The brand Buick means so much more than it did just a few short years ago. Gone is the stuffy old codger persona we once held for this General Motors division. Today, as surprising as it may seem, to drive a Buick is to drive a vehicle that has its roots in the USA but its spirit now comes from sporty European sedans.
As I settled into the bolstered driver’s seat of my current test vehicle, the 2014 Regal, I immediately felt that this is nothing like earlier Buicks, where you might slide clear across to the passenger side of a big bench seat. This is not even in the picture, because this seat will hold you in place even during spirited cornering.
Spirited cornering is exactly what I did with the Regal. Again, not something we might say about past Buicks. Though based on a GM European platform, this new Regal is all American in providing the type of consistency between handling, control and ride comfort. The Regal proved it was a worthy adversary for European sports sedans, diving into corners and accelerating down short straight stretches all the while keeping occupants comfortable and not receiving a beating through the turns.
The Regal is made of one of the stiffest platforms Buick has available and as such it allows engineers to design a suspension system that performs as I just described. They may have had an American market in mind but it was a new American car they had engineered. The Regal is a brawny sedan with the power, handling and abilities to go up against those European sedans. The 2014 Regal is not a detuned or softened American sedan.
The stiff platform also delivers a high level of safety along with the plethora of safety features provided on the new Regal. There are two packages available which Buick marketers call Driver Confidence I and Driver Confidence II. The first package includes radar and camera-based features which include forward collision alert, lane departure warning, lane change alert, blind spot alert, rear cross-traffic alert and a following distance indicator.
Driver Confidence II adds collision preparation with collision mitigation braking, (the system applies the brakes to help limit damage in case of an accident) adaptive cruise control that can speed or slow the vehicle depending on traffic. All Regals are also equipped with six airbags as standard equipment.
The Regal's interior sees an update in new technology, beginning with the new generation IntelliLink infotainment system. Driver and passenger are provided with plenty of infotainment through the 8-inch color touch screen located in the center dash. Ever mindful of giving the driver the information needed in a more convenient location, Buick has located a 4.2-inch easily readable screen in the instrument panel just in front of the steering wheel. The Regal GS receives an even larger 8-inch screen.
We see a metamorphosis of available power for the 2014 models. Both Regal and Regal GS have a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine sitting under their hoods. But what each vehicle does with that engine differs slightly. In both applications the horsepower at 259 and the torque at 295 lb-ft. is a jump over last version. This increase also comes with a smoothness that sees the performance come as easily as you would expect.
Both Regal models come standard with six-speed automatic transmissions. The front-drive versions are equipped with an electronic limited-slip differential that transfers power to the wheel with traction moving it away from the wheel that is slipping. A Haldex all-wheel-drive system is available, which in slippery conditions adjusts front/rear torque distribution up to 90 percent, optimizing traction, stability and cornering.
It is clear the new Regal is a far cry from what Buick automobiles once were. Today the 2014 Regal is a competent, sporty and performance orientated sedan. The performance from the 2.0-liter turbo engine is impressive and exciting, not what we equate to a Buick. That’s changed. The number one attribute of the Regal is, no longer do you need an excuse to drive one.