By on March 30, 2011

Sometimes love strikes at first sight. Other times it emerges more gradually over months or even years. When I first drove the new Buick Regal nearly a year ago, I found a fair amount to like, but love didn’t instantly happen. The Regal just isn’t that kind of car. Its strengths are subtle. Perhaps if we spent a week together, and a turbo was added to the mix?

Ours being an open relationship, I also played the field, driving an Acura TSX V6, Chrysler 200 Limited, and Volvo S60 T5 to better evaluate how the Buick measured up. Those reviews will follow. First, the Regal CXL Turbo.

The Regal isn’t as flashy a dresser as the half-size-larger Buick LaCrosse, but it will likely wear better over time. Over the course of the week the car looked better and better to me. The proportions are outstanding for a front-driver, with the ends of the car pulled tight to minimize their perceived mass. In a clear sign of Lutz’s involvement, the fenders swell out deliciously to barely contain the optional 19-inch wheels. Inspired by the 1998-2004 Audi A6, but further refined. Current Audis, with more kinks in their curves, appear stodgy in comparison. I took many photos in an attempt to do the Regal justice, but failed. Its complex surfacing simply cannot be captured in two dimensions. One exterior flaw that can be remedied easily: there’s far too much badging on the trunk. Does any owner really want to broadcast that their car can burn E85?

The Regal’s interior similarly grew more attractive over the course of the week. Though less overtly styled than the interiors in the Acura and Volvo, there’s beauty in the details. Look closely and, like its exterior, the Buick’s interior is filled with curves. These flow together so harmoniously and are so tastefully highlighted with piano black and lustrous metallic trim that no element draws attention to itself. (Okay, the chrome trim plate surrounding the shifter does, but without a few pieces of jewelry the interior would be too dark.) At night, ice blue lighting proves both attractive and easy on the eyes.

When I first drove the Regal I reported that its interior materials didn’t quite measure up to those in an Audi or Acura. Perhaps I was thinking of past Audis and Acuras. The interiors of the current A4 and TSX—and of the new Volvo S60, for that matter—seem plasticky compared to that in the Regal. Within the Buick most surfaces are soft to the touch and even those that aren’t have a reassuringly solid feel. The door pulls—historically a GM weakness—deserve special note. Tug on them and they don’t budge a bit. Yet they also have a soft-touch inner surface. Regal production is shifting from Germany to Canada. Hopefully these materials survived the move.

Ergonomics are much better than in the LaCrosse, with the shifter properly located and the many knobs and buttons all within reach. But there are so many knobs and buttons, unconventionally arranged (for North America, at least), that even basic operations require considerable hunting at first. By the end of the week I’d figured out how to perform most functions. Perhaps after a year the location of audio controls on the steering wheel, the center stack, AND the center console would start to become intuitive? Even the tach is a bit of a bother; since like that in some VWs it’s numbered in hundreds rather than thousands, making it easy to confuse at a glance with the speedometer. As is often the case, the gear indicator is mounted low in the instruments, where it’s not possible to read at a glance. (I was spoiled the previous week by the head-up display in a GMC Acadia.) Thankfully the driving position requires no such acclimation. Compared to the styling-uber-alles LaCrosse, the Regal has a lower, shallower instrument panel and thinner, more upright pillars.

Then there are the seats. Because the headrests jut far forward, it took me a few days to find a position that wasn’t downright uncomfortable (for me; your neck might be less vertical). Supposedly this torture is required for safety, but both Acura and Volvo earn equally good rear crash protection scores with much less intrusive headrests. The problem: GM isn’t willing to fit its cars with active head restraints that move forward in the event of a rear impact. Even excluding this factor, the Regal’s seatbacks lack contour and their bolsters are too widely spaced. They have four-way power lumbar, vs. the two-way manual lumbar in the Acura and Volvo, but the seats in these competitors are nevertheless both more cosseting when cruising and more supportive when the road turns twisty. Of the Regal’s shortcomings, these seats would be the largest impediment to a satisfying long-term relationship. I might eventually learn to live with them, but it would be a struggle.

The Regal is, in the GM fashion, a few inches longer than its closest competitors, and this pays some dividends in rear seat legroom. Even so, the rear seat isn’t a comfortable place for adults. Knee room, though relatively plentiful, is still limited and the cushion is too low to the floor—the price of the arching roofline. Adding insult to injury, rear seat passengers don’t get lustrous metallic trim on their door pulls—to save a few dollars? But they do get rear air vents and an AC outlet (which will only work with a three-prong plug.) The trunk is a little larger than most, and the rear seatbacks fold to expand it.

I first drove the Regal with a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, and found this engine adequate. Over the course of a week with the optional 220-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four I found it…also adequate, only more so. Tipping a friendly scale at 3,671 pounds, the Regal Turbo weighs hundreds of pounds more than most competitors. Consequently, the turbocharged engine merely achieves parity with the base engines in the Acura TSX, Audi A4, and Volvo S60. (And the much less expensive Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima, for that matter.)

Why did GM opt to offer the 220-horsepower four as an option? Virtually everyone else offers base engines that are a little less powerful along with optional engines that are much more powerful. To more effectively compete with the latter the 2012 Regal will also be available with a 255-horsepower version of the 2.0-liter turbo. But this will still be 20-40 horsepower short of parity when the Regal needs a stronger engine to compensate for its additional poundage.

In terms of refinement, the Regal Turbo’s engine is better behaved than previous GM fours, but idles less smoothly and quietly than the best and makes pedestrian four-cylinder noises when revved. Casual drivers will notice little amiss—aside from a very faint occasional whistle the boosted nature of the engine isn’t evident—but there’s also nothing here to thrill. The soulful sixes offered in the Acura and Volvo are in entirely different league. These sixes also feel much stronger when starting off from a dead stop, where the normally lag-free Buick engine sometimes hesitates for a moment.

Fuel economy is rated 18 city / 28 highway by the EPA. Competitors usually do a few MPG better, especially in the city. An Audi A4 2.0T, which weighs about 270 pounds less: 22/ 30. Even in turbocharged six-cylinder all-wheel-drive form the Volvo S60 manages 18 / 26. The even heftier Cadillac CTS with the 3.6-liter V6: 18/ 27. So the fuel economy benefits of the four-cylinder turbo are not evident. In casual suburban driving I observed about 22.5 in the Regal.

The chassis is easier to admire, even if love still proves elusive. Going down the road the Regal feels unusually solid and well-mannered for a non-German car. Except it is a German car. Or was until it moved to Canada. The ride-handling balance is about the best you’ll find in a nose-heavy front-driver. The ultra-low-profile 245/40WR19 tires audibly clomp over road imperfections, but despite the absence of any sidewalls to speak of the ride remains smooth and steady on all but the worst roads. The Acura and Volvo aren’t as composed. There’s some lean in turns, but no more than in other sedans without hardcore performance ambitions.

Understeer? With nearly sixty-percent of the Regal’s many pounds on its front tires, of course it understeers. But the situation is more complicated than it initially appears. The Regal’s overly light steering has a relaxed feel to it, and when the wheel is first turned the car’s nose seems somewhat reluctant to follow. But override this feedback and tweak the wheel another twenty-or-so degrees, and the front tires mysteriously hook up and carve a tight line. Once you know this hidden capability is there, it’s easy to exploit. But it might never become intuitive. If and when the stability control intervenes it does so very effectively and relatively transparently. The systems in the Acura and especially in the Volvo are much more intrusive.

