I was excited to see Buick resurrecting the Regal model this year. My first real experience with the badge dates to my car cruising years of the mid-1980s and the popular scene on Cooper Street in Arlington, Texas. Those were also my ear-shattering car stereo years where us early adopters were tearing out complete interiors to accommodate our rolling sound systems.
I drove a 1983 Olds Cutlass and had been hearing about a fella out there in Arlington who drove a maroon Regal nicknamed “Eruption” as an homage to Eddie Van Halen.
One evening I see the Regal head into a parking lot and I decide to introduce myself. It seems he had been hearing quite a stir about a blue Cutlass cruising his “territory” and he was glad I stopped. Wayne and I hit it off right from the start and we remained friendly co-competitors in the early years of car stereo contests around the state and across the country. After winning the nationals in Houston with the Regal, Wayne decided he needed to up his game and “Eruption” was retired in favor of a 1960 Cadillac Hearse.
The Regal was still the first and by far my favorite, perhaps because I drove a vehicle built on the same platform back then.
Fast forward to modern days and this new Regal from Buick takes its foundation from Opel in Germany, a platform originally slated for a new Saturn sedan but we see what happened to that brand.
Buick’s new baby rolled out this summer in front wheel drive and sporting a choice of Ecotec four-cylinder engines backed by six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes.
“The 2011 Buick Regal is like nothing you’ve ever experienced from this brand,” said Roger McCormack, director of product marketing for Buick. “The Regal is the next chapter in Buick’s transformation and will expand the portfolio to include a modern sport sedan.”
I never quite thought of the Regal as a sports sedan myself, but the GNX from 1987 did get close and the new car will offer a turbo motor once more to tempt eager drivers.
For the masses, this new midsize four door will anchor the bottom end of a GM marque that has seen total renovation of late. Its larger sibling LaCrosse offers an economic four-cylinder powertrain but in that chassis the driving experience is very sedate. The Regal responds better to the small (2.4-liter) engine offering.
Our recent tester arrived in CXL trim with the base engine and its only transmission offering of the six-speed automatic (the turbo 2.0-liter offers the manual). Of course there were all the usual amenities one would expect from both a new vehicle and a Buick. We enjoyed the modern interior styling and the leather surfaces. In fact, most would probably not guess this a Buick interior if the badges were removed.
The car is very comfortable while not giving up a decent driving experience. Definitely less “Buickey” than the previous generation Regal which was discontinued in 2004.
Buick claims the new Regal is aimed at the TSX from Acura and S60 from Volvo. OK, whatever, but I would like to see a bit more power first, from both engines. And perhaps all-wheel drive running gear to make it a true competitor on the global scale with other brands.
Don’t get me wrong, GM did a good job with the new Regal. For a four-banger I thought fuel economy ratings were a tad low but chassis is midsized so 19 mpg city and 30 mpg highway will have to suffice, although the Chevy Malibu is rated higher (at the expense of a few ponies).
Base pricing for the new Regal (which is only offered in CXL trim for 2011) is $26,245. After a few goodies thrown in our tester came in at $28,840.
I enjoyed driving the new Regal but I do have a request for Buick. Get rid of the chrome shifter surround for sunbelt states. The glare is blinding. I had to cover it the entire week I spent behind the wheel while the sun was up. Aside from that, kudos. And I would love to see what Wayne could do with this new Regal.