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Buick Regal: Jalopnik's Buyer's Guide

Illustration for article titled Buick Regal: Jalopnik's Buyer's Guide

The Buick Regal is an Opel trying to revamp the Buick image by competing with true sports sedans. It doesn’t quite hit the mark, but it does offer tons of standard features on the cheap. What do you need to know before you buy a Regal? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in our Buyer’s Guide.


The new Buick Regal doesn’t get a maroon interior. It doesn’t get a ridiculously comfy La-Z-Boy couch where the front seats should be. And under the hood, it doesn’t get the Holy Crap This Thing Never Dies old-school 3800 V6.

Nope, with the new generation Regal, which launched as a 2011 model, Buick tried to reposition their brand as something people below the age of 90 should take a look at. Like the awesomest Buick of all time, the Grand National, the new Regal brought with it forced-induction. But Buick went one step further and released a manual transmission option in their mid-size luxury sports sedan. Mic dropped.

But Buick should really pick that mic back up, because a turbo and a stick aren’t enough to make a sedan compete with the big boys. After driving the GS version, we found that Buick uses the first word in “sports sedan” very loosely. It was comfortable and packed with gizmos, but a lightning-quick canyon carver it was not.

Add to that the fact that, in the summer of 2015, Buick nixed the manual transmission, and now you’re left with a fancy Chevy Malibu that’s only okay to drive, only okay to look at, and accelerates to 60 in an only okay 6.5 seconds.

It’s only okay. But it’s in a tough segment where “okay” doesn’t really cut it unless there’s lots of cash on the hood.

What’s New About The 2016 Buick Regal

Illustration for article titled Buick Regal: Jalopnik's Buyer's Guide

The fifth generation Buick Regal has been running around the U.S. since it debuted for the 2011 model year. That front-wheel-drive-only car was basically a rebadged Opel with a new 2.4-liter inline four, standard six-speed auto, optional 220 horsepower 2.0-liter turbo four and tons of standard features.

The second model year, 2012, added a 270 horsepower “sporty” GS trim with an available manual transmission and an eAssist mild-hybrid option on the 2.4-liter Regals. Also new for 2012 was the addition of GM’s touchscreen IntelliLink infotainment system.


In 2013, the eAssist version of the 2.4-liter became the base engine and IntelliLink infotainment became standard on all trims.

The following year brought a much bigger update to Buick’s mid-size sedan. For 2014, the Regal got refreshed front and rear styling, an all-new all-wheel drive system, a revised interior, an updated IntelliLink infotainment system, new safety features, and more power and fuel economy for the non-GS 2.0 turbo. Electric power steering became standard on all models, and the 270 horsepower Regal GS got the axe.


The 2015 model year saw the demise of the manual transmission and brought a few tweaks to the infotainment system, while 2016 brought very significant price cut to all Regal trims.

Which One We’d Buy

The Regal comes in three main trims: 1SV Group, Regal Group, Regal Premium II Group and GS Group. All but the 1SV get the 2.0-liter turbo as standard and can be had in front or all-wheel drive form.


The 2016 Regal isn’t a very compelling mid-size luxury sedan unless you’re looking for the cheapest way to get your butt on some leather, and you’re a big fan of gizmos and gadgets. There’s no longer a manual on the GS trims, and the more efficient eAssist models are limited to fleet and government orders, so you don’t have the options you used to, but you can still get a comfortable interior and a smooth ride.

If it were us and we were drooling over standard safety and tech features, we’d grab the GS model. It comes with heated leather power sports seats, passive entry, rear vision camera, 19-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, automatic headlamps, Bose premium sound system, 8-inch touchscreen for IntelliLink infotainment system, HID headlamps, heated steering wheel, navigation, remote start, unique GS front and rear fascias, Brembo front brakes, HiPer Strut front suspension and Parking Assistant.


Add in the Driver Confidence Package for $2,040, and you get a power moonroof, Forward Collision Alert, Forward Distance Indicator, Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, and driver memory seat. All that will cost you $37,425 with destination.

Under 40 grand for that kind of content? Not bad, even if the car isn’t quite what we’d call “fun.”


[Build Your Own Buick Regal]

Important Facts At A Glance:

MSRP: $27,990 - $37,415 Top Speed: 160 MPH (estimated)

Acceleration: ~6.5s to 60 [2.0L, FWD]

MPG: 21 city/ 30 hwy / 24 combined [2.0 FWD]

Engines: 2.0L turbo I4, 2.4L I4

Max Horsepower/Torque: 259 hp/295 lb-ft

Curb Weight: 3,600-3,981 pounds IIHS Rating: Not Fully Tested

Transmissions: 6-speed automatic

Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, FWD/AWD

Photo credit: Buick



Wow, a jalopnik article without a single comment?!

Hi Regal GS owner here! I am really sad to read such a glum buyer’s guide for such a great car. Buying one of these new doesn’t make much sense when you look at the 40k price tag, but really you can talk these cars down to 34-35k and then it makes more sense. I bought my 2012 GS for 21k a year ago. At the time I was cross shopping and when it came to the euro cars this competes with, I had to go much older, like 2007-2009 BMW’s/ Volvos, and I had to forfeit the manual transmission and any kind of respectful power. I wanted a quick, comfortable car to commute in, with a manual. I have my miata and my mr2 to destroy my back and my eardrums.

It’s getting harder and harder to find new/newer manual transmission cars. The GS is an example where I was able to save something like $5-6k buying a manual lease return because they just sit on the lot. The automatics were selling for considerably more. I’m not sure what you’re talking about in regards to the handling either. I have the optional 20’s with 255 summer tires on it. I’ve gone canyon carving with car friends and had no issue keeping up with miata’s in the twisties. The GS mode does a great job stiffening the car up and increasing steering effort in a rewarding way. In outright corner holding, this car is as good as the genesis coupe I sold to get into it. The genesis and miata etc… is more reactive and has more initial turn in, but steady state cornering the buick feels more nimble than any car it’s weight should. As Zap Brannigan would say… “She’s built like a steakhouse but she handles like a bistro!”

When I get people riding in the car the instantaneous reaction is always two fold… “This is a buick?” and “These are the most comfortable seats I’ve sat in in a car.” Oh… and backseat adults always say “there’s no headroom.” I think there’s plenty but I have tall friends. The seats are truly amazing. Nicely bolstered but still very comfortable. I bought my car in Michigan and drove it back to Denver with no issues of fatigue.

Lastly, the engine internals are good to 400hp, the transmission is good to 600hp. This is the grown up’s cobalt ss. In stock form it pulls like a train, and I’m never hurting for power around town. I also get a lot of attention from other drivers and passerby’s. Lots of compliments on the car, because there’s just not many of them around and the 20” factory wheels really set the car off. I would say someone in the market for a slightly used sports sedan would be doing themselves a disservice not at least trying the car out. You’ll be able to come out way ahead on luxury and performance for the price compared to other marques.