More than a Buick, it’s a Regal GS

2012, Buick, Regal GS

Traverse City, Michigan - When you think of going on vacation Detroit is not one of the first places on your list. And yet when most people think of Michigan they think of Detroit. Visit Michigan's Lower peninsula and Michigan will be on your list of vacation spots.

If you're a business person you live your life traveling from one hermetically sealed canister to the other. You get out of an airplane and go to a hotel with windows that don't open. You drive a car with the air conditioning, or heater, on. Pretty soon you're sinuses have a life of their own.

If you want a vacation spot where you can open the windows and let your hair down try Traverse City. It's a low-key version of Lake Tahoe, CA. I'm not the first person to find this place, the Michigan Lakeshore was recently voted the most beautiful place in America by Good Morning America viewers!

Just like Michigan being more than Detroit, the Regal GS is more than a Buick. Based on Europe's Opel Insignia, the front-wheel drive Regal GS is sleek and refined, a European style that appeals to a younger age group than was the norm for Buick a generation ago.

Mike Anderson, Ecotec global chief engineer and program manager, likens the Ecotec engine to another Buick engine, “We’ve been combining direct injection and variable valve timing with boosted engines since 2006, and there’s no question the Regal GS turbo has the responsiveness and acceleration of a 3.5L V6, while delivering the fuel economy of a 2.0L four."

The Buick Regal GS is the upscale version of the Regal, upscale in horsepower and torque. The Buick Regal GS completes the line-up of Regals for anyone who ever wanted a Regal in any color or configuration.

The Buick line-up

First you have the Buick Regal 2.4-liter that gets 182 horsepower and 19 city/31 miles per gallon for ($27,530). For $2,000 more ($29,530)you can have the 2.4-liter Buick Regal e-assist with a 15-horsepower electric motor that gives you 25 city/36 highway miles per gallon.

You can upgrade to a Buick Regal turbo for $30,735 that will give you 220 horsepower. The manual transmission gives you 20 city/32 highway miles per gallon, or you can get the automatic transmission, for the same price, that gives you 18 city/28 highway miles per gallon. But the grand poopa, the Papa Bear of Regals is the Buick Regal GS.

The 2012 Buick Regal GS Ecotec 2.0-liter turbo engine delivers 270 horsepower at 5,300 rpm and 295 lb.-ft of torque at 2,400 rpm. EPA says the fuel economy is 19 city/27 highway miles per gallon, using premium gasoline. The base MSRP is $35,310 (including destination), fully loaded the GS will cost you $38,650.

The exterior of the GS is sportier

The exterior design features unique to the Regal GS are front and rear fascias, with the front fascia incorporating vertical air intake slots and specific grille treatment accented in a satin-metallic finish. The rear fascia has a pair of integrated satin-metallic trapezoidal exhaust outlets. Rocker panel extensions and an integrated rear spoiler are also woven into the design. The GS has a slightly lower ride height than other models. Match that with 19-inch, 5-Twin Spoke alloy wheels and all-season tires and you get a sporty stance.

The interior - racing inspired

Inside the GS is a racing-inspired, flat-bottom sport steering wheel and metal sport pedals, along with leather-appointed 12-way power-adjustable sport driver and front passenger heated seats, which include four-way power lumbar. The GS-specific black interior is accented with satin-finish elements on the instrument panel, steering wheel and console, while the instrument panel glows white when the driver engages the GS mode of the Interactive Drive Control System (IDCS).

There are three driving modes– standard, sport and GS – that change the suspension settings, and steering sensitivity through the variable-effort steering system. The standard is the default setting set for fuel economy and daily driving. The IDCS personalizes the driver characteristics, utilizing the transmission shift points, braking, and suspension. GS gives you a little more road feel than the other two modes.

There are a few items on my wish list of changes Buick could make; there is no backup camera in the NAV system. There are rear and front sensors, but I like seeing what is in back of me and watching the green, yellow, red as I get closer to bumping into something. I also like to see the path of trajectory change as I move my steering wheel.

Another item that Buick could change would be unlinking the radio system to the NAV system. Just because I don't want to listen to the radio doesn't mean I want to turn off the NAV system. Yet that is exactly what happens. Currently I have to turn the radio all the way down instead of being able to turn it off.

The steering wheel feels big and masculine to me. I like the top part of the steering wheel, but the bottom section is even bigger and the two chrome openings could be exchanged for smaller openings and a center opening. The only transmission offered currently will be the six-speed manual. The automatic is supposed to come to market next year.

If any of those minor irritations are important to you check out the competition; Acura TSX V-6, Audi A4 Sport, Lexus IS 250 and 350, Infiniti G25 and G37, and Volvo S60. But make sure to look at the cost, the fuel economy and the options you'll have to buy compared to the ones that are standard on the Regal GS.

Once you compare the Regal GS to the competition you may just be in a different state of mind.

By Lou Ann Hammond

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Images of the 2012, Buick Regal GS

2012 Buick Regal GS in Traverse City, MI
2012 Buick Regal GS in Traverse City, MI
2012 Ecotec 2.0L I-4 VVT DI Turbo for Buick Regal GS
2012 Ecotec 2.0L I-4 VVT DI Turbo for Buick Regal GS
NAV turns off when you turn the radio off and no back-up camera
NAV turns off when you turn the radio off and no back-up camera
A manly man's steering wheel
A manly man's steering wheel