By on February 3, 2014

2014 buick regal

Time: 2332, Eastern. Outside temperature: six degrees. Speed: 83 mph, climbing.

 One needs to remind himself of following distance when letting the dogs run.

Thoughts appear as bullet points in the frontal cortex.

  • Led Zep II makes me hammer down
  • The left lane is clear, but there are some right lane travellers that could become obstacles.

One thousand one…

One thousand two…

“I should have quit you, baby, long time ago…”

One thousand three…

“down on this killing floor, break it down for me now…”

One thousand four…

  • Prius just oozed into the left lane to pace, not pass, the fuel tanker putting up considerable spray.
  • Headlights are dirty. Need to slow down anyway.
  • Too bad.

Wait a second, I’m lamenting having to back off while driving a Buick!

“People worry I can’t keep you satisfied…”

This 2014 Regal Turbo AWD is a parts-bin car. A re-badge, and yet, it’s one hell of a highway flyer. The Regal is also surprisingly adroit in kinkier situations. It’s kind of a damn shame that this car is an automotive Palestinian. It’s sold as a Buick, but it started off as an Opel with a side of Saab, and was supposed to be a Saturn. For many, the Regal does nothing to recommend itself. That changes when you drive it, but if you think about it too much, it’ll piss you off.

The Regal Turbo AWD makes me angry with General Motors. Where the hell were cars like this in the ’80s and ’90s? GM passed those decades playing Program Objective Bingo. Does the under-engineered, over-budget, late-to-market shitbox du jour tick all the boxes for the Vehicle Line Director? If yes, proceed directly to market. Lather, rinse, bankrupt.

Regals then were GM-10 (later W) platform garbage. Nostalgia has already kicked in. The myth goes that a vicious public bought in to so much “hype” over the Camry and Accord and didn’t give the all-around-solid GM front-drivers a fair chance. Fiction. In reality, now is the only time in a generation that General Motors has built a modern midsize sedan that isn’t lashed together from pig iron and offal.

2014 buick regal

General Motors is making complete-package cars that compete. Why did it take so long? Did it really require kicking the blue-collar backbone in the jewels and a quick-rinse bankruptcy for GM to get it? It didn’t have to. It shouldn’t have had to, and that’s why I’m upset by the Regal.

The last time a Regal wasn’t a total shitbox was…gosh, was it ever not a shitbox? Maybe the first Colonnade Regal, or the last-gasp G-body? It’s been at least thirty years since the Regal was anything but woefully assembled with dull orange-peel paint covering slap-dash bodywork with chintz horror chamber interiors.

Now we have this 2014 Regal, which wasn’t even supposed to be a Buick. Inside left me more impressed than a Lexus ES. On the road, you can feel the benefit of the Russelsheim engineering. Punch it and will fly. The structure feels brick-outhouse solid. This is the kind of car we used to wish GM could make. What the hell took so long?

2014 buick regal

There’s a whole bunch of cousins built off the Epsilon II architecture the Regal is based upon. Among the Malibus, LaCrosses and XTSes, the Regal Turbo with AWD is the most compelling.  Yup, it’s not that roomy, but neither is the Audi A4, the revered BMW 3 Series or even the Infiniti G37. The reality is that the back seat space, while snug, is actually better than those other cars, and the Regal has a 14.2 cubic foot trunk, also actually pretty good.

The Regal draws an inevitable comparison to the Cadillac ATS. It’s only natural, the cars are priced closely together, and they appear a close match size-wise. You can’t knock the Regal on space and then turn around and say “king me” to an ATS. It’s got a teensy 10.2 cubic foot trunk, and there is no interior dimension that is larger than the Regal. It’s no surprise, then, that the ATS interior is just 90.9 cubic feet, noticeably tighter than the Regal’s 96.8 cubic feet.

2014-buick-regal-4

Ah, but the Regal is also too expensive to play in this sandbox, even if the ATS and its weaker value are on your automotive fantasy team. The Regal definitely isn’t as special as the ATS, the 3 Series, or heck, even a milquetoast-spec Mercedes-Benz C-Class. But if the Regal with turbo engine, AWD, leather, Driver Confidence Package #2, Premium II Package, and Power Moonroof is too pricey at $40,000, then what does that make the ATS equipped roughly the same way at about $47,000? Remember, there’s less space all around and the maddening burden of CUE, so clearly the differentiator is the driving experience. The ATS is indeed better to drive, but is it $7,000 better?

That’s a question best answered on your own, but most would say no. If you’re the practical sort, wait a year or two and take advantage of the Buick’s more prodigious depreciation for a great pre-owned deal. The Regal is great to drive. It’s precise, responsive and powerful. The ride is on the stiff side of compliant. The exhaust is on the drone-y side of throaty. Switch the traction control off, though, and you will be shocked to find that you can rotate this thing with the throttle. It may be FWD-based, but that tail will wag. The HiPer Strut front end, with its tuned-up geometry does its thing like a grown up. All the smooth wheel control would be better served by more feedback at the steering wheel rim, though.

The Regal gets a cleaned-up dashboard for 2014. There’s fewer buttons on the center stack, and the layout is logical. Ergonomics for the hard controls are good, though a knob for fan speed control would be more elegant than the up/down buttons. The touch panels for temperature and seat heater control look great, but are dismal to use. They’re unresponsive and distracting. The latest version of Intellilink drives the larger in-dash LCD, but it suffers from organization problems and too many sub-menus. The system also has a speed issue, sometimes hanging up for a few seconds while tuning through radio stations or calling up functions. I’d be especially upset to be making monthly payments for that kind of underachievement.

