degree of exclusivity among other Regals. I'm also digging the LED eyebrows on the headlights. It makes your car easy to spot in the daytime and looks cool.

Ron Montoya Consumer Advice Associate @ 5,967 miles.

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Wheeeeeze

May 10, 2011


The last time I drove our long-term Regal, I was pretty tired and just wanted to get home. It was the perfect car at that moment. Last night, however, I still had some spring in my step, so I wondered how the Buick would fare in this state of mind. Generally speaking, I still think it's a well-rounded and very comfortable ride. But...

My girlfriend and I were making our way to get some of the best tacos in my area (Pinches Tacos on Sunset, if you must know). I was at a stop sign, waiting for a break in cross traffic. Finally, there was a three-second window and I punched it.

I said, "I punched it."


Rather than a quick dash across the intersection, I was greeted by a wheeze and a slow crawl halfway through the boulevard. About three-quarters of the way through the intersection, the engine finally sprang to life, and I kept my foot planted so as not to impede my fellow motorists.

This experience was as deserving as one of my flowcharts as our diesel Jetta was. I'm wondering if it turbo lag was solely responsible for this lack of response. In any case, the next time I need a shot off the line, I'll get a running start.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

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2011 Buick Regal: Now That's an Air Conditioner

May 05, 2011


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: Short Cut

April 27, 2011


Swapped test cars with Brent Romans midway between the office and his place out in the Central Valley. He took the Mustang GT and I came away with the 2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo, which sounds like a bad deal for me.

Only it didn't turn out that way.

We made the swap at the Denny's at the foot of the Grapevine. The last weather of April was blowing through and it was one of those days where you turn your head sideways at every crossroads and look down roads where you've never been before.

Lucky for me there was a Sig Alert on Interstate 5 at Templin Highway, so there was no getting back to L.A. on the freeway. Instead I turned the Regal toward the old Ridge Route, a road that no sane person would think to drive a Buick. Hey, it's a short cut, I told myself.

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo vs Lexus IS 250

April 15, 2011


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
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: Honda Accord Comparison

March 30, 2011


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

2011 Regal-action-web.jpg

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: Bye-Bye, Booster

March 23, 2011


That's it, after nearly 11 years of lugging my daughter's carseat from test-car to test-car, she has finally graduated out of her last child safety seat.

I took her Recaro booster for a farewell ride this morning, happily tucking it into the Buick Regal's trunk instead of strapping it in the backseat.

Had to twist the box to fit it into the opening.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 3,193 miles

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: First Impressions

March 21, 2011

regal curb jk.JPG

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: Touring Tryptophan

March 17, 2011


The surface icons on these buttons are appropriate to their function.

Sport: checkered flag motif. Bit of an exaggeration, but really the only mode this car can be driven in.

Touring: two flat bars. That's about right; flat. Times two.

There's the default Standard mode as well, about as sleepy and lazy as Touring. Similar balky shifting that plagues our Cruze, although not as pronounced and the transmissions are produced oceans apart (HydraMatic in our Cruze, Aisin in the Regal). Sport reminds you there's a car underneath, not just a fuel saving machine. Pushing it past about 2,000 in sixth lets loose a satisfying turbo whine, quiet and imperceptible unless the radio's off. Dipping into it when the lanes open is pretty addicting.

We've talked about the featherweight steering, Audi-like center stack and control illogic, and stubby front seats already. The Regal's got some flaws relative to the company it wants to join. But the cabin's nice. The leather is smooth and the thoughtful stitching adds a premium look. The doors offer a solid thunk when closed and offer some auditory confidence in the chassis.

Buick lists the Acura TSX and Volvo S60 as the Regal's target competitors. Both sticker for $3k-5k more than the Regal - and not without reason. Buick might covet that elusive young, hip professional buyer, but the Regal still trails the TSX's dynamics (sleepy though it has increasingly become) and the Volvo's interior. Gonna be hard to lure that buyer without some incentive, perhaps a lifetime supply of Ed Hardy denim disasters.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: Not Very Supportive

March 10, 2011

Opel Seat.jpg

Clearly, that is not the seat of our 2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo. That, friends is the seat on the Opel Insignia OPC. And I'm not suggesting they should be in our Buck, they shouldn't. They're made by Recaro, sit on the same base as our Buick's seats but have one necessary, every-day difference that makes them far superior to the seats we get...

...thigh support. In the case of the OPC pictured, there's an extendable cushion. Thigh support is one of those things where you don't realize you need it until it's lacking. And boy is it ever lacking in the Regal.

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2011 Buick Regal: Bachelor Party No. 2

February 23, 2011

Buick Regal at the Planet Hollywood.jpg

No, we didn't take a third car on my bachelor party. This past weekend I ventured to another one for my buddy Chris (the blond guy in aviators), this time taking our long-term Buick Regal.

Unlike the smooth sailing we enjoyed to Vegas for mine, this time around, Mother Nature had the audacity to rain us, turning our Friday night drive into a living hell. With the added thanks of a blown-out traffic light, it took us an hour and a half just to get from Los Feliz to East Pasadena, a trip that should normally take 22 minutes. From there, I had to deal with driving rain, poor drainage in I-210's carpool lane (I consequently did not observe that double yellow), traffic up I-15 through clouds, massive wind and other motorists. We arrived in Vegas at 12:30 six hours after we left ... it sucked.

As for the Regal, I thought it handled it well. I left the car in Sport to maximize my control in such crap conditions. The steering is never as tactile as I'd prefer, but it's firmness on center is at least reassuring. There is also a noticeable difference in the suspension settings -- to appease the hungover bachelor on the drive home, I left it in Tour, which does a spot-on job of smoothing out junk pavement without float.

I was also pleased with the engine. It's not going to put up stellar numbers at the track, but its torquey, turbocharged power delivery makes it quite strong on the freeway when passing left-lane dawdlers. Turbocharging also makes it a champ as elevations rise.

The Regal is no Equus when it comes to bachelor party transportation, but it was hard to flaw the way it drove. It does have other issues, however, which I'll get into tomorrow. For now, I'm going to stop writing/thinking. I'm zonked.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 1,564 miles

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2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: First Impressions

February 16, 2011


Am I lazy for using a shot from the intro of our Buick Regal long termer? Yes. Am I completely justified in doing so since I drove for this particular shoot? Yes again.

And what do I think about this new Regal?

The Good: Turbo engine feels suitably powerful and refined. No, this car is not fast. In fact, you'll get cooked by any number of V6 family haulers from a stoplight. But more importantly, the engine is quiet and remains that way throughout its powerband. For a turbocharged four-cylinder, it feels pretty solid.

The suspension isn't bad either. Put it in Sport mode and the car will whip around turns like the one pictured above with considerable speed. It doesn't sway or flop around either, so if you really want to make time down a twisty road this Regal would not embarrass itself.

The Bad: Numb steering. It's overly light at slow speeds and doesn't really stiffen up or deliver much feedback in Sport mode either.

It could use some better seats too. They're not uncomfortable, they just don't have any contouring to them. I wasn't expecting Recaros here, but I like to feel something, anything.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

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