General Motors has plans to swap the American spec Buick Regal sedan with the brand’s first wagon in ages. The replacement Regals are anticipated to be rebadged Opel Insignia Grand Sport hatchbacks and Sports Tourer wagons, both of which were on display at the 87th Geneva International Motor Show this month.
Ditching the sedan is big deal since it’s been Buick’s preferred body style and the only way to get a Regal since 1996. Granted, the five-door should appear sedan-like until it’s time to put away the groceries and the glass raises to offer unprecedented access to that sweet rear end. Those with the most highly evolved automotive palates will — obviously — opt for the unadulterated perfection that is the station wagon.
Interestingly, 1996 was also the final year consumers had access to Buick-based minivan alternatives like the Roadmaster Wagon. (I promise you, we did not mean to mention the Roadmaster three times in one day. —Mark) The death of the wood-paneled V8 estate would lead to a string of years where the 3800 Series sedans would become the brand’s only option, a trend broken by the introduction of the Rendezvous in 2001.
Regal deliveries dropped like a stone tied to a lead weight since it’s 2011 reintroduction, settling to the bottom at half that year’s annual sales almost immediately and staying there ever since. Considering U.S. sales of midsize sedans have also dwindled over the last couple of years, swapping to a different bodystyle is in the Regal’s best interest. At this point, it’s almost more surprising that GM didn’t just decide to make it into another crossover.
While a sedan version is likely to continue on in China — where Buick is universally adored — Automotive News reported LMC Automotive and AutoForecast Solutions claiming the rest of the Regal lineup will be imported from Opel’s Rüsselsheim factory in Germany.
Long-standing production of the Regal for in North America is expected to end at GM’s Oshawa Car Assembly in Ontario this year. The plant is swapping production efforts to full-size trucks in 2018. The next-generation Regal is also likely the final Buick produced by Opel. General Motors agreed to sell the company, along with Vauxhall, to France’s PSA Group for $2.3 billion last week.
Opel’s updated Insignia will have optional all wheel drive with torque vectoring and an eight-speed transmission running gears for a 2.0-liter VVT turbocharged inline-four. While we don’t know what will make it to the Regal, none of that seems unreasonable in addition to a more-affordable FWD model.
The 2018 Buick Regal is slated to make its global debut on April 4th at General Motors’ Warren Technical Center in Metropolitan Detroit, followed by an appearance at the New York International Auto Show alongside the redesigned and better-selling Enclave crossover.