Buick rolled out the midsize Regal as a way to bring more youthful professionals into the brand’s fold, and to help boost that effort, it also added the sporty uplevel GS model.
The GS, which is available with front- or all-wheel drive, brings a new level of driving excitement to the Regal. Billed as a sport-performance model of the European-styled Regal, it’s at the top end of the lineup, with a 2015 starting price of $37,235 (plus $925 freight) for the front-drive version, or $39,810 for the all-wheel drive, which was our test vehicle for the week.
This is a car that’s getting noticed by young consumers who are finding out that Buick isn’t just a seniors’ brand anymore – it has models that are cool-looking and quite fun to drive. It’s target audience is young professionals just buying their first premium car.
Under the hood is a turbocharged Ecotec 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that cranks out a quite respectable 259 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque, giving the GS a serious dose of attitude.
Never miss a local story.
It’s available with either a six-speed manual transmission (with a clutch) or a six-speed automatic with a manual-shift feature (and no clutch, of course). Our tester came with the automatic, though, which I recommend for anyone whose regular commute includes a lot of stop-and-go driving.
Other Regal models for 2015 begin at $27,065 for the base front-drive model with a 182-horsepower, normally aspirated 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, and $29,840 for the base front-drive model with the 2.0-liter turbo. With all-wheel drive, the base turbo model is $32,265.
There also are Turbo Premium models starting at $31,750 for front drive or $34,175 with all-wheel drive.
The GS is the top model, and while its high-output turbo engine and manual gearbox won’t exactly turn it into a sports car, the combination does allow the vehicle to accelerate from zero-60 mph in 6.2 seconds (6.5 with the automatic and front drive, or 6.8 with the automatic and all-wheel drive).
Although the GS model was introduced for 2012, it got a mild makeover and upgraded turbo engine for 2014. The changes also brought a bunch of new radar- and camera-based safety technologies such as Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Change Alert, Side Blind Zone Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert and Collision Mitigation Braking. These items came on our vehicle in Driver Confidence Package 1 ($1,040).
Adaptive Cruise Control also was added for 2014, and was included on our car along with Automatic Collision Preparation in Driver Confidence Package 2 ($1,195). This system senses traffic in front of the Regal to adjust vehicle speed, including stopping the vehicle in heavy traffic and accelerating again.
The car got new front and rear styling, with available wing-shape LED daytime running lamps and standard LED taillights. Inside, there was a redesigned central instrument panel and console, which also included a storage area for smartphones and USB/auxiliary connections for them.
The optional Haldex all-wheel-drive system is great for inclement weather, of course, but its usefulness goes way beyond that. It brings extra traction in all driving conditions and also enhances cornering ability, which is great on hilly, curvy country roads, when the “GS” button is pushed, turning on the GS Interactive Drive Control mode.
Connectivity on the go was enhanced with the addition of the latest generation of the GM IntelliLink system, featuring simpler, more intuitive controls and natural speech recognition.
Standard features on all models side-curtain air bags for both rows, electronic stability control with traction control, four-wheel antilock brakes with Intelligent Brake Assist, OnStar ( with six months of Directions and Connections service), and fog lights.
Other standard features include cruise control, power windows with driver and front passenger express up/down, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-inch color touch-screen radio with AM/FM/SiriusXM (three months of service) stereo with CD player and auxiliary input jack, USB port and Bluetooth wireless connectivity for select phones.
There is also a leather interior, along with heated driver and passenger front seats, a 12-way power driver’s seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror, electronic parking brake, and ice blue ambient lighting. The steering wheel includes controls for the safety and infotainment features.
I enjoyed the head-up display that projected speed, navigation and other information – including the speed limit – on the lower part of the windshield right in front of the driver.
In the middle of the instrument cluster above the steering column is a high-resolution, 4.2-inch color display that shows vehicle information, navigation, audio system functions, phone features and more.
GS models come with 19-inch alloy wheels, but our tester had an upgrade to 20-inch aluminum wheels ($700). We also had the optional power moon roof ($1,000).
Driving this car was a real kick, especially for a family sedan that can seat up to five people. It was fun kicking in the turbo for a boost of passing power on some drives on two-lane country roads, where it was occasionally necessary to overtake some slow pickup trucks and a tractor here and there.
I found the driver’s seat to be quite comfortable, even for a long drive, as did my front passenger. There are bucket seats up front, and a three-person bench in the rear.
The rear seat was comfortable enough for adults in the outboard positions, but I wouldn’t have wanted to force three adults to ride back there for an extended period, even though it was OK for short trips. Rear-seat knee room is adequate as long as the front seats aren’t moved all the way back on their tracks.
Our tester came with a pleasant Copper Red Metallic exterior, and we had an ebony interior with piano black trim.
Fuel-economy ratings for our all-wheel-drive GS turbo were 19 mpg city/27 highway. During our test, we averaged about 22.6 mpg, with a mostly equal mix of highway and city/country road driving. With front drive, the GS turbo’s ratings are 21/30; with the manual gearbox, they’re 20/31.
Our trunk had an electric release, but no automatic opener/closer. But it had decent cargo space, at 14.2 cubic feet. The trunk lid raises up well out of the way for loading larger pieces of cargo.
Total sticker price for our GS turbo all-wheel drive tester was $44,670, including freight and options.
The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @gchambers3.
2015 Buick Regal sedan
The package: Midsize, four-door, five-passenger, four-cylinder or V-6 powered, front-or all-wheel-drive sport sedan.
Highlights: Last updated for 2014, this is Buick’s premium midsize sedan, available with a variety of high-tech options and intended to appeal to a more-youthful audience than the traditional Buick sedans of the past. It gives GM a strong competitor against the leading Japanese and European premium midsize sedans.
Negatives: Rear seat knee room a bit cramped for full-size adults.
Engine: 2.4-liter normally aspirated inline four-cylinder; 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder (GS).
Transmission: Six-speed automatic; six-speed manual (optional on front-drive GS).
Power/torque: 182 HP/172 foot-pounds (2.4); 259 HP/295 foot-pounds (2.0).
Length: 190.2 inches.
Curb weight range: 3,600-3,981 pounds.
Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.
Trunk volume: 11.1 cubic feet (2.4 engine); 14.2 cubic feet (2.0 engine).
Side air bags: Front seat-mounted, roof-mounted side-curtain for both rows, standard.
Electronic stability control: Standard.
Fuel capacity/type: 15.8 gallons (2.4); 18 gallons (2.0), unleaded regular.
EPA fuel economy: 19 mpg city/31 highway (2.4); 21/30 (front drive, 2.0, automatic); 19/27 (all-wheel drive, 2.0, automatic); 20/31 (front drive, 2.0, manual).
Major competitors: Volkswagen Passat, Toyota Camry, Hyundai Azera, Hyundai Genesis, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Nissan Maxima, Volvo S60, Acura RL, Lincoln MKZ, Cadillac XTS..
Base price range: $27,065-$39,660, plus $925 freight.
Price as tested: $48,735, including freight and options (Premium 2 front-drive).
On the Road rating: 9.3 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.