Though Buick's compact Verano and full-size LaCrosse sedans usually get more attention from critics and shoppers alike, the midsize Regal is also an appealing four-door in its own right. It's based on the Insigna from GM's Germany-based Opel brand, and this Teutonic heritage manifests in an above-average ride/handling balance as well as a nicely-appointed interior.
Following last year's refresh, the Regal gains OnStar with 4G LTE and a standard built-in Wi-Fi hotspot for the latest model year.
It's clear from the first glance that the latest Regal is a different sort of vehicle than the sedate Buicks of yore. With flowing lines and sheetmetal wrapped tightly over its rigid structure, the sedan's exterior is handsome in an understated European fashion, reflecting its German roots.
Inside, the Regal possesses a well-organized dashboard along with a generally high level of material quality, and goodies like leather upholstery, heated front seats and dual-zone automatic climate control. A recent refresh brought a slightly more modern look to the cabin along with a 4.2-inch info screen in the instrument cluster and simplified secondary controls - button count is down from seventeen to just seven, making for a less cluttered, more intuitive center stack.
Another recent update comes in the form of Buick's next-generation IntelliLink infotainment system, which integrates stereo, connectivity and navigation (when equipped) functions into an eight-inch touchscreen. The setup lets users flick, swipe and drag through icons and lists in the manner of a tablet or smartphone, and it features a voice recognition system for hands-free calls, destination entering, song selection and more. Its "natural language" functioning can recognize a staggering number of phrases - effectively eliminating the need for the clunky and cumbersome memorized commands.
Intellilink also lets users access smartphone-based apps like Pandora and Stitcher radio.
Power and Handling
Out on the road, the Regal isn't a true sport sedan, but it offers tighter handling than one might expect in addition to a luxuriously smooth ride. Three different models are on offer: the Regal eAssist mild hybrid, which prioritizes fuel efficiency at the expense of acceleration; the 259-horsepower Regal Turbo; and the Regal GS, which shares the Turbo's engine but features a performance suspension along with a more aggressive look.
The Regal eAssist combines a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with a 15-kilowatt electric motor. Together, the pair produces 182 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque, leisurely pickup and a respectable 25/36 city/highway mpg. Notably, the electric motor's trunk-mounted battery eats into storage space, leaving only a modest 11.1 cubic feet (other models pack 14.2 cubes).
The Regal Turbo and Regal GS models feature a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that's good for 259 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque.
All Regal models come standard with front-wheel-drive and a six-speed automatic transmission, and traction-enhancing all-wheel-drive can be spec'd on the Regal Turbo and Regal GS. A six-speed manual available as well, though only on the Regal GS.
Mileage is rated at 20/31 mpg for FWD, auto-equipped Regal Turbo and Regal GS models, while adding a stick shift to the latter results in essentially the same mileage - 21/30 mpg. Economy ratings for AWD Regals have not yet been released.
Befitting its status as the driver's Regal, the GS features a lowered sport suspension with adaptive dampers that adjust automatically to suite road conditions and driving style. They can also be tweaked manually by selecting one of several preset modes in the GS' Interactive Driver Control system, which changes steering feel and automatic gearbox shift pattern, too.
Other GS-specific features include a torque steer-reducing HiPer front suspension, Brembo four-piston front brake calipers with upsized rotors, 19-inch aluminum wheels, and an attention-grabbing body kit highlighted by distinctive vertical front-end air intakes.
Standard and Optional Features
In base form, the Regal comes standard with leather upholstery, heated and power-adjustable front seats, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, a seven-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with AUX and USB inputs, fog lights, Intellilink with eight-inch touchscreen, dual-zone automatic climate control, auto on/off headlights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, keyless entry and18-inch painted alloy wheels. Newly standard is OnStar with 4G LTE and standard built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, including a 3 GB/three-month data trial.
The Regal Premium I Group adds a smart key and push button start, a rear parking assist system, upgraded power seats, a remote start system, a 120-volt power outlet and more.
The Regal Premium II Group brings a Harmon Kardon 336-watt, 5.1 Matrix surround sound audio system, high-intensity discharge headlamps and rear seat thorax airbags.
The Regal GS comes standard with both Premium Groups in addition to a performance suspension with adaptive dampers, Brembo front brakes, unique exterior and interior styling elements - including a thick-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel - and 19-inch alloy wheels.
Available options include a sunroof, a navigation system, radar-based adaptive cruise control and several new safety systems (detailed below).
Every Regal is outfitted with dual front, front side and full-length side-curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems. Rear side airbags can be specified as an option.
Several safety technologies are available as part of two extra-cost equipment packages.
The Driver Confidence I Package includes side blind zone alert; a lane change alert system that warns the driver if the Regal begins to wander into an adjacent lane; a rear cross traffic system that alerts the driver to approaching vehicles during backup maneuvers; and a following distance indicator.
The Driver Confidence II Package adds Collision Preparation with Collision Mitigation Braking, which warns the driver of an impending collision and can apply the brakes if needed. Adaptive Cruise control is also included.
As a sporty near-luxury sedan, the Regal is aimed at competitors like the Acura TSX, the Volvo S60 T5 and the Lincoln MKZ, though Buick is likely hoping the car will also nip at the heels of more prestigious competitors like the Audi A4 and BMW 3-Series.