The Regal’s top option packages pair the 19-inch-wheels (a big aesthetic improvement) with adjustable shocks. Prominent “Sport” and “Tour” buttons respectively firm up or relax these shocks along with the steering and the throttle. At least they’re supposed to. Even after a week to familiarize myself with the car I could not tell the difference between the default setting and “Sport.” The latter might make the ride a little more abrupt, but handling is not perceptibly affected. Supposedly the system adapts to your driving style, so it might simply have defaulted to something near “Sport” for me. In “Tour” the steering felt a little more vague and the suspension felt a little less tied down, but the differences are again so small that I doubt I could reliably distinguish them in a blind test. So, are the trick shocks a waste? Not for anyone who cares about driving. They simply do such a good job left to themselves, that they should simply be left to themselves.

The steering is another matter. A much more significant difference between modes, as in Audi’s latest “Drive Select” packages, would be better than the current system. But an excellently tuned, single-mode system would be best of all.

The price: $35,185 with all the toys. Adjust for feature differences (like the trick shocks) using TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool and a similarly-equipped four-cylinder Acura TSX is a few hundred less. The two cars are very similarly priced. This puts the Regal about $5,000 over the much more powerful Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0T (about $2,800 after the feature adjustment) but about $7,000 under an Audi A4 2.0T.

Buick would of course prefer that you focus on the latter comparison, and they’d have justification for this. As suggested by its highly refined styling and hefty curb weight, the Regal was designed and engineered well beyond normal $25,000 car standards—which might explain why it starts at $27,000 and ends up at $35,000 when fully loaded. Want the basic car and the performance bits, but need a lower price? Cutting the nav would save $2,000 and cutting the sunroof would shave another grand.

Ultimately, even when turbocharged and fitted with the industry’s quickest-reacting shocks the Buick Regal simply isn’t a driver’s car. Instead, it’s a solid, exceedingly well-behaved machine that, if it proves reliable, I’d readily recommend to casual drivers without overly vertical necks. Driving it for a week, I came to admire the Regal’s subtle strengths. Perhaps given a year or two of commutes this admiration might turn to love. Prefer to fall in love more quickly? Perhaps the upcoming Regal GS with its more aggressively boosted engine will do the trick.

Press Car, insurance and one tank of gas provided by GM.

An earlier Regal Turbo was provided by Dick Johnson of Lunghamer Buick in Waterford, MI (248-461-1037).

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.

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128 Comments on “Review: 2011 Buick Regal Turbo Take Two...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    For some reason I can’t help but predict this car will help Hyundai sell many Sonata Turbos. 

    • 0 avatar

      I seriously doubt anyone is cross shopping Sonatas and Buick Regals.
      I would like to see survey’s done, but, I’m fairly certain more people into Buick would be more likely to crosshop to a Chrysler 200.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll be covering the Chrysler 200 in my next review.
       
      I do think people are more likely to cross-shop this car with the Hyundai than with this the Chrysler.

      • 0 avatar

        I actually do and tested Sonata 2.0T and Regal 2.4. I found that Regal is more solid, refined and more German feel type of car and Sonata is more Asian, for budget constrained racers, type, for those who can tolerate jerky turbo, vague steering and plebeian feeling of chassis. Do not get me wrong Sonata is well designed car but not in the same league as Buick, Audi or VW.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      How? While Hyundai wishes they were the Korean Lexus, Hyundai barely competes with Chevy. It’ll be years before they’re in the same breath as Buick. And look back at how many years it took Lexus to become the Japanese Buick…

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      The price: $35,185 - Regal Turbo

      The Hyundai Sonata Turbo Limited – White exterior/wine leather interior – (kudos to Hyundai for offering something other than grey or beige leather) – and navagation - rings up at just a few ticks over $30,000.  Nearly all of the reviews I’ve seen of the Sonata marvel at how Hyundai can sell a car with such a high quality interior at the price it’s being sold at. 

      Go do a True Delta price comparison and then tell me they don’t compete.  And once True Delta equalizes for standard features the Hyundai comes out $2,500+ ahead of the Buick and gets better fuel economy. 

    • 0 avatar

      The Regal has advantages in materials, ride, and handling over the Sonata–it was engineered to primarily compete with other German cars–but for most people they’ll be too subtle to notice. Meanwhile, the Sonata’s advantages of more room, more power, better fuel economy, and a lower price are readily apparent.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      “And look back at how many years it took Lexus to become the Japanese Buick…”

      What parallel universe does this comment come from? Lexus launched with a product at the top of the Cadillac price range and commanded such dealer mark-ups that their list prices soon put them directly up against German cars of comparable spec. The ES250 was a flop, but the press and public were both immediately smitten with the LS400, which was initially priced as a 300E/535i competitor, but soon forced the Germans to raise their games while marching accross the price chasm to 400SEL and BMW 735i land. At no time did Lexus compete with Buick anywhere other than in a GM product planning troglodyte’s wet dream.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      “…a GM product planning troglodyte’s wet dream”

      LOL… good one CJ!!

    • 0 avatar
      seanx37

      Exactly what I was thinking the whole time I was reading this review. That Hyundai offers most of the same features for 7-10 thousand less. GM may have made a nice car here…but they charge too much for it. Hell, for $35k you can get a lot of other nice cars that will have much higher resale value.

    • 0 avatar

      “The Regal has advantages in materials, ride, and handling over the Sonata”
      The Chrysler 200 does too. The interior of the Sonata – with the exception of the steering wheel – feels cheap. The new 200 interior feels higher end than the Sonata. Unfortunately, the exterior of the Sonata looks better than the exterior of the 200. The 200 offers more power than both the Regal T and the Sonata T.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Actually, the Avalon is the Japanese Buick…

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Given that Lexus’ bread and butter are the Buick-class ES & RX, they’re a Buick competitor, not a Benz / BMW competitor.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      SVX, given that Buick’ bread and butter are the Kia-class Century & Regal, they’re a Kia competitor.

      And no, Buick didn’t sell a lot of Lucernes.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @wsn- You ought to pay a little more attention. Century is long gone! The last model year was 2005!!
      Your comment reinforces my pet peeve: Comments based on ignorance, or decades old perceptions. If you have not seen the current cars close up and driven them, how do you think you are an expert on them? If you don’t know the Century has been gone for SIX years, why presume expertise

      Buick’s resurgence is on the strength of LaCrosse and Enclave sales which do compete directly with Lexus bread and butter cars, as SVXpearlie wrote. 

      Regal is fairly low volume, at least for the present. It is more accurately a stop gap to help Buick-GMC dealers with a lower end car to make up for the abrupt loss of Pontiac G6 after the Auto Task Force made GM drop Pontiac. GM’s plan was good. The Buick-Pontiac-GMC channel would have had Buick for entry luxury, Pontiac for value and performance, and GMC for trucks and SUVs. GM proposed keeping Pontiac as a niche brand- think G8 and Solstice with G6 along for the ride for a while. At one time, Pontiac was to have a lower cost version of the upcoming small Cadillac RWD sports sedan, but alas, the Task Force killed that plan. CAFE looks to be closing the door on performance anyway. Contact your congressman- End CAFE!!

      @Educator Dan- Chevy is the Hyundai-Kia competitor, and they are doing a pretty good job at it. I am kind of curious why they are applauded for low prices, while GM is criticized for meeting them on price with incentives. That does not seem to make any sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      I am kind of curious why they are applauded for low prices, while GM is criticized for meeting them on price with incentives. That does not seem to make any sense.

      Honestly many reviewers have wondered how Hyundai can sell some of their models as cheaply as they do.  I have heard a few wonder alloud about “price dumping.”  People criticize GM for selling cheaply because they have high fixed costs on each of their vehicles due to the UAW legacy.  For years GM has tried to “de-content” their way to profit, a road that I don’t think will work.  I’d rather see GM go down swinging by offering class leading vehicles with class leading interiors and sell the for whatever it costs to make a profit.  If no one will buy them then, well then GM will really know that they’re screwed. 

