Knockout styling. Generally fast. Decent roadability. Nice ride. Roomy. All-wheel drive.
Could use more power. Needs more aggressive shifting. Bottom Line -
Great coast-to-coast cruiser.
Many forget, or never have known, that Buick built fast upscale muscle cars in the 1960s and early 1970s and that its 1987 Buick GNX could out accelerate a Chevy Corvette. Now we have the 2018 Buick Regal
GS, which is loosely derived with major modifications from the worthy German Insignia model.
The $39,990 GS is a sensational looking, roomy all-wheel drive hatchback sedan. It's got a 3.6-liter V-6 that kicks out 310 horsepower and 282 pound/feet of torque on its way from 0 to 60 m.p.h. in about 6 seconds. While hardly slow, it's no hot rod because it weighs approximately 4,000 pounds. A turbocharger or supercharger would be appropriate to accompany the go-fast styling.
You see, Buick is walking a fine line here between offering a rakish looking but sporty car for younger buyers and one that would satisfy older late-model Buick buyers.
The low-slung mid-size GS has everything from prominent fascia scoops to cool its hefty brakes to distinctive lower rocker panels, sexy chromed dual exhaust outlets and diffuser-enhanced rear fascia. The 19-inch wheels and red-painted Brembo front brake calipers and subtle rear spoiler contribute to the car's sexy looks.
The especially large trunk seems as if from a big 1960s family sedan, although the hatch with its huge rear window is quite heavy. (At least there's a large interior grab handle to help close it.) Split folding rear seatbacks sit flat and significantly increase cargo space.
There's plenty of room in the quiet interior for four tall adults, or for five on shorter trips. I rode in the rear seat for a few miles while the GS was being driven aggressively by a (very big and tall) auto journalist, but never felt uncomfortable back there.
The extra-supportive heated and ventilated front seats look as if yanked from a Corvette and liven up the rather bland-looking interior, which has a lot of average-looking plastic. I didn't have time to fool with the car's 8-inch dashboard touch screen, but felt that the redundant dashboard manual controls for the HIV system and such are a good idea.
The engine shoots power through a new General Motors 9-speed automatic transmission with no paddle shifters that could use more aggressive shift mapping-the gearbox wants to upshift as early as possible, hurting acceleration. However, the shift strategy allows the GS to provide fairly decent fuel economy. It's an estimated 19 miles per gallon in the city and 27 on highways.
A driver can select one of three drive modes via console buttons that go from Normal to Sport to GS. You'll get the best response from the GS mode, which sharpens the car's reflexes up a bit, but Normal mode is best for regular driving.
Keeping the GS glued to the road are its all-wheel drive system and twin clutch torque-vectoring rear differential, which helps the car glide securely through curves taken briskly. Push too hard in turns, though, and the car's weight can be felt. Steering is quick, and the brake pedal has a progressive feel.
Continuously damping control shock absorbers help deliver the sort of smooth ride most have come to expect from Buick and help control pitch and roll.
Safety features include plenty of air bags.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Options include rear cross-traffic alert, lane-change alert and side blind-zone alert.
In all, the Regal GS is a great-looking ride that's easy to live with, but it's no sports sedan.