2012 Buick Regal Review
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Sporty handling
- high fuel economy from eAssist model
- upscale cabin
- lots of standard features.
- Sluggish acceleration
- some interior comfort and visibility issues
- narrow trunk.
After a somewhat disappointing debut last year, the 2012 Buick Regal receives some much-needed improvements. But unless you spring for the GS version, it's still quite a ways off from its lofty sport sedan positioning.
When Buick reintroduced the Regal to the lineup last year, it was touted as having "a driving experience that rivals the best import sport sedans in the segment." A bold statement, to be sure, but we found that marketing line to be overly optimistic. Last year's Regal did have some nice qualities, mainly its handling chops, but its lack of performance had it coming up short of sport sedan territory.
The 2012 Buick Regal, however, comes closer to its intended premium sport sedan target with the introduction of the Regal GS. With engine output increased to 270 horsepower (up from the Regal Turbo's 220), a more firmly tuned suspension, a standard manual transmission, Brembo brakes and available summer performance tires, the GS certainly holds more appeal to those looking for driving excitement.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Regal family also gains a new eAssist mild-hybrid powertrain that increases fuel economy by 25 percent over the base 2.4-liter engine. Also new for 2012 is the availability of Buick's IntelliLink system that pairs with certain smartphones to allow for Internet streaming audio like Pandora.
We do like that the 2012 Regal lineup has received some much-needed bolstering, but it still misses the mark set by other entry-level luxury sport sedans. The Regal GS does have capable handling, but its acceleration is underwhelming given its rated horsepower. Acceleration is slower still with the other models. While they're more expensive, sedans like the BMW 328i and Infiniti G25 are just more refined and fun to drive.
If you're not so concerned with performance, the 2012 Buick Regal makes more sense. The new eAssist engine gives a nice boost to fuel economy, and overall, the Regal does provide a lot of features for the money. Even so, we'd still suggest shopping around some. The Acura TSX, Audi A4 and Volvo S60 are worth looking at. We also recommend Buick's own LaCrosse, as it can also be had with the eAssist engine and is priced similarly, yet is a more polished and roomier sedan overall.
2012 Buick Regal models
The 2012 Buick Regal is offered in base, Turbo and GS trim levels.
Standard features for the base Regal include 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, foglights, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, full power accessories, remote keyless entry, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat with power lumbar (power height adjustment only for the passenger), split-folding rear seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Also standard are Bluetooth, OnStar and a seven-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack, iPod connectivity and IntelliLink smartphone integration (late availability).
Base Regal buyers can opt for the Premium 1 package which adds keyless ignition/entry, remote starting, rear parking sensors, an eight-way power front passenger seat and a 120-volt power outlet. All Premium 1 features are standard on Regal Turbo and eAssist models. The Premium 2 package is available on the Base and Turbo Regal models and steps things up with automatic xenon headlights, a nine-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system and rear passenger side airbags. The Premium 3 package is only offered on the Regal Turbo and adds 19-inch wheels and adaptive suspension dampers with selectable drive modes (standard, sport and tour).
The Regal GS receives all of the above, plus Brembo brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, front sport seats, a thick-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel, front parking sensors, unique exterior and interior accents and a sportier GS driving mode (replaces Tour mode). The Regal GS is also eligible for optional 20-inch wheels with summer performance tires. Other options available on this and supporting trims include a sunroof and a navigation system.
Performance & mpg
The 2012 Buick Regal's base engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 182 hp and 172 pound-feet of torque. The EPA estimates mileage for this unit at 19 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined.
The optional eAssist light hybrid powertrain uses the same 2.4-liter engine in conjunction with an 11-kilowatt electric motor/generator and lithium-ion battery system. This combination improves mileage to an impressive 25/36/29 mpg. A six-speed automatic with manual shift control is the only available transmission on these models.
The Regal Turbo receives a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that makes 220 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. It, too, comes with a standard six-speed automatic transmission, but a six-speed manual is offered as an option. Mileage is estimated at 18/29/22 for the automatic and 20/32/24 for the manual.
The Regal GS uses the same turbo engine, but benefits from added turbo boost and a free-flowing exhaust to kick power output up to 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The six-speed manual transmission is standard, with the automatic available as an option (late availability). The manual GS is expected to return 19/27/22 mpg.
In recent Edmunds testing, a Regal with the base 2.4-liter required 9.9 seconds to accelerate from zero to 60 mph, which is considerably slower than competing sedans. The Turbo improves that time to 8.4 seconds, but it's still off the mark for the class. In order to achieve a competitive time, you'd have to spring for the top-of-the-line GS, which turned in a quick 6.2-second run with the automatic transmission. Curiously, the manual was slower at 6.9 seconds due to the difficulty of launching it smoothly.
Standard safety equipment for all 2012 Buick Regal models includes antilock disc brakes, traction control and stability control, OnStar, front seat side-impact airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Rear-seat thorax airbags are standard on the Premium 2 and above trim levels.
In Edmunds brake testing, both the base Regal and Turbo came to a stop from 60 mph in 122 feet, which is about average for cars in this class. The GS, with its bigger Brembo brakes and optional 20-inch summer tires, managed to stop in an impressive 107 feet.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Buick Regal the highest score of "Good" in its frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests.