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Dr Olds: Good points about Buick, Kia and CAFE. I’ve long thought that CAFE is doing more to wreck the domestic auto industry than any competitor could ever hope to.
       
      One thing I think that is happening, is that Kia and Hyundai are punching way above their weight right now. This is not meant to be a disparaging comment. It’s been illustrative to watch the rise of Hyundai and Kia, particularly while the domestics have struggled mightily to stay relevant. IMO, they have put a dent in the formerly sterling Japanese mfrs reputations, too. Time will tell if they have the sustaining power to keep doing this.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @Educator Dan- Some say the Korean’s low prices are primarily due to currency manipulation, though they undoubtedly have lower labor costs at home than the U.S.

      What you write about GM’s high fixed costs was certainly true, pre-2007 contract and bankruptcy, but it is no longer accurate. GM shed about $7Billion/year in UAW retiree health cost with VEBA and another $0.8B a year by elimination of the JOBS bank with the 2007 UAW contract. Those changes add nearly $8B to the bottom line. Their labor costs now, everything included, are comparable to or lower than the competition, including the transplants. 

      Most all of us have opinions relative to the politics of the “bailout”, but no matter how you feel about it, GM now has only $11B in debt, over $93B less than Ford! That is a $1,000 advantage in interest cost per vehicle according to reports.

      New GM is a far different company than old GM, and my impression is that the new products are quite well contented. Empirically, it seems that must be true since they are commanding much higher prices than in years past. Low end Cruze has a high level of base content and is climbing the sales charts while commanding $4,000 higher transaction prices than Cobalt, $2,000 more than Civic and $3,000 more than Corolla. The days of undesirable, stripped down specials appear to be gone, and GM is enjoying much higher margins today as a result.

      Another fact that seems to escape most journalists, causing a lot of confusion out there is that the level of GM incentives as a % of vehicle prices for the first two months of the year were still lower than Ford or Chrysler and were actually lower than the industry average in March. Most folks do not understand that GM is selling a richer mix of vehicles now than any other volume maker.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      And I sir welcome well appointed small cars.  Although I respect any person’s right to drive around in whatever they wish, I believe my next car will be small and extremely well appointed.  I’ll give just about everyone a look and a test drive.  I know my decision will be based on the right intersection of utillity, performance, and fuel economy. 

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @geozinger- CAFE is an extremely damaging Government intervention in American business, and has uniquely burdened U.S. carmakers far more than most comprehend. Too much to detail to go into again here!

      At least when the Europeans decided to push higher fuel efficiency, they did it by raising fuel taxes so that consumers would have the incentive to buy more efficient vehicles.

      Instead, our politicians pinched the carmakers. In the face of intense global competition, with the legacy costs of the UAW and no ability to control them, the financial result was predictable.

      More people should be aware that another round of draconian increases in CAFE are being rolled out over the next few years. Meanwhile, the import brands, with historically much smaller vehicles have a huge stack of credits to carry forward and merrily continue to import small, high efficiency cars along with the big, inefficient ones.

      There is some good news for America though. GM will be the first and ONLY maker to build a small car, the Chevy Sonic, right here in America. They say the new contract and tier 2 labor rates enable it to be done at a profit, too! Far better than the substantial losses of years past.

      Only time will tell if American consumers will want these new products, but Trucks continuing to capture over half the market even with today’s rising fuel prices is not a good sign. Commenters here lamenting lack of a V6 in Regal and Malibu should blame CAFE, not GM!  

      • 0 avatar
        phxmotor

        You are correct about EPA and CAFE, in more ways than you can possibly imagine. If the truth about EPA’s distruction of creativity and advances in basic physics that have resulted from EPAs insane application of illogic to serious technical issues. But since they are supported by technocrates and their 535 naive decision makers who have yet to be able to change their own tires, we will continue to suffer what we have sown. EPA has been much more damaging to the industry and to technical advancement than can possibly be described here. But you are right, it isnt the auto industry that is at fault. It is the numbing and counterprouctive policies which emminate from this well intentioned yet out of control entity that must be forgiven for the simple reason thet “they know not what they do”.
        Its funny to think this monstrocity was created by Nixon’s crew. A fine group of nontechnical policymakers who also, had never changed a tire between them.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @Educator Dan- And the GREAT thing is that you will have a lot of good of choices!

      Of course, I hope you will look at the Buick Verano, especially since it will be built along with Sonic just a few miles from me!

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Of course I’ll test drive it!  I belive the Cruise should have an SS version with the ecotec.  There’s no replacement for displacement. 

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I’d like to see a photo with the trunk open. The lid looks almost as contrived as the roofline, and based on recent Camaro experience I can only speculate that such design decisions at GM are made by people who’ve never actually used a car. The infotainment controls are a 25 year retrograde step in ergonomics for those of us used to well thought out cars too.

    *edit – saw the thumbnail. The opening actually looks big enough for most items that will fit in the oddly shaped trunk. If there is no room for big boxes or multiple suitcases, the shape of the trunk opening and the use of gooseneck hinges in this class is pretty academic.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      What’s wrong with the hinges?  They seem to do a good job of lifting the lid out of the way.  The only car with a trunk I own was built in 1985, so I don’t claim to be an expert.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Gooseneck hinges get in the way of loading large, boxy items. They also take up a lot of space in the sides of the trunk, particularly when they’re concealed behind bulky vanity panels that trade luggage room for a finished look that appeals to people who fail to comprehend the purpose of a trunk. Goosenecks are still pretty common in inexpensive compacts, but many cars that this Buick wants to compete with have self contained hinges that mount to the edges of the decklid and don’t consume trunk space.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      @CJinSD, many premium cars (including Mercedes, BMW and Audi) are moving back to gooseneck hinges, although often covered or semi-hidden ones.  The cost of the articulating hinges is just too high and most customers don’t see the value in them.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Gooseneck hinges go hand-in-hand with a remote power trunk.

      All of the German cars have them.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      “…a finished look that appeals to people who fail to comprehend the purpose of a trunk.”
       
      What’s with the obsession with using every available cubic inch of space in your trunk? Did you have special, custom luggage made with scooped out areas to clear the trunk hinges?
       
      Who cares if the hinges are covered up or not? It’s the last thing I worry about when looking for a car. If you are that space obsessed, you might be happier with a wagon, van or CUV.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      Add me to the list of people who hate poorly done gooseneck hinges. After having a vehicle with and without goosenecks, the difference in space is amazing. The Regal’s don’t seem that bad. At least they’re no worry about crushing things with them.

    • 0 avatar
      KitaIkki

      Gooseneck with steel springs lasts the life of the car.  Whereas the gas struts that prop up articulated hinges eventually leak and become weak.
      The 2011 Chrysler LX cars (300, Charger) are going back to covered gooseneck, the 2010′s had articulated hinges.
       

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      The only GM car in our family – a Buick Century – has the proper articulating hinges and the car is 11 years old…the struts are now just getting weak.  No, these better hinges are being beancounted out of most makes, along with folding side mirrors in the name of the almighty dollar…if you ask me, cars are beginning a period of decline.  Some will blame the govermnet for this, but any body with a brain realizes that it is just short-sighted beancounters grabbing for more profit…

  • avatar

    Why is this a descent car when the same car badged as the new SAAB 9-5 is a POS?

  • avatar
    mjz

    Wish they hadn’t used the “Regal” name for it.

