Regal's six-year vacation and face lift have done it good. While some may remember the Regal as an unremarkable but competent American car, the Regal has resurfaced this year as a hot European-styled sedan that turns heads. Originally manufactured in Germany, this Buick looks more like a Volkswagen CC than any of its Chevrolet cousins.
"That's a nice-looking car," said my husband at first glance. Unabashedly a BMW fan, it takes something special to get his attention. For the last year he's been talking up Buick's LaCrosse which he describes as "just beautiful."
"The Regal looks like a smaller version of the LaCrosse," he said. "I like it."
"What do you like about it?" I asked, prompting the man of few adjectives to expound.
"It has nice lines. It looks expensive. It's eye-catching."
Inside the Regal
Sitting in the driver's seat for the first time, I looked around and silently affirmed the car. With a tasteful leather-wrapped steering wheel and sleek metal accents, the Regal looks sharp.
A host of steering wheel controls give the driver an easy way to adjust the radio. I could make a hands-free phone call or check vehicle diagnostics that display on the instrument cluster. Audio, phone and environment controls can also be adjusted using one of several dials on the center stack. For instance, the main dial situated conveniently under where your hand would fall below the middle armrest can control a variety of features including navigation, destination, audio or phone.
Once my phone was paired with the car I could see my address book displayed on the center stack's screen. It was not the easy on other cars from different manufacturers. I could use that main dial to scroll through my contacts and simply push down on the dial a few times to get the car to make the call. Instead of just abruptly shutting off the radio when I called my husband, for example, the Regal gently quieted whatever had been playing. Such minor details like that throughout the car add up to a classy experience.
IF only - by my kids
In addition to communicating that Buick is a brand intent on quality, the Regal also feels modern. My kids even found an optional 120-volt AC outlet in the backseat. They said they'd use it to watch movies on an iPad (if they had one, that is). They also liked the pull-down armrest in the middle back seat that includes cup holders and a storage area in which one of them temporarily hid his cell phone (until the next text came in). He also found that with the armrest in use he could access the trunk, where perhaps a cooler full of caffeine-laden energy drinks could be waiting (if his mother would let him drink them).
Driving the Regal
The Regal comes with a six-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted manually if you want faster acceleration. Two four-cylinder options are available for the engine: either a 182 hp 2.4 liter or a 220 hp 2.0-liter turbo. The steering is accurate and turning is agile.
The turbo version boasts an Interactive Drive Control System that lets you customize things like steering sensitivity, throttle response and suspension. I drove the non-turbo model and found the car soaked up bumps better than most in a cabin that keeps road noise to a minimum.
As "regal" as the car looks inside and out, the standard price isn't bad at a bit more than $26,000. That includes six months of OnStar directions, crash response and turn-by-turn navigation. Three months of XM radio is just enough to get you hooked on no-commercial satellite radio. Dual zone climate controls, heated seats and an ample trunk with a convenience net are other perks. The Regal's gas mileage is adequate at an estimated 19 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.
I tried, my kids tried and my husband tried and we couldn't find one complaint against the new Regal.