2014-buick-regal-5

The Driver Confidence Package, by the way, is something you can completely live without. Skip it and drop the price of this weaponized midsizer back into the $30,000s. The dynamic cruise control is pretty well-tuned, but everything else is just unnecessary for an attentive driver. Of course, the flip side of that is that it may be more than necessary to offer the blinking lights, beeping warnings and last-ditch interventions. Those features give Buick some safety talking points, and when buyers opt for it, the profit margin puffs up.

The Regal Turbo AWD is a good car in a tough spot. From behind the wheel, it’s surprisingly good. But it’s between a rock and a hard place. Even within the GM family, it’s not as good as the ATS, but it’s a lot better than the ho-hum Malibu. The Regal does have the chops to keep a reasonable enthusiast entertained, but it falls short in the cars-by-the-pound measures of space and stuff for the lowest price.

The 2014 Regal Turbo AWD is a charmer of sorts, but its like trying to get someone’s attention in a room full of Kennedys. There’s pressure on all sides, and even though the Regal has done yeoman’s work to drop the average age of Buick buyers and driven a bunch of conquest sales for Buick, it will probably finish its life as it started: a carpet-bagger Opel that’s mostly irrelevant, nice enough, and surprisingly frisky.

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143 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2014 Buick Regal Turbo AWD...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    So GM/Buick makes a decent car and you’re kind of POed about it… If the Chinese like it that’s all that really matters

  • avatar
    the_yeti

    I bought a 2013 Regal GS with a 6 speed manual 2 weeks ago. Its a true drivers car. Fast, smooth, and comfortable.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I should have looked closer at one of these a year-and-a-half ago, but my last-ditch W-body Impala-love got the better of me.

    Oh, well, I did quite good anyway. Next time, perhaps.

    A friend bought a Regal for his wife and she’s madly in love with it. Yes, GM is building pretty good cars again. Yes, too bad it took this long…

    • 0 avatar
      honda_lawn_art

      My betrothed has an ’07 Impala. Beige on beige former rental car. The more I live with it though, the more I can’t live without it. Not a true drivers car by any stretch but the 3.9 is empowering and it gets about the same economy as a lot of economy cars; but this one can swallow six, even eight foot boards and haul around five ‘American’ sized people in comfort. Surprised the hell out of me.

  • avatar

    Good review in my view. Short and sweet opinion piece that deals with both the finite and the overview issues of the vehicle. But maybe that’s just because I agree with the conclusions that were drawn.

    Keep it up.

    P.S. How distracting did you find the chrome bezel around the gearshift? That’s reason to get the manual alone.

  • avatar

    It’s also worth mentioning that this is one of the last gasps for the Canadian GM product from Oshawa, so if you’re looking for a Canadian built car that’s actually quite good…

    Plus, GM Oshawa has a great quality record as GM goes.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    My dad’s 88 was a great car that was roomy, very comfortable and went like stank.
    Very reliable as well. The only thing I did not like was the buttonized dash. Far too distracting to tend to when driving. I think the W cars were very nice looking and well thought out. I am not a GM fanboi by any stretch (the opposite, if anything) but must give credit where credit is due. I still see an occasional late 80′s early-90s Regal on the road and they still look good if not better than their contemporaries. I think it is great that the new Regal is a decent car but to say that the W body was “platform garbage” is not true. Not one bit.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan Roth

      No, I fully support the message that the W platform was garbage.

      They had crappy, unsupportive seats, wallowing suspensions, rusted prodigiously and were poorly assembled.

      The W-body was late to market, way over budget and so plagued by issues that GM kept the FWD A-bodies around a few years longer, because they’d finally figured out all the problems the X-Bodies started just in time for the Lumina and its sisters.

      • 0 avatar
        Halftruth

        My pop must’ve got a good one then. I am only going by personal experience here.
        Car was solid, dependable and logged well over 200K miles before it finally gave up the ghost (after 17 years).

        • 0 avatar
          Dan Roth

          It’s not that they weren’t dependable or wouldn’t go to 200K miles (if the rust didn’t get them first), it’s just that they were terrible cars.

          The Taurus was miles better in most areas (though, importantly, GM automatics didn’t blow up we predictable regularity like the Ford’s transaxle did), and there were better prices and more variety over at the Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth store, not to mention the Europeans.

          No, the W cars were junk.

          • 0 avatar
            ponchoman49

            The funny thing is we have more come backs and issues at our used dealership with the 1993-2007 Taurus than most 90′s to current W-bodies.

            The Taurus/Sables had horrendous trans axles up until around 2004. The springs were garbage. The electrical system was very glitch ridden and buggy. Both the 3.0 liter Vulcan and Duratec need frequent oil pan replacement and the heads/valve covers leak oil on the latter. Wheel bearings are common replacements on both and most all W-bodies used rear disk brakes which are much easier to deal with than Ford’s drums(wagons did get disks). The interiors were of similar build quality on both lines.

            Depending on year the Taurus/Sable also seems to suffer more A/C fan blower issues than the W-body cars but again that varies with the 90′s GM products which do have issues with the resistor. The major advantage the Ford had over the GM was the wagon bodystyle.

            Another observation of many customers is that the 3800/3100 etc give better mileage figures than the Ford engines, something I noted with many rentals.

