2016 Buick Regal Review

Starting MSRP: $27,065 - $36,490

Estimated MPG: 19 city / 31 hwy

2016 Buick Regal Overview

The 2016 Buick Regal is in a small class as one of the only domestic entries in the premium sports sedan group. The Regal name has been around since the ‘70s and has been attached to some of the best-known performance Buicks ever, such as the Regal GNX. The current Regal GS is the latest performance iteration in that lineage. A turbocharged engine is standard on all but the base trim.

By Randy Stern
Last Updated 06/05/2017

Buick's Regal is a midsize four-door originally developed by Opel, General Motors' European arm. The interior seats up to five. The main engine is a turbocharged four-cylinder, but there is a naturally aspirated four-cylinder available on the base trim. The Regal is available only with an automatic transmission and a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Four trim levels are also available on the Regal. There are three different six-speed automatic transmissions – one to match with the base engine, one for the turbo, and one to mate with the eAssist mild-hybrid powertrain that’s available for fleet customers.

Exterior

Exterior
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Originally designed for the European market (as the Opel Insignia), the Regal offers curves and rakish lines throughout. A “waterfall” grille is Buick's signature, and one adorns the Regal. The roofline looks like a fastback, but it is broken up by a short trunk lid which cuts deep into the rear fenders. The front doors open wide, though the rear doors offer an opening that may be too small for taller passengers.

Wheel sizes range from 18 to 20 inches, depending on trim. The GS model adds a trim-specific front fascia, along with additional body modifications, such as extra airflow grilles and a swoopy spoiler. GS models ride on 19-inch alloy wheels, and 20-inch wheels are available. The GS also has a lower stance than other Regals.

Interior

Interior
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The Regal's gauge cluster includes a thin-film transistor (TFT) screen that is customizable. The tachometer, fuel and water temperature gauges are on the outside of the screen. The screen can be changed using a toggle switch on the steering wheel, which also has switches for the audio system and cruise control. Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system resides in a large screen on the center stack, framed by drive-mode switches above it, and audio and climate-control switches below. The console features the gear lever, along with the electronic parking brake switch.

The front seats offer enough bolstering - in both the cushion and seatback - to keep drivers from sliding around. Selecting the GS trim means drivers get seats with increased bolstering for a sportier feel. Rear-seat room is limited, though two average-sized adults will have ample legroom. Rear headroom is also limited due to the Regal’s sloping roof. Trunk space is actually quite sizable, with 14.2 cubic feet available (although the trunk shrinks to 11.1 cubic feet with the 2.4-liter engine).

Performance

Performance
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Two engines are available to power the Regal. The base model has with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 182 horsepower. However, most Regal models – including the GS – are equipped with a 259-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. A six-speed automatic transmission is the only choice for all Regal models, though there is a choice of front- or all-wheel drive for turbocharged models only. The eAssist light hybrid system is also available for fleet buyers, and it mates 2.4-liter gas engine to an electric motor for a total system horsepower of 182. Fuel economy figures range from 19 mpg city to31 mpg on the highway (excluding the eAssist model), depending on engine and drivetrain layout. Models with the eAssist system are rated at 25/36 mpg city/highway.

Non-GS models offer a smooth ride and solid handling. The brakes provide good stopping power, while the electric steering is on the numb side, with a looser feeling than might be expected in a sports sedan. The GS adds a sport-tuned suspension, Brembo brakes and a GS drive mode. Compared with other Regals, the GS is transformed into a sports machine much better suited to enthusiastic driving. In GS mode, the steering is weighted more heavily for optimal control, the brakes have a sharper feel and the transmission holds its shifts higher into the rev range for a true sports sedan feel.

Technology

Technology
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Two words make up the Regal's technology story: OnStar and IntelliLink. The OnStar telematics system comes standard and enables drivers to do things like get driving directions downloaded to the vehicle and have collisions and vehicle theft automatically reported to the authorities, along with other services. OnStar also means on-board Wi-Fi with a mobile 4G LTE connection. Up to seven devices can use the Wi-Fi hot spot to connect to the Internet.

IntelliLink is included on the base model, providing access to an auxiliary input and USB and Bluetooth connections through a standard 8-inch touch screen. SiriusXM and HD Radio are also standard. Available navigation is tied into OnStar, and so is SiriusXM Traffic. Apple CarPlay compatibility is now part of the IntelliLink, serving as a smartphone mirroring system that allows a driver to control certain functions of his or her phone via the car’s infotainment system.

Safety

Safety
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded a top five-star overall rating for the Regal, though it scored four stars in frontal crash and rollover tests.

The Regal offers a variety of available active safety features, including forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning. This suite of available features is class-competitive. A rearview camera is standard on all models.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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The base Regal 1SV model starts with a base price of $27,885. Turbocharged Regal models are priced from $29,810. For the GS, the base price is $34,885. When positioned against other premium sports sedans in its class, the Regal is a much better value overall. Similarly powered models will run $5,000-$10,000 more.

Overall

Overall
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The Buick Regal competes against two different sets of midsize sedans. On the upper end, the Regal is matched with the Acura TLX, Volvo S60, Audi A4, Nissan Maxima and Lincoln MKZ. On the other hand, the Regal is also often compared to the Mazda6, Chrysler 200 and Ford Fusion.

That makes the Regal and Regal GS a bit of a tweener. Tuned to offer a sporting driving experience without sacrificing comfort, the Regal and its hi-performance GS trim are meant to split the difference between pricier luxury entries and fully optioned mainstream sedans. The Regal won’t appeal to those who just want a quietly comfortable driving experience, but those who want just a bit of spice with their meal might find it worth a look.