By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating:
Mention the name Buick Regal to your grandmother and you'll get an earful about the soft, cushy ride, marshmallow-like seats and the sweet-sounding 4-speaker AM/FM radio. Well, to paraphrase Oldsmobile's once famous tag line, the 2012 Buick Regal sedan is definitely not your grandmother's Regal. In fact, Buick has built a mid-size sport sedan so sleek, so alluring it has on numerous occasions inspired attempts among our test staff to steal the car away for an extra night or two. With its big 19-inch wheel and tires, 270-horsepower high-output 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, and 6-speed manual transmission, the top-of-the-line 2012 Buick Regal GS clearly means business. Or, if you're more about fuel economy than performance, you can get the same great looks and interior features on the "light electrification" Regal eAssist hybrid model. Sure, the 2012 Buick Regal sedan still has a lot of work to do in bringing over younger buyers looking at such competitors as the Volkswagen CC, Nissan Maxima, Hyundai Sonata and Acura TSX. But, if ever a Buick could win the battle for younger hearts and wallets, the 2012 Buick Regal sedan is the car to do it.
If you've grown tired of the generic-looking mid-size "one size fits all" crowd, and you think it might be time to give a domestic manufacturer another chance, the 2012 Buick Regal will definitely help convince you that just because a car has four doors doesn't mean it has to be boring.
While the 2012 Buick Regal's styling is dramatic, older Buick fans may not take to the European-inspired design. If you fancy the GS trim, you best like only black, gray, silver or white, because for some strange reason those are the only colors offered.
Two new variants join the 2012 Buick Regal sedan lineup. First is the Regal eAssist hybrid that uses a small electric motor attached to a lithium-ion battery pack to assist the 2.4-liter gasoline engine. The second addition is the stellar opposite of the hybrid, taking the form of a 270-horsepower sport sedan dubbed the Buick Regal GS (Grand Sport). Other changes of note include E85 capability on the 2.4-liter engine and the addition of Buick's IntelliLink Bluetooth-enabled infotainment system (late availability) to all Regal models.
Driving Impressions To get the best idea how good the 2012 Regal platform is, we tested a range of Buick Regal models starting with the most basic Regal with the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder...engine. We found the 2.4-liter engine to be smooth and responsive, feeling very Honda-like in its refinement and power delivery. The steering is a bit vague, but not awful. When we moved to a 2.0-liter turbocharged model, we were impressed not only by the additional power, but also by the vastly better steering feel from the variable-assist power steering. Of course, this is a Buick so the company has added plenty of soundproofing to create a serene cabin. The ride is also less harsh than in some sport sedans we've driven, but the handling doesn't suffer from it. Jumping into the GS brought a whole different attitude from the Regal. The high-output 2.0-liter Ecotec engine makes 270 horsepower, which can be run through either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic with manual shift mode. The GS moves with some serious swiftness and yet there is hardly any discernable torque steer. The 2012 Buick Regal GS sedan gets a tauter suspension with standard Interactive Drive Control System that lets you tune the shock and steering feel to three levels of compliance. The 2012 Buick Regal GS sport sedan also has a lower ride height and sticky 19-inch all-season tires. Buick offers a 20-inch wheel/performance tire package, but we found this setup a bit harsh on rougher pavement. Although the 2012 Buick 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 4-Cylinder Engine
While the Volkswagen CC also offers a 4-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.