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          I drove my ’90 Sunbird to 235k, not so sure we can call it a good car…but they did get good at building them after 8 years.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Some late W-bodies were better engineered and assembled. The first-gen LaCrosse and the last Grand Prix were really pretty good.

        But somehow that level of improvement didn’t make it to the last W Impala. Perhaps it was just a stretch too far, maybe it just had too much cost cutting. Whatever the reason, it’s a miserable driver with the sophistication of a farm tractor, except that the ’12-’13 3.6 model has good power.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Noting one exception in my building, I seldom see late 80s W bodies, but I frequently see mid-to-late 90s and newer.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    With about ~1 cubic foot less interior space and and similar sized trunk the Verano makes a better case in it’s class segment with almost 40% of the sales vs the Regal. The Regal has better lines than it’s little brother and has more amenities available. But the Verano has FWD rotatibilty too in the correct hands.

    http://www.edmunds.com/buick/verano/2013/road-test-specs.html

  • avatar

    #1 With a Mercedes, BMW and Audi that look good and can be had decently equipped under $40,000, why would I buy a Buick? OR an MKZ for that matter?

    #2 I like the Lacrosse and Regal, but they don’t really do or offer much beyond their Chevy counterpart to warrant the bump in price. The Lacrosse I rented had a suprisingly powerful V6, but the torque steer was like wrestling bulls and the steering wheel was so hard and not-luxurious, I could never have owned one.

    All of these cars with the V6 should have AWD rather than FWD. All of these cars with AWD should have the V6. They go hand-in-hand.

    #3 I hate these “options” and “packages”.

    If I were running these companies, we’d make it simple and offer a Navigation/moonroof/leather/AWD package for $______, a Navigation/moonroof/leather package for $______ and a moonroof/AWD package for $____. I hate the wording of these packages when it could be made so much simpler.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I’m with you on #3. I hate that the MKZ, that comes standard with MyFord Touch, requires a $3000+ package to get nav. On pretty much any Ford that comes with MFT, its an $795 option.

      • 0 avatar
        Timothy

        Right? So dumb. Am I correct in assuming that all you need to make the navigation work on a MFT system is the SD card?

        If so why doesn’t Ford just sell those as a part? Ridiculous when you consider that if you bluetooth your iPhone and turn on google maps, apple maps, or WAZE you will get turn by turn directions through the stereo.

        Stop making nav a thousand dollar option and just start making it standard or an optional add on for less than the cost of a iPhone and an app.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Nav should be standard on the MKZ. Raise the price $500 if thats what it takes.

          All you need is the SD card, but I’ve been told that you have to have a nav equipped car for the SD car to work. The non-nav MFT vehicles have an “Information” screen instead of a “Navigation” screen. I think this is stupid and all MFT vehicles should just have Nav. It will make the cost go down and people won’t care about the extra few hundred bucks in costs.

          I’ve never owned a non-nav MFT vehicle. Why would someone do that? Besides Avis or Budget who wants to charge me $$$$ for their stupid nav. They even take out the SD car on MFT vehicles that have nav. F you Avis, I’ll bring my own SD card.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        The truly weird thing about the MKZ is that it comes standard with stuff that BMW and Cadillac only include in the nosebleed packages. The base model I recently rented had adaptive headlights (which cost a lot extra on my CTS).

        Sadly, for too many manufacturers, nav means “screw the customer”. Lexus, particular, is a prime offender with the careful alignment of features in two packages on the IS that basically force you spend an extra $8K to get the most desirable features.

        • 0 avatar
          fredtal

          Made worse that I can buy a Garmin for $200 and get free lifetime updates.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I understood, sort of, in the days where a car needed a different center stack for touch screen nav. Now everything has a touch screen. It’s crazy that I have to pay $3195 in order to have Nav.

        • 0 avatar

          IS is a genius, actually. You can step from 350 to 250 and get that package for “free”. That’s why they sell to many IS 250′s. Want more power but don’t care for idiot displays? Lexus has a car for you – same price. Too bad it doesn’t come with a 6sp stick.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Funny I have driven every iteration of GM’s Epsilon cars with the LFX and not one exhibited torque steer like wresting bulls and the steering wheels are all leather wrapped and not hard so this is a little off base.

  • avatar
    Nick

    I can just imagine the scorn that’s going to get heaped on me for saying this but I think it’s the best looking sedan on the road.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    I don’t care how good the car is, with the name “Regal” it just isn’t happening. What are you thinking GM? It isn’t 1976.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “The Regal Turbo AWD is a good car in a tough spot. From behind the wheel, it’s surprisingly good. But it’s between a rock and a hard place. Even within the GM family, it’s not as good as the ATS, but it’s a lot better than the ho-hum Malibu.”

    I drove an ATS for maybe ten minutes and have never even sat in a Regal, so unlike the author I am in no place to make an accurate judgement between the two. If I lived in a place with twisty roads that were not filled with debris and potholes where I could really enjoy what the cars are intended to do I might have different perspective. However I don’t so in my mind Alpha should be phoning in BMW and Regal should be lengthened, widened, and given softer suspension for the real roads of life but since its a quick Opel rebadge, no dice. Oh and for those to point out “Malibu is your DD for the masses” I wouldn’t be caught dead in a MY13+, its been purposely ruined. Personally I’m not particularly attracted to either Regal or ATS for different reasons but I think its insane to ask up to $47K for either car. I suppose if $100K salaries were the norm this might seem fair, but the reality is they are not and both of these are intended to be mainstream models. We’ll see what the market does but the block has been harsh on the outgoing Catera in the past, I expect similar treatment on these as long as they are priced as such.