  • avatar
    Porsche986

    Michael, thanks for this review.  I have to be honest:  I love this car.  The sweeping roofline, not so shallow window DLO, thinner pillars, and the way that the front overhang is minimized is just fantastic.  I am not in the usual Buick demographic (I am close to 40) but I think this car fits my bill nicely.
     
    @ Gunnar Nilsson… the Saab 9-5 is actually a platform mate of the Buick LaCrosse, which is heavier, larger, has WILDLY thick A-pillars.  They are variations on the same platform, but essentially unrelated.
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @Porsche986- These things look great on the road. Photos don’t do the sculpted shape justice. Too bad they don’t offer the Opel OPC Turbo V6 AWD package. Maybe if we all work on our congressmen and covince them to scrap CAFE?

  • avatar
    william442

    David, er Michael, good review of a mediocre car. Please review some of the really good cars you drive.

    • 0 avatar

      How about a CTS-V wagon? Just got it this morning, and have already burned through nearly a third of the tank. Looks like I’m going to be paying for some of the gas in this one.
       
      Thinking I might need to take a brief road trip. Anyone know the best roads within a couple hours of Detroit?

      • 0 avatar
        phxmotor

        How brief of a road trip do you want? One of the best short road trips nead Detroit (over the years this route has often been used by Chrysler because of its proximity to the Chrysler Proving grounds near Chelsea Michigan). These 2 drives will consume oly an afternoon. And put the driver in another world.

        Go to Ann Arbor on I-94. Continue east 14 miles to the Chelsea exit, continue north on M-52 3 or 4 miles to Waterloo Rd. From this point two pleasant drives can originate,
        1) After getting to Waterloo Rd and M-52 turn left (west) and continue to the once village of Waterloo, its about 7 or 8 miles. But right after getting onto Waterloo Rd, 1/2 mile from M-52 you will 1st hit Clark Lake Rd, if one were to turn right (north) you will see two interesting sights if the right people are home. 1st, take Long Lake road into the ANN Arbor Quaker’s wilderness refuge-retreat. One mile down this road is one of the most pristine and secluded sights anywhere near Detroit. A short hike from where you can park will give you a sensation of being in the UP, next to a wilderness lake with a miniature mountain range creating a ridge with unbelievable vies, and steep trails which allow you to do so within just a few minutes… yet you are only minutes from AA. Now back to Clark lake Road and turn North, down 200 yards is a newish metal barn on the right (east side). If the owner happens to be there you will be able to treat yourself to an amazing collection of Kaiser top of the line cars. The old 6 cyl straight 6 engines with a turbocharger and the owner had a bunch of them. These were the last of the luxury Kaisers made at the Willow Run plant before the entire factory was sent to Argentina after being sold to Evitas husband Juan Peron. In this metal barn is also the most amazing John Deere art deco tractors you will ever see. These are the tractors that won one design award after another during the 1930′s… and are in absolute perfect condition, they were concieved and built at a time when creative people really were creative. Anyway… return to Waterloo Rd and continue west until you get to the village of Waterloo. On the way lake the Sugar Loaf Lake loop, you will again be surrounded with a part of Michigan you (and most people) do not know exist… after getting to Waterloo have an icecream cone at the only place in town and continue south. There are lakes sprinkled everywhere and hidden roads in the woods that defy description. Just criss cross the area and you will see what i mean.
        After getting back to M-52 continue north to “North territorial Rd”, turn right (east…) this will end up at hiway 23 that goes north and south through Ann Arbor, but in the 15 mile drive you will go through the village of Inverness, have a bite at the logcabin restaurant-bar and investigate the many lakes. Criss cross the various roads including the one that is only 4 or 5 miles ling and goes to Pinkney. Wander around this forested area (Lady of the Lake area) and see Zukie Lake and all the connected lakes and the costly lake home . Other lakes are state land and remain wilderness. If you are lucky you may have found Cassidy Lake back off of Waterloo Rd on the 1st drive. The loop drive around it that returns you to Waterloo Rd is an amazing jungle in summer and on the west part of the loop you will be treated to an interesting “Honor Farm” run by the state of Michigan. But back on North Territorial and the Pinkney and Zukie Lake loops is a wonderful arroay of state land and state parks, if you are clever you will find a state park owned Yurt which is rentable year round. Another hidden jem in Michigan. Also you may stumble across the village of Hell and the lake next to it surrounded by modest homes.
        North Territorial allows a great drive with undulating surfaces and great side trips allowing an unmolested drive. Dirt roads and pavement mix to allow an afternoon of great variety and unexpected sights.
        Once back on North Territorial is the wonderful county park on the Huron River that runs right thru Ann Arbor a few miles away. If you terminate the drive at hiway 23 it is only minutes south to AA, if you continue north on 23 you will hit I-96 and have a nuber of choices for getting back into the western suburbs of Detroit.
        Sorry for the long winded travel suggestion, but in my years in Detroit this route, these two routes were my favorite. You will see many motorcyle riders on this route (Harley Clubs) on these routes when the weather is good. and if the mood is right you can go to the Purple Rose Theater in Chelsea after a days driving of go back into AA and always have a nice show at the Arch on State street.
        This miniature mauntain range that these two drives pass through was created 25,000 years ago in the last ice age when the 2 mile thick layer of ice shoved the loose rock covering of the area into this small mountain range. This range goes all the way from where the Michigan Motor Speedway is (near where Ohio and Indiana and Michigan all converge… and the range continues northeasterly to the outskirts of northwest detroit. Yes there is a mountain range in this part of michigan, and when you fly from the detroit airport tward Chicago, the range is clearly visable. As are the miriad of lakes, both pristine and surrounded by homes.
        If anyone finds this suggestion of interest I will be glad to describe an even more amazing days drive where i live now. (in one day a car can traverse the 2 highest passes in california, see Mono lake, see Yosemitie, and return to one of the most perfect places in the United States… my friends call it “Galts Gultch… it is off the scale amazing and understood to be “what it is” by reders of Atlas Shrugged.
        The best of Michigan… the best of the west.
        And both drives can be done by an avid driver…and their spouse… in less than a day.
        have fun and watch out for the wildlife… there is alot more wildlife on the Michigan drive than can possibly be imagined. Swans the size of a VW… wookchucks galore, deer by the dozen, hawks, fox, … …more than I can describe.
        have fun!

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      With or without potholes?

  • avatar

    nice car, just not a Buick.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      Cars like this will go a long way toward helping forget the embarrassing legacy that is every Buick made from about 1975 until 2009.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I don’t know, some of the turbos they made in the 80s were kinda cool.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Buick produced one of the most legendary performance cars of the 1980s and they didn’t really get full-out embarrassing until 2000.
       
      And, even then, they brought out the Enclave in 2007 and the LaCrosse Super in 2008.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Aren’t you forgetting the Reatta? That’s a car I wish I could have afforded back then. I still see one once in a while. I liked that Buick.

    • 0 avatar

      @Zackman ditto on the Reatta being a beautiful car.  If you didn’t say it was a Buick, it’d easily pass for something Italian.  The wikipedia page makes for a good read too: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buick_Reatta.  But set aside other Buicks, the Reatta has very little family resemblance.  I think the new LaCrosse/Regal’s are a good interpretation of a modern Buick though.

  • avatar
    JJ

    Hey look, an Opel Insignia and an Audi A4…If I imagine both being powered by base diesel engines this really does feel like home.

    Don’t know if/how the Insignia is different from this Regal in terms of build quality/materials, but if it isn’t that much different, I think it’s actually a pretty decent car. It also looks quite good in the flesh in dark colors. I did find the rear seating arrangements a bit cramped though and I’m also a bit disappointed by the weight. This is also a problem with the new Astra (quite a bit bigger and heavier than a Golf, err, Rabbit, but that doesn’t translate to more interior space)…seems like they might have a bit of trouble with packaging at Opel.

