KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
It's been a long time since Buick brought us any car we'd put in the same sentence as "sporty," but the 2011 Buick Regal is here to change that. Armed with sleek European style, engaging driving dynamics, eighteen-inch wheels and an available 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, the new Regal is not your grandmother's soft Buick sedan. However, the road to a younger fan base is lined with attractive competitors like the Acura TSX and Volkswagen CC – vehicles that no one has trouble calling "sporty."
You'll Like This Car If...
The 2011 Buick Regal offers a hefty dose of Euro cool in a well-packaged, premium-leaning American sedan.
You May Not Like This Car If...
The 2011 Buick Regal may be the sportiest Buick in the lineup, but don't confuse it as an answer to rear-wheel-drive performance standouts like the BMW 3 Series or Infiniti G37.
What's Significant About This Car?
With engaging driving dynamics, fresh design and an available turbocharged engine for under $30,000, the upmarket 2011 Buick Regal is a step in a new direction for the brand.
While there's nothing to complain about in regards to the naturally-aspirated 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that comes standard on the Regal, the real star is the turbocharged 2.0-liter four. It's quiet, refined, and although it's not the fastest turbo out there, it has decent passing power and little off-the-line lag. Torque steer in this vehicle is also negligible, which is all the better since the vehicle is only available - for now - in front-wheel drive guise. Opting for the turbocharged engine also nets you variable power steering. A Buick wouldn't be a Buick without a quiet ride, and you can expect just that inside the Regal. However, don't expect the soft ride of Buicks past. Although the Regal isn't as spry as the Acura TSX or the Volkswagen CC, it is sportier than any Buick of recent memory and perfectly willing to have a little fun.
2.0-liter Turbocharged Four-Cylinder Engine
While the Volkswagen CC also offers a turbocharged four-cylinder turbocharged engine, Buick's 2.0-liter powerplant offers more horsepower and torque.
Interactive Drive Control System (IDCS)
A first for Buick, this system is available with the turbocharged engine and allows you to choose from three different operating modes that modify the vehicle's suspension, stability settings, throttle response, shift pattern and steering sensitivity. What does that mean for you? Choose "Standard" when cruising around town, "Tour" for a softer ride when on the open highway, or "Sport" for more dynamic driving on a curvy section of asphalt.
The interior of the 2011 Buick Regal is where the vehicle's premium designation really becomes apparent. All of the switches and knobs have a smooth, weighted feel to them, and although the interior shares some of its features with the larger LaCrosse sedan, the overall treatment is spiced with a bit more European flavor. This is especially evident with the BMW-like, center stack-mounted lock/unlock buttons and the optional navigation system's iDrive-esque control knob that sits just below the shifter. Our only complaint? Rear headroom is a little tight, so those over six feet tall might find sitting in the back a bit uncomfortable on long rides.
While trademark Buick design cues remain - namely the waterfall grille - the rest of the 2011 Regal sedan is sculpted, sleek and carries over more than a few styling cues from the Opel Insignia, the award-winning European vehicle upon which it's based. In fact, if you were to look at the two vehicles side by side, you'd find that not much has been changed for duty in the Buick lineup, aside from the aforementioned grille, headlamps and badges.
Notable Standard Equipment
Inside the Buick Regal CXL you'll find leather upholstery (unlike the Volkswagen CC, which has leatherette as standard), a 12-way adjustable power driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, Bluetooth and a seven-speaker audio system with USB port. Motivation is supplied by a 2.4-liter in-line four cylinder engine paired to a six-speed automatic transmission (with tap up/ tap down shifting), and power is put to pavement via 18-inch alloy wheels. To help keep you safe, six airbags are standard on each Regal, as are stability and traction controls, Brake Assist and the latest and OnStar with Automatic Crash Response.
Notable Optional Equipment
Most notable of the 2011 Buick Regal's options is a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine rated at 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. If having the latest and greatest in technology is more important to you than added power, you can add a 320-watt, nine-speaker harman/kardon sound system or a hard drive-based navigation system. Those who aim for creature comforts in their vehicle can opt for a rear parking assist system, a 12-way power adjustable passenger's seat or a sunroof, while those with safety on their minds can get seat-mounted rear thorax airbags. Extras for the exterior are limited to 19-inch machined alloy wheels.
Under the Hood
The 2011 Regal is the first Buick to be offered exclusively with four-cylinder engines. The standard 2.4-liter in-line four produces 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque, and delivers fuel economy in the range of 20 city/30 highway miles per gallon. Those looking for more power can get a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which delivers 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque for a small penalty in fuel economy – 18 city/29 highway. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with tap up/tap down shifting, although paddle shifters are available with the turbocharged engine. Later in the year, a six-speed manual will also be offered, bringing the Regal more in line competitively with the Acura TSX and Volkswagen CC Sport.
2.4-liter in-line 4
182 horsepower @ 6700 rpm
172 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/30
2.0-liter in-line 4, Turbocharged
220 horsepower @ 5300 rpm
258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/29
The 2011 Buick Regal CXL's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts just shy of $27,000, roughly $3,000 less than an automatic-equipped Acura TSX or Volkswagen CC Sport, $4,500 less than a Volvo S60, and $1,000 more than a Mercury Milan. The CXL is currently the only version of the Regal on sale, but expect to see less-expensive CX and CXS models to hit showrooms soon. Adding the turbocharged engine, premium sound and navigation system will bring the price closer to that of most of its competitors, in the low-$30k range. We expect the 2011 Buick Regal to prove resilient in regards to resale value, which should make it even more competitive with its Japanese and European rivals.