    “The Regal definitely isn’t as special as the ATS, the 3 Series, or heck, even a milquetoast-spec Mercedes-Benz C-Class.”

    None of those cars are special at this point, anyone with a 700 credit score and $3K burning a hole in their pocket can lease them. Special is something I can get and fanbois cannot.

    “The Regal Turbo AWD makes me angry with General Motors. Where the hell were cars like this in the ’80s and ’90s? GM passed those decades playing Program Objective Bingo. Does the under-engineered, over-budget, late-to-market shitbox du jour tick all the boxes for the Vehicle Line Director? If yes, proceed directly to market. Lather, rinse, bankrupt.”

    Regals then were GM-10 (later W) platform garbage.”

    I’m sorry but this is incredibly ignorant. GM did come out with an AWD Pontiac 6000 (A-body) in 1988 and evidently ran it for a few years until it was dropped I presume for low sales. I have never seen one in person, and having been around many 6000s over the years I’m going to guess these were rare. Generally speaking nobody in Detroit or Toyko was making cars like this in the 80s or 90s, and only Audi attempted to make a tight driving mainstream AWD in the period. Regals were GM-10, but true to GM fashion the fit and finish was higher on the Buick/Olds vs Chevy/Pontiac Ws through at least MY97 when Grand Prix got serious. Buick also offered the 3800 standard on Regal specifically, a motor whose very presence dwarfs all the sissy turbo fanboi s*it you applaud while giving its owners long term reliability and realistic fuel economy. I will drive a MY95 Regal coupe all day long against both ATS and the Opel Regal because it was made for the roads of life not those of the People’s Republic of Kalifornia or the track. Even if you were correct, even drawing comparison of the Opel Regal to GM-10 and calling the latter bad names is akin to saying well DN101 was garbage in its time or man those LH cars were terrible, but yet all three made up the automotive landscape in their times, they all could not have been *that* bad. Seriously get some perspective before you start calling things s*it.

    “For 1990, the Regal gained the option of the Buick 3.8 V6. The 3800 V6 was unique to the Regal, differentiating it from the mechanically similar Chevrolet Lumina, Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and Pontiac Grand Prix.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buick_Regal

    “New for 1988 was an optional All Wheel Drive system. It was mated to a new 3.1 L LH0 V6 (the first use of GM’s then-new 3.1 L in a production car) but only a 3-speed automatic transmission, which did not help acceleration or fuel economy. The all-wheel-drive system became standard for 1989, but was moved to the SE model for 1990, since the STE was discontinued from the 6000 line and moved to the new four-door Grand Prix lineup that year. It was later discontinued from the Grand Prix after 1993.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontiac_6000

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      Had a AWD 6000 STE
      They made 122 in 88, 1,013 in 89 and about 2000 in 90.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Thx for the figures, sounds like those would be 1% or less of all A-body sales of the period.

        • 0 avatar
          PonchoIndian

          They were/are pretty rare. I’ve never seen an 88 in the flesh, although I’ve been 5 minutes late a few times on buying one.

          My parents bought an 89 new, and a friend of mine’s parents bought a 90 new.

          Unfortunately there are some parts (rear struts for one) that you just can’t get at all anymore for them, so most have probably gone to the junkyard years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        We ran the 6000 and the STE 86-87-88. I could be wrong, but I can’t recall building the AWD.

        • 0 avatar
          PonchoIndian

          I believe (from my poor memory) all of the AWD’s were made in the Fairfax plant (is that the Kansas City plant?). From what I understand the unique floor pan and trunk floor made it more logical to keep it in the US, and I believe the 6000 production moved to Fairfax from late 88 until the end. All AWD’s that I’ve seen have had a 1G2 VIN number.

    • 0 avatar
      fredtal

      If a bigger softer Regal is what you want then you should be looking at the LaCrosse.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        So I have go into an entirely different and more expensive class of car if I want a normal American ride with rear seat room to haul my kids/friends around and if I wanted a car with driving dynamics and a rear seat I have to shop elsewhere? *singing* Fail fail fail fail, fail fail fail fail.

        This line of thinking is a great way to put me in a USED Buick, RenCen.

        • 0 avatar
          PonchoIndian

          How is it a different class of car?
          Both are mid size, one on the larger side of mid while one is on the smaller size. The Regal is the sportier version that’s all.

          From personal experience I don’t feel like the rear seat of the Regal is any smaller than the rear seat of the GM-10 Regals from way back when.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Lacrosse is what passes for the “full size” Buick at this point and as pointed out if I wanted a wallowy car that’s it for me. But what if I genuinely liked the Regal in all its glory but I have a family to occasionally haul around, or in my case golf bags and other cargo? If the two cars are “midsize” and supposed to be the traditional/sport siblings then why is Regal so much smaller? I mean I know why, b/c it was wedged in there and doesn’t really belong but I’m trying to be objective. So I choose “sport” and live with caveats or I choose “wallowy” and live with caveats. Would it be better to make one good car with no caveats which can accomplish both missions and configure it differently? (ie diff engines/transmissions, suspension pks, LWB option etc)

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            I hear what you’re saying. You have also said that you haven’t been in a Regal? Every car is a lesson in compromise, that is a fact of life. It isn’t for everyone, and I thank god for that. Who the hell wants to be stuck in with the Camcords of the world that are a vanilla as you can get.