    I’d still probably prefer one over a Sonata, but then the US Sonata isn’t on sale here so I can’t really tell if it’s all it’s cranked up to be (which I still think it might not be in the long run; as mentioned in the review cars can grow on you but they can also fall out of favour and Hyundai to me has had a couple offerings in the past that seem great value when they’re just launched but after a few years you’re often glad you didn’t buy one, I’m thinking for instance Coupe, err, Tiburon, and Santa Fe).

    • 0 avatar

      This is virtually identical to the Insignia. It was made in the same plant.

    • 0 avatar
      Bokonon

      Hmmm – I have a Santa Fe, as do lots of people who live in my area of Colorado (where it has taken a big chunk of the market for AWD sport utes). 

      Not sure what you mean by including the Santa Fe with the Tiburon.  Seems like a long-term sales success, as well as the car that formed the leading edge of Hyundai’s current product assault several years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      JJ

      @Bokonon;

      I’m guessing you’ve the 2nd gen Santa Fe which is a huge improvement over the first one, but still, to me the interior plastics are a bit too plasticky, the faux wood trim a bit too faux, the engines not efficient enough (especially the V6 before they updated it).

      Mostly though, it’s the feeling of buying a Mega Duck (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mega_Duck) instead of a Nintendo, a pair of Nike Air Max Triax instead of Air Max Classic or an HTC Desire instead of an iPhone, because on paper, these offer the same specs for a lower price. In reality though after a while you often wish you’d shelled out the extra cash for the more expensive model (even if it means skimping on a few extra games, or in the case of cars, buying the one you really want 2nd hand).

    • 0 avatar
      marjanmm

      Interesting how Insignia and Euro Accord sell as upscale in US even though they are just regular D segment cars in Europe. Also Lexus HS is supposed to be the hybrid version of the latest Toyota Avensis.
      The only European D segment car I can think of which sells unchanged as non luxury in US would be Mazda 6. following that logic buying Mazda 6 in US would be getting an upscale car for non upscale money and funny how Mazda sells few of them over there. Most likely this means Buick and Acura aren’t really that much better than the Chevrolet and Honda US market mid sizers.

  • avatar

    Great review Mike.
    I am anxiously awaiting your Chrysler 200 review.
    I really liked the Regal, but for my needs it’s too small a car.  i’m dissapointed GM didn’t put as much power in it as Chrysler did with the 200. Unfortunately, without RWD, all that power just creates more problems with torque steer.
     

  • avatar
    v65magnafan1

    The intrusive headrests?
    My ’11 CR-V suffers from the same design problem. Apparently, they are part of an active headrest system.
    I found that if I tilted the backrest back a bit, more than perhaps I usually would, but still at a comfortable and safe angle, the headrests retreated to a non-intrusive position.
    I hope this helps.

    • 0 avatar
      JJ

      I found this a bit odd in the review…cause I think the headrests in this car are active yet the review says GM doesn’t do active headrests. I’m positive that they at least DID do active headrests on several Opels here in Europe, including this car’s predecessor, the last iteration of the Vectra. Therefore it would be kind of strange they changed that for the Insignia/Regal.

      Then again the Vectra also had an option of ‘tailor made’ seats that were specially designed by a company who’s name I forget that specializes in ergonomic seats. The option was quite pricey for this priceclass (something like 2000 Euro in the Netherlands), but the standard seats were also pretty good and got regular praise in reviews (so I doubt they sold the special seats much). Anyway, it surprises me that the seats are lacking in comfort, cause that’s a very important selling point. In fact the great seats in Volvo’s are the only reason nowadays I would ever consider buying one.

    • 0 avatar

      If they were active they wouldn’t be positioned so far forward.
       
      Some Honda seats do have the same problem. Those in the Insight are the worst I’ve ever experienced.
       
      I did end up reclining the seat quite a bit more than I otherwise would have. The disadvantage of this is that I end up with my upper back not touching the seat.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      “The disadvantage of this is that I end up with my upper back not touching the seat.”
       
      And presumably in greater danger of whiplash in an accident because the headrest is too far away. When they make a safety feature so uncomfortable that you don’t use it (or to get comfortable, don’t use it properly) they may as well not have included it in the first place. It’s a weird screw up in what seems to be an otherwise well thought out car. I’d happily give up 2 of the 4 seat adjustment directions if that change would fund active headrests or standard headrests that don’t suck.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      I have to tilt the seatback a bit more than I like, but I wear a fedora, so I need the space. If it is an issue, I just take the hat off.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Is the Chrysler 200 in this fold at all (i.e. has it been that much improved in the mid model refresh) and competitive to these cars?
     
    The RDX has the same problem with the hesitation when accelerating from a stop.  It is a problem that can be remedied with a little ECU tuning.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Maybe the Sebring, err, 200 is improved, but could you actually call it a premium car?

    • 0 avatar
      quiksilver180

      th009: I wouldn’t call the 200 a premium car, unless your name is Chrysler.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I think the same buyers who would consider the 200 a premium car would also consider the Buick on a par with Acura…  :)

      Typical GM marketing strategy.  Buyers who are already GM fanatics, or strongly leaning towards “buying American”, will love this car.  Its “good enough” for a non-car-guy buyer to like it.  But it isnt going to convert anyone who prefers imports, its not a world beater, or a game changer.  Its a decent average front wheel drive small sedan.

      If GM wants to change brand perception and improve market share, they need to do it better than the competition, MUCH better, and get some attention.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “Maybe the Sebring, err, 200 is improved, but could you actually call it a premium car?”

      It has to ba a premium car. After all, it is “imported”!

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “Maybe the Sebring, err, 200 is improved, but could you actually call it a premium car?”

      It has to be a premium car. After all, it is “imported”!

  • avatar
    photog02

    I love the car’s design, but hate the weight, lack of power, and wrong-wheel drive. If this thing could shed a few pounds and motivate the proper set of wheels, I would love to give it a fighting chance to replace my BMW E46 (when the time comes, of course).
    But that has been the problem with GM lately. They make an absolutely wonderful effort that falls just short of where it needs to be.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      If you want 300 pounds off and RWD this isn’t just short.  You’re asking for an entirely different car.
       
      The power is typically disappointing.  GM used to be the powertrain company.  The 3800, the Northstar, the Vortec, that was what made you put up with the rest of the car.  Not anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Yes, I dont get what it is with the engines from GM.  Isnt this pretty much the same direct-injected 2.0T that they had in the Solstice GXPSky Redline?  Wasnt it 276hp, with an easy-to-boost 320ish available with a chip??

      Actually, now that I think about it, imagine how awesome this car could have been if they had dropped this body onto a slightly modified Solstice platform??

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      That’s a pretty short wheelbase platform – the Sky/Solstice platform.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      E46 replacement?
       
      I’d think a Lexus IS or Acura TSX (if you must have FWD, might as well go for the one of the best FWD sedans available) would make much more sense than this Buick.
       
      That having been said, I’d rather have this Buick than a Camry. It doesn’t suffer from the obese styling that the current gen Camry has.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Yes it was, but from what I read, the platform was designed to be easily modified, like Nissan’s modular chassis.  And the Regal is still not a big car, its 3-series sized.  If GM were to charge $35k for a RWD 275hp turbo-4cyl car with these good looks and decent suspension tuning, people would take notice.  They would cross-shop it with premium brands, give Buick some street cred.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The LNF made 260hp and 260ft/lbs in stock form.
       
      GM offered a factory upgrade kit that gave 290hp and 340ft/lbs, all while keeping the normal warranty intact.  Maybe that tune is what should be going into the Regal GS.
       
