There are many things General Motors got right at the start of this decade, with one of the best decisions being to work with their European arm to bring over the Opel Insignia as the new Buick Regal. Since its introduction to the American market, the Regal has done very well, in sales and in receiving praise from buyers and the media alike.
Like many aspects of life, there were still a few things to be desired. All-wheel-drive and a better user interface with less clutter in the center console stood out as anomalies in an otherwise perfect midsize sedan package.
Lo and behold, Buick fixed those two quirks for the 2014 model year, and made a leap in technology offerings to boot.
Let us start with what makes the Regal a truly fantastic car to drive: the engine and chassis. The Regal and Regal GS now have the same powertrain for 2014, albeit a revised one from the 2013 Regal.
Under the hood is a 2.0L direct-injected and turbocharged engine that produces 265 horsepower and pumps it through a 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual on GS front-wheel-drive models.
On the road, the Regal feels confident and well-mannered, with lively steering and a comfortable ride that lets you know that you’re still in a car on the road and not a pillow of magic.
The Regal GS felt quite a bit sportier, with its standard HiPer Strut front suspension and Interactive Drive Control system, which features standard Touring, Sport and GS modes. GS mode tightens up every aspect of the driving experience and leaves the driver with nothing but European-like driving confidence. Throw in the Haldex AWD system which distributes torque front to back and side to side, and the Regal is treading on high performance sedan territory.
Luckily, the fuel economy is no where near a high performance vehicle. The Regal and Regal GS are rated 21/30 for front-wheel-drive models, 19/27 for AWD, and the manual transmission iteration squeezes out an extra 1 mpg on the highway to earn 31 mpg. The Regal with eAssist still achieves an impressive 25/36.
Redesigned Interior and Updated Tech
What surprised us the most about the new Regal was just how much technology it offered at a price that isn’t too far off from the 2013 model.
New front and rear styling, with wing-shape LED daytime running lamps (DRLs) are standard on models with HID headlights, and standard LED tail lamps, give the Regal a more contemporary and premium presence. The revised grille expresses the new “face” of Regal, while at the rear, a new chrome accent bridges the tail lamps to further enhance Regal’s wide stance.
The new headlamps are available in two versions, halogen projectors or xenon high-intensity discharge projectors. The LED DRLs give the Regal an unmistakable signature from afar much like the German luxury brands.
Inside, the 2014 Regal blends sculptural beauty and refinement with technology, centered on Buick’s next-gen IntelliLink infotainment system. A new center stack houses a larger, crisper 8″ touch-screen, and a reduction in the number of buttons to just 7 from the 17 in the 2013 Regal. The IntelliLink system responded nearly instantaneously to our inputs and was easier to use overall. Even better, the lawyers gave up some slack so that a passengers can input a destination or pair a phone while the car is moving.
Something we weren’t too fond of was how the dual-zone climate control system’s temperature controls were changed. Shaped liked a teardrop and framed in chrome, the beautiful capacitive-touch temperature controls just don’t respond each and every time, lack the preciseness of a button and require eyes of the road to adjust the temperature up or down.
On Regal models, the driver gets a new instrument cluster with analog gauges and a 4.2″ color display delivering vehicle information, navigation, audio system functions, phone features and more.
In the Regal GS, Buick outdid themselves by swapping out some of the analog gauges for an 8″ configurable color screen. It allows the driver to customize the displayed information with adjustments via new steering wheel controls.
As for driving tech, the Regal now offers two levels of accident avoidance and driving convenience features. Packaged into Driver Confidence 1 are lane departure warning, lane change alert, side blind-zone alert and rear cross-traffic alert.
Driver confidence 2 offers all of the above plus collision preparation (with collision mitigation braking) and full-speed-range adaptive cruise control that works in stop-and-go traffic to make rush-hour commutes a whole lot easier.
We tested the adaptive cruise system during our drive and couldn’t believe how seamlessly the system braked and accelerated. The Regal was a joy as it went up and down hills and followed other vehicles at the distance we selected, and afterward our passengers couldn’t believe that the adaptive cruise system was modulating our speed for the past 20 miles.
The Regal nameplate has been around for decades, and for good reason. It has always offered the best combination of design, luxury, comfort and modern conveniences at a price that can’t be beat.
That combination continues to ring true for the 2014 model year with the Regal starting at $30,615 for a very well-equipped front-wheel drive model with leather, IntelliLink, a back-up camera and much more. At the other end is a fully-optioned Regal GS with AWD ticking in at just under $45k, which is still an incredible value compared to other luxury models which offer similar levels of equipment and grandeur.