            The interior size isn’t as bad as some make it.

            The Lacrosse is not the big wallowing car that the Lucerne was. Buick doesn’t have a full size car at the moment.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You are correct I have not which is why I am not attacking the car scathingly, it might be a great driver’s car but from what I do see its too expensive, too small, and lacking a V6. I honestly want to like it but it needs to be on par with the cars it replaced.

        • 0 avatar
          fredtal

          Yes, full size cars cost more than mid size and they cost more than compact. It’s not a failure that the Regal is a sport sedan with a stiffer suspension. Sorry if you don’t like it but some of us do.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          You’re not going to get a full-sizer with engaging dynamics. It’s just too big. Even BMW and Audi have trouble in this size class — the 5 and A6 are much less fun than their smaller siblings.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’m not sure what qualifies as a full sizer anymore, but my current W Grand Prix with some more legroom would be appropriate. This did briefly exist as the G8 I suppose.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @28-cars-later, my issue with the Ws has always been rear seat leg room in the sedans. But then I feel like the close to the floor seat cushion exacerbates it. But then headroom would be an issue.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I can’t recall who but one commentator explained it was because of the platform’s coupe roots.

            Excluding my general line of thinking in which cars with no backseats have no business being sedans, my main motivation is in a few years I may need the rear seat room and it won’t be there in a car configuration.

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      Don’t forget the 89-90 Turbo Grand Prix and 90 Turbo Grand Prix STE. Another footnote in making a unique W-body.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        I’d rather have a credit on the purchase of the car than have 60-100K powertrain warranty. It is more marketing than anything on manual transmissioned cars as I have modified almost everyone of the 20+ cars I’ve owned with most of them seeing track road course time without failure or ill efffects. My Sky 2.4 Ecotec has double the factory rating with a turbo is usually rules autocross courses. And it’s been turbocharged all of it’s life!

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      I have little to say but applause, if I ever swapped to a newer car I’d go W Body myself.

      But how did they sabotage the latest Malibu?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Lack of V6, loss rear leg room vs outgoing model, the styling got worse, IMO. On the subject of engines, I think i would have been wiser to keep the previous model’s V6 trim for Malibu and save the turbo games for Buick.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan Roth

          Have you driven the Turbo Regal?

          The lack of the V6 is a non-issue.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          I turned onto a two lane that narrowed to a single lane and proceeded to pass the Impala LT(sorry Zackman). Let’s say he didn’t see any signs of turbo lag from my Trifecta Tuned Buick Verano 2.0T.

          He didn’t know I was there so I lifted when all of a sudden he returned to his lane punched it as I was next to him. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel I also mashed the Verano still in 2nd gear at about 20 mph. But when I got my bumper passed his I could hear the whaling of the V6 drop down into 1st as we matched pace for a short time then soon fade from my vision. I had to start merging as I was running out of road. No need for a V6 as I was able to get around him in short time with a turn after the merge point.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Why in God’s name would you pay $30K for a new car and then throw away the 5 year 100K powertrain warranty by putting a Trifecta tune on it?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            1. You lease and don’t care.
            2. You trade well before 100K.

            While we are on the subject, is there any way to prove a car has been chipped once the chip is removed and replaced with the OEM’s?

          • 0 avatar
            fredtal

            @28-Cars-later
            All the boxes I’ve seen have some wax on the screws to detect tampering. On the other hand I have a GIAC chip on my A3. I can switch it to “stock” when I take it in for service. Audi applied a TSB to the computer without issue. I don’t think they are going to bother with the box unless they want to.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Good info, thanks Fredtal.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Only BMW owners need warranties!

            I can get a replacement engine for around $2K and a transmission is even less. Most warranties are not free at the time they are needed. I bought used for much less than new plus saved $400 on CPO crap and still got an free oil change and inspection.

            Trifecta has a transparency mode FWIW.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            28 Cars…
            Regardless of lease or not, you’d still be on the hook for blowing up the engine/transmission or related parts with a aftermarket tuned engine.

            Most cars don’t have a chip anymore, they have programmable capabilities. The GM computers can tell you how many times they’ve been “flashed” and it is something a dealer would look for if there was an unusual failure caused by something like high boost pressures, timing curves and fuel maps, knock sensor tuning etc…

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Norm

            I have read about the Trifecta transparency mode. Its really only transparent if they aren’t looking for the cause of engine failure related to running the engine outside of factory spec.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            So what does a turbo engine do when at higher elevation? It runs more boost and appropiate fueling and timing to get to desired torque. Higher boost is something that would not have to happen at lower elevations but with Trifecta you have access to it.

            The theory of over stressing an engine is just that, a theory. Besides the flash counter is on V8 gas and diesel engines and has not been verified unbeatable, unless you have some proof? They send out the same letter/bulletin every 2 years and it becomes internet wives tail. Time to stop talking out of your butt, PonchoIndian.

            Vince from Trifecta is a software engineer from Microsoft and I’m sure is used to getting around code with his Transparency mode.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Normy,
            I’m hardly talking out of my butt. You don’t know what I do for a living so lets leave it at that.

            There is no theory about over stressing and engine from increased boost pressure and changed timing and fuel maps, it is fact. If it wasn’t Vince wouldn’t have you datalog the car and send it back to him to “tweak” the program.

            The 2.0 ecotec is a good engine, but it isn’t indestructible.

