Times are good for the General Motors and its redefined Buick division. With three years of steady growth, sales are up 14% with 44% represented from conquest buyers or new individuals joining the Buick family from other brands. Buick says the sales increase has been fueled by great products such as their trendsetting LaCrosse sedan and Enclave mid-size luxury SUV, which was the first vehicle to receive the company’s inventive design language. Inevitably, that symphony of style, safety architecture, and digital technology was destined to make its way into the 2014 Buick Regal.
Buick calls the Regal the athlete of the family with the Regal GS the captain of the team. Yes, it’s agile, nimble, and mentally tough. Added coaching and discipline are still needed, but the learned skills are present and the foundation is solid. After all, you can’t teach an athlete instincts. A few hours from home turf in Detroit, Michigan, Buick set up minicamp for scouts such as Automotive Rhythms to assess the 2014 Regal outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. The game plan is to reach out to recruits who have never considered Buick, and to do so with the sportiest expression available to players, which is the midsize Regal sedan. “The new 2014 Regal is more expressive, more connected and more technologically advanced,” said Tony DiSalle, U.S. vice president of Buick Marketing.
Blazing down country roads with no traffic was indeed an expression of joy. The scat back is certainly quick and moves fluidly with power radiating from the base, Ecotec 2-liter Turbo I4 engine with 259 horsepower (up 18%) and 295 pound-feet of torque. The numbers do not sound impressive, yet the common denominator is its power to weight ratio which makes it just as quick as a heavier vehicle with more power. However, when we drove the FWD Regal you certainly felt torque steer and front wheel spin upon hard acceleration from a standstill. This didn’t happen in the newly appointed AWD platform on the Regal GS we drove. The Haldex all-wheel drive system is full on-demand with a limited-slip rear differential for optimal cornering traction. It can send as much as 90% of torque to the rear wheels if slippage is detected. Only one transmission, a 6-speed automatic, is available with the Regal while the Regal GS receives two: the 6-speed automatic and a 6-speed manual (only on the FWD). The optional 2.4-liter with eAssist from the 2013 model is unchanged and provides 25 city and 36 highway miles per gallon. Buick was also able to tune the I4 with greater efficiency with EPA fuel economy of 21 city and 30 highway. Electric power steering is upgraded on both models but steering is not centered and needs firmer inputs. The telescoping and adjustment of the wheel is manual and not powered.
Inside, the Regal does its job well but there is nothing overly enthusiastic about the cabin. The interior materials are of good quality. It has been redesigned with a new center stack so the 8” LCD touchscreen was comfortably placed. Buick says they reduced driver distraction by swapping out the 17 original buttons and toggles with only 7, of which some are capacitive touch such as the temperature inputs. OnStar is GM’s golden egg when it comes to interconnectivity and is paired with an updated version of Buick IntelliLink infotainment. The screen houses apps such as navigation, Stitcher SmartRadio Pandora, and weather and also connects with your smartphone through Bluetooth to access some of the data features. Mapping was pretty precise and has 3D views for detailed routing. But the inputs for typing out the destination features small squares which require more precision. A 4.2” cluster display is embedded within the instrumentation and works in conjunction with IntelliLink. The Regal GS is upgraded to a full 8” instrument cluster with customizable readout screens.
Style wise the Regal is a handsome vehicle. It now has new 17” or 18” sporty rims, a new decklid with an integrated rear spoiler, and LED lighting. The Regal GS ups the ante with an assortment of exterior and interior cosmetic enhancements. Since the number one purchase consideration for a GS is appearance, Buick gave it a lower ride height, new LED wrap-around taillamps, standard 19s, and optional, funky spider webbed 20s with summer rubber, Brembo front brakes, an all jet black interior, and a thick steering wheel with a flat, sporty bottom. The Regal GS uses the same 2-liter turbo as the Regal but inherits Interactive Drive Control system with three drive modes, Standard, Sport, and GS, with each level increasing performance attributes such as stiffer steering and quicker transmission shifts.
Upgrading to a fun-to-drive vehicle does not mean you have to sacrifice safety. In fact the Regal is an IIHS Top Safety Pick. Some of the keen technologies include full-speed-range Adaptive Cruise Control with complete stop and go capabilities, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Alert, side Blind Zone Alert, and Rear Vision to name a few.
Buick is in a good position with great products at their disposal, and the Regal is one of them. Pricing starts at $30,615 (includes $925 destination) for the base model, $32,485 for the 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder (not offered on GS), and $37,830 for a Regal GS. Expect vehicles in showrooms next month.