      The prevailing wisdom is that GM lowered the engine output on the Regal in order to bump up refinement, raise fuel economy, and probably increase longevity.  Unfortunately, the engine still isn’t all that refined or fuel efficient.

  • avatar
    CraigSu

    “GM isn’t willing to fit its cars with active head restraints..”
     
    Odd, since my ’99 GM-era Saab 9-3 SE has them.

    • 0 avatar

      Saab INVENTED them, and quite a few GM cars had them at one point. But I’m not aware of any GM cars with them currently. The optional Recaros in the CTS-V I have this week have comfortably positioned headrests, so I suspect they have active head restraints. Some websites claim that all CTS seats have such restraints, but I can find no mention of them on a GM site.

    • 0 avatar
      CraigSu

      Michael, I’m aware that Saab invented the active restraints.  My reply was expressing surprise that they’re not in current GM cars since I presume GM would have retained the rights to their design/use.

    • 0 avatar

      My CAPS had the same intent.
       
      There could be two problems:
       
      1. Additional manufacturing cost.
       
      2. Some safety expert inside GM decided that active head restraints weren’t sufficiently effective.

    • 0 avatar
      CraigSu

      My apologies, Michael.  I thought you were shouting at me.
       
      I can vouch for the active restraints.  Whether you get hit or simply have to stomp the brakes they are very effective.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Any photos of the rear seating?

  • avatar
    Romans 1:16

    While the suspension is adjustable it appears to be something other than magnetic ride control. Just like the new SRX which ditched the MRC from the previous generation SRX for less a expensive adjustable suspension setup.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Against my better efforts, I do like the German Regal.
     
    However, this car really needs either a killer I4 or six-cylinder (maybe even a small displacement V8, but I know that will never happen).

  • avatar
    claytori

    One thing to check for if the headrest seems too close is if it adjusts in the fore/aft direction. My 2000 Saturn LS-1 (Opel Vectra B americanized) has this. This is a very rare feature.

    • 0 avatar

      Very few cars still offer this, because of safety concerns. So I was surprised to find it in the Genesis Coupe. Someone from Hyundai told me that they made a conscious decision to trade off a little on the crash test score in order to provide better comfort for the full range of body types. Not everyone has the same physique as the crash test dummy. As long as the headrest is properly adjusted there’s no actual loss of protection.

  • avatar

    Michael, thanks for the review.  I’m not much of a Buick person, but I have to agree that the new styling direction for the brand is really a head-turner in person.  The one upcoming car of the brand that I am interested in is the Verano.  Not sure if there’ll be a big market for a luxed up version of the Cruze, but I like the idea of having more rivals in the compact luxury segment.

  • avatar
    Jaeger

    I cross-shopped the Regal CXL Turbo, Passat CC 2.0T and Sonata 2.0T.  I bought the Sonata – the Regal was a distant third.  Three words: much too slow.  Three more: much too heavy.  Combine that with a transmission that wants to upshift to 6th by the end of the driveway, and doesn’t want to downshift unless your foot is through the floorboard and you have the reason why my dollars went elsewhere.  Too bad, because it had the best chassis of the three.  And then there’s the price.  At least in Canada – option up the CXL just a bit and you are into G37 and Genesis Sedan territory.  My guess is the only people who buy this are people who DON’T cross-shop.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I have seen quite a few of these around, they seem to be making it into the rental fleets here in FL.  Honestly its a beautiful car, has great lines.  I realize its not a “drivers car”, but I think regular people will be fine with it.  Its way better looking than a 200, I think the Sonata will be cross shopped more though since they have a similar style.  Also, I think the same people who are willing to overlook the old perception of Hyundai will also give Buick an honest look too.

    I still cant help but think thier biggest problem isnt going to be the cost cutting or the power… its the Buick name.  Aside from the one GM fanatic I know at work, everyone laughs whenever Buick is mentioned.  Its going to be big battle to turn around public perception about that brand.  As a Pontiac or a Saturn I think they would have done so much better.  Or even as a Saab, especially if they want to compete with Audi.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Michael, I have a feeling you’ll be posting reviews in May with a snapshot of a new car and a snowy background.  haha

    • 0 avatar

      I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. I drove the black car a couple of months ago, then put off writing it up when I learned that GM was able to get one to me for a week. The second car is dark gray, with no snow. I included some photos of the first car because I liked them better.
       
      The only car I haven’t written up that I have photos of in the snow is a Dodge Durango. Waiting to see if I can get one from Chrysler.
       
      Then again, I guess it could still snow once more.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This is a nice little car.  It drives well, handles well, has adequate power and isn’t too gimmicky.  I agree about the European-designed too-many-similar-buttons climate and audio controls, but if the Fiesta and Focus are any hint, we’re going to see more like this and the Regal isn’t egregiously bad.
     
    Gripes:
    It would be nice if the front seat cushions were a little longer, but at least you can get it without a sunroof.
    It could do with a little of the LaCrosse’s interior flair (wood accents, a little chrome, the ambient lighting).  As it stands, it’s pretty stark, which is ok in general, but not for a Buick.
     
    I’m hoping a) that they tool up to start making these in Oshawa soon, and that they don’t see much teething pain, and b) that we get either the wagon or five-door at some point

    • 0 avatar

      Woodgrain trim is available in the tan interior in place of the piano black trim, but it doesn’t really fit the design in my opinion.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Really?  I haven’t seen so much as a photo of a woodgrain-equipped Regal anywhere and they weren’t on the floor of the Toronto autoshow.  It must be really bad.
       
      Again, it’s a pity, as the LaCrosse’s interior is very nice.

  • avatar
    quiksilver180

    After seeing this car being furiously advertised during March Madness, it’s perked my interest… a little bit.
    My thought is how does this compare against the Subaru Legacy GT? With 40 horsepower more and AWD, but a tad lower MPG rating (I believe) and manual only… The previous GT was a pretty good drivers car and the new one is around the same price range, I would take the new (ugly) GT over this.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    The last couple of years, I almost drooled over the Buicks at our local auto show. My wife even said my next car would be a Buick as she said she could see me in one. I’ll see. I have to buy maybe one more new car, and if Chevy doesn’t have anything that floats my boat – I’m waiting to see what the next Impala is – who knows? Whatever I do, I’m sure everyone on TTAC will know about it.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    I suppose it is a significant victory for GM for a mid-size Buick to even be in the same conversation as an Acura or an Audi…..10 years ago, that would have been a joke.  Now?  They appear to be playing in the same league.  Maybe not in the same division, but the same league.

    For the first time in decades, I’d consider a GM car.

  • avatar
    nevets248

    will be VERY curious to see how much of a depreciation hit this takes after one or two years, will probably plunge like most GM vehicles.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    This is a nice Saturn Aura that needed a new home when they killed Saturn.

    It is a nice car, but it isn’t a Buick.

    Look at it. There is no Buick there except for the grille. The rest of the car is obviously an updated Aura, especially from the rear and sides.

    The design is utterly unoriginal. There is little distinctive to warrant that kind of price.

    Hyundai does this with more flair and excitement and at quite a savings too.

    It needs to be Buicked.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve got to disagree a little. The Regal isn’t as obviously a Buick as the LaCrosse is, but the organic shape fits Buick in a way it would not have fit Chevrolet or Cadillac. By the same token, this car looks much more like a Buick than the Catera looked like a Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      When I see a Regal, it’s clearly NOT a hard-edged Cadillac or truck-like GMC.

      That means it’s either a Buick or a Chevy. Chevy has the ‘Bu, so by process of elimination, it’s a Buick.