            I’m a GM guy through and through, for better or worse, but you sir are the one who tends to boast and blow smoke up people’s rears without being able to back it up.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Sending in your log file to be tweaked by Vince at Trifecta for different driving conditions, different octane levels, and modifications to the car. The second update is the real thing with the third being just a double check. For this level of service and only $300.00 is unreal today.

            The performance gain in turbo-4 can be fours times that of adding an intake on a NA V6 of your choice.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Yes, I agree that the $300.00 is a real sharp price for this kind of service. I also realize that Trifecta doesn’t include any kind of supplemental warranty on the powertrain if something happened because of the increased stresses put on it from the modified software.

            So, I stand by my comment, why throw away a factory powertrain warranty? On a new car like that. A modified program puts added stress on everything and opens you up to thousands of dollars in repairs if something goes pop.

            I say this fully intending to purchase a Trifecta tune for my Cruze next year when the powertrain warranty is has expired.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          Ah, if you ask me GM goofed up all of their cars aestheticly, if I ever get behind a Captiva I say “Hey its a new Corvette!” due to the tailights. The V6 being removed was probably to get more Imp buyers and save some money. With the Mallys size I’d rather have a V6 myself.

          At Poncho: Why the heck would anyone tune a Buick? But then again I never got chip tuning, I typically try to free up the air intake, and only on budget cars,

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            I can see your bias, and that’s ok but…

            Ever hear of the Grand National. Those are still being tuned almost 30 years after the last one was made.

            You might have a view of Buick, but not everyone shares it.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Yes the W-bodies are such “garbage’ that customers keep buying them from our dealership in droves and ask for the 3800 by name. We can’t keep the 97-2004 Regals, 2000-2012 Impalas, 1998-2002 Intrigues and 2004-2008 Grand Prix’s and 2005-2009 LaCrosses on our lot for more than week and the funny thing is they usually need less work to prep for the front line than other superior cars like the CamCords and Taurus/Sables.

    Sure the intermediate shafts sometimes need to be replaced to the tune of around 90 bucks and an hours pay to my mechanic and the earlier 3800 intake and plastic elbow failures are well know but in general these cars seem tighter and better built with less issues than many other competitors of the same time era.

    My 2013 Impala LT is so terrible in fact that my friend is always asking me for the keys to drive it. His car- a 2010 Camry LE 4 cylinder with plastic hubcaps with ride and handling that a common everyday Panther would embarrass.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Exactly. I’m surprised on the 99-02 Intrigues given the Shortstar and all, but not surprised on the other models. I took my GP to the BPG dealer in 2012 to have another key made and a key fob reprogrammed, the tech remarked how he liked my car was and how all of the new Buicks “were in here constantly” for warranty work. He also remarked how he would give his left testicle for a G8 GXP. But yay Epsilon Lacrosse you can’t see out of, yay Opel Regal with no backseat that’s what the people want, right?

  • avatar
    PonchoIndian

    GM did make “complete package” cars in the 80′s and 90′s. They were just expensive, not marketed and made in limited numbers.

    These Regals are nice, they just need the 3.6 to bring them up to the level of performance and nvh the price is asking.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    This seems like a pretty long way of saying the Regal doesn’t offer enough value for money compared to anything but an ATS.

  • avatar
    Wraith

    So if it’s kind of a tough sell at $40k, how does it fare at $32-35k? (The base model with AWD starts around $32k MSRP.) Most of its luxury-brand competition starts above $35k, after AWD is added. While an AWD Fusion sits at about $32k.

  • avatar
    PonchoIndian

    I have a burning question that may put this all in perspective.

    How old are you Winston and have you owned a GM product from the time frame you are knocking?

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    “it’s not as good as the ATS, but it’s a lot better than the ho-hum Malibu.”

    Isn’t that the point of Buick’s brand? Personally, I say let the engineers at Buick step on Caddy’s toes a little bit. It would be good for both of them.

    Also, which car has the quieter interior? The Regal or Verano? I applaud Buick’s efforts in sound deadening. The quieter of the two vehicles will be my next car. As middle-age approaches me (I’m 31), insulation against the morons I have to share the road with becomes more of a priority than speed or handling.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      A good point but the price is too close to Cadillac to differentiate itself. You can get a Luxury trim ATS (which has the fabulously comfortable suspension) with Nav and sunroof for less than $40K. Take into consideration the increased depreciation of the Regal and the cost is pretty much even after the first year.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Can’t speak to the Regal, but my mother bought a 2012 Verano and that thing is spooky quiet. She bought it on my recommendation (and she was a 30-year Toyota buyer). I liked the Verano enough that I briefly considered getting the turbo with manual. I also like the concept of the Regal with manual for personal reasons (I can could be driving an American branded vehicle that’s actually an Opel underneath. My father drove Opel Rekords exclusively while we lived in Germany, so it would have been a nice “tribute” to him). In the end, I’m still looking at a Wrangler when I get home in a few years, so the discussion is kind of academic, I suppose.

      I understand that the Regal occupies a strange place in GM’s line-up, which ultimately may be dooming it. It’s a nice car, but wedged in a tight spot.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    You kind of always ruin your articles with sentences like these:

    “Does the under-engineered, over-budget, late-to-market shitbox du jour tick all the boxes for the Vehicle Line Director?”

    That’s just rubbish. Say what you want to say and quit facking around with this type of cliche drivel.

