Used 2016 Buick Regal Review

Edmunds expert review

You've always known the Buick nameplate. You know it stands for a higher degree of comfort and elegance, yet it's not so fancy, premium or pricey to vault itself into full-on luxury territory. The 2016 Buick Regal is true to its brand's history, nestled nicely into a gap between midsize family sedans and entry-level luxury sedans. If you're looking for an alternative to either of those, read more to check out all the Regal has to offer.




What's new for 2016

The 2016 Buick Regal loses the eAssist mild hybrid powertrain (except for fleet customers) and turns back the clock with a "new" 2.4-liter base engine last seen in 2012. An improved IntelliLink system promises greater ease of use as well as Apple CarPlay compatibility. Minor equipment updates include a new Sport Touring appearance package and a slightly revised trim-level structure.

Vehicle overview

With its long list of standard features and relatively affordable pricing, the 2016 Buick Regal continues to offer good value compared to entry-level luxury sedans. However, some notable weaknesses keep it from being an unequivocal contender, and indeed put it in an odd no man's land between those luxury models and regular midsize sedans.

For 2016, the base model steps back to a lethargic and inefficient 2.4-liter engine from the Regal's past, while all models are afflicted with cramped rear seating. Virtually every rival bests the Regal in these areas. If you're cool with the space situation, though, keep in mind that the engine problem can be rectified. Standard on all except the base 1SV trim level is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that pumps out a competitive 259 horsepower. The turbo-4's fuel economy still lags the pack, but its peppy acceleration should please many drivers.

Additionally, every Regal comes well-equipped with items like leather seats and automatic climate control, plus an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system that boasts an enhanced interface and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration for 2016.

The 2016 Buick Regal's optional all-wheel-drive system provides extra security in the snow.

While the Regal certainly has some strong suits, there is an abundance of other sedans to consider. First, it would be worth taking a look at well-optioned versions of midsize sedans, including the Chevy Malibu and Honda Accord. Then there's the Volkswagen CC, which exists in the same sort of in-between-segment limbo as the Regal, yet provides solid driving dynamics and a high-quality cabin. Finally, there are the more value-oriented entry-level luxury sedans such as the Acura TLX and Lincoln MKZ. They aren't as desirable overall as an Audi A4 or  BMW 3 Series, but they offer a lot for the money -- and in many ways are also more appealing than the Buick sedan in question.

We Recommend

The base Regal 1SV offers a wealth of equipment that could cost at least $10,000 extra to acquire in an entry-level luxury sedan. Unfortunately, its weak engine is cause to step up to the Regal 1SL that differs only in its more powerful turbocharged engine.




Trim levels & features

The 2016 Buick Regal is a midsize sedan that comes in 1SV, 1SL, Premium II (1SP) or GS (1SX) trims.

The base 1SV Regal starts with 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, remote keyless entry, heated power mirrors, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat (with two-way power lumbar), a power height-adjustable passenger seat (with manual adjustments), split-folding rear seats, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Also standard are Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system (with an 8-inch touchscreen), a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Siri Eyes Free (giving iPhone users voice control over a range of functions via the Bluetooth microphone), Apple CarPlay and (late availability) Android Auto for enhanced smartphone functionality, OnStar emergency communications and a seven-speaker audio system with a CD player, satellite radio and two USB ports.

The 1SL adds a more powerful turbocharged engine and dual exhaust outlets, as well as an available Sport Touring package that throws in unique 18-inch wheels and a rear spoiler.

The Premium II adds xenon headlights, rear parking sensors, rear-seat side airbags, keyless entry and ignition, remote start, a heated steering wheel, an eight-way power passenger seat (with two-way power lumbar), a 110-volt power outlet, a navigation system and a nine-speaker Bose audio system.

