By Shari Prymak
Buick is on a bit of a reinvention streak right now. The company wants to get as far away from their traditional so-so badge appeal and “old” brand identity as possible. The Regal is designed to do just that.
The Regal competes with other mid-sized, entry-level luxury sedans such as the Acura TLX and Volkswagen CC. Prices start at $33,145 which includes features like heated leather seats with driver seat power adjustment, climate control, Bluetooth, and satellite radio. Features like a premium Harman/Kardon audio system, LED headlights, navigation, and 4G Wifi will drive the price closer to 40 grand.
The Regal really is a simple-elegant, clean looking car. My favorite part is the handsome rear end with its nice design details, like the emblem-integrated trunk latch. I also liked how the Regal has avoided the modern trend of looking big and bloated.
The interior too feels nicely upscale with fine design and rich materials. The controls are fairly intuitive, and the Wifi hotspot capability is an absolute joy. Though, like OnStar, it does come with a monthly charge.
As far as the drive goes, the Regal strikes a surprisingly nice balance between comfort and sportiness. It manages to display qualities of a fine luxury car, such as great ride comfort, quietness, smooth and progressive gas and brake pedals, while at the same time proving that it can be sporty when provoked. When pushed through corners, the Regal shows excellent handling characteristics. It feels balanced and controlled with almost no body roll, quite surprising for a Buick.
Engine wise, the Regal comes standard with a 259hp, 2.0L, turbocharged 4-cylinder. It’s significantly more powerful than what you get from the competition, and it’s brilliant. Just don’t expect brilliant fuel efficiency if you plan on tapping that power reserve with regularity. I averaged around 13.0L/100km in mostly city driving.
Overall, the Regal is an excellent car, a solid effort by GM which absolutely deserves a look from anyone shopping for a modestly-priced luxury sedan. It should also be a fairly safe purchase, given that Consumer Reports has ranked Buick the top domestic brand in its reliability scores.
Despite its excellence, the Regal does have a few issues to contend with. Though Buick has done a great job of shedding the senior vibe, they still have to contend with that mediocre badge. Yes, the Regal is a great car, but at the end of the day, it is competing in a market segment where brand image is important to buyers, and I don’t think Buick has what it takes to demand attention, at least not yet. If you can get past the badge thing, that’s great, but competing cars like the BMW 320i or Acura TLX will impress the neighbours more, and for many, that’s all that matters.