    And references like these:

    “milquetoast-spec Mercedes-Benz C-Class”
    “kicking the blue-collar backbone in the jewels and a quick-rinse bankruptcy”
    “Lather, rinse, bankrupt.”

    ho-hum
    well-tuned
    last-ditch
    carpet-bagger
    drone-y
    size-wise
    blue-collar
    quick-rinse
    last-gasp
    orange-peel
    brick-outhouse

    Too many hyphen words. Quit it.

  • avatar
    readallover

    If I wanted a coupe, I`d buy a coupe. I buy a sedan because the back seat gets used. I shopped ATS, Regal and Verano. The backseat legroom is a joke. I think the Regal is a great looking car, better in person than in pictures. But I thought it was too small inside and too heavy ( 3700 pounds) for its`size. So what if it has the same legroom as a 3 Series or an Audi, you have to do something better than those cars to win customers.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I see what you did there.

    You actually don’t like the car. Jack explained this type of a review in a piece he wrote about a 1/2 year ago.

    This was a “nice” way to say, “the Regal sucks, it’s always sucked, and this one sucks.”

  • avatar
    geozinger

    That is a gorgeous car. I don’t know if I would pay for the AWD, but I’m loving everything else about the car. As I’ve said before, if a meteor fell out of the sky on my current ride, the choice would be between one of these (FWD most likely) and a Malibu LT3 or LTZ Turbo.

  • avatar
    Reino

    The Regal doesn’t compete with the ATS or a 3-series, nor should it. But the Acura TL is right in its crosshairs. However, in the TL you can get the 6-speed with SH-AWD. With the Regal the 6-speed is only avaialable in FWD trim. (Conversely, you cannot get a 6-speed in a FWD TL).

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      I’d say the Regal is more TSX competition no?

      I guess the reality is that the market doesn’t really go for manual transmissions, and manual transmissions with AWD are just that much more obscure.

      Any idea how many TL/AWD/manuals have been sold? I would guess its under 1000, but I could certainly be wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        TSX is going away – and is closer to the Verano. With the ILX the TSX has no reason to exist (well, really, the ILX is the one with no reason to exist but Acura is doubling down on stupid)

  • avatar

    Great review, Winston. I love this car in FWD GS trim with the six-speed manual. Superior to the ATS, IMO, even if it is “wrong wheel drive”.

  • avatar
    April

    Led Zeppelin II?

    Oh my, we can do better than that…

    :D

  • avatar
    danio3834

    This car is an interesting paradox. While clearly a very nice competant car, it’ll never hope to sell in the numbers that the W-body versions did that were supposedly so terrible. Maybe this is a case of hindsight bias?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I would posit the Buick name had a much better reputation in the late 80s, and the Japanese competitors had not come along with a credible luxury/semi-luxury option yet, like the Avalon/ES/Camry XLE/etc. The elderly who purchased all those W-body cars had much lower expectations than we do today. I’m sure they were just happy it didn’t have a carb, and that they could get a Regency/Custom/Elite/etc package if they desired.

      Also the Regal is just one car, whereas there was such a large proliferation of W-bodies.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        And when you look at the legacy data from Buick, even during the darker days they were rated higher than their W-body brothers at Chevy, Olds, and Pontiac in Consumer Reports.

        There were a couple of years if GM had rolled the Impala and Monte Carlo sales together, as Toyota did with the Solara and Camry, it would have moved at volume levels in excess or darn close to Camcord. Ya, a lot to fleet – I ain’t denying that or rewriting history.

        But GM sold a HUGE number of W-body cars. And as many have pointed out, the 3.8L NA versions were basically as reliable as the sunrise. Squeaky, flexing, interior by Playskol, questionably styling, reliable as the sunrise. They were also incredibly cheap to maintain and repair – and for the most part very serviceable (some notable exceptions like the LS4 W-bodies of the mid 2000′s)

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          I had a 2nd-gen W-body and quite liked it. Disclaimer: I inherited the car, and I don’t tend to look gift horses in the mouth. It was a Grand Prix SE, though weirdly optioned with much of the equipment you’d have expected on a GT (3.8 vs 3.1, leather seats, upgraded alloy wheels). I never saw a build sheet, but my guess was that it had the “sporty” steering and suspension set-up. I never got to compare it with a base car or with a GTP and couldn’t tell you if the steering ratio, dampers, and spring rates varied from trim level to trim level. I assume they did.

          Squeaky? It did have one squeak from behind the right rear passenger, which I’m guessing was an assembly issue. I should’ve tracked down the source, but stuffing a small piece of cloth behind the seat cured it. Other than that, the car had no squeaks or rattles.

          Flexing? No, not really. Were the 1st-gen W-bodies willowy? I will say that 2nd-gen Grand Prix, 15 years on, do seem very prone to rusted rocker panels compared to most late-’90s cars.

          Playskool interior? Yeah, I agree on that. This was an era when Pontiac went with chunky, rubbery controls. I will say that nothing ever broke or wore out. Also, while the leather on the seats was not supple, it was extremely durable.

          Questionable styling? Agree. There were a lot of flavors of W-body, some to my taste and some not. It skewed boy racer, but I kind of liked the 2nd-gen Grand Prix in GT trim. The GTP was a little over the top for me.

          It was extremely reliable. I had it from about 75,000 miles to about 110,000 miles, and the only unscheduled repair was to replace the alternator and battery (a cheap fix). Regarding servicing, I do recall that the service techs had to remove the washer fluid reservoir when replacing the battery. Not a hugely difficult step, but it did strike me as a design bodge.