      Could / should it be curvier? Yes, no doubt. Maybe we’ll see that in a couple years when GM does a refresh.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    I have been seeing more and more Regals around, and they catch my eye with their tight form. My wife’s friend loves hers and my wife’s next car will be a Regal. (Of course, the new Malibu teaser shots do look GREAT!)

    I don’t know if they are still capacity constrained, or what the NA produced cars will be like, but Buick is finding great success right now. In the first two months of ’11, they outsold Lexus and all other luxury brands except BMW, who edged them by just 800 sales. This is particularly impressive given that Buick currently has only 4 models! The GS should help a little with street cred with 295 fr-lb of torque. Expect Buick to grow even faster with upcoming broader product line. This link has the sales info-
    http://www.autoblog.com/2011/03/07/buick-sales-beating-up-on-lexus-may-be-this-years-most-popular/

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      A good review as usual from Michael. I would point out that the Acura TSX is merely the European Honda Accord. Mainstream midsize cars from Europe cannot come to the US for much less than $26-27K – hence VW not selling the new Euro Passat here and this car being a Buick. VanillaDude – the TSX has nothing in common with other Acura’s, except the grille so it isn`t just Buick that does this.
       
      The question I have is that people have said the base Regal is under powered. The Insignia (and Passat, Mondeo, Accord etc) all start with around a 120bhp engine and 180hp would be considered high powered. Europe is different to the US but it isn`t like Euro drivers are known for driving slow. Whereas many US drivers with high powered mid-sized cars just sit at 60 in the outside lane – no need for all that power. Can someone explain why the typical US driver needs so much more horsepower?
      The other key thing with this turbo is that it has a large amount of torque – around 255 lb/ft. That helps with acceleration.
       
      The other point I would make is that yes the Sonata Turbo is faster and has better economy. That holds against most cars. So conversations could get real boring if any mid-sized car (luxury, semi-luxury, or mainstream) is compared (numerically) against the Sonata.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Nice way to regurgitate Autoblog’s opinions, but I am guessing by your posting name that you are a GM fanboi.

      Buick outsells Lexus, Benz, etc because their cars are significantly less expensive than those brands.  Only GM considers them a true luxury brand, the rest of the world they are fancy Chevys.  And how many of those sales can be attributed to fleet and China sales (the Chinese apparently have a strange obsession with Buick)?  There are not many Lexus fleet sales, but Buicks are all over the FL rental lots.  And those rental companies do not classify them as luxury cars either, BTW.

      I like the Buick products, they have made some great strides, but I think its a stretch to compare them to true luxury brands, especially with the current lineup.  And at 3600 lbs, even the GS engine isnt going to help street cred enough, esp in FWD format.  They really needed the AWD V6 version like Europe gets.

  • avatar
    John R

    Hm. Within the scope of intended consumers, I’d rather a Optima Turbo with lighter aftermarket 18s and summer tires – but then I’m under 40. For $35k~, I pretty sure I could get into an off-lease G37S or Evo MR…then, again, I’m under 40.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    This car show what drastically different times we live in. GM was once known for it’s engines with power to spare, indifferent interior materials, comfortable cushioned seats, sloppy handling and relatively roomy interiors. Fast forward to 2011 and we now have Buicks that can handle and have top notch interiors. Now we have seats that aren’t as good, powertrains that are subpar and interior room that is noticeably on the decline. It’s as if American cars are becoming European and many Asian/Korean cars are trying hard to be American. This car badly needs a smooth sweet running V6 in the 3.0 to 3.2 liter size tuned for some good old torque, more interior color choices, optional AWD and less weight. Otherwise it is a player in this field.

  • avatar
    wsn

    1) From my own observations, GM cars are typically smaller inside than their Japanese counterparts. Coupled with poorly designed door interior/handle (that protrude into leg space), it’s far less comfortable.
    2) Who would spend 30k+ for a FWD GM? The only exception may be the DTS. Otherwise, I will choose an Accord over any FWD GM sedan.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    @mnm4ever- Hardly a boy, retired after a 40 year career as a GM product engineer, I hoped to convey information, not to “regurgitate” other’s opinions. 

    Buick certainly is presently an entry lux brand, like Acura, Volvo and others, but so are the big sellers within the lux brand lines. Cadillac is intended to compete with high buck rwd models, which really have pretty low share of the “luxury” segment anyway.

    Just contemplate these facts:
    Buick’s 4 models outsold Lexus’ 15 models last year as well as every other luxury brand except BMW by just a few hundred units thanks to their BMW’s X3 entry lux SUV.
    Buick’s U.S. sales grew 73% over 2009. Most of that growth was sales to retail customers. 

    Buick’s volume models, Enclave and LaCrosse do compete directly with Lexus RX & ES as well as many other lux brand high volume models. The Buicks sell for more and generate higher profit than the Lexus models, for example. Examined in context of the segments in which they compete, Buicks are not necessarly that much less expensive. I have not read any criticism of Koreans for their lower prices.

    The bottom line is that Buick is competing for the same buyers as the volume models from the Luxury brands and is having great success in that competition. For the record, of the big 4 car rental companies, only two listed Regals and both considered them Premium vehicles.

    Also for the record, I certainly am a GM fan! Still the largest industrial manufacturing company in the history of America, by far the largest U.S. car maker and well on track to profitably recapture global sales leadership again in 2011 I am proud to support them. I am proud to see an American company regain leadership. And,I believe you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. The new Malibu is fantastic and will finally enjoy the global scale of sales in 100 countries. As GM’s new product pipeline starts flowing again and their newfound financial strength (no politics, now!)  their future is looking bright indeed. I am a fan! I won’t take offense to being called a fanboi. 

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      You shouldnt take offense, I wasnt name calling.  But after a 40yr career at GM, and reading your followup post, you obviously are not the most objective poster when it comes to GM.  Your original post read practically word for word from the link at autoblog, hence my use of the word “regurgitate”.  You state opinions as if they are facts, much like the autoblog post did.

      The Enclave and LaCrosse definitely do NOT compete with Lexus or any other high end vehicles.  Lexus, Mercedes, and BMW are status brands.  You could draw a comparison to Volvo or Acura, but it would be a stretch.  Volvo is a very low volume brand, so sales comparisons are moot.  Acura tends to appeal to younger more affluent buyers, its really a different market than Buick sells to.  Buick WANTS to sell to them, but they dont have the appeal yet, they are still considered a “stodgy” car, it will take time to reverse public perception.

      Regarding car rental companies, the ones I just checked for an upcoming vacation still list the Pontiac G6 as their mid-sized car, so those lists are not accurate by any means.  And the Regal is too small to be considered a luxury car by standard rental guidelines.  Maybe Hertz has them in thier Premium collection??  I havent checked, but last I looked, Hertz is in bed with Ford.

      Your facts may be true (I cannot verify them right now), but it doesnt matter, the comparison is pointless.  They can sell 10 times the cars that BMW sells, they can generate 100 times the profit of Lexus cars.  That doesnt mean they compete with those brands.  That doesnt make them a luxury brand any more than Hyundai is a luxury brand.  That doesnt mean that yuppies will be buying them and bragging to thier freinds about the sweet new Regal they just picked up.  Just because GM “intends” the brand to compete doesnt make it so.  Your so-called bottom line is a twist of facts that doesnt pass the logic test.

      I am not arguing that thier cars arent nice, I happen to like them, all of them.  No wonder sales have increased dramatically, the cars are much better, and they no longer have to compete with Saturn or Pontiac for buyers.  My point is that they arent stealing many customers from the imports, they are simply appealing to thier usual customer base, the same ones who would buy Chevy, or Pontiac or Saturn.  Maybe Ford.  You, for the most part… people like you.  Those buyers are EASY, they want to buy American, and GM offers a good product, so its not like a loser deal to buy a Buick, or any other American brand for that matter.  I am saying that if they want to truly compete with premium imports, reposition the brands, overcome years of negative public opinion, they need to do better than this.  MUCH better.  They need to do some game changers.

