By Casey Williams
MyCarData Created: Sep 4, 2011 Last Updated: Sep 4, 2011
For those of us under 40, it is hard to admit we might actually like a Buick. I mean, aren’t they supposed to be for older clientele who prefer soft rides and plush interiors over any real pleasure of being behind the wheel?
Buicks are great and all, but they aren’t exactly known for being vehicles with which you’d search out a curvy backroad for a good romp. And, what would my friends think if I came home with one?
Ah, shucks, it doesn’t really matter. One drive in the Buick Regal and you will completely change your perceptions. This is a car to own just for the sheer joy of driving it.
I’ve been tempted by Buicks before—the Park Avenue, LaCrosse, and Enclave to name a few. I even enjoyed a rendezvous with a Rendezvous. However, I was completely seduced and taken in by the Buick Regal, turbo versions of which are built in Germany.
The idea that I could buy an American-branded car that drives like the Europeans brings joy to my fingertips.
Oh, I love getting behind the wheels of other Germans like Mercedes, Volkswagens, BMWs, and Audis. The idea that I could buy an American-branded car that drives like the Europeans brings joy to my fingertips.
For a mid-size sedan, the Regal’s body is smokin’. Its hunkered shape with arched roofline looks like it was water-hewn from petrified Black Forest. Buick’s trademark waterfall grille, swoosh down the side, 18” aluminum wheels, fog lamps, and formed-in rear spoiler cut a swath. Chrome puts a shining to the twin exhaust outlets. Red paint would be hot, but I’m warming up to the Carbon Black Metallic.
Interior accommodations melt Bauhaus with Buick. Large analog gauges, an array of buttons for audio, NAV, and climate controls, and Audi MMI-style joywheel for major dash controls are straight from The Fatherland. Harman/Kardon speakers thump you stupid from the USB iPod input.
Bluetooth enables hands-free calling while heated leather seats could cook stuffing. If chocolate is an aphrodisiac, then I’m in bliss with the dash, steering wheel, buttons, and trim in that color.
Automakers often cut pennies on things like steering wheel leather, but the hide in the Regal feels like it came from a Hilfiger calf. It would feel even better heated. Buick hit all of the details like chrome door releases, padded dash materials, thick carpeting, and classic style. Everything seems like it could be in a car half-again more expensive.
A front-drive car can never be coaxed into positions rear-drivers flex with ease, but that’s not because the Regal lacks heart. Tickle its front toes with the 2.4-liter engine that generates 182 hp through a 6-speed automatic transmission, and it steps off smartly.
An Ecotec 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine generates 220 hp through a 6-speed manual transmission. Turbos only give up 1mpg from the base engine’s frugal 19/30 mpg city/hwy. GM’s Ecotec engines are a little rambunctious, but turbos make whoopee as if high on illegal entertainment.
Putting this in perspective, the renowned Buick Grand National fed its rear wheels from a 245 hp 3.8-liter turbo V6. The 1987 GNX was rated 276 hp and could blast a Vette. The 2012 Regal GS, due early next year with a turbo-four, will enjoy 270 hp and enhance handling with an adjustable suspension system. Not only is it more muscular than the famed Grand National, but it is a far better dancer.
During development, GM flung Regals around Germany’s famed Nurburgring and tempted Bimmers on the Autobahn. Even without the forthcoming turbo, the Regal has no problem passing triple-digits on open roads. Its chassis, steering, and brakes are equal the task of controlling the sedan at such velocities. The car for middle-agers could stand to lose a few pounds, but is otherwise athletically fit.
2011 Buick Regal
5-passenger FWD Sedan
Powertrain: 182 hp 2.4-liter I4, 6-spd auto trans.
Suspension f/r: Ind./Ind.
Wheels: 18”/18” f/r
Brakes: disc/disc fr/rr with ABS
Must-have features: Manners, comfort
Manufacturing: Oshawa, ON
Fuel economy: 19/30 mpg city/hwy
As-tested price: $31,975
Can’t a guy fall in love with a perfectly decent luxury sedan and not have shame? I shouldn’t have to sneak it into a back driveway so my parents don’t find out. My best friend made all kinds of cracks about arthritis and joining John McCain for early bird specials.
Fair enough, the name Regal reeks of old, but one drive stops the jokes. With the exception of plastic Buick badges and a re-worked grille, it is 100 percent comfy sport sedan—an Audi with American comfort.
So, pardon me if I don’t want to pay a fortune for snooty brands anymore. The Regal is a good companion, but just a little mischievous with a 6-speed manual transmission and turbo. The beautiful body keeps all that fun concealed. Secure in my aging youth, I realize a Buick may be in my future because I feel no shame. In no time, everybody will be singing Buick’s praises.
If the regular Regal and Regal Turbo aren’t exciting enough, check out the two new ones coming next year.
Karp Buick is a division of Karp Automotive (www.karpauto.com), a family owned and operated dealership since 1957 located in Nassau County on the South Shore of Long Island in Rockville Centre, NY between Baldwin and Lynbrook, handling all Volvo, Buick, Saab, and Kia needs. Since its inception, Karp Automotive has made a commitment to upholding its core values of integrity and honesty. Karp is an active member of the community sponsoring many local outreach programs, community service projects, and community development initiatives. This has made Karp Automotive widely regarded as “the Auto Authority” and providing a superior ownership experience. As our customers would attest, there are many places a person can purchase a vehicle, but only here will you be treated like family by family. www.karpbuick.com