If ever there was an area to prove the 2012 Buick Regal sedan's premium car credentials, it's inside the passenger compartment. All of the Regal's switchgear have a smooth, nicely weighted feel and while it is obvious some of the Regal's interior bits were borrowed from the larger Buick LaCrosse, Buick designers have tossed in enough unique parts to make the 2012 Regal look and feel a bit more European. The Euro influence can be seen in the BMW/Audi-like console-mounted joystick (it controls the available navigation and audio functions), console-mounted power lock switch and steering-wheel-mounted thumb wheel for scrolling through various functions. If the 2012 Regal sedan falls down in one area, it's rear-seat headroom. Due to the low-slung roof and raked rear window, anyone over 6-feet tall or just very long in the torso will likely find his head bumping against the headliner.Exterior
While Buick's signature waterfall grille and porthole louvers remain intact, the rest of the 2012 Buick Regal sedan is unlike anything we've seen from the Buick division in a long, long time. Based on GM's European Opel Insignia, the 2012 Regal has a heavy, solid look that borders on hyper-aggressive. The wheels are pushed to the car's outer corners while the body drops low to the ground, almost as if the Regal were preparing to hug the pavement. There is only the slightest gap between tire and wheel well, further enhancing the Regal's sporty attitude. A distinctive side scallop that begins on the front door and fades rearward is the Regal's most definitive styling detail, but smaller things, such as an integrated trunk-lid spoiler and integrated side-mirror turn signals reveal that a lot of thought went into the Regal's design.
Inside the 2012 Buick Regal you'll find leather upholstery (unlike the Volkswagen CC, which has leatherette as standard), an 8-way adjustable power driver's seat, foglights, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, heated side mirrors, Bluetooth and a 7-speaker audio system with USB port. Motivation is supplied by a 2.4-liter in-line 4-cylinder engine paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission (with tap-up/tap-down shifting), and power is put to pavement via 18-inch alloy wheels. The turbo model adds a 240-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and an available 6-speed manual transmission, while the GS trim adds a high-output 270-horsepower 2.0-liter engine, 19-inch wheels and a sport suspension. To help keep you safe, six airbags are standard on each 2012 Buick Regal, as are stability and traction controls, Brake Assist and the latest OnStar system with Automatic Crash Response.
The 2012 Buick Regal sedan's options are broken down into package groups. On normally aspirated Regals, there are two groups: Premium I and Premium II. The turbo cars feature a Premium III group, while the GS and Regal eAssist are considered their own models. Among the many available options spread throughout the groups are a 9-speaker harman/kardon sound system, a hard drive-based navigation system, rear parking assist, an 8-way power adjustable passenger's seat, power sunroof, 18-inch alloy wheels, E-Z Key passive push-button start, HID headlights and a 120-volt outlet. Those with safety on their minds can get rear-seat thorax side-impact airbags. Extras for the exterior are limited to 19-inch machined alloy wheels.
The 2012 Regal is the first Buick to be offered exclusively with only 4-cylinder engines. The standard 2.4-liter in-line four produces 182 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque, and delivers fuel economy in the range of 19 city/31 highway mpg. Those looking for more power can get a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, which delivers 220 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque for a small penalty in fuel economy – 18 city/29 highway. The Regal GS gets a high-output version of the 2.0-liter turbo pumping out 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. All three engines can be mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with tap-up/tap-down shifting, although paddle shifters are available with the turbocharged engine. The turbo models can also be equipped at no charge with a 6-speed manual transmission.
2.4-liter in-line 4
182 horsepower @ 6,700 rpm
172 lb-ft of torque @ 4,900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/31, 15/22 (E85), 25/36 (eAssist hybrid)
2.0-liter turbocharged in-line 4
220 horsepower @ 5,300 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/32 (manual), 18/29 (automatic), 15/22 (E85, manual), 13/22 (E85, automatic)
2.0-liter high-output turbocharged in-line 4 (Regal GS)
270 horsepower @ 5,300 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 2,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 (manual), 18/20 (automatic)
The 2012 Regal sedan's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts right around $27,500, nearly $3,000 less than an automatic-equipped Volkswagen CC Sport, $4,200 less than a Volvo S60, but some $3,000 more than a Hyundai Sonata SE. The Regal Turbo starts around $31,000, while a fully loaded Turbo Premium III goes for around $35,500. The GS starts around $35,000. To make your best deal, you can see what others in your area have paid for their Regal by checking the kbb.com Fair Purchase Price. As for resale, we expect the 2012 Buick Regal sedan to prove resilient in resale value, which should make it even more competitive with its Japanese and European rivals.