      I havent seen anything yet?  The new Malibu is fantastic??  No politics???  Cmon, the only reason GM is still around is because they were given billions of dollars.  And they are still pissing it away, just like before.  The new Malibu is a slight redesign of the current one.  They still have all thier money and profit in trucks and SUVs.  They quit offering any significant performance cars besides the Camaro and the Vette, and they cant give Vettes away.  Badge engineering is still alive and well at GM.  They can still pull it off, but dont kid yourself, there is a very long road ahead and no real signs that they have changed thier way of doing business yet.

      PS — Oh yea, I like Cadillac, especially the CTS-V, but GM has always been pretty good at building expensive cars.  Its the cheap ones they have problems with.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Buick is “entry luxury”, and competes very strongly with Lexus, Acura & Infiniti. Buick is clearly a notch above Lincoln, Hyundai & Chrysler. Buick is a clearly notch down from BMW & Benz. But then, so is Lexus. Lexus wishes they were a BMW / Benz competitor, but they don’t have the chassis & suspension to compete.

      While Buick was stodgy, their newer cars are turning that around, as they’re capturing a lot more younger professional sales from Acura, Lincoln, etc.

      Buick Enclaves regularly transact over $40k, which is clearly in the luxury price range.

      Anyhow, there’s plenty of room for Buick sales to continue growing, as they retake the “entry luxury” segment.

      As for “badge engineering”, given that all US products (aside from the SUVs & pickups) wear unique sheet metal, I think you don’t know what you’re talking about. Ford does badge engineering. GM doesn’t do this any longer.

      It seems to me that you’re living in the GM of 20 years ago. Perhaps it’s time you went to the auto mall and actually looked at the cars.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      You guys take this the wrong way.  We are at odds over what constitutes “competing” products.  Ford pickups sell at over $40k, that doesnt mean they are luxury brands… transaction prices are not the only measure.  You can option almost any SUV in the market to $40k.  You both seem to be looking at the actual product, and in that I will agree, within reason, the new Buicks can compete with the more established luxury brands, but only on thier lowest ranking products.  The other measure is in brand recongnition, thats where Buick fails miserably, and Lexus and Acura do well.  And believe me, I am definitely no Lexus fan, to me thats one of the most worthless brands available.  But people buy them because they are a status symbol with a good reputation.

      Buick is not.  Not yet anyway, and thats my point.  I like thier products, honestly.  I wouldnt likely buy one, but then again I am not a typical luxury car buyer, but I can see the value in thier product.  I am sure they will do OK, but I would like them to do better, they should do better and they can do better.  But right not, it is my firm opinion that very few people out there are cross shopping Acura and Lexus and Volvo with Buick.

      Oh, and badge engineering isnt really a bad thing, I mean, Lexus and Acura are some of the worst offenders.  Unique sheetmetal is better than how they did it in the 80s, but dont forget, GM also dumped 2 of thier brands, so there is less to spread around.  Aside from the CTS-V, nothing has come out of GM that makes people say WOW, this car really is better than anything else on the market.  GM needs more hits like that if they want to play in the big leagues.  IMO, before trying to take on Lexus and Mercedes, they should try to just take on Honda and Toyota.  One of GMs biggest strengths historically is performance cars, yet they choose to not sell any.  The drop the good cars (G8), and sell average ones.  if they would up the performance ante, then the bread and butter sedans would sell too.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    You should stop talking about Buick really.
    This car is an Opel Insignia with Buick badge.
    You should do what some Freightliner/Dodge Sprinter owners did.
    Rebadge with the original badges.

  • avatar
    MattPete


    Frankly, the helm looks pretty nice, if not handsome.  I’d say it’s much better than most, but not all of it’s competitors.  Most GM interiors leave me nauseous, but this one impresses me in the photos.  In comparison, the current 3-series leaves me cold and the current A4 seems like a step backwards.
     
    The exterior, especially the nose, is good ol’ GM not-quite-getting-it.  I don’t understand the A4 analogy, as to me, especially photo #13, reminds me much more of a Plymouth Breeze.  Also, I understand that this is the current fashion, but the coupe-roof looks like it compromises the rear seat too much.
     
    “Regal.”  Yuck.  What a crappy name.  It makes me think of 1980s GM cars: larger than the competitors, but low quality interior design and materials mixed in with a general cheapness.  Dont’ forget the maroon velour.
     
     
    P.S. The LaCrosse looks intriguing, if a little awkward in photos.  In person it looks like crap.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    Hm, I wonder where’s that person with certain off road package in his name that always pissing on Ford Ecoboost for ‘having V6 power with V8 fuel economy’? What about 4-cylinder turbo car described in this review? Why, it’s got fuel economy of a V6 but power of a four banger!

  • avatar
    slance66

    Nice review Michael.  It confirms everything I expected.  It’s a nice car.  Much nicer and much more desirable (for me) than any Buick since the early 70′s GS.  But as others have pointed out, Buick has no cache value.  It is not a luxury brand in any way shape or form.  GM has created, at best, a division that can finally compete with normal Fords. This is a Ford Fusion competitor, not an Audi competitor.  Ford already went through this process of upgrading the quality and materials in their base brand, usually based on European Fords.  GM has done the same by bringing the Opels over here as Buicks.
    It won’t make Buick a Lexus or Infiniti competitor.  It will help restore the reputation GM lost by making cars that were crap.  Chrysler is attempting the same.  VW is doing the opposite and is following the old GM approach.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Agreed, the mpg is horrendous for a car this size with 255 hp. 18 mpg city for a car this size is obscene. Why does this thing weigh so much? I like the styling and the interior but this car doesn’t give me a reason to spend its asking price.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Let’s see how the Verano does.  90% of the Regal’s interior room, almost 200 naturally aspirated hp, and projected close to 35mpg highway.  It might end up being the smart choice over the Regal.

  • avatar
    Nick

    I do wonder if GM/Buick couldn’t fiddle the inline-5 Atlas engine to fit crosswise in a front driver. It has as much power in it’s current (and somewhat neglected guise) with more torque without having to rely on forced induction. They could easily get more power out of that engine (even in its initial form it was 3.5 litres). I don’t know what mileage it gets in the Canyon/Colorado but it’s hard to believe it can do any worse.

  • avatar
    NYCB

    the regal on the nurburgring, not bad!

  • avatar
    Maxb49

    Does any owner really want to broadcast that their car can burn E85?

    As a matter of fact Michael, I do. Not only do I leave the flex fuel badge on my car that was equipped to run E85, I put ethanol badges on the cars I converted to run on ethanol. How blinded do people have to be by their political leanings to be embarrassed about a car’s fueling capabilities?

    Ethanol is a superior fuel for my purposes anyway.

  • avatar
    fps_dean

    I’m okay with everything except I take an objection to the following:

    “The problem: GM isn’t willing to fit its cars with active head restraints that move forward in the event of a rear impact.”

    Every car with active head rests I have test driven has been a problem. I lean back into the headrests and the poles start digging into my back. Sometimes as uncomfortable as the more intrusive headrests of the Lacrosse, and always the most annoying thing I have ever experienced in any car, ever.

    The fact of the matter is if the headrest is tall enough in the first place, it has as much of a chance of doing it’s job as these invasive headrests, or active headrests, so I’ll take my chances with whiplash in favor of comfort in place of annoyance and a seat breaking every 2-3 years.


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