2014 Buick Regal Review

2014 Buick Regal - The 2014 Buick Regal is a good mixture of American and European design.


Prices: $30,615-$37,830

A few minutes at the wheel of the 2014 Buick Regal gave me the feeling that I was driving a foreign luxury sports sedan. It sure handled and rode much like one. Buick has made lots of changes, but the Regal's behavior puzzled me.

I soon found that the Regal is basically an Americanized version of the high-line German Opel Insignia. No wonder it felt as if it would  be happy humming along a German autobahn at 100 m.p.h. It's got a decent size, with a 107.8-inch wheelbase and 190.2 -inch overall length.

The 2014 version of the Regal has new front and rear styling, kicked off with an attractive  Buick grille. The quiet, roomy  upscale interior with improved materials has been redone with a redesigned instrument panel and console. A new steering wheel has controls for new safety and "infotainment" features.

Nearly all Regals models can be had with front- or all-wheel drive and a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission with a easily used manual shift feature. Imagine that--a Buick with a manual gearbox!

Still, I recommend the smooth, responsive automatic. At least one report says  the manual transmission and clutch aren't much fun. In fact, automatic transmissions have become so good that manuals aren't common on foreign luxury sports sedans anymore.  

Regal sticker prices range from $30,615 to $37,830--or thousands less than foreign (mainly European) rivals. A $32,485 Hybrid model sits between the base Regal, which comes in various trim levels,  and the ultrasporty top-line GS model.

All Regals are well-equipped, with items including dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seating, heated driver and passenger front seats, cruise control, eight-inch color touch screen radio, electric parking brake and power windows with driver and front passenger express up/down.

A variety of extras in option groups upped the price of my test $33,760 Regal  to $38,270. They included an $890 Driver Confidence Package with a following-distance sensor indicator, forward collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning, besides a side blind-zone alert with a lane-change alert warning.

A $1,695 package for my test Regal contained adaptive cruise control and  automatic collision preparation, along with--oddly for this package--a sunroof.

Standard Regal safety items include six air bags ( including side curtain air bags),  electronic stability control with full-function traction control and anti-lock with Intelligent Brake Assist.

My test car had a rear-vision camera and its other extras included ultrasonic rear park assist, remote vehicle starter system, keyless start and a Bose Premium 9-speaker system.     

Except for the Hybrid, the engine for the Regal is a turbocharged 2-liter four cylinder that generates 259 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The Hybrid has a 2.4-liter economy oriented four-cylinder with 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque.

The Hybrid "2.4" has eAssist light electrification technology, using a lithium-ion battery and electric motor-generator to enable regenerative braking. Instead of providing all-electric propulsion, the system provides power assistance to the gas engine.The eAssist system lets the engine shut down fuel delivery during deceleration, which saves additional fuel.

Fuel economy with the Hybrid is an impressive 25 miles per gallon in the city and 36 on highways. Economy with the turbo 2-liter engine ranges from 19-21 in the city to 27 to 32 on highways, depending on if it has a manual or automatic transmission or front- or all-wheel drive.

The Hybrid comes only with front-wheel drive and, at 3,600 pounds, weighs less than other Regal models. They weigh from 3,671 to 3,981 pounds, with the heaviest being the turbo GS with all-wheel drive.   

Regular-grade gasoline can be used in the 2-liter and 2.4 -liter engines, although premium fuel is recommended for the turbo engine.

The turbo engine is quite advanced. Its features include such items as dual overhead camshafts, pistons with jet-spray cooling, sodium-filled exhaust valves, continuously variable valve timing, direct injection and an air-to-air intercooling system.

The 2-liter turbo, which has the punch of a strong V-6, seems perfect for the GS, which has a lowered ride height, 19-inch aluminum wheels (with optional 20-inch wheels) and unique front/rear fascias. The front fascia incorporates prominent vertical air intake slots. The rear fascia has a pair of integrated, satin-metallic trapezoidal exhaust outlets. Rocker panel extensions and a rear spoiler extension also are part of the package.

The GS has additional steering effort for more direct feedback, reduced body roll for better agility, altered shift feel for the automatic transmission and brakes with more-powerful Brembo four-piston front calipers and larger rotors for surer stops.

Still, my test front-drive turbo-engine Regal with the automatic transmission looked and  drove just fine, with responsive steering, supportive seats, sharp handling, a supple ride and strong brakes, with good pedal feel.

The Regal occasionally was mistaken by some for an expensive foreign sedan, despite the discreetly placed traditional Buick fake louvers on each side of the hood (a Buick trademark) and the Buick badge on the grille.

Large power outside mirrors, which fold against the side glass to prevent parking lot damage, help provide good visibility. And there are plenty of cabin storage areas. The attractive gauges can be read at a glance, and the touch screen is easy to use.

There are a fair number of small controls, but they're clearly marked. However, rear door openings are rather narrow. The center of the backseat is too stiff for comfort and, as with many cars, is best left for the large fold-down armrest that contains dual cupholders. The front armrest partly gets in the way of front console cupholders.

The trunk is large and cargo room can be increased by folding the split rear seatbacks forward.

The hood  is held open with a hydraulic strut instead of an awkward prop rod.

There are only minor changes to the 2015 Regal, so it might be a good idea at this time of the model year for those interested in this cleverly engineered car to take a good look at it.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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