          I only sold it because I had to move out of the country for work. All in all, it was a great ownership experience. And it was pretty fun to drive. The steering was nicely weighted, the 3800 had a lot of grunt between 0 and 35, and it was a terrific highway cruiser.

          • 0 avatar
            Demetri

            Had a second gen Lumina and thought it was pure trash. Cost me probably $750 in repairs during the year I had it. Injectors kept going bad, wheel bearings, turn signal busted, and yes, it had that stupid side-post battery. Often drove a 4-cylinder Camry of the same vintage during that time, and I can say that there was nothing the Lumina did better. Maybe a little more trunk space; that’s it. The Camry was massively superior.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Hmm, they shouldn’t have needed to take out the washer fluid reservoir to get to the battery on that car. Theres a cross-brace that you have to remove, but it takes maybe 30 seconds.

            Most modern cars are far more intrusive by comparision, hiding them behind bumper covers, under seats and in the trunk.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            @ Demetri – Interestingly–and I just learned this courtesy of Wikipedia–the contemporary Lumina and Grand Prix actually were different generations of the W platform. Who knew? And I think most Lumina’s came with variants of the 60° V6 rather than the 3.8.

            danio3834 – I was curious enough to look up a training video online, and there was no evidence of the reservoir over the battery. I’m not sure if the design changed post-’97, or if the reservoir was pre-removed in the training video. I should also add that the techs who changed my car’s battery weren’t too bright. When they reinstalled the washer fluid reservoir, they put its pump in backwards so that it blew air bubbles into the tank rather than fluid onto the windshield. Maybe the reservoir removal was unnecessary? And you’re right that engine bays have only gotten more crowded since then.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      I’d submit it’s very likely a case of inertia.

      Buick was the default choice for a lot of people in the late 80s and early 90s. My grandparents, for example, bought a new Buick every 2-3 years starting from when they retired in 1980.

      The market has changed a lot since then. Their Buick streak ended forever sometime around 1995 when they took a chance on that new “Lexus” that the folks down at the country club were talking up.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I’ve driven a few of the naturally aspirated version (RIP) as rentals.

    The criticism about back-seat size is valid. The rest, less so. This is not an ATS competitor. The Regal is bigger inside (the ATS is *really* cramped) and seeks to balance practicality and sportiness, rather than focusing totally on sportiness.

    GM really nailed ride and handling with the Regal (and, actually, even with the ’13 Malibu that is disappointing in other ways). It has an uncommon feeling of refinement for a front-drive car on a mass-market platform. The NVH aspects are also excellent. It feels very Audi-like, except quieter, for much less money comparably equipped.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Ride vs. handling is very road dependant. If this car fails to meet the requirements of Detroit and other frost heaved road surfaces it may actually sell in meaningful numbers. Spelling California with a K doesn’t reduce it’s population, and Florida, Texas etc. buy a hell of a lot more cars than the Great Lakes states. I’ve never driven one, but the 2 Malibu’s I have were hoplesly slow to respond to input from the throttle or steering. Sure, my roads are usually mostly flat. Welcome to the portions of the country with meaningful auto sales.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    It’s a lot of money for a fairly small car, but there’s nothing objectionable about it. I would not opt for AWD.

    Actually, I’d probably go for the cheaper, larger, just-as-quick Kia Optima Turbo.

  • avatar
    daver277

    Put the hammer down, wheels spins, back off.
    Put the hammer down, wheels don’t spin, go faster.
    This is why AWD and the accompanying isolation from slippery conditions is more dangerous.
    Every car has 2 wheel steering (ok, there’s a couple of exceptions) and 4 wheel brakes to cope with difficult conditions.
    If you truly need AWD/4WD to go somewhere, the roads are either a parking lot or you probably shouldn’t be going there in a car.
    BTW, true winter tires are way better and cheaper than having 2 extra halfshfts.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    This car should still piss you off. Why? Because GM is all but killing buick by pricing them way above their punching weight. 44K or whatever the top trim costs is insanity when you look at what else you could get for that price point, no matter how good it’s built.

    The new chrysler 200, for more than 10 grand less in top trim, is going to murder this car in sales, performance, and quality.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I drive a Lexus GS, and no i’m not comparing it to my car, but to the Lexus ES. And, yes, this thing definitely has a better quality interior and far more engaging driving experience. Maybe it should be cross-shopped to the IS250 AWD?

  • avatar
    beefmalone

    So to summarize…new Regal is a good car and you hated the old Regals. About half the article is devoted to hating on the old ones. Yeah, I’m at TTAC alright.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    My current favorite rental car is the Regal Turbo. I would happily own one, if I was in the market for such a thing. I much prefer it to the ATS, actually, which is just too small, and I *like* small cars. But the ATS goes beyond small into cramped, and the Buick is just right. The fact that it drives like a Saab helps my opinion of it too.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      You should try thr Regal Turbo with premium fuel for more kick as you know the rental car agencies probably are not putting in. The Regal interior dimensions are very Gen 1 9-5. Haveing a 9-5 already I went with the smaller light Verano 2.0T with 6MT. Saved a few thousand too!

  • avatar
    probert

    The reason GM and other US manufacturers didn’y make good cars in the 80s and 90s is the SUV.

    The SUV – whatever you think of them – was a cynical exercise in avoiding safety,pollution, and epa regulations. Because of this and the acceptance of crude chassis/drivetrain design, they were cheap to make and had a large profit margin.

    simply put – they stopped car development beyond the bare minimum. Why put money into modern design when people are eating up stuff that wouldn’t have been out of place on the late 40s?


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