By champagneinhand (NY) on Saturday, April 20, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,300overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, comfortable, looks good, good mpg"
Cons: "small cup holders only big enough for 12 ounce can"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This has been a great car, with incredible performance from the Turbo driven engine that pulls this 3800lb safety factory through any kind of weather in pure comfort. It also boasts the ability to use E-85, though you will see a drop in gas mileage to about what the EPA bases on its sticker. Over the past 25 months I have got consistent milage on 87 octane gas of 23 City and #2-34 HWY. It handles very sharply and while the ride isn't plush at all times, it is no different from any car with these handling characteristics. It definitely not your fathers Buick. Its held it's value as well. The interior tan leather needs to be cleaned yearly, but the entire vehicle works as designed, even with my iPhone. The one thing I will say is that the E-85 does pull any fuel grime from the tank and sends it forward to the fuel filter, so I am about to replace that. Other than that it is a fine car, and I don't have to use premium gas, as fuel prices in NY are already high enough. The metallic stone paint rarely shows dirt and always looks fairly clean, even during Winter. I've had driven this car from NY round trip to Las Vegas as well as round trip to Charleston, SC and have really enjoyed it. The only other car I've owned that was similar in enjoyment was an Infiniti Q45, but without the addd fuel costs and massive repair costs. This was built in West Germany, and is built well. I have heard that the new versions built in the US have some reliability issues, but I haven't seen any in this version."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By cindy (MO) on Friday, April 12, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice looking"
Cons: "brakes, tires, electrical, motor, and acceleration"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I would never buy another Buick regal. Worst gas mileage ever, the radio stations constantly change by themselves, power roof stop working three times, tires are constantly loosing are pressure, motor jumps and accelerates by itself, Bluetooth does not recognize your voice, the trunk will just open by itself, serious electrical problems with this vehicle, rough ride, and i had to have the brakes replaced twice because of the squeaking loud noise, and the rotor had to be replaced. wish someone had warned me."
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By clarkairman (OH) on Thursday, March 21, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great value for price Plus warrantee"
Cons: "would like a little more pick up from 0-25"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I just purchased this vehicle a short time ago. My only hesitation was having a "old person" car. I made my purchase knowing I liked the car, but loved the bumper to bumper warrantee until 62,000 miles or 3 years. Not bad since I did not have to deal with the loss of value from driving off the lot brand new since I purchased it with 14,000 miles."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Grappledog (TX) on Sunday, January 27, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "Seat warmers are fast heating!"
Cons: "Key remote; Often find trunk open. Very sensitive."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"When at stop sign or light, the vehicle creeps forward on its own. Your cell phone is required to be manually connected to vehicle in order to listen to the music on your cell phone. The voice command to make calls does not effectivley recognize commands/requests. Radio functions/Settings continuously have to be reprogrammed The navigation will not auto download and or recognize addresses from your address book. You must download these manually which takes approx. 5 minutes per contact. I have been to three different dealers; they gave two explanations. 1. "Were not sure" and 2. You will have to live with it. If anyone knows how to resolve any of the above issues, please let me know. Bob"
3 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By MM (TX) on Saturday, January 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "The total package, quality made!"
Cons: "small trunk"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this car new-- 2012 Buick Regal w/eAssist, sunroof, intellilink, Premium 2 package, LED lights, french stitched leather interior, keyless startup (which I can also do from my iPhone!!), bluetooth, parking rear assist,... I could go on and on! This car is the full package. It rides so smoothly, the cabin is so quiet and comfortable! I love the heated seats and dual temperature (since my husband and I prefer totally different temperatures). The Harmon Kardon sound system with the well insulated cabin makes you feel like you're in a theater every time you listen to music! I also love the OnStar app and Sirius Radio that came with the car. OnStar even runs diagnostics on your car when you request it! With the OnStar app on your phone, you can also check your oil, tire pressure, gas %, send your car navigation, start your car from your phone... AHHH! Very on the front end of technology!) According to my car, I am getting 30mpg avg. Can't complain about that! This is a great car. Rides SO smooth-- looks sharp inside and out!"
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Larry (NJ) on Wednesday, November 21, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Great looking car.. The ride is fantastic with great power for a 4 cylinder... I have the 20in wheels on mine.. Great sounding sound system as well.."
8 people out of 9 found this review helpful