While the 2012 Buick Regal lineup represents a significant departure from the floaty and disconnected feel of Buicks past, it is still a far cry from the sport sedan image the brand is trying to project, due mainly to a lack of grunt. The base 2.4-liter engine tends to generate more noise than power. The Turbo models are quicker to get up to speed, though there's a slight and sometimes annoying delay before the car really hits its stride and pulls hard. And surprisingly enough, we prefer (and recommend) the automatic transmission to the manual gearbox, as the former provides better performance, while the latter isn't that rewarding to drive due to longish shifter throws and its reluctance to be shifted quickly.
The ride is hard to fault, however, as passengers will enjoy a type of isolation that's synonymous with the Buick brand. The cabin remains quiet, with little road or wind noise intrusion. Likewise, the ride quality is smooth, flattening out most ruts and bumps in the road. Our editors found the steering precise, but too light (except on the GS) and disconnected for their tastes – especially for a sport sedan – but for most buyers this won't be an issue.
The Regal can display some impressive athleticism while taking on a twisty road. This is especially true of the GS and other models with the Interactive Drive Control that provides three distinct settings for steering, suspension and throttle tuning. Sport mode delivers a noticeable firmness and added confidence in curves, while the compliant Tour mode (not available with the GS) is probably more in line with the typical Buick owner's expectations.
Overall, the 2012 Buick Regal's cabin is attractive and 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. Rearward visibility might be another issue for some drivers given the car's sloping coupelike roof line, and a rearview camera isn't offered.
One of our biggest complaints about last year's Regal was the unintuitive navigation controls. Fortunately, the new touchscreen goes a long way toward alleviating those problems. Even so, the Regal's center stack controls -- particularly those for the audio system -- are hampered by a layout with too many similar-looking buttons.
Trunk capacity is respectable at 14.2 cubic feet, but the trunk is narrow, meaning there's less space for golf bags than you'll find in some other similarly sized luxury sedans. The eAssist Regal models use some of the trunk space for the battery packs, dropping capacity to 11.1 cubes.
Most helpful consumer reviews
Features & Specs
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall4 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover10.9%
- Side Impact TestGood
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front TestGood
More About This Model
Trying to radically change your image isn't easy. Just ask Vanilla Ice. Or Buick.
Long known for producing plush, quiet-riding sedans with velour on their seats and portholes on their hoods, Buick is now looking to appeal to a different demographic. And that would be younger folks who'd like an involving — not isolated — driving experience along with modern styling and up-to-date features. As such, Buick's current lineup includes the recently reincarnated 2012 Buick Regal, a midsize sport sedan based on GM's German-engineered Opel Insignia.
For 2012 the Buick Regal GS joins the base Regal and Regal Turbo. As the big jock of the family, the GS is fortified with upgraded hardware that includes a sport-tuned adaptive suspension, 19-inch wheels, Brembo brakes, aggressively bolstered front sport seats and of course the obligatory visual tweaks such as a more aggressive front fascia and rear dual-exhaust finishers. The GS can also be had with optional 20-inch wheels with summer performance tires, which our test car had. Make no mistake; the Regal GS is aimed squarely at certain German brands with circular badges.
As we discovered in a long-term test of the 2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo, the Regal handles admirably on the road. But even the Turbo lacks the kick a sport sedan should have. So the GS's more potent power plant should take care of that, right? Sadly, no. Although the Regal GS takes corners like a quarter horse, until it hits its stride at 3,000 rpm the GS feels more like a Clydesdale than a thoroughbred. Two factors are likely culprits. First, there's the somewhat hefty curb weight of 3,721 pounds, and then there are the transmission gear ratios that don't do performance any favors, as they are on the taller side for better fuel economy.
That said, the 2012 Buick Regal GS still has plenty going for it — athletic handling, a nice and quiet ride and a comfortable cabin. But we expected more from the GS, given that it's the sportiest of the Regal line. The GS deserves a more sporting powertrain — an engine with more low-end grunt and a slicker manual transmission with lower and tighter gearing would help matters considerably. But as it stands now, we'd suggest cross-shopping this Buick with the Acura TSX V6, Audi A4 and BMW 328i.
Used 2012 Buick Regal Overview
The Used 2012 Buick Regal is offered in the following submodels: Regal Sedan, Regal GS. Available styles include 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A), Premium 1 Turbo 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), GS 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), Premium 1 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A), Premium 2 Turbo 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), Premium 3 Turbo 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), and Premium 2 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A). Pre-owned Buick Regal models are available with a 2.4 L-liter flex-fuel (FFV) engine or a 2.0 L-liter flex-fuel (FFV) engine or a 2.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 270 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2012 Buick Regal comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic, 6-speed manual. The Used 2012 Buick Regal comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 5 yr./ 100000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 100000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a Used 2012 Buick Regal?
Price comparisons for Used 2012 Buick Regal trim styles:
- The Used 2012 Buick Regal Base is priced between $12,499 and$18,590 with odometer readings between 30795 and105678 miles.
- The Used 2012 Buick Regal Premium 1 Turbo is priced between $15,990 and$15,990 with odometer readings between 55053 and55053 miles.
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Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2012 Buick Regal for sale near. There are currently 3 used and CPO 2012 Regals listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $12,499 and mileage as low as 30795 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2012 Buick Regal.
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Should I lease or buy a 2012 Buick Regal?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.