The GS boasts 19-inch wheels (20-inchers with summer tires are optional), unique front and rear fascias, front and rear parking sensors, a sport-tuned suspension with adaptive dampers, adjustable drive modes (influencing suspension, steering and shift calibration), Brembo front brakes, body-color sport rocker panels, an enlarged and configurable gauge-cluster information display, unique pedals, 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. Optional on the Premium II and GS are two Driver Confidence packages. The first adds numerous safety technologies (including a blind-spot monitor, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert and 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 emergency braking.

Stand-alone options, depending on trim, include some of the higher trims' standard features plus a sunroof, 18-inch chrome-clad wheels and ambient interior lighting.



Performance & mpg

The base 2016 Buick Regal 1SV employs a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that pushes 182 hp and 172 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. EPA fuel economy ratings are disappointingly low given the modest output numbers, standing at 23 mpg combined (19 city/31 highway).

In Edmunds testing of a 2011 Regal with the same powertrain, we recorded a substandard 0-60-mph time of 9.8 seconds. That's by far the slowest time we've recorded for a midsize sedan, let alone a sedan like the Regal with premium pretensions.

The 2016 Buick Regal GS comes with exclusive adaptive suspension dampers but the same 2.0-liter turbo-4 as the 1SL and Premium II trims.

The remaining Regal trims rely on a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 259 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional. A six-speed automatic transmission is mandatory unless you spring for the GS, which offers an optional six-speed manual with front-wheel drive (the GS AWD is only available with an automatic).

The EPA rates the turbocharged Regal at 24 mpg combined (21 city/30 highway) with front-wheel drive and the automatic, 22 mpg combined (19 city/27 highway) with AWD and 24 mpg combined (20 city/31 highway) for the front-drive Regal GS with the manual.

In Edmunds testing, an all-wheel-drive Regal with the 2.0-liter turbo accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, which is slower than many choices in this price range. It's also one of the slowest among midsize sedans with an upgrade engine.

Safety

The 2016 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 the 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 a frontal collision warning system. The Driver Confidence package #2 adds a more sophisticated frontal collision mitigation system that initiates automatic braking in potential crash situations.

In Edmunds brake testing, a turbocharged Regal came to a stop from 60 mph in 118 feet, which is shorter than average for a car in this class. A 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 even 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 the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength crash tests. The Regal's seat and head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.

Driving

When equipped with the turbocharged engine, the 2016 Buick Regal provides drivers with an ample amount of spunk. It's not the most refined four-cylinder in this price range, but real-world acceleration is strong in most situations. Unfortunately, the base 1SV model suffers from lackluster acceleration due to its outdated, non-turbocharged engine.

No matter the powertrain, all Regals ride smoothly, and the cabin remains remarkably quiet at speed. Handling is rather capable with the sport-tuned suspension, though the base setup isn't designed for enthusiastic driving. Either way, steering is light but reasonably precise. The Regal doesn't excel in any one category, but it remains composed and confident.

Interior

Inside, the 2016 Buick Regal features a sleek dashboard with minimal button clutter. The appearance is upscale, and materials quality is satisfactory, if not fully luxury-grade. The standard 8-inch touchscreen powers the IntelliLink infotainment system, which features large icons and Pandora radio compatibility, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration for 2016. The IntelliLink interface includes smartphone-style swipe commands and voice-command functionality, and the touchscreen's graphics are colorful and sharp. It's nice that Buick includes the same screen on every model, as opposed to making you pay more for a premium display like many competitors.

The Regal comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen that gets an updated interface with new features for 2016.

The Regal's front seats are surprisingly snug and supportive; slim folks will smile, but the broader of beam may wish for more wiggle room. Rear seat riders will find relatively cramped quarters, a surprise given the Regal's exterior dimensions. The Regal's elegant sloping roof line doesn't do any favors for rear seat passengers either, as rear seat headroom is lacking. Making matters worse, the sleek roof line also hampers rearward visibility.

Out back, the Regal offers a decent 14.2 cubic feet of trunk space; however, its narrowness makes longer items, like golf bags, a tight fit.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.